Archive

Posts Tagged ‘pairing wine & food’

Introducing Viognier

May 15th, 2012 No comments

While the Viognier grape may be new to most wine drinkers, it’s been grown in France’s northern Rhône region for centuries.  Because its acreage in France is relatively small, so is the French production of Viognier.  Interestingly enough, decent Viognier vineyards have appeared in California since the late 1980s, and Australia is also producing the grape.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California (Image from Wikipedia)

It’s tough to grow Viognier, since the grapes are sensitive to variable climates.  The vine often requires additional attention and massive pruning, plus it ripens at an odd time.  Though Viognier wine has a high alcohol content (usually more than 14%), it contains luscious flavors of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, hints of vanilla, oak, honey, and additional citrus fruits.  It pairs very nicely with sushi, salmon, shrimp and oysters, as well as duck, chicken, and pork.  It makes a nice accompaniment to cornbread, too, and even butternut squash.  Dishes that are lightly smoked, and recipes that include either apricots or peaches make great candidates for pairing.  Though difficult to grow, rare, and often on the pricier side, it’s definitely worth giving a bottle of Viognier a try.

Natalie MacLean’s Updated iPhone App

Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLeanInstead of giving traditional (and often non-useful) gifts to your folks this Mother’s or Father’s Day, considering celebrating with the gift of a good bottle of wine that will really make them smile!  Sure ties, socks, and ceramic hippo nicknacks are the norm when you’re not really sure what your parents want or need, but a bottle of wine–a classy touch of elegance–shows just how much you appreciate them, much more than any generic gift ever can.

Because Mother’s and Father’s Day meals contain all sorts of food items, finding the right wine to accompany your parent’s chosen dish may often pose a dilemma.  Fortunately, the app Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLean features a Mother’s Day Brunch matching option under the Pairings tab.  Simply selecting this option brings up plenty of perfect pairings.  For example, here are the top five:

  • Spanish omelette with Pinot Grigio
  • Spinach and bacon quiche with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Crepes Suzanne with Icewine
  • French toast and raspberries with Champagne
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels with Pinot Noir

Curious about what to bring to the family’s Father’s Day cookout?  Select Father’s Day Barbecue from the list!  What are some sure-fire suggestions?

  • Seared Pepper Steak with Shiraz
  • Planked Salmon with Riesling
  • Flame-Broiled Hamburgers with Zinfandel
  • Grilled Chicken with Chardonnay
  • BBQ Pork Chops with Merlot

Mmmmm…  In addition to helping you select fantastic wines for your family’s fun holidays, the app allows you to access a host of tasting notes, scores, prices, and recipes.  You can search over 150,000 wines at retailers across the U.S.,  and create a wine journal containing your own notes and photos.  Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLean is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry, and allows users with other mobile phones access to a mobile site.  The latest version was updated on Feb. 04, 2012.

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

If you like to add wine to your pasta sauce, here’s an easy recipe that’s sure to make some happy tummies!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Red Wine and Meatball Sauce

Photo by Erik Möller

  • 1 pound (or more) ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg, yolk separated
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • parsley flakes
  • salt
  • pepper
Napa 4-bottle wine dispenser and wine preserver

Napa 4-bottle Wine Dispenser

In a large bowl, mix the egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and ground beef (or turkey) by hand.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, and continue mixing.  Shape your meat mixture into 20-30 small balls, and set them in a medium-to-large frying pan coated with olive oil.  Fry your meatballs, turning them as necessary until they are brown on all sides.  Drain excess oil from the pan, if necessary, and remove the meatballs.  (Set them aside for later.)  In a separate bowl, mix together the beef stock, wine, and tomato paste.  Add parsley flakes as desired.  Carefully pour mixture into your meatball pan, stirring gently until the sauce comes to a boil.  Add your meatballs!  Cover and simmer for 25-30 min.  Pour over pasta, and enjoy!  (And don’t forget to serve the wine you used for cooking with the meal.)  If you’ve prepared this dish in advance early in the day, consider using the Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser to keep the rest of your wine fresh and ready to serve with the meal.

Do you have a favorite wine-sauce variation? Share it in the comments!

 

Red Wines For All Foods

April 5th, 2012 No comments
Chicken, traditionally served with white wine, can also be enjoyed with red wine.

Traditionally served with white wine, chicken can also be enjoyed with red! (Photo by Steven Walling)

If you’ve read our recent post, If You’re Going to Drink, Choose Red!, you may be wondering how to effectively increase your red wine consumption by substituting it for white.  The good news is that there’s a red wine alternative to just about every “traditional” white-wine dish!

Though it may take you (and some of your guests) a little time to get out of the mindset that certain foods must always be enjoyed with either whites or reds, specifically, the rewards are more red wine consumption at your table and (quite often) more interesting pairings!

