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June 1, 2020
As we remain hunkered down at home, and with dining out at restaurants off the table, it seems everyone from experienced chefs to new home cooks are getting creative in the kitchen, perfecting their techniques, and posting it all on social media.
Whether we are feeding our sourdough starters, watching master class chef videos, or working our way through all those cans of beans we stocked up on in March, cooking comforts and connects us. With this in mind, we thought we would share some of the dishes we’ve been turning to lately, along with our food-friendly wine suggestions for each dish.
Sausage and Rapini Orecchiette
Pasta is probably one of the easiest and quickest comfort foods you can make (and these days, we are all on the comfort food bandwagon). Pasta doesn’t have to mean tomato sauce though, as this restaurant favourite demonstrates. Italian sausage, rapini and orecchiette, spiked with crushed red peppers, a little white wine, and topped with loads of grated cheese make up this satisfyingly savoury meal. Plus, it works with white or red wine.
Italian lesson: orecchiette means “little ears” which describes the shape of this little cup-noodle – which is perfectly designed for cradling some of the sauce in each bite.
Terre di Gioia
Pinot Grigio IGT Delle Venezie 2018
$16.95 per bottle, cases of 12
When you’re selecting wines to pair with food, you can match the food’s richness and acidity, or juxtapose it, as we have done here.
Sausage and rapini orecchiette is a robust dish and this Pinot Grigio’s crisp acidity should cut right through the richness without any of its clean citrusy and apple and pear flavours competing with the spicy, meaty flavours in the bowl.
If you were looking for a wine with more intensity, “Felino” Chardonnay will get you there. A more full-bodied wine than the Tere di Gioia above, it’s also quite textural, and will meet the sausage-broth and rapini head-on.
“Felino is pretty much a Uco Valley wine these days, with just 5% from Luján de Cuyo. Now under screwcap, it’s a tangy, bright, subtly wooded Chardonnay with citrus and pear flavours and a twist of nutmeg spice. 2019-22.”
It seems a natural choice to suggest something Italian with orecchiette, and Sangiovese the great red grape of Tuscany, may also be the most food friendly red there is. This Chianti Classico is dry, supple, dark cherry flavoured, and grounded in earthy spice. Medium-plus levels of acidity and gentle tannin makes it very versatile.
“This pure Tuscany sangiovese offers lovely notes of iodine and a salty profile. Feels unadultarated showcasing the high quality fruit and notable purity. Flavours of cherry skin, a hint of cherry blossom, red plum, new leather and a significant tannic presence provide a firm grip on the palate. Very fine, delicate oak treatment is wonderfully integrated even at this early stage. Best 2021-2025.”
The ultimate pairing would be this “Super Tuscan”, which is Sangiovese with a dollop of Merlot. Falchini is one of Chianti Colli Senesi’s top estates and the 2015 vintage in Tuscany is one of the best in recent memory. Wine Spectator awarded the vintage 97 points, and Wine Advocate awarded 95.
While this vintage has yet to be critiqued, a review from three years back sums up the wine nicely:
“A steal. Let me repeat – this wine is a steal…..But unlike so many of the so-called Super Tuscans, this wine is not over ripe, sweet or redolent with oak. It’s a balanced amalgam of earth, minerals and dark cherries wrapped in suave tannins and brightened by uplifting Tuscan acidity. Savoury and long, at the risk of repeating myself, it’s a steal!”
Mastering the perfect roast chicken should be on every home cook’s list. It lends itself to seasonings and flavours from all around the world, goes from prep to done in an hour, and never fails to impress (#lockdowndinner). Plus, there are leftovers for days to add to salads, soups, or to put between all that sourdough you’ve been baking – perfect for all those Work From Home lunches.
Bodegas Val de Vid
Verdejo Rueda 2018
$19.95 per 750ml bottle, cases of 12
Verdejo is fairly comparable to Sauvignon Blanc in its weight, acidity, fruit flavours and herbaceous notes. It would be completely refreshing paired with a herb infused roast chicken and a light salad.
“Lifted and bright with sliced-apple, salt and peach aromas and flavours. Medium to full body. Slightly oily. But flavourful and delicious. Drink now.”
A weightier white option would be a medium-to-full bodied Chardonnay from southern Napa Valley. In the Truchard you’ll pick up on aromatic notes of white flowers, pineapple, mango, gala apple and pear tart, and on the palate – Meyer Lemon, quince, kumquat and toasty oak from barrels, all cleaned up with refreshing acidity.
Can’t you just imagine a sauce made for roasted chicken that incorporates all those flavours? That’s a great way to think about food and wine pairings! This wine would be a perfect partner.
A darkly fruity and substantial Beaujolais is also a great option for roast chicken. Morgon has a lot of energy on the palate, and the chicken’s light fattiness and the wine’s extremely gentle tannins will align, rounding the wine, and all the fruit flavour will come right to the forefront. Maybe a side of German potato salad? I can taste it now.
“Beautiful dark hue with vibrant red highlights. Muted nose with subtle fruit and a mineral touch bordering on smoke. Wonderful attack on the palate with weight, fruit and freshness in a style still very young. Shows promise.”
I’m very excited for the arrival of the new 2016 Murrieta Reserva. This may be the most versatile red that we have. Rich and creamy, without ever being heavy or oaky. Gently tannic, with lovely high aromatics. Perfectly suited to any number of dishes, but roast chicken would be a lovely foil for the wine to shine against.
“This is very structured and powerful with a dense and rich palate of ripe fruit and hints of toasted oak. Full and layered. Structured. Released February 2020. Needs a few years of bottle age. Try after 2021.”
