Since I am not currently in the Napa Valley, I have found myself cooking more and more. One of my favorite, quick appetizers is bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese.
I have prepared several versions of these, including goat and gorgonzola, but the harder blue cheese seems to work the best. I chose the Point Reyes Blue Cheese. I decided to go down to the cellar and try to find a wine that might pair well with the rich appetizer. I picked two to experiment with. First I came upon an older 2004 Paraduxx Zinfandel from Napa Valley. The second wine was a 2009 LaFond Pinot Noir Clone 777 from Santa Rita Hills.
First, I tried it with the Paradox because originally I thought that the old bricky flavor with a hint of sweet would pair well. Unfortunately, the dates overwhelmed the wine and it tasted flat. I guess sweet doesn’t pair with sweet. When I opened the LaFond Pinot, I noticed a funky smell reminiscent of an old French Burgundy. I took a sip and noticed a smoky taste that perfectly complemented the bacon. Both the wine and the appetizer perfectly matched each other. The acidity on the front helped with the fattiness of the bacon and the blue cheese stood out over the sweet date. It was an excellent pairing.
Now I know that not everyone is going to have a 2009 Pinot laying around but I would recommend trying a newer vintage of LaFond or even trying a Paraduxx that is a few years old since they do tend to start out fairly tannic. All-in-all I found that experimenting with a couple different wines could help you learn what to pick out for other pairings.
Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon:
- 12 Dates pitted (I use Organic Whole Foods Deglet Noor Dates pitted)
- Medium portion of Blue Cheese (I use Point Reyes Blue)
- 6 pieces of bacon cut in half (I use Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon)
- wooden toothpicks
Preheat oven to 350. Use foil to line a cookie sheet or pan. Slice open dates lengthwise and take out pits. Spoon in a good amount of blue cheese and wrap with half slice of bacon. Use toothpick to secure. Place in oven for 40 minutes turning dates over halfway through. Makes 12 dates.
Enjoy.. Wine Ho