Monthly Archives: July 2011
Sauvignon Blanc is known for being a light, refreshing white wine; perfect for summer day. And on that summer day the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or more in the kitchen, sweating over a hot stove. You want something quick, something satisfying (without being too filling) and something just as refreshing as that glass of wine. You want Chilled Cucumber Soup with Shrimp and Goat Cheese.
Corvidae Wine Co’s Wise Guy Sauvignon Blanc “…yields striking mineral qualities and flavors of wet stone, peach pit and pear. Aromatics of fresh hay and a lean crisp finish…” It begs to be paired with local fresh vegetables and a light, white seafood; simply seasoned, left to shine in the glory nature gave it. The wine’s crisp finish is softened by the creamy base of the soup and the mineral taste this Sauvignon Blanc is so well known for is heighted by fresh dill and basil from the backyard.
Only 15 minutes to prepare, 2 hours in the fridge and this soup is ready!
4 English cucumbers, skins mostly removed, diced
1 large garlic clove, grated
½ small red onion, diced
4 green onions (whites and greens), diced
1 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
½ lb shrimp of choice (deveined, tails left on)
¼ cup goat cheese
Optional: Challah or Focaccia
- Add cucumber, garlic, onions, yogurt and coriander to a blended and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in dill, basil and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until completely cool.
- Season shrimp simply with salt and pepper and sauté in a non-stick pan over medium heat until pink all around. (We have a lot of other flavors in this soup, keep the shrimp simple with seasoning!)
- To serve: top soup with a couple pieces of shrimp, crumbled goat cheese and serve alongside some fresh challah or focaccia to round out the meal.
Wise Guy Sauvignon Blanc: http://www.decantedwines.com/sku00067.html
With the debut of our new (and might I add fabulous) section, Cooked, I thought it would be appropriate to post a few wine and food pairing basics. While we don’t all have time to spend crafting our meals to a particular wine (which is why Cooked is only posted once a week), a few simple tips can take any meal to wine pairing stardom.
1. The key is balance.
Balance is probably the best word to describe any good wine OR wine and food pairing. Imagine your dish, will your tomato base sauce overwhelm your Sauvignon Blanc…probably. So don’t pair a light white with it. Food and wine should match each other in terms of body and acidity. Reach for a medium to heavy bodied red instead, say a Chianti?
2. Never, ever pair oil with tannin.
A great example of this is serving a food bodied Napa Valley Cabernet with Salmon, it just doesn’t work. Again the two elements are out of balance.
3. Sweet and spicy.
I know this goes against my whole balance concept, but hey it works. The sweetness in wines (i.e. Riesling, Gewürztraminer) balances spice in most dishes and pairs perfectly with Asian flavors.
4. Think flavors, not protein.
Most pairing descriptions go something like this…”Best served with poultry and pork.” It’s a good start, but very wide open. I like to tell people to think more in terms of flavor. Pork may be great with Pinot Noir but if you sear it with a black pepper crust, the food flavors will pummel the delicious and fragile flavors of the wine. Instead of focusing on the type of protein you are serving with the wine, focus on any sauces and herbs that will be the star of the dish.
5. If all else fails, serve Pinot Noir.
It’s the most food friendly wine out there, most likely it will serve as a great compliment to your meal.
You can find our food and wine pairing section, Cooked, here every Wednesday. Cooked is written by Jackie Poole, Decanted’s Marketing & E-Commerce Manager (and my sister). She has been into food and crafting custom recipes for as long as I can remember, although I did not inherit any of that talent!
Who says Chianti is just for the winter months? True, Chianti is best served with a hearty dish and true, no one craves a robust beef stew when it’s 95 degrees out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt the meal to fit our surroundings. Case and point: Short Rib Flatbread. The deeply flavored, slow cooked short rib Chianti so desires lightened up with a summer time gremolata and conveniently displayed on a flatbread.
The strong tannins and dry finish that give a great Chianti its name are very apparent in the Banfi Chianti Superiore 2008. It’s those tannins that pair so well with a fatty meat, such as a short rib. One needs that bit of fat to cut through the dry aftertaste left on the back of your tongue. The round structure and full body pairs perfectly with the crisp flatbread and pop of cheese and herbs. Enjoy with friends on the back deck or balcony! You’ll change your mind about Chianti in the summertime – I guarantee it!
1 ½ lbs short ribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 medium onion, chopped into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled, chopped into large chunks
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Banfi Chianti
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 refrigerated pizza crust
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 triangles ‘French Onion’ laughing cow cheese (might sound unconventional, but trust me)
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon clementine zest
Salt/pepper to taste
- Add olive oil to cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Generously salt and pepper short ribs and sear in pan.
