Food & Wine Pairings at Lamplight Lounge

by Todd Pickering, contributing writer

With Valentine's Day having just passed and the Food & Wine Festival coming next week to Disney California Adventure, the romance of wine is on our palate. Food and wine pairings are very important and we wanted to give you a few tips for dining at Lamplight Lounge. Keep in mind that wine lists are ever changing, so the exact bottle might not be available when you get a chance to dine. Ask your servers and bartenders as we have found they have been very good at making suggestions at this popular new addition to Disney dining.

A riesling is nice with the ever popular piggy wings. Photo by Todd Pickering.

One of the most delicious things, and definitely a house favorite to rival the ever popular lobster nachos, are the piggy wings. You get six pork "wings" on the bone done in an "Incredible" zippy chili-ginger glaze. The Carl Graff riesling from Germany went amazingly well with this appetizer. For a white wine, this has a fuller mouth feel. The palate is nutty with hints of lychee and pear notes. The acidity of this wine really cuts through the spiciness of the dish, and we lapped it right "Up." Many folks would pair a red with this dish, and that would be amazing. You couldn't beat a cabernet sauvignon with this spicy dish, but give a white wine a try if you are feeling daring. For those of you who are strictly red wine drinkers, you may read on.

Zinfandel and a hamburger are always a safe combo. Photo by Todd Pickering.

There is nothing more perfect than a burger and a brew, but don't overlook a red wine with this classic American fare. We tried the "Porque No?" red wine from Napa Valley. This wine is a blend of 30% zinfandel, 23% cabernet sauvignon, and 46% petite syrah finished with a touch of petit verdot. It has a nice spiciness and dark-fruit flavors with a good, clean finish. The "Brave" flavors of the burger and wine are very evenly matched. The blueberry and brambly fruit are brought out by the earthiness of the meat. The higher alcohol content of the "Monstrous" Zzinfandel is evened out by the "Coco" smoothness of the petite Syrah. Hopefully this will make a convert of you!

Pinot noir and spinach salad. Photo by Todd Pickering.

The Macrostie pinot noir from the Sonoma Coast, California was paired with the spinach salad. This choice was definitely a food wine and didn't drink so well on its own. It hit the palate more sharply than most pinot noirs with a fuller and drier mouth feel like a big, bold cabernet sauvignon. Raisin and cranberry fruit notes on this wine but the body was definitely light unlike a cabernet. The finish left so quickly that one could say it just went "Inside Out" immediately, but those sharp notes that made sipping not as pleasant worked better with the peppery spinach leaves and the earthy mushrooms in the salad. This is why some wines work better with food, as the initial bite actually becomes softer with bolder flavors. There may be enough flavors in this rich salad to stand up well to the "Porque No?" red wine as we were a little underwhelmed with the Macrostie.

Don't forget how well wine works with dessert. Photo by Todd Pickering.

If you can save some of that wine or get a second glass, don't forget dessert. Dessert choice is easy at Lamplight Lounge as they only have donuts available. The plain sugar donuts come out piping hot with two dipping sauces: strawberry Pop Rocks and caramel. The strawberry flavors get bolder and redder, and the caramel is enhanced by the earthiness of the wine pairing. And who doesn't feel overtly like a kid/adult with pop rocks and wine? We didn't pair the "Ratatouille". Hope this helped you in "Finding Vino." Was that too much? All the wines listed above come in bottles, not "a jug's life"! Are these "For the Birds"? Think we had best open another bottle and sign off. Cheers!