Archive for the ‘Pairings’ Category
Don’t miss this super fun, yet informative ‘How to Entertain with Wine’ video with Twin Cities Sommelier, Leslee Miller of Amusée. Learn what pairs best to a number of different cooking techniques to poultry, what wine with chocolate and fun items like shrimp cocktail and other entertaining goodies.
All of these wines under $8 on the shelf at ALDI!
Need a couple of last minute Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner Wine Ideas?
Charles Smith ‘Secco Bianco’ ~ Veneto, Italy
Fresh and elegant. Layers and layers of flavors. Elderberry, anise, Italian summer melon, beeswax and seashells live within so many tiny bubbles. Totally delicious!
Thanksgiving Pairing: A perfect starter or even better…serve with the main course, turkey!
Casamaro Verdejo ~ Rueda, Spain
Pungent citrus fruit and zest on the nose, with a complex bouquet of herbs and white flowers. Racy lemon and lime flavors follow up with an intriguing floral honey aroma. If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, this is a great wine for you.
Thanksgiving Pairing: Great with the salad course. Goat cheese, fresh pear and drizzled honey – a fab starter for an elegant Thanksgiving dinner.
Crios Malbec ~ Mendoza, Argentina
Aromas of freshly crushed black cherries and toasty/smoky oak frame the exuberant fruit, while flavors of cherries, spice and jammy fruit lend a hint of spice and sandalwood on the nose.
Thanksgiving Pairing: A ‘pair to all’ kind of wine! But, if you’re planning on grilling your turkey this holiday season, this is the wine. Perfect with the smoky bits of your turkey & gravy.
Terra Burdigala Causse Rouge ~ Bordeaux, France
95% Merlot & 5% Cabernet: An easy-going blend, with aromas and flavors of black cherry and vanilla. Medium-bodied, with a supple mouth-feel and alluring nose.
Thanksgiving Pairing: Pair this wine to a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing, whoah! An absolute match made in heaven. Earthy, round and absolutely delicious, yes please! Also perfect with root vegetables and a grilled or smoked turkey.
Emeri Pink Moscato ~ Australia
Velvety with fresh strawberry and raspberry fruit aromas – a little sticky and sweet, but just the answer to dessert!
Thanksgiving Pairing: No need to head down the traditional ‘dessert wine’ aisle this season, Pink Moscato is the answer to ALL your last course needs, especially for your traditional pumpkin, pecan and apple pie!
Wine pairing to Match Your Edina Culinary Excursion
Some believe that pairing the subtle nuances of food with the right wine is an exact science. Others claim it’s impossible to match heavy sauces, spices or certain vegetables. But wine and food pairing is merely a balancing act that requires patience and practice.
The secret of pairing is to balance weight, texture and intensity, all while paying attention to the intricacies of a dish’s flavors. Don’t be afraid to experiment and keep an open mind. Throw out the traditional gospel of white wine with fish or chicken and red wine with red meat, and start from scratch.
Next time you’re out and about on the town, visit these local restaurants and try your hand at pairing wines to the delicious cuisine you eat there.
Heavy or Light?
There are two ways to play this game: Put a heavyweight in the ring with another heavyweight, or sneak up on the opponent by bringing in an agile lightweight to knock out the mass of a heavyweight..
Try coming at a dish like a sliced hanger steak dripping in a creamy béarnaise sauce at Salut Bar Américain with a heavy American cabernet that’s just as weighty as your plate. The wine’s bold flavors of fruit and oak intertwine so that both the drink and the meal feel even more complex.
Or how about pairing a white wine with the same dish? This idea isn’t absurd. Try a round, heavily fruited New World chardonnay. While the weight of the full-bodied grape matches the complexity of your steak, the refreshing flavors of this chilled white can act as a counterbalance and soothe the palate, similar to a cool glass of water on a hot summer day.
You can counterbalance wine with fried foods too. One of my favorite fried dishes in Edina is the crispy frog leg plate at Salut, which is served over warm greens with a touch of herbed butter and lemon. The answer in this case is bubbles, which are, in your glass, are the perfect way to alleviate the fatter, more saturated flavor of anything fried. Thus, a crisp, clean glass of French Champagne with a plate of crispy frog legs makes a perfect pairing: the acidity of the bubbly cuts the fried fat of the dish. This is one heavyweight that doesn’t stand a chance against its lighter opponent.
