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Bottled up: Shishito peppers with Sauvignon Blanc make memorable pairing

Bottled up: Shishito peppers with Sauvignon Blanc make memorable pairing

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Creating memorable experiences with food and wine are one of the great joys about being a wine enthusiast and foodie. For the past couple of summers, my husband and I have tried to make an exciting road trip each summer. We explore parts of the country we haven’t seen and attempt to get back to the land and for a few fleeting moments feel as if we are truly “off the grid.”

 I look back fondly on the week we spent camping down the California Pacific Coast Highway. We journeyed down from San Francisco to San Diego and spent time in Big Sur where I encountered my first plate of Shishito peppers. This food and wine pairing has become so memorable and enjoyable that I prepare it regularly at home during the summer months. It combines all the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc with summer produce for a great starter or appetizer. For anyone who hasn’t been to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the trip is well-worth the trek to start your journey. Heading south from San Francisco, cliffs begin to emerge and jaggedly soar from the expansive blue waters and the roads snake through the cliffside in a way that you can’t help but stop every 10 minutes.

During our time in Big Sur we camped at a resort called Ventana which I would highly recommend. Ventana includes both campsites and hotel accommodation, and the resort is perched on a cliff-face overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hiking trails flank the resort which act as the trailhead, and its restaurant, The Sur House, offers eclectic California fare with a 10,000 bottle wine cellar, al fresco dining among the cliffs, and menu items like blistered Shishito peppers dressed with a Japanese Furikake seasoning of seaweed, sesame and bonito flakes, and Yuzu aioli dipping sauce. Shishito peppers are intimidating to look at. With a similar look to Serrano and Jalapenos, you expect them to be incredibly spicy but they taste more like a bell pepper but sweeter. Recreating this appetizer at home is surprisingly simple and makes a great option for hosting wine night or any dinner party.

1. In a small dipping bowl combine a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and add equal parts of orange and lime juice to taste (using orange and lime juice you can substitute for Yuzu as most grocery stores do not carry this). Salt to taste.

2. Place dry Shishito peppers in a hot frying pan and continue to rotate and flip until skin blisters all over and chars slightly.

3. Add peppers to a mixing bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, and toss with furikake seasoning. Serve with dipping sauce on the side immediately.

My go to wine pairing with this dish is always Sauvignon Blanc. Known as the go-to salad wine, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing and comes with flavors of grapefruit, peach, and green vegetal elements like bell pepper known as Methoxypyrazines. It is this combination of green flavors and aromas combined with sharp citrus and sweet stone fruit and melon that it serves as a great pairing option with these blistered peppers and citrus dipping sauce. Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Bordeaux region in France and comes from the French words describing its indigenous qualities; “sauvage” which means wild, and “blanc” meaning white. Sauvignon Blanc is produced all over the world today and you can find many expressions not only in France but in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, South Africa, and of course the United States.

Here are some great Sauvignon Blancs to look for when pairing with this dish:

  • Chateau de Thauvennay - Loire Valley, France Retails $20
  • Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Blanc 2018 - Loire Valley, France - Retail $27
  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc - Marlborough, New Zealand - Retail $29
  • Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc - Marlborough, New Zealand - Retail $28
  • Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc - Sonoma County, California - Retail $22
  • Grgich Hills Estate Fume Blanc - Napa County, California - Retail $25

As you look for delicious food and wine pairings this summer, I encourage you to pick up a package of Shishito peppers and Sauvignon Blanc. A great combination of sweet and peppery, cool and refreshing, this memorable pairing will have you salivating and offers a great starter to your socially-distant dinner party. For myself, this pairing will always remind me of my time in Big Sur California and is one of my favorite go-to’s in my mealtime repertoire.

Carson Bodnarek, a self-proclaimed “cork dork”, is a certificate recipient from the Court of Master Sommeliers, WSET Level II and is currently studying for his certified sommelier exam. Always on the hunt for his next great bottle of wine for his collection, he is an avid jetsetter and devout foodie. After moving to Quad-Cities from Iowa City in 2013, Carson now resides in Bettendorf.

Contact Carson Bodnarek at 563-383-2299 or


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