The art of pairing wine with food is a delicate balance of matching flavors, textures, and intensity levels to create a harmonious dining experience. This thesis proposes a thoughtful reinterpretation of the classic Spanish paella, traditionally rich with seafood, saffron, and a medley of vegetables, to complement the distinctive qualities of a Coombsville Cabernet Franc. The Coombsville AVA, known for its cool climate and volcanic soils, produces Cabernet Franc wines that are expressive, with a fine balance of fruit, herbal notes, and a hint of spice and minerality. To align with these characteristics, the paella must undergo specific modifications, enhancing its compatibility with the wine's profile and creating a pairing that elevates both the dish and the wine.

Coombsville Cabernet Franc Profile

A bottle of 2019 Covert Estate Cabernet Franc was used as a reference in this exercise.

Coombsville Cabernet Franc is celebrated for its aromatic complexity, showcasing ripe red fruits, particularly raspberry and red currant, alongside green bell pepper, and floral notes, with subtle undertones of earth and spice. The wine's acidity and tannins are well-integrated, offering a structured yet smooth mouthfeel. This unique combination of flavors and textures sets the stage for a culinary pairing that highlights the wine's best qualities while respecting the integrity of the Spanish paella.

Classic Paella: A Culinary Canvas

Paella, a symbol of Spanish gastronomy, is a versatile dish that combines rice, saffron, a variety of proteins, and vegetables. Its complexity and richness make it a challenging yet rewarding dish to pair with wine. To match the Coombsville Cabernet Franc, the paella requires adjustments that will embrace and reflect the wine's fruit-forward nature and herbal undertones without overpowering its delicate balance.

Paella and Coombsville Cabernet Franc

Proposed Modifications to the Paella

1. Protein Selection and Preparation

Replace traditional seafood with chicken and rabbit, marinated in a mixture of smoked paprika, rosemary, and thyme, which mirrors the herbal and spicy notes of the Cabernet Franc. The addition of artichoke hearts can introduce a vegetal component that complements the wine's green bell pepper notes.

2. Saffron-infused Rice Enhancement

The saffron-infused rice should be subtly accented with a dash of smoked paprika and a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and thyme, towards the end of cooking. This will not only enrich the rice's flavor but also tie in the herbal qualities of the Cabernet Franc, creating a flavorful base that resonates with the wine.

3. Vegetable Integration

Incorporate roasted red bell peppers and sautéed green beans to the paella. The sweetness of the red peppers will harmonize with the Cabernet Franc's red fruit characteristics, while the green beans add a crisp texture and a fresh counterpoint to the wine's acidity.

4. Adjusting the Socarrat

The socarrat, the cherished crispy rice crust at the bottom of the paella, should be carefully monitored to ensure it develops a subtle smokiness without becoming overly charred. This element of the dish can accentuate the wine's mineral undertones and add a pleasing textural contrast.


By thoughtfully modifying the classic paella to align with the distinctive profile of a Coombsville Cabernet Franc, a remarkable culinary pairing is achieved. Through careful selection of proteins, the enhancement of saffron-infused rice with herbs, the strategic integration of vegetables, and the mastery of the socarrat, the paella not only complements but elevates the wine, creating a synergistic dining experience. This pairing embodies the creative potential in the world of food and wine, demonstrating how a deep understanding of both components can lead to innovative and sublime pairings that challenge traditional expectations and delight the senses.

Paella and Coombsville Cabernet Franc