Watch out, because spice can overwhelm the palate. If paired with the wrong wine, a dish’s spice (be it vegetal or dry spice) can leave you asking for a glass of milk rather than another glass of wine. Sushi dishes often carry these flavors of heat and spice. From jalapeños, chili oils and pastes, from wasabi to red pepper flakes and onions, the heat coming from signature sushi rolls can overwhelm you.
One way to counterbalance heat is to choose an off-dry or sweet wine. A good American white blend with grapes like riesling and gewürztraminer is the trick. Crave restaurant adeptly counterbalances spicy sushi and sashimi plates; from their yellowtail jalapeño sashimi to their spicy tuna rolls, the heat can sneak up quickly. So order a refreshing white wine like the Sokol Blosser Evolution (a blend of nine white grapes including the aforementioned riesling and gewürztraminer) to offset the spice in the food. The wine’s fresh, tropical flavors and the food’s heat form a heavenly match.
Pairing Similar Flavors
If the wine is described using adjective like “smoked,” “fresh herbs” and “red fruits,” then why not include some of the same flavors in the dish? Add the same herbs or smoky elements, and you’ll enhance the wine. If an Italian montepulciano or sangiovese hints at roasted tomato, fresh oregano, basil and dried meat, then find the same ingredients in an Italian dish to bring the flavors alive even more.
When it comes to deliciously smoky, meaty dishes, look no further than Pig & Fiddle. These guys know meat and they know how to make a dish smoky and savory. From their ploughman’s plate to their burgers, snuggle up to the bar with a rich glass of syrah, montepulciano or zinfandel to match like flavors of their dishes. But remember that strong flavors in a dish (such as smoke) will enhance tenfold the same flavors in the wine.
Above all, pay attention to your food and drink. We Americans sometimes eat an entire plate of food before we even think about taking the first sip of wine. We often consume at too fast a pace. Slowing down to savor the perfect bite while swirling, sniffing and sipping your wine makes a huge difference.
Pay attention to the cooking techniques when making your pairing choice. Was your dish grilled, baked or fried? Does your dish have a heavy sauce that will ultimately dictate your choice of libation? These are all crucial when perfecting the art of food and wine pairing.
Take the time to ask questions at your favorite restaurant, and most important, don’t be afraid to experiment. When the suggested pairing sounds unthinkable, try it anyway—you only live once. And if the pairing doesn’t fit, you’ll just have to eat and drink a bit more to find the formula that works for you. The art is to find the perfect pairing for your ownpalate.
Pairing made easy with Chef Mike Shannon, Cicerone Michael Agnew and Sommelier Leslee Miller
Watch as we pair an entire menu of winter warming foods – from salad course all the way through a s’more pot de creme dessert – to all things…
Beer and Wine
No kidding, it’s one of my most Frequently Asked Questions…
What do YOU think about Minnesota Wines?
Here, I review a whole line up from a winery located just one hour west of the Twin Cities, Crow River Winery.
Complete with food pairings, I share with you a line up of eight wines, detailed with tasting notes to boot!
Check it out…In HD
I teach a number of great Twin Cities Food and Wine classes across the board, but really our Vines to Reefs Series at Cooks of Crocus Hill is always a ton of fun! Chef Mike, culinary director for Cooks, and I team up to teach a full five course menu paired to all things seafood, explaining that it is not always the color of your protein that dictates the wine you choose, but the cooking technique.
Step outside the box with your pairings with this fun culinary/libation combo!
If you happened to miss last nite’s class, here’s a quick 4-1-1 on the dishes and the wines paired to each course. Chef Mike explains the combination of flavors, as I shoot you the best tips for pairing to all things ‘reef’ to vino.
The best part…5 out of the 6 wines we showed here are all under $20!!
See what food/wine combos take the cake…In HD
A to Z Pinot Gris ~ Oregon $12
Chamisal ‘Stainless’ Chardonnay ~ Edna Valley, CA $12
Poggio Morino Morellino di Scansano ~ Tuscany, Italy $15
Vega Rioja Tempranillo ~ Rioja, Spain $12
Michel Picard Sancerre ~ Loire, France $25
Toad Hollow Risque ~ Limoux, France $15
Pairings: Wine + Chocolate
Written by Leslee Miller / Photography by Steve Henke / Cambria Style Magazine ~ November, 2011
Leslee Miller of Amusée Wine takes the mystery out of pairing wines with chocolate.
Pairing wine to chocolate is not exactly as hard as some will tell you. Most, in fact, say it is impossible. I say, “Bring it on!” I’m always up for a good food/wine pairing challenge, and chocolate just so happens to be one of my favorites. With a few easy tips under your belt, pairing wine to chocolate will become a snap for even the toughest of libation critics. In fact, when paired correctly, there’s not much that tops this match made in heaven!
