Category Archives: red wine

Thanksgiving Wine Picks from #winePW Bloggers

There’s a lot to think about if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner. How long to cook that turkey, what sides will you serve…and how many people are coming exactly? Or if you’re like me, and visiting, the wine you bring will be one of your main contributions. Either way, we are here to help you with your Thanksgiving wine picks!

Each month, Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers share wine pairings based on different themes. We’re a group that thinks a lot about great combinations of food and wine. Earlier this month, we shared some creative Thanksgiving food and wine pairings. Now that we are just one week away, we thought we’d ask #winePW about their Thanksgiving wine picks to give you some ideas. Here’s what they had to say:

Pull that Cork: We at Pull That Cork will be spending Thanksgiving Day with friends, wine friends that is. We will be taking a 2006 Michel Loriot Inspiration de saison Extra Brut Champagne. We love our Champagne. Also, for the Pinot Noir lovers in the group we are contributing a 2008 Acacia Pinot Noir. Yes, we love Pinot Noir too! Our friends are cooking, so we know the food will be delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving from Peter and Nancy!

Pull That Cork Thanksgiving Wine Picks

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog: We always open multiple bottles of wine for Thanksgiving. We always have a sparkling wine because they’re so food friendly and it seems to make the gathering more festival. This year that will be a 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage. Other wines we’ll be serving are 2013 Donkey and Goat Stone Crusher Roussane, an orange wine, and the 2011 Onesta Bechthold Cinsault from a 130 year old vineyard! For dessert it will be Warre’s Otima 10 year Tawny Port.

Vino Travels: I can’t say I’m 100% sure what I’ll be drinking for Thanksgiving this year, but I’ll definitely be opening a Finger Lakes Riesling as I make an annual trip there and always enjoy one with my Thanksgiving meal. For reds I’m torn, but possibly an Amarone or one of my VIno Nobile di Montepulciano or Brunello di Montalcino. I save opening these bottles for special occasions and usually holidays.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition is adventure. I rarely have turkey on my table and this year is no exception. Since we will be feasting in our new-to-us home, I decided that that theme for this year will be: putting down roots. I’ll be serving soup and salads made with root vegetables along with Donkey & Goat’s Roussanne; DeRose’s Négrette will accompany our Fennel-Leek-Orange Osso Buco with Roasted Turnips with Parmesan and Butter Braised Radishes; and we’ll finish with a duo of Halter Ranch wines to go with a Spiced Parsnip Cake and Bittersweet Cremeux with Buddha’s Hand Crème Anglaise.

Rockin Red Blog: Our Thanksgivings are usual quiet events; my parents will join my husband, myself and our teens for a traditional Southern meal with lots of food and pie! A perennial wine favorite at our Thanksgiving table is Trefethen’s Dry Riesling 2012 Oak Knoll District Napa Valley. It is a crisp well balanced wine that really blends all the flavors and textures of Thanksgiving together beautifully. Additionally we like to include a Pinot Noir as another great pairing with the meal. This year’s Pinot Noir selection is Del Dotto Cinghiale Vineyard 2009 Sonoma Coast. Cheers!

Tasting Pour: Tasting Pour believes Oregon Pinot Noir is the perfect pairing for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you like this style of wine, it is the way to go. Join us as we explore our cellar and determine the perfect wine for our table. In the process you may determine the perfect wine to make you truly thankful.

Cooking Chat: We will start with a white or perhaps bubbly as we nibble on appetizers. I’ll pick that wine after I decide what appetizer(s) I’m bringing to the feast. I’ve been focused more on which Pinot Noir to bring for the main course featuring turkey. I’m going to start by opening the 2011 Deux Verres Reserve Pinot Noir from Torii Mor in the Willamette Valley, then perhaps move down the coast to the 2012 Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I recently blogged about 10 Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving options if you’d like some more ideas!

Torii Mor Pinot Noir, a good Thanksgiving wine option

Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Cabernet

Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a CabernetI had a bottle of 2012 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon on the wine rack, awaiting the right dish to open it with.  Beef seemed like a natural, and I figured mushrooms would make the pairing even better. The tasty result was this Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Cabernet recipe I posted over on Cooking Chat recently.

This wine is definitely steak-worthy! The Halter Ranch Cab is deep red in the glass. I got eucalyptus on the nose. I tasted blackberry and cherry fruit, along with notes of charcoal. Tannins are well-integrated. It’s approachable now, but I suspected decanting or aging would really make this shine. So I decanted after the first small tasting pour. Just 15 minutes or so in the decanter really help show a nice long finish on the wine.

No surprise that this robust Cab paired nicely with the steak. In addition to standing up to the beef, there was enough nuance to the wine to play well with the subtle flavors of the chanterelle mushrooms. A winning match for sure!

One more note on the wine: this Cab is comprised of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. I’d say the grapes blended in with the Cab add to the depth and complexity. Halter Ranch is a SIP Certified sustainable winery, too. One more reason to grab a bottle! More details on the winery can be found here on their website.

Full disclosure: I received a courtesy sample of this wine from the winery. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Cabernet from Halter Ranch.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso

pumpkin lasagna with a Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso for #winePW 5

Culinary Camilla photo

Not only did Camilla do a great job hosting the “Fall Fruit and Wine Pairings” for #winePW 5, she came up with a great recipe and pairing for it! I wouldn’t have thought to make a lasagna with pumpkin, but that’s my bad because it sounds and looks great! Then she pairs that Pumpkin Lasagna with a Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso, yum! Here’s a link to the recipe and pairing details on Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

I’ve enjoyed a few different wines from Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, including the Syrah I paired with grilled tuna for the #winePW 4. I’ve got to try their Côtes de Paso blend! I love a Rhone style blend, and in addition to the traditional Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, it has a good bit of Tannat, too. Interesting blend!

