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Holiday Wine Pairing Guide

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Mom’s stuffing, Aunt Nancy’s cranberry sauce and your sister’s sweet potatoes.  Menu: done!  But what about the wine?  Choosing a bottle (or two!) of wine to bring to the holiday table can be tricky.  Appealing to not only your menu, but to a cross-section of practiced palates and novice wine drinkers may seem challenging.  But don’t stress out over one of the simplest tasks of the holiday season. Make it simple.  Any wine you enjoy is a good wine!

One certainly doesn’t need to look to others to rate, score or direct you to make a particular wine choice. Bring a wine you’re familiar with to the table.  Chances are it’ll be just fine – and maybe even sublime!

First and foremost, don’t worry about pairing with the herbaceous, the tart or the sweet accompaniments to your turkey, ham or prime rib.  It’s much simpler to match the wine to the main protein dish.  Here’s a few tried and true varietal selections for some classic holiday main dishes:

Wines to Serve with Ham
Ham just begs for a something lightly sweet.  Look for wines with a touch of residual sugar like a Baily Vineyard & Winery Riesling or a Maurice Car’rie Winery Gewurztraminer.  Both are lighter in style, a bit lower in alcohol and still offer plenty of food-friendly acidity and crowd-pleasing palate appeal.  If you’re looking for an easy to pair red, go for a lighter style like Tempranillo.  Great examples can be found at both Robert Renzoni Vineyard & Winery and at Danza del Sol Winery.

Wines to Serve with Turkey
Although an array of whites work perfectly well, Sauvignon Blanc is an all-time, hands-down favorite pick that holds up well to turkey – and all it’s side dishes. Temecula Valley provides the perfect playground for growing this varietal, so you’ll find many great examples of it here.  Beautifully aromatic offerings from the musqué clone can be found at Hart Winery and at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. Soft red varietals like Syrah also make suitable partners; you can find some fabulous ones at Falkner Winery and Leoness Cellars.

Wines to Serve with Prime Rib
White wines will have a hard time keeping up with the likes of Prime Rib, but there are so many reds to choose from that make impressive cohorts, you’re sure to find one you’ll all enjoy.  Choose an affable Cabernet Sauvignon from Callaway Vineyard & Winery, a food friendly Italian varietal like Montepulciano or Sangiovese from Cougar Vineyard & Winery or an amazing Super Tuscan blend, Due Rossi, from Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery.

Happy Holidays!

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Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Tomato-Corn Salsa, Guacamole, and Lime

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Eating with your hands was never so delicious with these tostadas layered with a bright salsa, creamy guacamole, and spiced shrimp. Arrange the fixings family-style and let everyone assemble their own tostadas. Pair with Temecula Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

Makes 8 tostadas; serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

Salsa:
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from a cob or defrosted frozen corn
1 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 green jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Guacamole:
2 ripe avocados
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Shrimp:
24 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
8 corn tostada shells
8 butter lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Mexican hot sauce
Lime wedges

Directions:

Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Combine all of the guacamole ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork to blend.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (about 350°F). Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place in a bowl. Add the oil, cumin, cayenne, and salt and toss the shrimp to coat.

Arrange the shrimp on the grill grates over direct heat and grill until opaque through the centers, turning once or twice, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate.

To assemble the tostadas, spread a generous spoonful of guacamole on a corn tostada. Top with the lettuce, salsa, and shrimp. Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and lime wedges.

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2015 Special Selection Pinot Gris – Sun-ripened peaches, nectarine and honeydew melon aromas with hazelnut and a twist of lemon pie on the finish.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc –  Citrus notes of guava and tangerine, a subtle herbal undertone and a clean peach finish.

Lorimar Winery ~ 2015 Sauvignon Blanc – Let the crisp, cool guava quench your thirst as fresh melon and lemongrass awaken your senses.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ 2016 Pinot Grigio “Julia’s Vineyard” – Fragrant and mildly floral with subtle notes of green apple, lemon and pear, with a crisp refreshing finish.

 

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

thanksgiving-wine-horizWho’s as obsessed with Thanksgiving as we are?  The turkey, the trimmings, the pumpkin pie and the WINE!

This is the time of year we get the most questions about wine pairings.  While there is no “right” or “wrong” wine to pair with your feast, there are a few varietals that, if paired with your favorite dishes, will send your taste buds into sensory overload.  We’re reprising this “oldie but goodie” Thanksgiving wine guide and have updated it with some suggested pairings to try this year.

Light Appetizers + Mellow Whites

These mellow whites pair well with lighter dishes to kick off your Thanksgiving meal. The floral notes of a Viognier complement a fall salad of pears, blue cheese and walnuts; a selection of fruit and cheeses match nicely with a Chardonnay; and a light Pinot Grigio will pair well with your pumpkin soup.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Chardonnay; $30.00

Danza Del Sol Winery – 2014 Pinot Grigio; $28.00

Briar Rose Winery – 2014 Estate Viognier; $25.00

Herbacious Side Dishes + Spicy Reds

The spicy notes derived from these unique wine grapes pair especially well with stuffing and gravies seasoned with holiday herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary. Having a vegetarian Thanksgiving? These wines work well with earthy mushroom and winter squash dishes too!

Cougar Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Sangiovese; $31.00

Leoness Cellars – 2012 Zinfandel; $39.00

Doffo Winery – 2010 Syrah; $52.00

Poultry & Meats + Bold Reds

Whether it’s wine or food, everyone looks forward to the main course. The dark fruit flavors in these big reds will enhance similar flavors in your herb-rubbed turkey or peppered roasts. Whether you’re serving poultry, lamb or beef, all three are bold enough to stand up to a rich meat course.

Baily Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon; $30.00

Monte De Oro Winery – 2010 Merlot; $32.00

Wiens Family Cellars – 2013 Tempranillo; $42.00

Dessert + Sweet Wines

Your Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without dessert, and no dessert is complete without wine – at least that’s how we feel! Apple pies and pear tarts are practically made to pair with a sweet Moscato, where red delicious apples, kiwi, pears, and apricots come together nicely with honeysuckle and jasmine undertones. Oak Mountain’s Port has a nutty honeyed flavor to perfectly complement the nutmeg and allspice flavors of pumpkin pie.

Oak Mountain Winery – Port; $28.00

Miramonte Winery – 2014 Moscato; $25.95

Robert Renzoni – Paradiso Port; $49.00

One Meal, One Wine

On a wine-buying budget? Or just looking to simplify your evening by serving one wine from start to finish? Any of these three, well-priced wines fit the bill. Each is lighter on the palate, with only subtle hints of sweetness making them suitable to drink from appetizers all the way to dessert. Bon appetit!

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Chenin Blanc; $19.95

Falkner Winery – 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; $19.95

South Coast Winery – Ruby Cuvee; $22.00

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