Steve, Larry and Friends: July 15th, 2017
Below you'll find the six wines we tasted at the event, along with the tasting notes and food pairing suggestions. I've even included links to my videos where applicable. Cheers, and thanks, everybody!
Leeuwin Estate Riesling (Margaret River AUS)
Made from: Riesling
This crisp, dry white from western Australia, is floral, citric and has a hint of petrol on the nose. The lemon-lime character is fresh and fruity, and the bracing acidity is key to this wine, which makes it a good foil for rich, creamy, fatty and salty foods.
A great match for spicy Asian dishes and sushi, briny shellfish and sweet wurst/sausage. I'd drink it with raw oysters or mussels in white sauce!
We partnered this wine up with a Chinese chicken salad wrap. The key to this recipe is in the sauce:
1 tsp finely minced garlic
3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp hot mustard
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Finely chop garlic and ginger, place in a food processor and puree. Add in all remaining ingredients except for the vegetable oil and pulse smooth. Add in the vegetable oil in small quantities and pulse each time, to aerate/emulsify. NOTE: You will have lots of extra sauce!!
Grill 4 boneless breasts of chicken (or buy pre-cooked). Dice into small cubes. Add in the sauce, garnish with cilantro, scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
Serve in lettuce leaves or in rice paper rolls. Serves 4 - 6
Innocent Bystander Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough NZ)
Made from: Sauvignon blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand is well-known for its Sauvignon blanc. Since the 1980s this area, located at the northern tip of the South Island, has been making some of the best SBs in the world. The hallmark aroma/flavor is usually grapefruit and kiwi, with a hint of grass or herbs. And of course, the acidity is through the roof, which means it's great with salty and fatty foods.
Pair with Mediterranean apps, crusty bread with olive oil, pita and goat cheese, Dolmas, soft cheeses, olive tapenade, hummus and grilled artichokes.
I grilled up a baguette on my griddle pan, along with some fresh rosemary and garlic. This makes the perfect delivery vehicle for tart goat cheese, grilled sweet peppers, shishito peppers and scallions. I also toasted up some Pignoli (Pine Nuts) because they have a piney-floral quality. All of these flavors play well with that herbaceousness in our Sauvignon blanc.
"The Ned" Rosé (Marlborough NZ)
Made from: Pinot Noir
A beautiful, fruity and tart rosé with a pretty pink blush color. The wine is named after a mountain that is visible from the vineyard. It has a strong aroma of ruby red grapefruit, strawberries, and a slight hint of rose petals. It's fresh and clean, and tastes like grapefruit and orange juices.
Rosé wine is probably the most versatile type of wine, since it's somewhere between a white and a red wine. You can pair it with anything from a watermelon salad to charcuterie and cheeses. It also works well for grilled veggies. For an example of how rosé wine is made, check out my video here.
For this pairing, I embraced rosé's versatility and capitalized on the acidity by using a salty salmon lox. I went with a simple amuse-bouche made with a cucumber base, lemon creme-fraiche and smoked salmon. I topped it all with lemon juice, cracked pepper, smoked sea salt and a dill frond.
Matahiwi Estate Pinot Noir (Wairarapa, NZ)
Made from: Pinot noir
Originally from Burgundy, France, Pinot noir is typically light and elegant, much more subtle than its other red wine friends. It grows well in moderate climates, like the cooler area of New Zealand known as Wairarapa. There is almost always a giveaway that you have PN in your glass - the scent of fresh raspberries and strawberries. It's often light-bodied, acidic and has little to no discernable oak.
Pinot noir is so light that it often drinks like a rosé wine. I even like to chill mine up a bit. Because of those fresh berry flavors, it pairs excellently with roasted poultry and pork too. But there's a pairing that's even more surprising - dark-meat fish, like swordfish, salmon and tuna are great with Pinot noir. Truffle and mushroom flavors are another great compliment to this amazing wine.
I created a simple truffled gnocchi dish with bursted San Marzano tomatoes and black olives. For the basic gist - check out the how-to video here. Use your favorite pasta and truffled cheese in place of the oil, if you like.
Mr. Black's Little Black Book Shiraz (Barossa Valley, AUS)
Made from: Syrah/Shiraz
Shiraz is the same grape as Syrah from France. Down Under, where the summers are long and hot, the grape and the wine tends to get very ripe and heavy. That's the case here - lots of red currant fruit and black pepper notes, with a hint of game meat or even "barnyard," on the nose.
The wine has flavors of black cherry, blackberries and a slight woody note from oak barrels. It's huge and spicy!
Shiraz is big and bold, and therefore, needs bigger, bolder dishes to stand up to it. The obvious choice would be grilled game meat, lamb and mint, but you can also pair it with hard cheeses to tame down the tannins. Think of bold spices to match the size of this wine - cumin, coriander, chili, etc.
We paired our wine up with, "Sweets and Beets:"
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 3 beets
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic bulb
- tsp. cumin
- Tbsp. coriander
- 2 Tbsp. fennel seed
- salt and pepper
Peel and cut sweet potatoes and beets into 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, coat with olive oil and add the spices. Cut up the onion and peel the garlic into individual cloves. Spread everything out on a cooking sheet and roast in the oven at 400° until soft enough to pierce with a fork.
Schild Estate Cabernet (Barossa Valley, AUS)
Made from: Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet is almost always a big wine. It is known for its signature flavors of red currant and bell pepper. In this region of Australia, Cabernet is known to sometimes take on a eucalyptus note, too. Some people theorize it's because of the nearby trees and bees/pollinators. This is a bold wine that is a bit more round and smooth than the Shiraz (from the same region). There's lots of oak on the finish.
Cabernet shows its best when paired with big flavors and proteins. It's the perfect steak and grilled meat wine, and great with hard cheeses too. It compliments grilled portabellas and green veggies well.
I decided to pair this Cab up with Garlic Chicken wings. You can use your own recipe, but I went with one that uses more soy and honey, almost with an Asian flair:
• ½ cup lite soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon porchini powder
• 2 tablespoons lite brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon honey
Put 3 - 4 lbs. of chicken wings in Ziploc bag and pour in sauce. Marinate overnight. Preheat overn to 400° and place wings on a baking sheet (with ample space in between each wing). Cook for 20 - 25 minutes until crisp on the outside. Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.