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Bruschetta with Warm Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Pistachio Pesto

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Wine Paired Bruschetta

California’s asparagus season is short so it’s a good idea to get your fill while you can. When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto. Serve as a hearty appetizer at a dinner party or enjoy for lunch with a green salad. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Riesling or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Pesto:

  • ¼ cup (35 g) raw pistachios
  • 16 large basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dozen very slender asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, each about 4 by 3 inches (10 by 7.5 cm) and ½ inch (12 mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ pound (110 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). 

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the pistachios, basil, garlic, and olive oil and pulse until the basil and nuts are finely chopped but do not grind to a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the flavor.  

If necessary, trim the asparagus spears so they are no longer than the bread. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Sprinkle with salt and roast until they are tender and starting to char, about 8 minutes.   

If the goat cheese is firm enough to slice, cut into three or four evenly thick slices and place them in a lightly oiled baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If the goat cheese is too soft to slice, spoon it into a lightly oiled baking dish, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese quivers when touched, like a soft custard, about 5 minutes. 

Toast the bread. Brush one side of each toast with olive oil. Divide the warm cheese among the toasts, spreading it evenly. Top each toast with asparagus and a dollop of pesto, dividing evenly. Serve immediately. 

Suggested Pairing:

Akash Winery ~ 2020 Parlez-Vous Rosé – A bright and intriguing French-style rosé as lovely as its name.

Baily Winery ~ 2019 Riesling – Delicate, dry and fruity white.

Miramonte Winery ~ 2018 Riesling – Spicy citrus, lemongrass, orange blossom, honeyed lemon, butterscotch, zen stone finish.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards – 2019 Lyric Rose – Dry Rosé made of Syrah grape, pale salmon hue, delicate bouquet of rose petals with peach skin exuding with flavors of guava and ripe peach.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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Classic Beef Stew with Flaky Cheddar Chive Scones

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Classic Beef Stew

Most people have a soft spot for a good beef stew, the ultimate comfort dish on a cold night. This version will perfume your kitchen with the sweet scent of paprika and wine. On another occasion, try different vegetables, such as rutabagas, potatoes, or add chickpeas. Chances are you’ll devour a warm scone before you even get the stew to the table, but you’ll still have plenty of scones for dipping in the luscious sauce. If you’re pressed for time, serve the stew with egg noodles instead of the scones. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

Classic Beef Stew

  • 1-1/2 pounds (680 g) boneless beef chuck, in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon California paprika or other sweet paprika 
  • ¾ cup (.2 l) dry white wine 
  • ¾ cup (150 g) fresh tomato pulp (see Note) or finely chopped canned San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 2 cups (.5 l) chicken broth, or more as needed  
  • 1 dozen fresh thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen twine 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • ½ pound (225 g) baby carrots, scrubbed 
  • ½ pound (225 g) small turnips, peeled and halved or quartered 
  • 1 cup (133 g) frozen peas, cooked and drained 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish 

Flaky Cheddar Chive Scones 

  • 2 cups (285 g) unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • 2 packed tablespoons thinly sliced chives 
  • 1 cup (70 g) coarsely grated Cheddar cheese, chilled 
  • Approximately 1-1/3 cups (320 g) heavy cream, chilled 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted 

Directions

Prepare the beef stew: Season the meat all over with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Set the meat on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

Dredge the meat with flour, shaking off excess. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, brown the meat, working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Reduce the heat if needed to prevent scorching. Transfer the meat to a platter as it is browned.

Pour off any fat in the pot and return to medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion has softened and moisture from the onion has dissolved all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broth, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to blend, then add the browned meat and any juices on the platter.

Bring to a simmer, cover, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the meat is almost tender when probed with a fork, about 1 hour longer. Add the carrots and turnips, stirring them down into the liquid. Recover and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. If the stew seems too thick, thin with broth. Remove the thyme bundle and bay leaves, then stir in the peas and parsley. Taste for seasoning.

