Each week, Pairing Off attempts to find just the right bottle of wine to go with ordinary food.
As a cereal, Rice Krispies were never a favorite. Yeah, they had that snap, crackle, pop gimmick, but you still needed five or six tablespoons of sugar to make them palatable.
Then someone came up with a brilliant scheme: the Rice Krispies treat.
Once laden with melted marshmallows and butter then formed into bars, the loquacious puffs were freed from the breakfast table. People bring them to children's birthday parties, office functions, bake sales and anywhere else gatherings occur...except wine tastings.
And that's a real shame, for the sweet-toasted-vanillaish flavor almost cries out for an alcohol chaser, right?
Well, perhaps not.
When I dialed up Sacred Cellars and asked wine guy Rudy Ced the "what do your Rice Krispies say to you?" question, he took a slow breath. "Let me think for 30 seconds or so," he replied.
Brandan Kelley, sommelier for Next Vintage at the Joule (as well as the entire hotel, including their stellar restaurant), warned "there's not a whole lot of flavor to go on" before deciding on a Demi-Sec, something with a lot of acidity and a residue of complementary sugar--although he didn't seem convinced of the idea.
"It should work--not that I've personally tried it," he said.
Ced finished thinking and pointed toward a bottle of Molnar, a creamy California Chardonnay. "That or a dry sherry," he added.
Two different directions, then: a borderline sweet sparkling wine or a raspy sherry (I'd already discounted the Chard because of its $25 price tag). I finally opted for the latter and picked up a bottle of Savory & James, a fino from Jerez.
This particular brand floods the nose with a wave of tainted grape and minerals, as if you're standing in a vineyard of split fruit on a rainy day in Spain, breathing deeply. On the palate this translates into a flamboyant aftertaste that unfolds layer after layer in just about every iteration of fruit and wood possible.
Paired to the cereal bars the sherry first appears too distinct. The funky sharpness becomes more compact, like a battering ram capable of shattering the simple marshmallow sweetness...but then the aftertaste comes, finer this time--mellow and streaked by vanilla, redefined by the Rice Krispies treats.
From one perspective it's a pairing on the verge of failure. Then it switches gears, finding agreement between food and wine, as well.
It doesn't work and it works. So the pairing may need a little more tinkering. Good thing I bought my Rice Krispies treats at Costco.