It can seem almost indulgent to be seeking out food and wine pairings while the U.S. is in the midst of dealing with a pandemic. If anything, pandemics mean drinking wine by the box, and boxed wine goes with everything, right?
However, for those looking for a bit of indulgence, here’s a list of five local Austin restaurants offering food and wine pairings during COVID-19:
Splurge On A Tasting Menu In An Acclaimed Restaurant.
Often lauded farm-to-table restaurant, Barley Swine, offers a tasting menu with wine pairing for $150 per person. The restaurant prides itself on using ingredients sourced from local Austin farmers and provides a set tasting menu for all its customers. The menu changes with the seasons, and right now includes a delectable-looking oyster ceviche (paired with a 2015 Domaine des Huards) and a Muscovy duck with red cabbage (paired with a 2018 Domaine Chapel Fleurie).
Try A Unique Tasting Menu.
Bright, cheerful Vixen’s Wedding, brought to you by the Lenoir chefs, serves up Goan food at the East Austin Hotel. Goa, the Indian state that was once colonized by Portugal, has a cuisine that blends an Indian emphasis on spices and tropical fruits with Portuguese influences. The restaurant is currently offering a shared tasting menu with wine pairing for $94 per person. Expect dishes like shishito chutney smoked lamb shank with chili onion naan served with a 2015 Riofavara ‘Spaccaforno’ Elero or a cherry custard dessert paired with a 2014 Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. Even more importantly, their shared tasting menu for 2 is available for takeout.
If you think wine and pizza is the ultimate combo…
You would be correct. Bufalina recently launched their Bufalina Wine Club to “…keep the Austin community hydrated three or six bottles at a time.” Customers can choose between three or six-packs at three different pricing tiers (Glou Glou, Sip Sip, and Glee). Pickup is twice a month at their Cesar Chavez location and each wine comes with a detailed description as well as a recommendation for the best Bufalina pizza pairing.
Relax at a wine bar.
Previously a wine and furniture store, Aviary Wine & Kitchen added a full-service (albeit small) kitchen back in 2017 allowing them to offer a food menu to pair with their exhaustive wine list. Aviary has wines for every mood and they categorize their wine list by musician. There’s David Bowie wines, the Starman himself, for those looking for sparkling wines. Or if you’re feeling more Twiggy, meaning lean, bright, and austere Rieslings, Sancerres, or Albarinos. There’s always my favorite—the Notorious B.I.G. wines which are big, bold, and rich tasting with golden honey hues. Choose the wine for your mood and ask your server for recommendations for food. Aviary’s menu is full of salty, toasty, umami snacks and meals that pair well with a wide variety of wines so you can’t go wrong.
Taste a classic wine and cheese pairing.
Newcomer Rebel Cheese offers 100% plant-based cheese made from nuts, herbs, and vegan yogurt. Owners Kristen Maitland and Fred Zwar opened Rebel Cheese to prove that non-dairy cheese could taste just as, if not better, than their dairy counterparts. They offer a wide variety of cheeses from vegan mozzarella to vegan pepper jack. Their online ordering platform provides you the option to add on a bottle of wine with each of their curated cheese and charcuterie boards, or you can choose to customize your own board. For those looking for a full-dairy hit, hit up favorite Antonelli’s Cheese Shop which offers several cheese & wine pairings including their popular Ready-To-Go Picnic Cheese & Wine package. For a guided experience, Antonelli’s is partnering with Austin Winery to offer a Virtual Cheese & Wine Tasting on February 6th.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll be expanding your palate, learning more about the nuances of wine pairing, and having fun. As a bonus, every single one of these restaurants is locally owned. So by indulging a bit, you can help support our local Austin restaurants when they need it the most!
Helen works in the tech industry at “Silicon Hills” in sunny, weird Austin, Texas. She balances all that left-brain activity with freelance writing about the Texas restaurant scene and new food trends with a focus on Chinese cuisine. In her free time she renovates 1980s homes, films educational Youtube videos teaching analytics, and develops “no-code apps.”