Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

Food & Wine Fridays: Mardi Gras Menu

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is a celebration and a release of all excesses before the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is more than just one day, it is a whole season with a series of parades from different krewes, or groups, winding through the city.  Beads and other throws are thrown from the floats. You can catch beads, blinkies, toys, and even shoes.  The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold.  Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith.  Gold Represents Power.

For those of us who cannot make to the Crescent City, here is a classic Mardi Gras menu with some wine suggestions for your party. Don’t forget to binge watch some Treme, have “Trombone Shorty” playing on the stereo, and have a white handkerchief or umbrella ready if you are going to second line. If you cannot find a local bakery that makes a king cake (a few New Orleans bakeries do ship) or you can always bake one…Don’t forget the baby!

MENU

Deviled Eggs

Red beans and rice

Fried pork chops

Jambalaya

Braised greens

Hot French bread with butter

And for dessert… a king cake.

Because this is a celebration, you will need plenty of bubbly! Gwendolyn recommends the Roederer Estate as a paring for the deviled eggs as well as a great wine for sipping.

Red Beans

For the red beans, Gwendolyn recommends a chenin blanc to match with the spiciness. The Pine Ridge 2013 would be tasty.  My recommendation is to go with a red Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah 2012, which I think would be great to use as a general wine for the whole meal.

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Some fun Pinot Noirs which would be great with the pork chops or jambalaya include WillaKenzie Estate Gisele Pinot Noir 2012 or Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2012.

To go with the King Cake, of course, you will need plenty of café au lait, but some Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime Demi-Sec would be lovely or maybe Eroica Gold Riesling 2012.

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MARDI GRAS RECIPES:

*click images to download PDF recipe cards

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Celebrate International Italian Cuisine Day With Wine and Risotto!

Saturday, January 17th is International Italian Cuisine day. I thought we should blog about great food from the “old country”.  While there are tons of great Italian dishes out there, I have been craving that specialty of northern Italy, risotto.  Traditionally served as a first course, this creamy and delicious rice dish can work as a satisfying entrée.

Risotto can range in variety from the exotic Risotto Milanese, which is enriched with saffron, to light and delicate seafood riosotto, to the dark and dusky risotto al Barolo.  Regardless of the condiment or flavoring, great risotto begins with great rice. You need a short grain rice which is high in starch content.  Arborio or carnaroli varieties are readily available in most grocery stores.  It is well worth the effort to search for a specialty store that carries the vialone nano variety.

The next important trick to great risotto is mastering the method.  Instead of steaming, risotto is made by the timely addition of broth or water.  There are 2 tricks to this… First, make sure that the liquid and the cooking rice are at the same simmering temperature. Secondly, gently stir the liquid into the rice, and only stir as much as you need to. If the grains break, your risotto will become gummy and pasty.

Here is a base recipe and some ways to change it up:

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups homemade broth   OR   1 cup canned broth diluted with 4Ingredients cups water.  (I actually heat extra because it would be a disaster to be caught without enough cooking liquid.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion or shallot chopped very fine
  • 2 cups Arborio OR other imported Italian risotto rice
  • 1/2 heaping cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, bring the broth to a simmer. Make sure that it is close to the pan where you are making the risotto.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan that has high sides (2” or so) and add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and cook gently until the onion is translucent.Making Risotto
  3. Add the rice to the sauté pan and stir gently so that all the grains are coated with the butter and oil.
  4. Now you will begin adding the broth from the sauce pan to the sauté pan one ladle at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. When the rice absorbs one ladle of broth, add another ladle of broth.  Repeat this process until the rice is tender but al dente. It should take about 20-25 minutes and the rice will look moist and creamy, not runny.
  6. When there is about a minute or 2 to go, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  7. Remove the pan from heat and add all of the cheese, folding gently in order to even distribute.
  8. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with additional shavings of parmigiano. Serves 6

Risotto Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Variations:

White Truffle Risotto: Shave a half ounce of white truffle all over the top of the risotto right before serving. For those of us like me who are on a budget, you can always drizzle a bit of white truffle oil over the top.

Mushroom Risotto: In a separate pan, sauté about a pound of your favorite mushrooms in some butter and olive oil. I add a clove or 2 of garlic and some salt and pepper to taste. I deglaze the pan with a bit of wine and continue to cook until the mixture is dry. Before I add the butter and cheese to the risotto, I stir in about half of the mushroom mixture. I pour the finished risotto into a platter, top with the remaining mushrooms and chopped chives.