While the stew cooks, prepare the scones: Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat if you have one, or with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chives. Add the Cheddar and toss with a fork until well blended. Add the cream gradually, tossing with a fork until all the floury bits are coated. Use a dough scraper or spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the dough still in the bowl, gather it and knead it gently, just enough to form a cohesive mass.

Turn the dough out on the prepared baking sheet and pat and prod it into a ¾-inch-thick (19 mm) rectangle. The thickness is important, but the other dimensions don’t matter. Try not to work the dough or add additional flour.

With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 12 scones. Separate them on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush, baste the tops with melted butter.

Bake until nicely browned and well risen, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Divide the stew among soup bowls, garnishing each portion with parsley. Pass the scones separately.

Note: To make fresh tomato pulp, cut 2 large plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Grate on the large holes of a box grater until only the skin remains in your hand. Discard the skin. You should have about ¾ cup pulp (150 g).

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2017 Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ~ The palate expresses notes of clove, chocolate covered cherries and dark fruits. Soft tannins with hints of caramel and toasty oak lead into a long smooth finish.

Churon Inn Winery – 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Upfront you will surround yourself with the aromas and flavors of cherry and bell pepper.  Finish off with a soft finish and lingering fruit. 

Falkner Winery – 2017 Syrah ~ Enjoy the wonderful deep purple color of this Syrah and the lush flavors or ripe plum, black cherry, tobacco, chocolate, and a bit of spiciness.

Foot Path Winery – 2016 Syrah ~ The vintage of this wine complemented the natural character of the Syrah grape. It caused the wine to be rich and bold, yet plush and fruity.

Recipe and photo provided by The Wine Institute of California

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From Valentine’s Day to The Big Game: Your Temecula Valley Wine Guide for All of February’s Celebrations

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Wine is our love language!

February is full of wine-drinking occasions, from marking the end of Dry January (you know, if you’re into that sort of thing), to Valentine’s Day, to the Super Bowl, and everything in between. Whether you are planning a romantic night in with your honey, a night of yelling at your TV screen and high-fiving your family over touchdowns, or just stocking up after a month of nothing but diet soda and sparkling water, we’ve got your guide for what to drink for all occasions this month.

BUBBLY

It doesn’t matter if you’re toasting your love or the winning team, sparkling wine is a great option for a celebration or for sipping with just about anything you’re eating, from game day food to fancy dishes to an entire box of Valentine’s Day chocolates (no judgement).

Your Valentine’s Day Selection:

South Coast Winery Ruby Cuvée Sparkling Syrah, $20

Everyone loves to pair chocolate with wine, but the two often go together like a Taurus and a Leo – in other words, not so well. We have, however, found an exception. Pop a bottle of this crimson-colored red sparkling wine, bursting with juicy, red berry fruit, and dip into that box of Valentine’s Day chocolate for the perfect, indulgent treat.

Your Game Day Selection:

Carter Estate 2014 Blanc de Blanc Brut, $40

This crisp, clean, bone-dry bubbly is made in the méthode Champenoise, AKA how they do it in the most famous sparkling wine region of the world, Champagne. It’s light and complex, with tiny bubbles that will totally upstage any frosty game day lager.

WHITE WINE

We know sports spectating usually calls for frosty beers, but why not opt for a cold, crisp glass of white wine instead? These selections are refreshing and equally at home with a spicy plate of nachos as they are with that house-made Fettuccine Alfredo from your favorite Italian take-out spot.

Your Valentine’s Day Selection:

Oak Mountain Winery Chardonnay, $26

Valentine’s Day Dinners are often decadent affairs – lobster tails dipped in butter, juicy roast chicken with creamy mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped scallops (is your mouth watering yet?)… This lightly oaked Chardonnay is rich yet balanced, with bright green apple, lemon curd, and crème brulée, and will be the perfect accompaniment to your romantic dinner for two.