If your neighbour’s barbequing aromas are wafting evocatively over the fence and stirring up cravings, do them one better and put a cedar plank salmon on the grill. Your favourite salmon marinade + a soaked cedar plank = smoky, woodsy, summery fare – just the thing to create grill envy. Add a summer salad, grilled veg sides, and one of these wines and enjoy al fresco, where your neighbours can see.
Domaine Luquet depuis 1878
Pouilly-Fuissé “Cuvée Terroir”2017
$40.95 per 750ml bottle, cases of 12
$22.95 per 375ml bottle, cases of 12
Chardonnay and salmon is a no-brainer. A full-bodied relatively-high-acid white with a full-bodied, rich and fatty fish is a perfect match.
This Chardonnay, which grows in the southern-most part of Burgundy, the Mâconnais, is lush and round, but because it ferments in stainless steel, with only lees-ageing to enhance the body, the wine remains crisp and clean. On the nose the wine is a touch exotic, with hints of hazelnuts and almonds. And because there is no oak in play, the cedar plank aromatics remain the star of the show. This is a beautiful expression of Chardonnay!
We couldn’t suggest salmon without a Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest! Benton Lane’s is a particularly full-bodied Pinot Noir due to the location of its vineyard in Willamette Valley’s “tenderloin”. This peninsula-like outcropping of the Coastal Mountain Range is perfectly located in the rain-shadow of Prairie Peak to the west – it sits high enough to avoid morning fog, and low enough to avoid cold night air. The Pinot Noir that calls this home is lush, rich and velvety.
Benton Lane wines have received more “Top 100 Wines of the Year” than any other still wine producer in Oregon. They were named one of Oregon’s “Best Producers” by Decanter Magazine as early as 2008.
“A tasty core of ripe cherry fruit anchors this new release. It’s annotated with engaging flavours of cola, brown sugar and cinnamon toast. Not a recipe for long-term ageing, but already quite appealing and ready for immediate drinking.”
My favourite region in California for Pinot Noir is the Sonoma Coast. The Pacific’s moderating effect of the region and the enviable Goldridge loam soils are perfect for Pinot Noir. The fruit can develop evenly, balancing juicy acidity with round, fine tannins, which matches perfectly with the richness and softness of wild salmon.
Migration Pinot Noir shows intensity and tension and beautiful flavours of raspberry and cranberry, conifer forest and layers subtle toasty oak.
“Well-framed flavours of raspberry tart, cherry and plum are supported by fine-grained tannins. Rose petal and hot stone notes combine for a sumptuous finish that lingers with a silky texture. Drink now through 2024. 21,000 cases made.”
Whatever your favourite cut is, adding a generous dollop of blue cheese butter ups the umami, and takes steak to the next level. Mix equal parts blue cheese and soft butter together, then chill. When steaks are done, top with the butter and let rest for five minutes. Bonus points for garnishing with fresh chives or thyme. Tip: it’s also great on burgers, baked potatoes, or slathered on corn on the cob.
Domaine Chante Perdrix
$48.95 per 750ml bottle, cases of 12
A good rule of thumb for pairing wine and steak is: the more fat the steak has, the more tannin the wine can have. So, Châteauneuf-du-Pape with leaner steaks such as hanger, tri-tip or sirloin would be perfect.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a full-bodied wine, but Grenache doesn’t have the large, round tannins that Cabernet or Shiraz do. So you match the weight of the wine to the weight of the food, the tannins become less of a consideration. Also, the blue-cheese butter will make the fruitiness of this wine pop!
“Almost as delicious as the profound 2016, Chante Perdrix’s 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape offers a harmonious blend of black cherries, red raspberries and fresh blueberries. It’s fruit-forward and fun, with supple, silky tannins on the long finish. A blend of 65% Grenache, 15% each Mourvèdre and Syrah and 5% Muscardin, it’s wonderfully charming and drinkable.”
92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2019
With a wine as full-bodied and rich as TD-9 (a Merlot-Cabernet-Malbec blend), I would go for a thick New York Striploin, with that recognizable slab of fat on one side.
The grill is going to render this fat, which enhances each bite, while making the edges of the steak crispy and smoky, enhancing the dark fruit character and the notes from French oak.
“Rich and full of dense and spicy dark plum, dried blackberry and mocha flavours. Dark chocolate and smokey notes show on the ripe finish, with dried savoury herbal accents. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Drink now through 2023. 8,000 cases made.”
For high-end Napa Valley Cabernet there is only one steak that I think you need. A 2-3 inch thick bone-in ribeye. The King of all steaks! Feed your whole family with one piece of glorious beef.
Season liberally with salt (pepper burns, so add it after), and a sprinkling of sugar to help the steak caramelize, slap it on a fiery grill and you’re off and running!
“Napanook” is crafted for luxurious enjoyment anytime. A Cabernet-centric meritage with plenty of depth, tannin and acidity that is ready to tackle even the boldest of steaks! Interestingly, the Napanook vineyard is Napa Valley’s oldest, planted by George Yount, for whom the town of Yountville, California is named.
“Brought up in 20% new barrels, the 2015 Napanook is an awesome wine in its own right, offering classic cassis, tobacco, leafy herbs, and violets notes, with an almost Bordeaux-like earthiness. Full-bodied, incredibly pure and seamless on the palate as well as impeccably balanced, it’s more than worth your time and money.”
If you’re looking for a wine that you don’t see listed here, please ask. We have over 200 wines at all times including go-to wines like Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon and Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
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