Author Archives: davidbcrowley@gmail.com

Wine with Soup: Butternut Squash Soup with a Pinot

Wine with Soup: Butternut Squash Soup with Mushrooms paired with a Pinot Noir

Pairing wine with soup can be tricky. I’d say it’s because you’ve got texture issues. Eating liquid broth and then sipping wine can lead to a less than harmonious mouthfeel.

One solution to the mouthfeel dilemma that comes pairing wine with soup is thickening the soup by puréeing it. The wine then has a lighter body than the soup, setting up a nice contrast. I tend to like my vegetable soups puréed anyway, and that’s the direction I went in when I came up with this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Sautéed Mushrooms.

Wine with Soup: Bouchard Aine & Fils Pinot NoirI have found squash soups do pretty well with Pinot Noir. There’s a enough fruitiness in the wine to match nicely with the flavors of the squash. The pinot choice was clinched for this one when I added the sautéed mushrooms to the soup. The earthy elements of Pinot Noir match perfectly with the mushroom flavors.

Soup also tends to suggest a fairly simple wine. So for this soup, I paired it with the 2012 Bouchard  Aîné & Fils Pinot Noir, a great reliable value from France. I turn to this bottle often for simple weekday suppers. It’s a nice choice with this soup, but I’d love to hear what pairings you come up with for soups you make as the weather gets cooler.

Grilled Tuna Paired with a Syrah

grilled tuna paired with a Syrah from Halter Ranch for #winePW 4.Could a Syrah paired with fish work? It sounds like an unorthodox pairing, but I like to try new things! I had a bottle of 2011 Halter Ranch Syrah from Paso Robles that I wanted to use for the September Wine Pairing Weekend event. I’ve enjoyed this before paired with steak, but in the spirit of trying something new, I wondered if grilled tuna paired with a Syrah could work.

There were a few factors that helped make this a good pairing. For starters, a meaty tuna steak is very substantial, matching the body of the Syrah. Then I added some spice to the dish, by serving the tuna with grilled eggplant with spicy peppers. These veggies bridged to the wine nicely, as did the cumin garlic mixture I rubbed onto the tuna steak. Get all the recipe details over on Cooking Chat.

Now, more about that Halter Ranch Syrah. This wine has a big fragrance of violets and forest floor. I got blackberry jam and white pepper taste. I had my initial taste before I started grilling the tuna. By the time we settled down to eat about 10 minutes later, the Syrah had really opened nicely and was showing a lot of finesse on the long finish. This helped it make a nice harmonious pairing with the tuna–plenty of substance for this meaty fish with the spice element to work with the food. A good wine and a nice pairing! In fact, one thing that reminded me to blog about it this morning is I’m making it again for a gourmet get together with friends tonight!

Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers

Grilled Steak with a 20 Year Old Rioja

A 1994 Rioja to pair with grilled steakWe decided it would be fun to celebrate our recent 20th wedding anniversary with a tasty meal at home along with a special bottle of wine. There were a number of bottles that sounded like interesting possibilities at the wine shop. But I was intrigued by the idea of finding a bottle from our wedding year, 1994. We came up with a 20 year old Rioja to go with our grilled steak.

Now, it would have been nice to have a big collection of older wines in our cellar to draw from for this dinner. But most of our wine at this point is for current consumption.

There isn’t generally a big selection of wines from 1994 at this point at most wine shops. But Ray from Pairings Wine and Food was able to poke around the shop and came up with a 1994 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rioja. I’d enjoyed a newer vintage from this winery, one of the top Rioja producers, and was ready to try this older bottle.

We had some Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub with Coffee and Garlic on hand that we hadn’t tried yet–mostly because I figured our nine year old wouldn’t go for it. He wasn’t on hand this evening, so it seemed like a good time to try it on some grilled NY strip streak. Plus, I thought the coffee in the rub might go with the Rioja.

So, the steak was on the grill, and it was time to open the wine. Figured at this age it didn’t need much breathing time! The cork was looking like it wouldn’t last a bit longer, but fortunately it had held together to keep this wine in good shape.