- First rule of thumb for really any combination that involves ‘sweet treats’ is to find a wine or libation that is just one degree sweeter than the food on your plate. Pairing a very acidic wine to any dessert, will leave the palate feeling tart and bitter.
2. One of the best tips for pairing to different forms of chocolate – be it milk, dark or white – is to always think of pairing from a ‘weight’ standpoint. For example, more intrícate chocolates/desserts pair best to lighter bodied wines and darker, heavier chocolates/desserts fit to a more full bodied wine. Often times chocolate can overpower a wine. Using one that has the weight to counter-balance the palate is important. Fortified wines like Sherry, Madiera & Port are great pairing examples for heavier, richer sweets.
3. Serve wines that pull out the natural ingredients of the dessert. Whether your chocolate is plumped full of bacon or passionfruit, it’s important to think about what pairs best to the salty, savory or gooey inside of your dessert. Fruited fillings love a juicy, fruity wine like a Zinfandel or a sparkling sweet while ingredients like salt and bacon pair best to rich fortifieds like Sherry & Madeira.
4. Experiment. Try on every example you can think of! Pair the thinkable with the unthinkable – after all, it’s your palate.
Most importantly, if it tastes good to you, that’s all that matters. Salut!
Girls & Grapes Gear up for the Wines that will Grace our Thanksgiving Tables in just a few short weeks!
My fabulous group of girls that love grapes does it yet again. With a slew of fabulous foods to snack upon and a whole gaggle of grapes to indulge – my small tasting group of chikitas rock the palate with these fun wines for the holiday table.
With the assignment of ‘Wines that make you think of Fall’ – the girls set out this month to find more than one wine to pair to your turkey. As it turned out, we loved almost ALL of them. Only a couple of stinkers in the bunch, almost everything we brought seemed to match our fall moods. Some earthy, some with pumpkin pie scents, and some with meaty notes of pepper – below are the ‘unsensored’ notes for each one.
A lovely array of gorgeous gorgeous wines, with tasting notes, tasting suggestions, recipes that we brought to pair, price-points and retail locations to boot – to make YOUR holiday wine shopping that much easier this holiday season!
Yeasty, golden in color, nutty, toasty, creamy, soapy
1998 Duval Leroy Blanc de Chardonnay Champagne
Lindsay splurged! $50 @ Pairings – Super fresh for vintaged bubbly
A perfect pairing w Allison’s pumpkin ravioli!! (See below for Allison’s Shitake/Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe)
Very goldeny in color- Petrol, shoe polish, apricot, orange, honey blossom
Guessing Old World – German Riesling ~ Great with Lindsay’s Chicken Curry Dip (See below for Lindsay’s Recipe)
Martin Schatzel Alsace Grand Cru Riesling 2001 $30 @ Kowalskis Wine Shops
Huge nose- Freesia Flowers- Fresh squeezed orange- Clementine
Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer – “Holy Ball$, this is good!” says Allison.
Amazing w sweet potatoes!
Brite white in color- lemon rind rolled in sugar. We think it’s intriguing.
Ginger snaps… Spiced cookies?
Swallow Gewürztraminer, Oregon – $9 @ Kowalskis Wine Shops ~ Good Buck for Buck!
Really poopy – barnyard- peppery finish. Sour cherry on the palate.
Is that meat we smell? Maybe just the end of a horse blanket. Pepper!
Qupe Syrah, CA - $15.99 from Pairings
This is Brettanomyces to the max! We are not a fan. The bacteria mutes the fruit too much.
Creamy raspberries and sweet blueberry pie. Fried sage would be good with this. Tinny, like metallic. Pepppery.
La Vendimia Rioja – Tempranillo & Grenache $16 @ Solo Vino ~ Allison says “Frontal French Massage, yes!” (Ummm…Don’t ask!)
We loved this one with Katie’s Mexicorn Chip Dip (See below for Katie’s recipe)
Acetone, phenolics. Dried cranberry, dried fruit. Raisiny, high acid. Gripping.
2004 Cruor Priorat (Garnache) - $40 – Good, but we say NOT worth the dolla dolla bill, y’all.
Food coloring red in color. Stinky. Wet ground. Not balanced.
Really peppery and kind of green.
Steele Rosé of Cabernet Franc, CA - we’re not fans! $15- can be found at Byerlys/Pairings.
Jed Steele, if you’re reading this…we really love YOU, just not a fan of this particular wine!
