Category Archives: Pairing Wine With Food

How to Prepare for Large Holiday Gatherings, from our friends at Omaha Steaks

We’re using the wisdom of our partners at Omaha Steaks to share some excellent holiday tips! The post you’ll read below is from the very useful Omaha Steaks blog, steakbytes.com, where Chef Karl shares his culinary wisdom. We hope you find it useful for your holiday gatherings.

From Karl’s Kitchen on SteakBytes.com: 

A question that I am often asked at this time of the year is how to prepare a holiday meal for a large gathering of people? Back in my hotel and restaurant days I often would do 400+ person dinners on Thanksgiving Day, but that was in a professional kitchen with a full crew. At a home it is a little different but the same basic principles apply.  At this point I should mention that at Omaha Steaks we have everything you need for your holiday gathering including the roastsside dishessaucesdesserts andappetizers. Most of which are just heat and serve which really cuts down on the amount of work, complication and most importantly allows you to spend more time with your guests. That being said if you prefer to do everything the hard way, then here are my tips.

Plan Ahead
The most important thing is to be organized and plan ahead. You want to do most of the work long before your guests arrive. Several weeks before the event figure out the guest list and menu. Make sure you have enough plates, silverware, glasses and serving dishes for the event. Figure out the menu. Gather all your recipes of the dishes you want to prepare into one place. Even if you do not use recipes, write down an outline of the ingredients for each dish. Order your roasts from Omaha Steaks. Make sure you have the kitchen equipment you need to pull of the event. Now would also be a good time to borrow or buy roasters to hold hot food on the day of the event.

Make a shopping list
Once you have your menu done and recipes in hand it is time to make your shopping list. Make it as detailed as possible even if you know you already have the ingredient on hand. This should be done several weeks before the event and then as you do your regular grocery shopping you can start chipping away at the list little by little. Don’t forget things like beverages, extra ice and other items you will need for the event.

Thaw your larger roasts and turkeys
This seems to be the most common mistake most people make is waiting until the last minute to thaw your large roasts. If you have a good cold fridge it can take up to a week for a large 15lb turkey to fully thaw. I recommend allowing a day for every 2 pounds of roast. This will be overkill in most cases but having it thawed a day or two early will not affect your meal in the least.

Make a prep list
This is the key to a smooth event. I recommend making three separate lists. One for things you can do several days in advance, one for the day before the event (this should be your largest list) and one for the day of the event.

Do as much of your prep the day before the event as possible
I always try to do as much as possible the day before the event. For really large Thanksgiving gatherings I will go so far as to cook the turkeys, slice them and put all of the meat into reheating pans the day before. This allows me to make my gravy and stuffing the day before. This frees up lots of time on Thanksgiving Day for me to visit with guests or handle any last minute items that pop up. One thing to keep in mind when cooking food the day before is to cool it quickly and completely to prevent any bacterial growth. It is also important to reheat pre-cooked food quickly. That being said, be sure topractice good sanitation at all times. Don’t let kids or family members help without first washing their hands. Make sure all containers and equipment are clean and sanitary. The last thing you want around the holidays is a case of food poisoning.

Make a fire list for day of the event
Most professional chefs make a list they call the fire list. This is basically a timeline for the day of the event that tells you when to start things and when to finish things. This is particularly important if you only have one oven. You want to plan what time things go into the oven and what time they come out.  The times should be in chronological order so on the day of the event you just go down the list and never forget anything. Things like large roasts can come out of the oven up to an hour before you are going to serve them. This allows your roast time to rest and frees up the oven for side dishes. If you have one recipe that needs to be cooked at 400 degrees and another that needs 350 just compromise at 375 and adjust the cooking times appropriately. There are many tricks to keeping hot food hot but the best is to use electric roasters and crock pots. This frees up your oven and stove which allows you to make several recipes well ahead time.

There you have it. I find that if I craft a detailed plan in advance it takes away a lot of the stress of cooking for large gatherings and allows me to do a better job and enjoy spending time my friends and family.

Cheers!

Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Think it’s impossible to pair wine with all of those turkey day flavors? Believe it or not, it actually is quite possible. Pairing wine with all of the variety can be tricky but there are certain wines that pair well with all of your wonderful, traditional turkey holiday dishes. After all, the Thanksgiving table is filled with a variety of foods, differing in flavor and texture. All of your family’s favorite dishes are delicious and deserve some fabulous wine alongside. These wine picks will be sure to enhance your traditional Thanksgiving meal this holiday season.

Toast the holiday

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have in our lives. Why not celebrate what we are thankful for with bubbles! Sip in class with Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee or for a little less money, try the Charles Lafitte Brut Prestige, excellent bubbles from France that won’t break the bank.

Classic Pairings

Riesling and Beaujolais wines are classic matches to pair with traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Not only is Riesling a good match for the flavors of turkey day dishes because of the acidity, most Riesling wines are low in alcohol, making it a smart wine to drink if you tend to eat your Thanksgiving meal earlier in the day. After all, you want to stay awake for your turkey sandwich at the end of the day while you watch football! Try the 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington state or the 2011 Clean Slate Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany.

Beaujolais wine, which is a light red wine from France, has nice fruit structure and good acidity, making it a classic red wine match for your holiday meal. Try the 2010 Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Domaine des Rosiers or the 2010 Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents. Both are classic Beaujolais wines, crushed red berries, excellent acidity and have a great finish.