Be sure to check out all the other tasty #winePW 5 pairings with fall fruit and wine pairings! Rounded up here. 

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

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!

A Syrah For Grilled Steak With Garlic Cumin Rub

Grilled steak with garlic cumin rub paired with a SyrahI get to experiment with pairings for this Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin rub fairly often. The rub packs enough flavor for grownups, but my 9 year old also loves it, so it gets used often! A lot of big, bold reds can work with the meaty dish, but there’s also the spice element to pick up. That gets me going more in the direction of a Zinfandel or Syrah for this grilled steak recipe.

You could do well with any of your favorites in the Syrah or Zin department, but one specific pairing for this grilled steak recipe that has worked very well for us is the 2011 Halter Ranch Syrah from Paso Robles.  It’s got big berry flavors to stand up the beef, and some nice spices to pair with the flavors of the rub. Give it a try or let me know with you come up with for a pairing! (you are going to try this super-easy rub, aren’t you?).

Here on Wine Pairing Weekend, I typically just link over to the original recipes. But if you’re in a hurry, the rub is simply equal parts cumin, garlic powder and salt, and you can add a pinch of cinnamon and/or other dried herb (sage is nice) to vary the flavor.

2011 Halter Ranch Syrah pairs nicely with grilled steak

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry with a Pinot Noir

pork and bok choy stir-fry pairs well with Pinot NoirWhat to pair with a stir-fry? I made a Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry recently, and was looking for a wine pairing in a small midwestern town during a recent visit. So I didn’t have the many choices I’d have at our local wine ship.

Riesling tends to be my go-to wine for stir-fry, and it can work nicely with pork. None of the Rieslings on the shelf appealed to me the other day, however, so I went in a different direction. When I find myself choosing wine in a grocery store or other spot that doesn’t curate their wines nearly as well as our local shop, I rely more on finding a familiar brand. I saw a Pinot Noir from Seaglass, and grabbed it because I’ve enjoyed Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc many times.

My pork and bok choy stir-fry gets some saltiness from soy sauce. Choosing a red with such a stir-fry calls for some acidity to balance the salt content. Pinot fills the bill nicely. The Seaglass Pinot Noir is from Santa Barbara. It’s a light style pinot. Nothing remarkable, but tasty enough and plays nicely with the food. Definitely a satisfactory pairing for a meal cooked on the road.

Do you have a favorite wine pairing for stir-fry? Do tell!

Rigatoni with Kale, Spicy Sausage and a Zinfandel Syrah Blend

Rigatoni with Kale and Sausage, paired with Renwood Zinfandel blend.
This is a variation on the sausage and Zinfandel theme I blogged about the other day. I had gotten two large Andouille sausages from D’Artagnan, and only needed one for that pasta with sausage and collard greens. So the other night I used the other one to make Rigatoni with Kale and Sausage. I used feta instead of the cheese blend in the original recipe, and that worked great. There was a sample box of wines from Renwood Winery in the cellar waiting to be opened. Knowing they specialize in zin, last night seemed like the perfect time to crack one open to pair with the spicy sausage in the pasta dish.

My friends from Renwood had sent a variety of their wines to try. We were getting going on this dinner late after another Little League baseball game, so I didn’t have time to do much research to determine which bottle to open first. 4 are straight zins, but I decided to go for one with Syrah in the blend. We opened the 2011 Renwood Clarion Red Wine, a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah from California’s Amador County. We were very pleased with the selection! I got a touch of cinnamon along with blackberry and pepper tasting this one, and it has a nice smooth finish. Enough spice to match well with the sausage. I look forward to trying the other bottles in the box–stay tuned for details!

2011 Renwood Clarion red wine blend with rigatoni and sausage.

Before signing off, I should mention one other thing about Renwood. They are having a BBQ sauce making competition, with the winner getting an all expenses paid trip for two to Renwood Winery for the Amador Vintners’ Big Crush event in October. Entries must be submitted by August 30. I haven’t made my own BBQ sauce before, but this might give me reason to try! It’s been way too long since I’ve been to California wine country, and I’d love to get back there. I probably shouldn’t share the link to the contest info as that might increase my competition. But I’m a nice guy so I’ll share it anyway–here you go!

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a courtesy sample from Renwood. As always, free samples don’t influence the opinions expressed or guarantee mention here on this blog.

2011 Renwood Clarion Red Wine blend

Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Collard Greens and a Zinfandel

Ca' Momi ZinfandelI serve some combination of pasta, sausage and greens quite a bit. It’s a nice way to get healthy greens in our diet as part of an easy main course. A modest amount of sausage can provide nice flavor to pasta dish. Recently I essentially followed this recipe for pasta with sausage and collard greens with two changes. The original recipe used chicken sausage, a nice healthy option. The other night I used a D’Artagnan Andouille Sausage, which I love to use for a good flavor burst in dishes like this as well as kale soup. I switched up the pasta shape too, using fusilli this time.

Pairings Wine and Food was sampling a few moderately priced zinfandels this week, and I brought home the one I liked best from the lineup: the 2012 Ca’ Momi Napa Valley Zinfandel. I’m not sure how they manage to pull off producing a Napa zin that I was able to get for $10, but I don’t want to ask too many questions lest this deal disappear! Sampling the zin is what led me to pick up the D’Artagnan sausage, thinking the spice element in the zin would match up nicely with the kick provided by the sausage. I wasn’t disappointed! This zin has good jammy fruit along with some peppery spice and a nice long finish. I definitely recommend repeating this pairing at home. Or you might want to try this zin matched up with some spicy BBQ from your grill.

pasta with  sausage and collards pairing with a zinfandel.Ca' Momi Zinfandel