I got violet and coffee on the nose. Taste of berries, prune and coffee. The tannins had integrated well for a deep, complex taste, great mouthfeel. The coffee notes worked nicely with the steak. A nice pairing to enjoy on our 20th! The we had another good pairing for dessert, the Grilled Figs with a Sauternes.

grilled steak to enjoy with a 1994 Rioja

#winePW 4 Roundup: Regional Food and Wine Pairings

grilled tuna with peppers and eggplantFor #winePW 4, participating bloggers wrote about “Regional Food and Wine Pairings”. Here are the links to the tasty and creative pairings they came up with on this theme.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted “Chuletas de Cordero + Tempranillo

Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog shared “Piedmont Pleasures

Grape Experiences is pairing “Avantis Estate Malagousia 2013 and Greek Shrimp

Curious Cuisiniere shared “Cheddar Cranberry Grilled Cheese with Door Peninsula Winery’s Peninsula Red

foodwineclick is sharing “Minnesota Wine at the Midwestern Table

Pull That Cork posted “winePW 4: Sicily

Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “New Mexico: Burgers, Bubbles and Beer

Rockin Red Blog shared about “A Rustic Meal in Valpolicella

Cooking Chat blogged about “A Paso Pairing: Grilled Tuna with Halter Ranch Syrah

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the October Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, October 11.

Regional Food and Wine Pairings: 9/13 Twitter Chat Questions

Twitter Chat questions posted for Regional Food and Wine Pairings

Sneak peak at Cooking Chat’s pairing!

We are looking forward to the 4th Wine Pairing Weekend event coming up this Saturday, September 13! The September #winePW theme is “Regional Food and Wine Pairings.” We will be holding a live Twitter Chat in conjunction with the event this Saturday 9/13, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Please join us! Simply share tweets with our hashtag, #winePW and follow that stream. We do also have a Twubs page setup as a handy way to view the Chat and automatically add the hashtag. Be sure to check out the great pairings the participating bloggers come up with! You can get an idea of what they are planning by checking out the preview post over on Cooking Chat. I will be hosting this event from my @winePW Twitter handle, and will also be chiming in from @cookingchat.

This website is being developed in conjunction with the #winePW event. The idea is to roundup some of our favorite food and wine pairings from the #winePW events and other pairing experiments. We hope over time this will become a handy resource for people to get pairing ideas. This site is pretty new, but I’ve been blogging about food and wine for over 5 years and nearly 500 posts over at Cooking Chat!

We have a few questions to guide the #winePW 4 Twitter Chat. Of course, feel free to share anything on the topic of refreshing wine pairings or related themes. When you are responding to a particular question, please start your tweet with the letter “A” followed by the number of the question you are answering.

Q1: Where are you tweeting from?

Q2) Do you have a favorite region that features great local cuisine that pairs very well with the wines from the area?

Q3) Why do you think food and wine from the same region tend to go so well together?

Q4) Have you tried pairing food and wine that are local to you? Tell us about it!

Q5) Have you tried any recipes that are inspired by local wine region cuisine but veer from the traditional preparation methods?

Q6) Have you tried local cuisine while visiting a wine region? Details please!

Q7) What’s the best example a pairing you’ve had that fits our “Regional Food & Wine” pairing theme?

Q8) Any other insights on “Regional Food and Wine Pairings” that hasn’t come up yet?

We hope you enjoy this chat and consider joining us in October to chat about “Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings”, hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Wine Pairing Weekend is held the second Saturday of the month, so we’re up next on October 11. You can email constantmotioncamilla AT gmail.com if you’d like to do a blog post for the next one. For general questions or ideas about Wine Pairing Weekend, email winepairingweekend AT gmail.com.

Grilled Figs Paired with a Sauternes

grilled figs paired with a Sauternes

Passing through the produce aisle at Whole Foods, on the way to pick up a store made dessert, the fresh figs on sale caught my eye. Yes, during the middle of a busy week, I was trying to keep our 20th anniversary dinner pretty simple. But my mind quickly got racing to pairing ideas…a dessert featuring grilled figs paired with a Sauternes sounded worthy of a special occasion, I thought. (we already had a special bottle lined up for our main course…stay tuned for a post about that soon!)