All American

If you want to stay with the red, white and blue this Thanksgiving, Zinfandel is the way to go. There are two styles of Zinfandel and you could go either way for your turkey dinner. Choose either a jammy and luscious Zinfandel or a spicy and structured one depending on your taste.

If you prefer a jammy and luscious Zinfandel try the 2009 Murphy-Goode Liars Dice Zinfandel. If your palate leads you towards the earthy, spicy and structured Zinfandels, try the 2008 Sebastiani Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.

We recommend two other fabulous wines to try if you want to keep it “All American”. The 2011 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir ; it’s smooth and supple with ripe flavors of cranberry and dried red cherries with a light finish and the 2010 Montinore Pinot Gris from Oregon, which has wonderful stone fruit aromas and a hint of minerality. It is nicely balanced, fruity, smooth and has excellent acidity.

Classy and Versatile

If you want a delicious, classic wine with your Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate in class and style, go with white and red Burgundy. Both will pair beautifully with the variety of dishes on your table.

Keep it classy and stylish with the 2010 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Premier Cru Blanc white burgundy. It’s fruity, smooth with rich texture and structure. For a red Burgundy, try the 2009 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s smooth, supple and is a beautiful bouquet of aromatic floral notes and red fruits.

For more turkey day wine suggestions, check out our Thanksgiving Wine Guide for ideas. Do you have a favorite match? Share with us!

 

Halloween Candy Wine Pairings

M&Ms and Merlot? Charleston Chews and Chardonnay? Skittles and Sangiovese? Yes, you CAN pair wine with leftover Halloween candy (or those pieces you swiped from your 4 year olds Trick-or-Treat stash on the sole basis of protecting her teeth).

In the basic world of food & wine pairing, the wine should always be sweeter than the food. But, when looking at most candy that is passed out on Halloween night, you’re talking high sugar and lots of sweetness, and there are exceptions to that rule. After all, the adults schlep the kids through the cold, dark streets on Halloween night and deserve a little treat of their own! Here are our picks for tasty treats for the adults:

Hershey Chocolate Bars paired with a Jammy Zinfandel

Snickers Bars paired with Port

Skittles paired with Moscato

Sour Patch Kids paired with a Bubbly NV Rosé from France

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups paired with Ruby Port or Sherry

Heath Bars paired with Sherry

Candy Corn paired with a round, buttery California Chardonnay or a Viognier from Provence, France or even a Gewürztraminer

Red Licorice paired with a Pinot Noir

Kit-Kats paired with a Merlot

M&M’s paired with a Malbec or Merlot

100 Grand Bar paired with….why a Grand Cru Bordeaux of course!

Happy Halloween candy and wine sipping!

 

Tailgate Sipping

I admit, in my college days at an ACC school, I never drank wine at a tailgate. It wasn’t

An Auburn tailgate hosted by my cousin. The AU Pinterest board named it “Best Tailgate” last weekend!

even an option. My red solo cup was a watered down mix of bourbon and coke, just like everyone else. Now that I’m older, and more mature (I hope), I find that wine and football are a great match. Especially with all the fun tailgate foods that go with it. Some general wine tips on matching up vino and tailgates:

Screw cap wines – Grabbing a glass of wine should be easy, especially if you’re in a true tailgate situation parking lot. No need to dig out a corkscrew – plenty of delicious, refreshing, excellent value wine with screw cap closures around, perfect for the plastic cup in your hand.

Bubbly – A chilled bottle of bubbly is a perfect treat in early tailgate season, when the weather is still warm. I am particularly drawn to its ability to pair with anything salty, like all the chips and dip available. Cava is a delicious wine for the price, and we’re big fans of Jaume Serra Cristalino.

Albarino-  Crisp and clean, Albarino will go with any grilled seafood or seafood dip at the party. Favorites include the Burgans Albarino (great value at $14) and the Bodegas Fillaboa (also about $14).

Malbec – Step it up for the meat on the tailgate menu. Malbec is spicy and jammy, a great match for a mix of sweet and spicy foods. Easy to drink and many a great value. Check out Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec and Apaltagua Malbec.

Zinfandel – Zin is an all-season wine. Great in summer, ideal on the Thanksgiving table, and a perfect pick for a tailgate. Delicious to drink on its own well into the 3rd and 4th quarters. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel is a definite favorite, though Bogle Old Vines Zinfandel is probably my favorite value.

No matter what you pick for your tailgates – beer, bourbon or wine – enjoy that general football season warmth – fall weather rolling in, funny-looking mascots, screaming at the television when you have absolutely no control of the outcome… Happy Tailgate Season!

Wine Wednesday & Buitoni

In case you missed it, Buitoni USA is running a Wine Wednesday sweepstakes where they are giving away Wine.com gift cards. Kind of a no brainer – sign up and you’re entered to win a $25 gift card to Wine.com!

In case you are unfamiliar with Buitoni, the company produces a number of Italian food products, from delicious pesto sauces to ravioli to complete meals!

We’ve decided to help pair some wines with these meals during the sweepstakes and today, we’ll feature the Shrimp-Lobster Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce. Um, can you say rich white?

Since it’s Italian in nature, my first pick would be an Italian white like the Planeta 2008 Chardonnay. It’s rich, saturated and creamy, a perfect match to that rich garlic butter sauce with the ravioli. The dish is perfect for any rich Chardonnay, but pairing region with region (Italy with Italy in this case) is always a recipe for a good pairing. Don’t hesitate to try another white I love from Italy: Falanghina. This is another rich variety, perfect for a creamy sauce.

Don’t forget to enter the Wine Wednesday sweepstakes today through the Buitoni facebook page.