Strawberry preserves. White pepper. We think absolutely Gamay.
What?!!!! It’s Carignan & Cinsault. Corbieres (France) is our region- a total stinker.
Too expensive for the price point. - Not even going to list the producer, just not worth it.
Cinnamon – raisin- poopy but weirdly, fresh. Red pepper. Cocoa powder. Savory. Thyme & fresh- meat. One hot mess. Disconnected. Green.
Nothing screams fall like a 2001 Spanish Mencía! What?
No likey- 2001 Villa de Corullón Mencía - $35 @ Kowalskis- a no go.
Note: Mencía as a grape, not necessarily an ager. Much better when drunk young.
Peppery cherry- raspberry- strawberry.
Cinnamon. Great wine- Great story!! (We love you, Leigh & Patrick!)
Dominio IV ‘Of Poetry & Roses’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $35 – wine winner of the nite so far!!!
This wine soon to be at Pairings! Ask for it by name.
“Leopard frog slime” -(I think Lindsay’s had too much too drink tonite with that comment!) Dirty earthy but clean. Cherry & cinnamon.
Smells like Syrah. We think we like from a price standpoint.
It is Quattro Mani Barbera d’Alba – Italy! $12 @ Pairings – we like it!
Cherry cough syrup. Alcoholic. Green cherry.
GD Vajra ‘Langhe’ Rosso – young Nebbiolo from Piedmont.
We guessed Italian…but we weren’t necessarily down with it.
Smells like banana bread draped over a pot of chocolate. Deep dark blk blk cherry. Blueberry. Dusted cocoa and chocolate. Mountain fruit. Everyone loves!! Chewy. Rich. But Ripe.
Peterson Agraria ‘Big Barn Red’, Dry Creek, CA - we love. This wine can be purchased direct from Peterson Winery!
PUMPKIN & SHITAKE RAVIOLI WITH SAGE BUTTER
- 3 tbls unsalted butter
- 1 tbl EV olive oil
- 16 shitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely diced
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tsp finely minced sage leaves
- 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree
- ¾ cup grated Parmesean cheese
- ½ cup fine dried bread crumbs
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 sheets fresh lasagna dough (16×24”) or 24 wonton wrappers
- 8 tbls (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 16 fresh sage elaves, julienned
Melt butter and oil. Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic and sautee for 10 minutes. Stir in tamari and sage, raise heat and stir constantly for 3-5 min. Transfer into a mixing bowl. Let cool slightly, then stir in pumpkin, cheese and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut the pasta dough into 24 4” squares, or lay out wonton wrappers. Spoon a tablespoon of filling slight off center of each square. Brush the edges with egg white, fold over to form a triangle and press together tightly to seal. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently cook ravioli until al dente, about 3-4 minutes. They are done when they float to the surface. Remove ravioli gently with a slotted spoon, drain, and arrange on a serving platter.
To make the sage butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the sage and cook for 2-3 minutes to infuse the butter. Drizzle the sage butter over the ravioli. Serve with additional cheese and black pepper. Serves 4-6.
CHICKEN CURRY DIP
8 oz of cooked chickenOne 8 oz package of cream cheese2 tbls Major Grey Chutney1 tsp curry powder2 tbls chopped onion1/4 cup mayoSalt & Pepper to tastePreheat oven to 350Combine in food processor and process until it becomes a smooth dip consistency. Transfer to oven safe baking dish and bake until edges become golden brown and dip is warmed through. Serve with crackers or baguette slices.MEXICORN CHIP DIP2 (11 oz) cans of Mexican-Style corn with red and green peppers, drained
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Combine the corn, tomatoes (well drained), mayo, and cheese in a bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
With a whopping 20 hungry, Cab lovin’ foodies in attendance and a backyard set only for the finest of September days – the 7 course feast that I designed and cooked with all ingredients pairing to Cab – was one that will most likely go down as legendary.
All that was asked of each guest was to bring one bottle of Cabernet – from any region and really, from any pricepoint. The menu was sent out ahead of time so that each guest had time to find just the right Cab to pair to their favorite course. Instructions beyond were to tin foil your bottle so that the wines were initially served blind, leading each guest to form their own opinions of the Cabernets before unveiling their favorites.