Your Game Day Selection:

Danza del Sol Vermentino, $34

This fresh, juicy Vermentino, a grape that is equally at home in Temecula as it is in Sardinia, Liguria and Tuscany, will have you feeling like you’re watching the game from Italy. Notes of ripe, fleshy stone fruit, lime zest and white flowers give way to a clean, oyster shell finish. The very definition of “quaffable.”

ROSÉ

Real sports fans drink pink. And, nothing says romance like a glass of ballet-slipper-hued nectar. If you are someone who loves the cool, crispness of a great glass of white wine, but are also looking for something with a bit more oomph, rosé is the perfect option.

Your Valentine’s Day Selection:

Ponte Winery “Pas Doux,” $30

“Pas Doux” translates to “not sweet,” a descriptor that lets the drinker know this wine, made from Sangiovese, was intentionally made in a classic, dry, Provençal style. This juicy rosé is bursting with strawberries and rose petals – in other words, all the ingredients of a romantic encounter.

Your Game Day Selection:

Robert Renzoni Vineyards Lyric Rosé, $29

This is a wine we refer to as “crushable,” meaning that you could drink it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, if you’ve got a long day of watching sports ahead of you, snag a bottle of this baby pink, dry rosé, with notes of white peach, guava, lime zest, and melon. It will pair nicely with that killer seven-layer dip you make. 

RED

Given the cold, wet weather over the past few weeks, we’ve found ourselves wondering if we really do live in Southern California! Fortunately, we’ve found solace in the plush, full-bodied red wines that our Temecula Valley wineries are known for to keep us warm. Snuggle up with your significant other or curl up on the couch to watch the Big Game with one of these hearty selections.

Your Valentine’s Day Selection:

Baily Winery Cabernet Franc, $35

You can close your eyes and pretend you’re having date night in Bordeaux… or better yet, among the gorgeous rolling hills of Temecula Valley. Baily Winery is known for their traditional, Old World take on winemaking – in particular Bordeaux-style blends – and this Cabernet Franc is no exception. Ripe berry and plum mingle with exotic spice and black pepper and a touch of forest floor. This is a wine to linger over now with your partner, or put away for several years until your next big anniversary.

Your Game Day Selection:

Europa Village Barbera, $42

We love this bright, fresh Barbera, produced from vine cuttings that trace their heritage all the way back to Italy’s Piedmont region, from which the Barbera grape hails. It’s juicy and packed with tart cherry and berry fruit, and just a touch of spice, making it a heavenly match for a big pot of spicy game day chili.

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MAC AND CHEESE WITH FRESH PEAS, CAULIFLOWER AND TOASTED GARLIC BREADCRUMBS

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Mac & Cheese with Fresh Peas, Cauliflower and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

You know it’s the start of fall when you start to crave warm comfort food! This mac & cheese recipe is creamy and comes with a few surprising additions—and a crispy garlicky topping. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Merlot.

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (30ml) all purpose flour
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
1 cup (240ml) half-and-half
1¼ cup (143g) grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup (56g) grated Gruyere cheese
6 cups cooked macaroni (made from 10 ounces/284g dry macaroni)
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (200g) cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
½ cup (80g) fresh or frozen peas

For the topping:
2 cups (128g) fine dry breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)
½ cup (56g) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (10ml) minced garlic
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt
1 teaspoon (2.5ml) freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed, saucepan over medium heat, until sizzling. Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Gradually stir in the milk and half-and-half, and continue to stir until the sauce thickens and begins to simmer.

Turn off heat, stir in the grated cheddar and the Gruyere until smooth. Fold in the macaroni and ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cauliflower and cook and stir until lightly browned. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes.

Mix the cauliflower and peas with the macaroni and spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.

To make the topping, mix the breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Suggested Pairings:
Callaway Vineyard & Winery 2016 Special Selection Chardonnay ~ This light, crisp Chardonnay opens with aromas of leafy pineapple and citrus fruits. The palate is lush with fresh tropical fruits, golden delicious apple with a tangy pineapple finish.

