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May 14, 2019
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WINE WITH…Swordfish with Mint-Ginger Butter

Last winter was so cold that the mint in our garden, which is planted in pots to keep it from spreading and taking over the world, didn’t survive.  This year, however, the mint wintered over beautifully and was the first thing to pop up when the days began to get longer.  The burst of mint’s fresh flavor is one of the most evocative harbingers of spring, whether in a julep, in a salad with cucumbers and tender lettuce, or as we discovered a few weeks ago, in this luscious garnish for swordfish.

Swordfish with Mint-Ginger Butter

Serves 4

In this case we roasted the swordfish in the oven, but you could certainly grill it if you prefer.  We served ours with couscous, but rice, orzo, or even a vegetable such as spinach or broccolini would also be nice.

Be sure to leave the butter at room temperature for an hour or two before blending in the other components so that it becomes soft.  If time permits, prepare the mixture at least a couple of hours before using it so that the minty-gingery flavors can thoroughly permeate the butter.

4 tablespoons butter softened at room temperature
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
2 teaspoons finely minced or grated ginger
1-2 cloves finely minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper
4 swordfish steaks, about 6 ounces each
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°

In a small bowl, use a fork to blend together the softened butter, mint, ginger, garlic, red pepper, and lemon peel.  Salt the mixture lightly if you are using unsalted butter.  If you don’t plan to prepare the dish right away refrigerate the seasoned butter to keep it from melting.

Season the swordfish steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large, sturdy ovenproof skillet; then add the swordfish steaks.  When the fish has browned on the bottom (about 3-5 minutes), turn it over and place the pan in the pre-heated oven.  Roast until the fish is just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Divide the butter into 4 chunks.  When the fish is done, top each steak with a chunk of butter and serve immediately.


*         *         *

We were very surprised by the versatility of this dish when it came to choosing wines.  Because swordfish tastes so dense and meaty, we assumed that full-bodied rich whites would be the only ones in that color with enough heft to pair successfully.  Similarly, we would have opted for light reds like Pinot Noir, fearing that more substantial ones could prove overwhelming.  Our tastings indicated, however, that all sorts of wines work well.  The dish offers so many separate flavor notes that different wines will accent different ones--the fish, the butter, the mint or ginger.  The whole experience served as a good reminder that preconceptions have limits.  Nothing beats actually tasting a wine with whatever dish you are planning to serve.

Adega do Salvador,

Vinho Verde

(Portugal)

“Portal Da Calçada”

Reserva

2018

(Imported by International Vines)

 

$12

 

Not only is “Portal” a terrific bargain, but it also is a delicious wine with surprising depth.  Its many assets include inviting floral and citrus components which accent the mint and ginger in this dish, as well as a gently crisp finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodega Norton,

Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza (Argentina)

Torrontés

“1895

Colección”

2017

(Imported by Guarrachi Wine Partners)

 

 

 

 

 

$13

 

Another bargain and yet another surprise, this lightly peachy, gently floral white held its own with the dish and provided an amiable match.  Drinkers who like a touch of sweetness in their wines will especially like it.

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colomé,         

Valle Calchaqui, Salta,

(Argentina)

Malbec

“Auténtico”

2018              

(Imported by the Hess Collection)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    $29

   

 

                                                                                                 

From Argentina’s high altitude wine country comes this rich and fairly intense red wine.  We admit that we did not expect the dish to have enough power and flavor to match the wine’s muscle.  But it did.

 

 

 

 

Isaac Fernandez Selección,

Utiel-Requena (Spain)

“Bovale”

2018

(Imported by Wines of Spain)

 

 

 

 

 

$15

 

Made with Bobal grapes from 40 year-old vines, this spicy red offers a mouthwatering fragrance and fruity/spicy flavors that connect nicely with the subtle ginger and minty notes in the dish. 

 

 

Manuel Manzaneque Suarez,

“Fatum”

La Mancha (Spain)

“Farum”

(Imported by Wines of Spain)

 

 

 

$12

 

Another tasty white bargain, this unusual blend (Airen, Macabeo, and Sauvignon Blanc) rocked with the swordfish.  The wine’s crisp fruity character and touch of salinity provided a harmonious counterpoint to the voluptuous texture of the butter mixture.