Appetizers included my first handmade Parmesan Tuile – super easy to put together and really, very pretty – with a gorgeous array of chopped Heirloom Tomatoes and fresh chives that sat atop the crispy Parmesan crisp. The wine that really paired best here was a nice, juicy, yet slightly tomato paste-like Cab from Chateau Ste. Michelle ‘Cold Creek Vineyard’ – Columbia Valley, WA. Next, came a recipe that I sort of put together last minute, including fresh fall figs, wrapped in Italian Prosciutto, grilled and topped with a honied goat cheese. YUM. Not bad for a last minute throw together! Wildly, the round sumptuous Plumpjack Cabernet from Oakville, CA hit the figs and the goat cheese perfectly. Notes of blackberry, roasted fig and chocolate melded magically with the crispy, yet juicy wrapped figs.
Heading into a full plate of herb encrusted lamb lollipops – the appetizers warmed the palate up for what was about to come. My husband, acting as head Grill Master for the nite, charred the pops just right leaving the lamb a beautiful juicy red on the inside – a perfect medium rare. Here, one of my favorite Italian producers, Villa Cafaggio, made the pairing round out this enormous plate of gamey goodies with the producer’s single vineyard, Cortaccio, made exclusively from 100% Cabernet grapes. The herbal notes of the wine and rich, chewy tannins instantly made friends with the fatty insides of the lamb, leaving us all licking our lips for more.
Course three included a simply cut eggplant round – which I rubbed with a pink sea salt and slathered with a delicious worcestershire, garlic, honey marinade – grilled and topped with fresh Parmesan. Again, the Italian (“What Grows Together, Goes Together”) Cabernet, a heavenly pairing with the herbs, marinade and Italian cheese.
Course four was, and could sincerely be, the most impressive course of the nite – a course made by my friend Jennifer – was a hand-built three layer Duck Confit Salad. Fresh stewed fruit, arugula and the sweet notes of the confit’d duck breast were mouth-watering. One of our household favorites, made the pairing complete – Ladera Vineyards Cabernet, Napa. Notes of raspberry, earth and spice rounded out the plate splendidly leaving only the fresh notes of the salad’s arugula to cleanse the palate. Delicious.
Course five – a very simple, yet strikingly decadent course – included fresh center cut Ahi steaks, which I rolled in pink and black peppercorns, and then quickly pan seared leaving the centers of the fish a brite cherry colored rare temp. The topping – a lemon and parsley herbed compound butter – made this dish a succulent plate. Without expecting this to occur, I think the best Cabernet pairings here were the South African wines brought to the party. Both full Bordeaux Blends, seemed to fill the peppery cracks to the tuna, leaving only the fresh briny notes of the fish to appear. Again, immaculate!
Course six – I guess you could say, was my main plate – and really, quite pretty again – was a simply salt n peppered flank steak grilled to another perfect medium-rare, accompanied by salt roasted beets topped with goat cheese and caramelized balsamic onions. C’mon! This was an amazing course… The beets, which I swore took over two hours to roast, along with a plate full of two hour slow sauteed onions were both great sides to the grilled flank. The pairing- an earthy, raspberry centered Cab from St. Emilion, Bordeaux. I feel, aged just right, to pair – the wine paired wonderfully to the rare sides of the beef and the sweet sides of the roasted beets.
My favorite wine unveiled at this point of the evening – a 1984 Chateau Montelena Cabernet. With a bit of decanting, this wine turned out to be the favorite of the nite. The nose youthful and lively with scents of fresh rose petals and dark cherry fruit led into a round, supple mouth-feel of kalamata olive and briar patch fruit. With just a slight ‘over the apex’ palate – the wine was rock solid! Perhaps enjoyed best at its tipping point, I would guess a year to two ago, I was most impressed with the longevity and complexity of this Napa Valley Cabernet.
Last, but certainly not least, came a decadent multi layered flour-less chocolate torte. My recipe left instructions to serve as one layer – yet I thought if I were to really take this dinner party over the edge – I might as well layer the cakes with a rich chocolate ganache. The best part? Each slice was topped with crumbled blue cheese and paired to a lovely Chilean Cab, Ecos de Rulo. Notes of boysenberry, chocolate and syrup rounded the glass as the dessert melted perfectly upon the palate. Again – splendid!
The party went on into the late hours of the nite as more bottles made their way to the table from the piles of wine that were brought. A nice candied Washington Cab called Sweet Spot was the last I remember tasting of the evening. It seemed to fit the last bites of the chocolate torte left on my plate and all at once, became the mantra to the memories of a fabulous evening with friends. My life – One Sweet Spot . Filled with friends who love food as much as I do, appreciate the wines I pour and love up on food/wine pairings almost as much I do and just simply, make me smile. Happy Cabernet Day, to me!