- Add ribs and the remaining ‘rib’ ingredients to a slow cooker. Make sure ribs are nestled down into the liquid. Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
- When ribs are cooked and falling off the bone, remove from slow cooker and let rest. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Stretch and fit pizza crust into a baking sheet. Brush with drippings from the slow cooker and season with oregano. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Using the same cast iron skillet, brown mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Remove pre-cooked pizza crust from oven and spread with laughing cow cheese. Layer mushrooms, onions (from slow cooker) and shredded short ribs on flatbread until completely covered, keeping ½ inch border on all sides. Top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake another 10 minutes, until cheese has melted.
- While your flatbread is baking, finely chop all gremolata ingredients together and set aside.
- Top flatbread with gremolata and serve.
Banfi Chianti Superiore 2008: http://www.decantedwines.com/sku00368.html
I recently finished up the Intermediate Level of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s (WSET) certification course. What does that mean? I have made a habit of telling people who I now have a piece of paper that certifies my drinking habit. All kidding aside, I learned a lot from the course that I didn’t already know about the beverage industry. Many of the facts that were new to be were based on spirits – as I am not a spirits drinker – but I did also pick up some tidbits about wine that I did not already know. Here were the top 5 ‘surprises’ to me:
5. Glera is the real name of the grape used for Prosecco. Although, Prosecco is still the popular named used for the grape that produces Italy’s sparkler, Glera is the proper name.
4. Some inexpensive German ‘Rieslings’ are actually blends of the Riesling grape and another inexpensive German varietal - Müller-Thurgau. Some of these wines are even 100% Müller-Thurgau.
3. Per British standards, women should only consume 1-2 units of alcohol per day (equivalent to one, medium-sized glass); men 2-3 units per day (equivalent to one, large-sized glass).
2. Argentina has actually been producing large quantities of wine for hundreds of years. The reason for the increase of Argentinian wines in the U.S.? They recently just discovered that they can make money producing quality wines, not just ‘jug’ or inexpensive table wine.
1. Even after much reading and studying I have found that German wine labels still not only confuse me, but confuse me even more so after trying to understand them!
There is no doubt in the wine industry that South America is the new ‘hot’ (in terms of popularity) growing region of the world. One of my favorite finds has been not the signature Malbec, but a relatively unknown white grape – Torrontes. See the details below and taste my recommendation at our Century Club Tasting this Thursday.
Grape Name: Torrontes
Pronunciation: Tor RON taze,
Color: Green skin grape, produces white wine.
From: Torrontes has recently become the standout white grape from Argentina – namely Mendoza. It can also be found in small quantities in Chile, as it is successful growing at high altitudes.
History: Torrontes is actually a general name used for three different varieties: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. Torrontes Riojano is the most common and has come to be referred to as simply ‘Torrontes.’ This is the majority of the white wine that you will see in the U.S. All three varieties are native to Argentina from the Criollas grape family, an American born family with roots from the European species -vitis vinifera. Recent DNA testing has found that Torrontes is a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and the Mission grapes.
Climate: Torrontes prefers a high altitude climate with dry and windy conditions.
Characteristics: Torrontes can produce two very different styles of wine: crisp and light or full-bodied and fruit forward. The crisp and light style is most similar to an Italian Pinot Grigio with amble acidity, citrus flavors and a light body. The second style features flavors of honey suckle, tropical fruits and citrus. It is most comparable to a unoaked,warm climate Chardonnay.
Pairing: Depending on the style, this wine does best with seafood and poultry with light sauces that are lemon or white wine based.
Recommendation: Goulart Torrontes, $15
Wine and cheese… I know you’ve heard it before this is NOT your average cheese plate. Riesling is known for being a versatile wine to pair with food. You name it and Riesling will probably taste great with it. So what better way to showcase Fritz’s 2008 Riesling then to pair it with 4 different cheeses and 4 complementary foods?
The 2008 vintage of Fritz’s Riesling offers flavors of apple and nectarine. It is very round, fruity and like many Rieslings brings out the best in sweet dishes. Three of our cheese pairings feature a sweet dish while the fourth showcases how well this Riesling can also pair with a hearty, savory dish.
Fontina Val D’Aosta with Hazelnut Brittle
1/3 cup hazelnuts, skins removed, toasted
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat without stirring. As soon as an amber color develops, take off the heat! Caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in hazelnuts. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a silpat. Let sit until the caramel has hardened, about 20 minutes. Break into small pieces with your hands.