2007 Chateau de Malle Sauternes pairs nicely with grilled figsSo I grabbed the figs and came up with a simple yet tasty recipe, recapped below. Then I headed to the wine shop to grab a bottle we’ve enjoyed before, the 2007 Chateau de Malle Sauternes. 

Ingredients

6 fresh figs, stems trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup honey plus 1 extra tbsp honey
pinch of cinnamon
dash of dried sage
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted lightly (optional)

Preheat a grill to medium high. Combine the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the balsamic and the sugar in a bowl. Gently toss the figs in this mixture, and set  aside while the grill heats up.

Combine the mascarpone with 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of honey in a small pan on medium heat, and stir in the cinnamon and sage. Once the honey has liquefied a bit, turn the heat to low keep warm while the figs are grilled.

grilling figs to pair with a Sauternes

Grill the figs. If you have a grill pan, use that to avoid losing any figs to the grill. Set the figs skin side down the grill pan, or carefully set them directly onto the grill. Grill about 4 minutes on the skin side, then carefully turn over to sear the other side by grill for about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the figs to a plate.

Serve the dessert by adding a tablespoon or two of the mascarpone to each plate. Then place several figs on top of each plate of mascarpone. Finish the dish by drizzling the heated honey over the figs and cheese, and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top if you are using them.

grilled figs with honey and mascarpone

Enjoy with a Sauternes! Sure, a lot of things go well with a Sauternes. But this grilled fig with honey and mascarpone with a Sauternes is definitely a great pairing! The 2007 Chateau de Malle Sauternes has notes of honey and hazelnut, and a super-long, luscious finish. It could be a nice dessert on its own, but pairing the Sauternes with this sweet and savory dessert is a great combination.

If you’re not familiar with Sauternes yet, I encourage you to get acquainted! This wine from Bordeaux is made from a blend of made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, known as “noble rot”. There is surely a lot of interesting info on the web about it, but the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point.

Red Wine Pairing for Indian Food

wine indian (2)A red wine pairing for Indian food? I tried a few times and thought it wasn’t possible. I had hopes for one zinfandel that wound up creating a big clash with the spicy food. That one sent me back to more white wine and Indian food pairing, like this Gewurzstraminer I mentioned recently.

Then someone pouring a Carmenere at a Pairings tasting mused that it perhaps could work with Indian, based on the hint of cumin spice in the wine. So I grabbed a bottle of the 2009 Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere to try for myself.  Soon thereafter, I ordered some beef curry and aloo palak to try this red wine pairing for Indian food.

A bit of decanting softened the wine, showing blackberry fruit along with the spice. There was a bit of oak, which gave the wine structure to stand up to the beef curry, and the spice and fruit in the wine’s taste blended fairly harmoniously with the flavors of the food. We had aloo palak (potatoes in a creamy spinach sauce) along with the beef; as you might suspect, the Carmenere tasted better with the beef.

I would not call this a perfect pairing, but good enough to try red wine paired with Indian food again! Have you found a red wine pairing for Indian food that you like?

Note: I originally wrote about this pairing on Cooking Chat awhile back. I’m gradually pulling together my Indian food and wine pairing posts here on Wine Pairing Weekend to make them easy to find. I’ve found Indian food and wine pairing to be one of the most sought after pairing articles I’ve shared. You might more readily find a more recent vintage of this Carmenere, or find something with similar qualities.

10 Great Grilling Recipes with Wine Pairings

grilled chicken paired with a viogner. 1 of 10 grilling recipes with wine pairings from Wine Pairing Weekend.

Yesterday on Cooking Chat I put together a list of 20 Favorite Grilling Recipes. That seems like a good resource, but I realized with so many recipes we didn’t get into the wine pairings much.  But I suspect there is also some interest in grilling recipes with wine pairings, so today we share 10 ideas here.

Simply Scrumptious Grilled Chicken with Garlic Basil Butter: Bone-in chicken breasts can be a good value. Many online recipes for them can get a bit complicated; my recipe streamlines the process with tasty results! I served this with a 2012 Domaine de Gournier Viogner, thinking it would work with the chicken as well the side of pesto pasta we had. Serving the chicken with more basic sides, I might opt for a fuller bodied white like a Chardonnay or white Rhone varietal blend.

Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes I’m a fairly new convert to the virtues of eggplant. Grilling is the key for me. This Sicilian inspired combination was very good, shared for a Sunday Supper event earlier this summer. As part of his Sunday Supper wine picks, Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog recommended serving this with a 2013 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Rosé. That sure sounds like a great idea to me!

2012 Guffens-Heynen Macon-Pierreclos Le Chavigne white Burgundy pairs nicely with grilled salmon.Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa We love our salmon here! Often I grill it with just a simple soy marinade, but made it a bit fancier with a yummy mango salsa for the July Wine Pairing Weekend event. I served with with the 2012 Guffens-Heynen Macon-Pierreclos Le Chavigne from Burgundy, and was very pleased with the fruit and honey taste in the wine picked up the mango salsa. This is a great bottle and not as expensive as many Burgundies, but you could also serve this with a soft, aromatic white like Viogner.

Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade This simple, go-to recipe for grilled swordfish often gets paired with a rosé . When we posted it on this site earlier this year, we paired it with the 2013 Banshee Rosé of Pinot Noir from Sonoma. You could do other rosés, but go with a pretty substantial one. Regular Pinot Noir works here, too.

Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa Gotta love salsa! The pineapple in this one gets grilled along with the fish, great flavors. A medium bodied rosé is again the call here, I’d say. The Banshee mentioned above would work well, or about any rosé from Bandol would be a good pairing, I’d say.

Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops:  The succulent bone-in pork chops with a simple garlic cumin rub get their name from our nine year old’s reaction to how tasty they are! Consider this one if you’re looking for something that packs a lot of flavor with minimal work. We served this with a 2010 Azienda Agraria La Perticaia Montefalco Rosso from Umbria for our pairing. A nice blend of fruit and spice, with enough heft to work with the chops. I’d say a Garnacha or Tempranillo from Spain would be another good option.

grilled pork chops paired with an Italian red blend.

Cilantro and Lime Marinaded with Chipotle Cream This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, especially served with these Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter. This was another Wine Pairing Weekend event pairing, served with the 2009 Le Pousseur Central Coast Syrah from Bonny Doon. This particular Syrah has a finesse and flavor profile that makes it work very well with the dish. You could try other Syrahs that fit the profile, but many would be too over the top. A full bodied pinot could also work.

Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub  This is another easy option for a low maintenance weekend grilling plan. We went with the 2011 Halter Ranch Syrah from Paso Robles, and its bold flavors are a nice match for the steak. You could try other big bold reds you enjoy with this one, a Cabernet could certainly work here.

Grilled Steak Tacos with Awesome Avocado Chimichurri Sauce: Entertaining this weekend? This is a great way to get your guests some steak without breaking the the bank! A few pieces of beef along with the tasty sauce makes a a great taco. “Awesome” was the operative word for the sauce when we served it to family at a recent gathering. We had this with a Portuguese red blend, and that worked pretty nicely. A zinfandel could be another good option.

Burgers Topped with Garlicky Arugula I had some extra arugula on hand from the CSA awhile back, and came up with this tasty topping for burgers. The spice in it lead me to recommend a zinfandel. I paired it with the 2007 Chatom Vineyard Zinfandel, but you could try any zin you like.

Seared Trout on the Grill with a Tropical Viogner Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere came up with this one for our July Wine Pairing Weekend event. This post demonstrates that cooking whole fish on the grill can be pretty easy, and is especially nice served with a good wine! Sarah served it with the Lewis Station Winery’s Sparkling Waters White, a Viogner with some tropical fruit blended in. A Muscadet comes to mind as another option for this one.

So there you are, 10 ideas for grilling recipes with wine pairings. Lots of ways you can combine grilled food with good wine as you enjoy the weekend. Let us know what tasty pairings you come up with!

Sauvignon Blanc Paired with Pesto

A Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc paired with pesto

A classic: Sauvignon Blanc paired with pesto.

