Achieving a good balance of sweet and savory in any dish is challenging. This recipe meets the challenge, and here are three wines — from Greece, Italy and Spain — that will either bridge the sweet-savory gap or call out the dish’s most intriguing qualities.
Make this: Fig- and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Mix together 8 fresh figs, finely chopped; 2 ounces Comte cheese, grated; 4 teaspoons fresh thyme; and 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion. Season with salt. Pound 4 boneless chicken breast halves 1/4-inch thick. Cover each with a slice of prosciutto. Spread fig mixture thinly on top. Roll up each; secure with toothpicks. Season with salt. Brown in a skillet in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine; simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 5 minutes. Remove chicken. Stir 2 tablespoons butter into sauce; cook to reduce slightly. Serve chicken, sliced, with the sauce. Makes: 4 servings
Recipe by Joe Gray
Pairings by sommelier Alan Beasey, of The Purple Pig, as told to Michael Austin:
2014 Domaine Sigalas MM, Santorini, Greece: This bright, fresh, vibrant red is made from two grapes indigenous to this mystical island: mavrotragano and mandilaria. Flavors of ripe cherries, red berries and a hint of sweet figs will bring the dish’s fresh figs to the forefront, while the soft tannins will balance the rich, nutty cheese and enhance other savory elements.
2015 La Mozza I Perazzi, Tuscany, Italy: Just like the dish, this coastal wine combines sweet and savory perfectly. Made mostly of sangiovese grapes (called morellino in this part of Tuscany), this wine pairs well with Mediterranean-style dishes like this one. The wine’s lush, dark cherry fruit, hints of licorice and subtle savory herbs will bring out all of the dish’s best flavors.
2016 Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha, Madrid, Spain: This wine is light, fresh and full of fruit. On the nose you’ll find spicy raspberries, ripe cherries and a hint of rose petals. The tart acidity will provide a perfect counterpoint to the rich cheese and prosciutto. Also, the ripe red fruits will be just sweet enough to enhance the figs.