Sommelier Speak

Baked Fish Filet with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

A tender and flakey filet of baked Hake is served atop a bed of sautéed mushrooms, shallots, tomatoes, and a fluffy rice pilaf. The dish is perfectly seasoned and topped with a drizzle of olive oil. The freshness and acidity of the tomatoes is a perfect match for the earthy and wholesome mushrooms.

Grape Varieties to Pair

Sauvignon Blanc  A rich, dry, acidic wine would pair well with the acidity of the tomatoes and the meatiness of the Hake.  Light bodied, high acid wines will express a more pronounced flavor alongside the tomatoes, compared to a Chardonnay that might lose any forward flavors and come off as flat. (Henderson, 2014)

Chardonnay A silky-rich, full bodied, barrel-aged wine would pair well with sautéed mushrooms.  A Chardonnay from a warm climate, such as California or Washington State, could also present notes of minerality similar to the earthiness we are familiar with in mushrooms.

Viognier Similar in body to Chardonnay, yet lower in acidity, a Viognier would add a nice balance to the dish.  The delicate floral notes of a Viognier, compared to that of a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, would work well with the slightly fruity, less acidic cooked tomatoes. (Wine Folly, 2016)

2014 Conundrum “25th Anniversary” California White Blend

In search for a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, I came across a bottle of 2014 Conundrum “25th Anniversary” California White Blend, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat Canelli, and Viognier, all sourced from Napa Valley, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Benito, and Tulare Counties in California (Conundrum Wines, 2018).  In color, it is more of a pale yellow than golden yellow, and its medium-plus viscosity indicates a higher alcohol content.  Aromas of jasmine and lemon hit the nose, while prominent flavors of citrus, pear, and apricot appear in tasting.  A touch of oak adds a hint of spice, and a light acidity and minerality are noted, as well.  I tasted this alongside sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes, and I was pleasantly surprised at the harmonious balance of all the flavors and aromas. Along side a baked Hake, rice pilaf, and the sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes, this wine would shine.

With its abundant sunshine, low humidity, mild winters, and Mediterranean climate, California has ideal conditions for viticulture. The North Coast region where this wine originates has winegrowing regions surrounded by mountains, which normally protects it from the cool air coming off the Pacific.  However, because of its geography, variations in distance from the ocean and elevation in the mountain ranges, the Mediterranean climate does vary within the valleys, creating a wide variety of grapes. (Nickles, 2017)



Conundrum Wines. (2018). The Wines. Retrieved from

Henderson, J. (2014, August 13). 5 Ways to Pair Wine with Summer’s Fresh Tomatoes. Retrieved from

Nickles, J. (2017). 2017 Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide. Society of Wine Educators.

Wine Folly. (2016, January 06). Viognier (“Vee-own-yay”) Wine Guide. Retrieved from

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3 Responses to Sommelier Speak

  1. I love Conundrum but never has the 25 Anniversary vintage. The story behind the wine is as interesting as the grapes used to make the wine.

    • Good evening, Professor.
      Thank you for your feedback. I updated my post to include citations and a list of sources. I was unsure how to cite the e-book, 2017 Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide, because on my kindle it doesn’t show any page numbers, and then I was finding conflicting information about citing the chapter used (Chapter 16: United States and North America). Aside from that, I used my own notes for the rest of the assignment.

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