Falkner Winery 2016 Merlot ~ Enjoy the added dimension of black cherry, blueberry, and slight plum flavors with a smooth finish that provides for a delicious wine.

Leoness Cellars 2015 Signature Selection Merlot ~ This wine is bursting with black cherry and blackberry flavors framed by subtle hints of licorice, tobacco and cedar leading the way to a soft, lengthy finish.

Oak Mountain Winery 2018 Chardonnay ~ This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.





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Temecula Valley Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

As the holiday season approaches, wine lovers will be searching for wines that complement holiday dinners and can please a wide array of palates. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large soiree, Temecula Valley sparkling wines offer something for every wine personality. Sparkling wines are ideal for special occasions, and as the holidays approach, we’ve asked our winemakers which are their favorites that will work well for holiday entertaining and gift-giving.

Thornton Non-Vintage Brut

A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which gives the wine an exciting, crisp fruit character while taking on a clean and straight forward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time of 28 months using the méthode champenoise process. The addition of a small amount of Pinot Noir helps to round out the wine, giving it complexity and uniting the white varietals. The Thornton NV Brut has a lot of finesse along with apple, pear and tropical aromas, which meld with toasty yeast flavors, while the finish is long and creamy. $33 Bottle

South Coast Winery Sparkling Pinot Grigio

This sparkling Pinot Grigio is worlds apart from what is normally expected with this style of dry white wine. Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity. “Whenever toasting a special occasion, serve this wonderful sparkler and let the good times roll!” says winemaker Jon McPherson. $24 Bottle

Carter Estate 2014 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling

This product has been painstakingly nurtured to deliver a sparkling wine with the finesse, flavor and aroma of a fine méthode champenoise sparkling wine. The process included barrel fermentation and barrel aging of approximately 8% of the cuvee prior to the secondary fermentation. Once the Blanc de Blanc had been blended and undergone secondary fermentation, it was aged for an additional fifteen months on the yeast lees. This time on the yeast lees helped to develop the yeasty, toasty aromas, a very fine bubble bead, wonderfully full creamy textures and an extraordinary mousse. The bottle is brimming with fresh apple and delicate floral aromas; a hint of oak shows in the background with a nuance of vanilla, toasty cookie and a rich yeasty character. This wine has a very bright acidity and a refreshingly dry finish. “Definitely our finest sparkling release to date,” states winemaker Jon McPherson. $34 Bottle

Cougar Dolce

100% Estate Malvasia Bianca sparkling wine. Sweet, Muscat-like with notes of apricot, peaches and honey, for the taste buds that like more of a dessert flavor.

Oak Mountain Winery Raspberry Sparkling

This refreshing sparkling wine explodes with a slightly sweet raspberry candy touch.  Great for sipping by the pool or celebrating your special occasion.  Winner of a Silver medal – Orange County Fair Wine Competition.  Pairs well with ham, turkey, prime rib or most any main dish.  $25 Bottle

Though Temecula Valley wines can be ordered through the wineries’ online stores and shipped to most states, what better excuse to visit the destination and try the wines onsite. Temecula Valley is conveniently located in the center of Southern California, just an hour drive from San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County and 90 minutes from Los Angeles. Many winery restaurants offer special holiday dining menus that pair wonderfully with their holiday wines. Resort, hotel, bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals offer special packages and pricing for Sunday through Thursday stays.

 

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Pan-Seared Steak with Portobello Mushroom Sauce atop Mascarpone Polenta

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

This classic dish highlights the earthy flavors of Portobello mushrooms, the richness of mascarpone polenta and the elegance of seared, rib eye steak. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Syrah.

Ingredients:

3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 cup (160g) course ground polenta
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45g) mascarpone cheese
2 (8-ounce/225g) boneless rib eye steaks, 1½- inches (3.81cm) thick, removed from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound (225g) portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2/3 cup (160ml) Temecula Valley Merlot
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pour the water and the chicken stock into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

When the water begins to simmer, whisk in the polenta and the 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt.

