May Wine: Inniskillin Discovery Series Malbec

The eternal question: What to pair with pork? Finally, an answer.

Credit: Adam Blasberg (portrait), Ben Oliver

Pairing for a spicy pork belly, baking pizza on the barbie and serving up the devil’s drink.

Ask an Oenophile

The Expert: Stephanie Jaeger, co-owner & beverage director at Burnaby’s Pear Tree Restaurant
The Dish: Twice-cooked Berkshire pork belly with spot prawn and tomato cassoulet, $32
The Pairing: Inniskillin Discovery Series Malbec, 2007, $50

Using local ingredients is the goal with this dish, so I wanted to stick with a local wine as well. I’ve selected a B.C.-grown Malbec, which is part of Inniskillin’s Discovery Series.

Through its Discovery Series, Inniskillin features grape varietals that aren’t traditionally grown in the Okanagan Valley – producing only small lots with small production – and Malbec happens to be one of them. They’ve done a couple vintages of it, and it just keeps getting better, but it’s not what you’d expect from a Malbec.

This Malbec isn’t big, dusty and robust like an Argentine Malbec because it’s not getting the same sun. Instead it’s medium bodied with aromas of red cherry, vanilla and spicy overtones, which works really well with this dish because there are a lot of different elements to it. Although the fat has been rendered, there is still a richness to the pork that is balanced by the wine. A lot of white pepper comes out in the wine too, which complements the cassoulet (essentially a white bean stew) and the spot prawns very, very well.

I think this is such a beautiful drinking wine; it just gets rounder as it opens up.

Grilling Gear

We love pizza and we love a good barbecue, so we’re pretty stoked to learn that grill expert Weber is bringing the two things together this summer. Made of cordierite, Weber’s pizza stone – a 2010 addition to its outdoor accessories lineup – is designed to absorb excess moisture and distribute heat evenly, thus producing a crisp pizza. All you need to do is prep your pie on the pizza stone, place the stone on the barbecue grill and close the top to cook. Did we mention we also love to keep it simple? $89.99,

Drink Decoded

Some say Yaletown’s 1265 Hamilton Street is a haunted location, given the crash-and-burn precedence of LK Dining Lounge and Pinky’s Steakhouse. But we think the third time’s a charm with Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar – judging, if nothing else, by its cocktails list. Our fave from the spring menu is Charlie’s Devil, which puts a refreshing twist on the classic Diablo. Here’s how it’s done: take 5 ml (1 tsp) chopped fresh fennel, 3 whole clove pods, 15 ml (½ oz) cherry syrup, 4 dashes cherry bitters and 3 whole sour cherries. Muddle the ingredients and add 60 ml (2 oz) tequila. Shake and strain over ice into cocktail glass. Float 90 ml (3 oz) ginger beer and garnish with three skewered sour cherries. $11, charlieloves​