Goat Cheese with Dark Cherry Jam
1 cup frozen cherries, thawed
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. Let macerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Pour mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer until mixture thickens to a jam consistency, about 40 minutes.
Gorgonzola Dolce and Roasted Apples
1 golden delicious apple, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix until apples are well covered in butter and seasoning.
3. Pour mixture onto baking sheet and bake until apples are soft and begin to caramelize, 30-40 minutes.
Essex St. Comte with Wild Mushrooms
½ lb fresh wild mushrooms of choice (I used royal trumpet, shiitake and porcini)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add mushrooms and Herbes de Provence. Cook until soften and brown.
3. Add salt and pepper to finish. Don’t salt mushrooms until the end or they won’t brown for you!
Today’s post is more of an inquiry, as we are finishing up some updates on decantedwines.com for a site relaunch (shhh!), I’m working on a new section to be announced to help individuals weed through the information about wine and beer. So I ask, what confuses you about wine? I’m looking for honest questions which will be kept completely anonymous. There is really truly no stupid question, especially when it comes to such a confusing topic.
We were sitting at Amis in Philadelphia last weekend waiting for my sister, husband, and in-laws to join us for dinner. Grabbing a drink at the bar we thought best to order some local brews. Al spotted one of our favorite beers (not available in Florida) – Allagash White Belgian Ale – and decided on that. I spotted an unknown DFH beer (at least to me) brewed with cocoa and ancho chiles? Now I had to try that. After a sip of each beer, Al was holding the Theobroma hostage from me.
For those unfamiliar with Dogfish Head, they are the epitome of what makes craft beer great. They push the envelope, do things others wouldn’t, and are slightly crazy. But all great creations come from people that are just a little nuts. Dogfish Head got its start in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware serving microbrews and great food to summer vacationers in 1995. It wasn’t long before those vacationers craved the beer at home – mainly in the Philadelphia and DC areas. Year after year, they grew. Soon enough they were nationally recognized and distributed, their 120 minute IPA even created a phenomenon of its own. Today you can find DFH in 25 different states, although the majority of their brews stay at that Brewpub in Delaware.
Now about Theobroma…whose story may be more interesting than the beer itself. To quote the Dogfish website,
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC.
Pretty deep for a beer, huh? Based on this discovery, Theobroma which means “food of the gods” is brewed with Aztec Cocoa Powder and Cocoa Nibs. Honey, ancho chiles and annatto (fragrant tree seeds) are added to the mix which deliver most of their flavors on the end of the palette. The beer is medium bodied with a low-hop, smooth finish. We paired this with a spicy pasta dish with jalapenos and sun-dried tomatoes. The sweetness from the cocoa balanced the spiciness of the dish on the front but didn’t overwhelm it because of the chile kick in the beer on the finish.
Overall, an interesting and complex beer and not surprisingly one of our new favorites. Want to know more? Check out this video DFH created about the beer, informative and fun!
I’ll start this post with a quote from my sister, Jackie, (and fellow blog contributor for the ‘Cooked’ section), “that wine was so good, but it went so fast.” The true sign of a good wine? It is consumed fast and fights break out over the last drop. It has happened on more than one occasion between Al and I, but I’ve never seen it occur with more than a group of four. Now I won’t call it a fight but over dinner with my sisters, my sister’s new husband, his parents, Al and I all seven of us did reach for that last drop.
The Mad Hatter is the second label of Dancing Hares. Dancing Hares Vineyard is an impressive team with Andy Erickson (Screaming Eagle, Favia, Leviathan) at the helm as head winemaker with assistance from Michael Rolland and renowned vineyard manager David Abreu. The 2007 Dancing Hares Proprietary Wine is an exquisite blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, 37% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, at about $125 per bottle. Exquisite, yes but not quite your every day drinker.
The Mad Hatter is a similar blend at a friendly price point – about $60 per bottle – that is if you can find it. The vineyard itself seems to produce impeccable Cabernet Franc and Merlot which balance each other perfectly in the blend and give only the best characteristics of each varietal. In taste, the Cabernet Sauvignon almost seems subdued and restrained allowing the other varietals to come through. Erickson says, about the wine:
“The 2008 Mad Hatter is a bold, ripe expression of the vintage. Those lots from our estate that show upfront fruit, soft tannins, and immediate appeal form the core of this wine. This vintage is enjoyable from the outset, with plump, ripe fruit character and a lingering intensity. Notes of darjeeling tea leaves, ripe blueberries, brown sugar and cream lead the way for this hedonistic wine.”
It’s a wine worth grabbing, enjoying and fighting over if the situation presents itself. And, I am proud to say I did get the last drop.