Let’s start with fish!  When it comes to the creatures of the sea, white wine has been given dominion.  However, there are excellent reds that will not overpower your fine, flaky fillets.  Try a baked or grilled fish dish with a bottle of Cabernet Franc or a nice Cote du Rhone.  These red wines, because of their low acidity, blend quite well with almost all of your typical fish dishes.

Next comes pasta!  If you’re eating pasta with tomato sauce, experiment with almost any red!  Reds, in general, are fantastic with tomato sauces (especially those with meatballs!)  If your pasta is covered with a tantalizing cheese sauce, consider pairing your plate with a light Burgundy or Merlot.  These two wines are excellent compliments to cheese sauces of all kinds, even ones that incorporate a bit of spice!

Lastly, we come to chicken!  Like the numerous reds that go well with tomato sauce, I urge you to experiment!  For a few starters, consider pairing your bird with a bottle of Pinot Noir, Chianti, Barolo, or (a personal favorite) Beaujolais.  Beaujolais works especially well with recipes involving cornish game hens sprinkled with rosemary, as well as barbecued chicken.  Have fun, be adventurous, and keep track of the reds you find work best with your favorite “white wine” foods.  Enjoy!

Easter Wine Pairings

April 3rd, 2012 No comments

Easter is a time to celebrate with family and friends.  When meals are involved, the focus is often on a roasted ham or a nice leg of lamb.  But what wines go best with these dishes?  After all, hams are often prepared with a variety of glazes, aren’t they?  Read on!An Easter ham perfect with a glass of wine.

No matter how sweet your ham’s glaze may be, ham is an inherently salty meat.  Keeping this in mind, the best wines for any ham are Rieslings or  Gewürztraminers.  Both sweet wines complement the salty flavor of ham without impacting the taste of the glaze, or the taste of the wines themselves.  If you’d prefer a more buttery mouth feel to accompany your glazed ham, a slightly oaked Chardonnay is also a possibility.  For drinkers who prefer red wine, Red Zinfandel is a spot-on alternative; the bold presence of its fruit flavors will complement any sweet ham.

If you’re serving leg of lamb, consider a traditional pairing like Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Merlot.  You’ll want a wine that is fruity and acidic so that it complements your lamb (a meat with big flavor!), but does not subdue its flavor.  If some guests want white wine, while others desire red, consider having two or more bottles of wine open simultaneously.  Save any left over wine with the convenient WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive for more relaxed enjoyment later in the evening.  Cheers, and Happy Easter!

Wine and Spice: Hot Foods & Wines to Choose

March 1st, 2012 No comments

It’s still winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the season for spicy food.  In fact, a good meal filled with spicy delights might be just the thing to warm you up!  Are you eyeing that jalapeño?  Are red, hot chili peppers calling your name?  Here are some wines that are sure to complement your spicy food’s zestiness!

red hot chili pepperIf your dish contains mild, flavor-rich peppers (like chili peppers or cherry peppers), consider having a glass of Malbec on hand to soften the burn.  If Malbecs seem too “big” for you, perhaps a fruit-flavored Pinot Noir will be an acceptable counterpoint to your cuisine?  And if you’re a diehard white wine drinker, never fear; dry Rieslings will also soothe your taste buds while simultaneously pairing well with your meal.

If your dish is so hot that it could be labeled “nuclear,” consider pairing it with a wine that has a lower alcohol content and is also on the sweeter side.  A German Riesling with low a low level of alcohol, such as Spätlese, is an excellent choice (as is an Alsatian Gewurztraminer).

Don’t be afraid to pair your spicy, winter cuisine with a bottle of white or red listed above.  You’ll be surprised how a decent, appropriate bottle can compliment even the hottest of peppers.  Cheers!

Wine and Chocolate: What Really Works?

February 9th, 2012 No comments

So, you want to get your sweetheart a special wine to accompany the heart-shaped box of chocolates you’re giving him or her this Valentine’s Day?  What wine do you select?  Unlike “standard” wine and food pairings, pairing wine with chocolate can be a bit more tricky.  However, if you pair them well, the result is truly divine!  No matter if you’re pairing your wine with white, milk, or dark chocolate, here are some tips to help steer you in the right direction…

Chocolates for Valentine's Day: Pick the Perfect Wine

Photo by John Hritz (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Try to pair lighter, less complex wines with lighter, simple-tasting chocolates.  The reverse also goes; try to pair rich, robust wines with darker, richer chocolates, including dark chocolate covered cherries.  Since dark chocolate displays more tannins, combining dark chocolate with a wine packed with tannins has sort of a “cancelation effect” on the wine’s tannins, bringing out more of the wine’s inherent fruity flavor (which is just what you want!)

