Ryan Levy and Ian Eastveld of Nice Winery are certified sommeliers, wine educators and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs. They have also hosted two AmaWaterways Wine Cruises and are scheduled to host a 2019 Melodies of the Danube Wine Cruise and an Enticing Douro Wine Cruise in 2020. We interviewed Ryan about food, wine, and how he creates magic and wonder for guests on board.
“Ama” means love and we like to celebrate love on board – what are the best wines for guests to toast their significant other?
You can never go wrong with a bottle of bubbles. Sparkling wine is a high-acid wine that pairs with almost everything and with so many different cuisines. Alsatian wines are also great. The bottles are tall and slender and evoke a feeling of celebration.
As a trained chef, what’s your go-to dish that has that “wow” factor?
Ian and I do a lot of collaborative cooking and what we’re most famous for is braised beef short ribs made with our Malbec wine. Braising is a lost art of cooking and doing it with one of our favorite wines makes a spectacular pairing.
How do you know when a wine will complement a dish?
We come to winemaking from the perspective of chefs. So, our decisions during the winemaking process are informed by how the wine is going to pair with food. It’s one of the things that drew us to AmaWaterways – that it’s a member of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and takes its food very seriously on the ship. Wine pairing is now driven more by flavor intensity than the protein. You can have red wine with fish, if the seasoning and preparation of the fish is bold and powerful enough to stand up to the complexity of the red wine. One rule of thumb is to pair flavors of similar intensity together: light flavors with light-bodied wines and bold flavors with full-bodied wines. I love to pair our nice Sauvignon Blanc with ceviche and crab cakes while our Nice Yakima Cabernet Sauvignon is perfectly paired with a cowboy cut ribeye or a hunk of Maytag blue cheese.