Butternut Squash Risotto: Cook and finely dice some butternut squash, about 2-3 cups. Instead of adding that last ladle of broth, add a ladle of heated heavy cream and fold in half of the squash. Finish the risotto with the butter and cheese. Top the finished risotto with the rest of the squash and some fried sage leaves.

 

Some WINES to try with these Risottos:

 

 

 

Wine.com Releases 2014 Annual Wine.com 100

It’s that time of year… Wine.com has released its eighth annual Wine.com 100. The industry’s only list based solely on consumer purchases, the Wine.com 100 reflects the top 100 wines purchased on the website during the first 11 months of the year.

So who was number 1? It was the Caymus 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the first year that a wine retailing over $20 topped the list. Caymus released its 40th anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon to much fanfare and accolades. Blessed with the 40th anniversary label coinciding with a fantastic vintage in California, the 2012 bottling quickly rose to the top in units sold on Wine.com. And it remains there.

Other things we noticed on the list.
– Tempranillo was up! Last year, the number one wine on the Wine.com 100 was a value Tempranillo form Rioja. But it was the only Tempranillo on the list. Perhaps riding on the coattails of that #1 spot, this year the list featured 7 Tempranillos, all from Rioja.
– Diversity! Even in the top 10, there are 5 countries represented! Plus 18 different grape varieties, 5 continents, 7 countries and even more sub-regions… Then the prices of these wines ranges from $10 – $100+. Some are classic like Dom Perignon or Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many gems as customers discover new and interesting wines that they love.

It’s a list worth checking out, just to see the trends and popular wines of 2014! See the full list in PDF form!

The official wine for not over-cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving!

Full oven, crazy family, long day.

Whether you are navigating difficult in-laws or 9 dishes in the oven, you may be looking to that glass of wine.

Don’t fret, we have the wine for you – the one

Doctors_mediumthat will keep you sharp, yet let you sip.

Forrest Estate The Doctors’ Riesling 2012
THIS is the wine. Refreshing, zingy and… reasonable alcohol levels. Anyone else notice the rise in alcohol lately? Makes it hard to sip wine at noon when you’re cooking a turkey. This wine clocks in at a lovely 8.5%. And yet, no detectable residual sugar, just a delicious and refreshing wine that makes it easier to sip through the day.

The story of the Doctors from John Forrest is a great one. Forrest is, in fact, a doctor, who researched and studied and experimented with vineyard techniques to craft a lower alcohol wine. Rather than leaving residual sugar or reverting to reverse osmosis, Forrest avoids any winery intervention by utilizing a specific leaf removal  process in the vineyard. By achieving lower alcohol in the vineyard rather than the winery, Forrest does not have to sacrifice quality for the end result: a delicious, dry refreshing wine, with naturally low alcohol.

And so we have deemed this wine the official wine for NOT overcooking your Thanksgiving turkey. You may also deem it your ideal aperitif wine or perfect summer wine… we’ll leave it to you. Either way, you’ll feel okay about having that second glass :)

Cheers!

Wake up and taste the Tempranillo

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For decades, Spanish wines were second class citizens among top wine growing regions in the world. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône Valley were the gold standard. All French appellations and all revered. The Spaniards, were not new to the party, they just never got the respect that they deserved. But some of it was their doing. Rioja and Ribera del Duero, two long-standing regions, simply never really addressed the international community. Rioja, used an incredible amount of American oak, one would have thought that coconut and dill were primary wine flavors.

Then came the 1990’s and top US importers like Jorge Ordonez and Eric Solomon sought out top producers and potential stars on the Iberian Peninsula and transformed this under-appreciated viticultural area and world began to notice. Today, one of Spain’s most notable varietals, Tempranillo, has become très chic amongst the wine cognoscenti. On Thursday, November 13, 2014, our team celebrated International #TempranilloDay and tasted a few of our favorites.

Tempranillo produces a red wine of elegance and style. While much of it is centered on Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the varietal has shown success in California and Argentina. Over the next two decades, Tempranillo will enjoy worldwide fame; the grape is so adaptable, and it is just a matter of time that we will see top offerings from more than just Spain. Seldom too tannic or extracted, this varietal has found great love amongst those who enjoy Pinot Noir and Merlot, an dis perfect for foodies who would like to taste their dishes along with the wine.

Three of my favorites are the fresh and fruity ’12 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia Rioja (50% Garnacha Pais and 50% Tempranillo), the rich, yet fruit-forward ’09 Siglo Crianza Rioja (made from Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano) and the long and delicious ripe fruit, slightly oaked ’10 Vina Hermina Crianza Rioja (85% Tempranillo and 15% Granacha). Celebrate International Tempranillo Day! The varietal has grown by leaps and bounds.