What makes it a classic? Here’s how the 2012 Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc worked with the pesto I made for the August Wine Pairing Weekend.

I get grassiness and grapefruit on the nose of the wine. I take a sip, and get peach, cherry blossoms, and mineral undertones. I eat a couple bites of the linguine, getting the garlic bite and saltiness in the pesto along with the freshness of the basil and acidity from the tomatoes. A lot happening on the palate. More wine. The crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc refreshes, cleansing the palate to be ready for another burst of flavor from the pesto. The makings of a classic pairing!

Ready to try this classic pairing for yourself? Typically on this site I link over to where you can find recipe details. But my pesto recipe is so simple (yet so good) that I’ll go ahead and re-share it right here:

Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc paired with pesto for #winePW 3Cooking Chat’s Basil Pesto Ingredients
2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and tightly packed
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp pine nuts

The Method: Have a food processor at the ready. Rinse the basil and pluck the good leaves from the plant, add to a measuring cup. I use up all the basil I’ve gotten. If I wind up with more than two cups basil, I scale the recipe accordingly and have more pesto on hand. If you have extra basil and a school age child on hand, enlist them in the process of calculating the recipe proportions, keep those math skills sharp over the summer! Put the basil into the food processor, and give it a quick whir to begin chopping the basil and make room for the other ingredients.

Next, add the garlic, and hit that food processor button again to get the cloves chopped up with the basil.

Add the remaining in ingredients, and then puree to get everything well combined. Open the food processor, scrape the sides to get bits of garlic and basil that haven’t been incorporated, then give the processor a final whir. Presto, you have tasty pesto! If you’re going to be eating within the next hour or so, just leave the pesto out. If you’re making in advance, refrigerate, but take out an hour before serving to bring the pesto to room temperature. Serve over hot pasta.

Wine Pairing: Well, we already covered Sauvignon Blanc being a classic to pair with pesto.  Want to go in a different direction? I’ve also had luck pairing Prosecco with pesto, and Picpoul with pesto is also very good, if you want to try a lesser known wine with your pesto.

a classic pairing: Sauvignon Blanc with basil pesto

Regional Food and Wine Pairings for #winePW 4

regional food and wine pairings is the theme for Wine Pairing Weekend 4

Another Wine Pairing Weekend event is right around the corner! On September 13, we will focus on “Regional Food and Wine Pairings.” I’m looking forward to hearing what my fellow bloggers will come up with showcasing the tasty interplay of food and wine that hail from the same area!

I’m hosting this one via my Cooking Chat blog, and have posted more details over there. Check that out for a bit more about what I’m looking for, but will summarize the basic info for interested participants here:

  • Send an email to tell me you’re in: Include your blog url, Twitter handle, link to your Pinterest profile, and any other social media detail. If you know your blog post title now, include that…but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I’d like to get a sense of who’s participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. If you’re a past #winePW blogger, just your post title will do unless you’ve updated any of the other details. The email is winepairingweekend AT gmail.com
  • Send your post title to me by Tuesday, September 9, to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include ” #winePW 4″ (Note: I’d like us all to use the hashtag in the title to make it easier to see the posts getting shared on Twitter).
  • Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-7:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 13. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up around then.
  • Include a link to the other #winePW participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I’ll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post–which will link to people’s general blog url–then updated code for the permanent links to everyone’s #winePW posts.
  • Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts’ to comment and share. I’ll follow-up later with some specific strategies for that social sharing.
  • Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.
  • Live #winePW Twitter Chat September 13, 11 a.m. ET: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject will connect via a live Twitter chat. It’s a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject who didn’t get a chance to share a blog post. You can definitely still join the blog event if you’re not available for the live chat.
  • Highlights on WinePairingWeekend.com: Some #winePW participants will be invited to have their posts featured on the Wine Pairing Weekend site. The goal of the site is to create a growing database of great pairings for a wide variety of wines and food. You can let me know in your email with post title if you’re interested in having your post included on the site.
  • Regional wine reps: Would love to hear from representatives of a wine region interested in being part of the #winePW 4 fun. Just drop me an email at winepairingweekend AT gmail.com if you woud like to explore possibilities.