Because white chocolate is more subtle than milk or dark, it pairs very well with Sherry and Moscato d’Asti.  Though some people like to pair white chocolate with red or white Zinfandel, the counterpoint of flavors can sometimes provide a dissatisfying contrast (if not “sampled” for approval beforehand.)  Our advice: play it safe and stay away from Zinfandel unless you know your mate has enjoyed such a combination before!  Milk chocolate goes well with Pinot Noir, several Rieslings, and Muscat (one of our favorites!)  Ruby–not Tawney–Port is almost always a perfect fit for milk chocolate, so we recommend serving this dessert wine when in doubt.  Dark chocolate craves to be paired with wines that also display hints of chocolate.  A good red Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for a box of dark chocolates.  Merlot and Tawney Port also pair exceptionally well with dark chocolate.

We hope these suggestions aid you on your quest to find the “perfect” wine to accompany the chocolate delights you plan to present your lover.  (Remember, there’s no harm in buying a few extra bottles of wine so you can sample some combinations yourself before February 14th, just to be sure!)  Cheers!

Wine and Ice Cream

February 7th, 2012 No comments

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia® ice cream flavor

This week, we’re prepping you for a wine lover’s Valentine’s Day with some yummy ideas you can share with your sweetie!

So, your Sweetie Pie wants some ice cream to accompany a romantic bottle of wine during an intimate evening in?  Unheard of?  Think again!  There are, in fact, some decent wine and ice cream pairings you can try!

Is your ice cream chocolate, or chocolate chip?  Consider following a spoonful with a sip of Cabernet Sauvignon,  Ruby Port, or even a glass of Madeira!  In the mood for coffee or mocha ice cream?  Follow a bowl with a bottle of Sherry.  If you’re a mint chocolate chip fan, you’ll love how a jammy, Red Zinfandel augments your ice cream’s delicious mint taste.

Pair wine with a sorbet

Photo by Renee Comet

Strawberry ice cream, as you may guess, simply begs to be accompanied by Champagne (or a similar sparkling wine), but it can also go nicely with Sherry or Chianti.  If your ice cream is a little more adventurous, like a passion fruit sorbet for instance, give it a whirl with a good Chardonnay.  (Unoaked varieties usually pair better in this case).  Is raspberry sorbet more to your liking?  Try a taste with a Sparkling Rosé!  A quality French Bordeaux makes a great companion to Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia®, and for you folks who favor plain, old vanilla, here are some wines just for you: Sherry, Sauternes, Ruby Port, and Muscat.  Cheers!

A Little Bit About Prosecco

February 2nd, 2012 No comments

Prosecco bottles

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine that is often made Dry or Extra Dry.  Unlike sweeter sparkling wines, today’s Prosecco is intended to be on the drier side.  Though Prosecco is often used as a Champagne (or other sparkling wine) substitute, it has its own distinctive taste.  While Champagne and other sparklers are sought after for their complexity, Prosecco is manufactured to be lighter, fresher, and much more on the plain side; it works very well as a pleasant palate-cleanser between courses, and even between wines during select wine tastings.  Enjoyed chilled, like Champagne, Prosecco works as an aperitif on its own; however, it is frequently paired with hors d’oeuvres like bruschetta, canape, crostini, soft cheeses, stuffed mushrooms or shrimp, and even olives.

Vintage Series Legacy Wine Credenza (3-door model)

Vintage Series Legacy Wine Credenza (3-door model)

Unlike Champagne (whose second fermentation process occurs in the bottle), Prosecco’s second fermentation process occurs in stainless steel tanks.  This is one of the main reasons why it’s often less expensive than Champagne; it’s less expensive to produce.  Unlike other sparkling wines that do ferment in their bottles, Prosecco is meant to be consumed within three years, lest it become stale.  (Some higher quality bottles of Prosecco may be kept up to seven years, but if you’re in doubt, drink it while it’s young!)

To keep your Prosecco at the proper serving temperature, consider using a stylish wine cabinet like the Vintage Series Legacy Wine Credenza, or the Le Cache Wine Vault 3100.  Always remember to drink your Prosecco while it’s still young!

Happy February, wine lovers! Stay tuned for some fun, yummy Valentine’s day content coming up soon!

Red Wine Garlic Bread

January 31st, 2012 No comments

Delicious wine bread with garlicIn the mood for some warm, winter bread?  Who isn’t? With a little wine and garlic, your winter snack will be even more delightful!  First, pick up a freshly-baked baguette from your local grocery store or bakery.  (You may also opt to bake yourself a homemade loaf of French bread.)  In addition to a loaf of bread, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup dry, red wine (pick a good one!)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

Preheat your oven to 400° F.  Cut your bread into 1-inch slices but do not fully separate them from the main loaf; aim for semi-sliced bread that will bake as a unit, but with slices that will be easy to separate later on.  Place a large amount of foil on a baking sheet, and place your bread on top of it.  Curl up the edges of the foil to contain the soon-to-be-made wine and butter mixture.  Between each slice of bread, place a thin slice of garlic.  Mix the wine and melted butter in a bowl, then pour the mixture evenly between bread slices.  Pour whatever is left evenly over the top of the bread.  Bake for 22-24 minutes until the bottom of the bread is nice and crisp.  Enjoy!