Stir for 5 minutes while the polenta is simmering.

Cover the polenta and turn the heat to low.

Cook for 40 minutes total stirring every 10 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C).

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer the steaks to a shallow baking pan. (Set the skillet aside for later use.)

Roast the steaks in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the steaks from the pan and let the steaks rest while you make the mushroom sauce.

Thinly slice the mushroom caps into half moons then slice again crosswise into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil in the skillet used for the steaks. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook and stir until golden brown. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and the ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cover.

To serve, spoon desired amount of polenta in the center of each plate. Top polenta with sauce and strips of steak.

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery 2014 Merlot ~ This wine is unique with blackberry and black cherry fruit with subtle hints of black licorice and vanilla, framed by silky tannins and a generous finish.

Carter Estate Winery & Resort 2012 Merlot ~ This Merlot has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tart tannic backbone.

Fazeli Cellars 2014 Shiraz ~ Silky black currant and blackberry layered with hints of vanilla, earth and black pepper. Full-bodied with a rich, lingering finish.

Monte De Oro Winery 2014 Syrah ~  Accents of cocoa bean, clove, anise, red and black peppercorns with a long gripping finish.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Grilled Sausages with Fig and Onion Jam

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Chances are you’ll find many other uses for this fragrant sweet-tart jam. Enjoy it on a grilled-cheese or ham sandwich or serve it with a cheese or charcuterie board. It’s the perfect complement for fresh goat cheese or a tangy Cheddar. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ pound (125 g) dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, about 10 ounces (315 g), halved and thinly sliced from root to stem
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste
4 fresh Italian sausages, hot or sweet, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Directions:

Put the figs in a small saucepan with 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, thyme, and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, golden-brown, and sweet, about 30 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent burning.

While the onions cook, prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Lift the figs out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and slice thinly. Add the figs to the onions, along with the sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the fig-cooking liquid. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been absorbed and the flavors have merged, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning. The jam should be moist with a balanced sweet-tart flavor.

Grill the sausages until they are nicely browned all over and feel firm when probed, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the warm jam.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ Cabernet Sauvignon Vintners Selection – Aromas & flavors of black cherry, plum and dark chocolate.

Callaway Winery ~ 2014 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah – Dark, spicy and brimming with black fruit, this vintage will only get better with time.

Danza Del Sol Winery ~ 2014 Syrah – Flavors of ripe black cherry, plum and hints of chocolate and tobacco laced finish.

Gershon Bachus Vintners ~ 2010 Aquilo God of North Wind Cabernet Sauvignon –  The smooth velvety finish carries a blackberry undertone

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Baked Striped Bass with Peperonata, Olives, and Saffron Aioli

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Braised sweet peppers, potatoes, and tomato make a succulent foundation for baked fish. Sauced with a garlicky, saffron-scented aioli, the dish needs only some crusty bread to complete it. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Grenache Blanc or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 pound (500 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
½ pound (250 g) peeled plum tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 gold or yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus some for garnish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
Kosher or sea salt
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) white wine
1 dozen black olives, preferably unpitted
4 fillets of striped bass or other firm white fish, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Aioli
1 large clove garlic
Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, potatoes, tomato, peppers, parsley, oregano, saffron, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes render their juice and the vegetables begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and peppers are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in the olives. Taste for salt.

Season the fish with salt and place the fillets on top of the bed of vegetables. Add ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water, cover and cook until the fish just flakes, about 10 minutes.

While the fish cooks, make the aioli: In a mortar, pound the garlic and a generous pinch of salt to a paste; alternatively, mince to a paste by hand. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl, add a splash of lukewarm water, and whisk. Begin adding the olive oil gradually—drop by drop at first—whisking constantly. (Recruit a helper to pour while you whisk.) When you have achieved an emulsion, you can add the oil a little faster. When you have incorporated all the oil, whisk in the garlic paste.

When the fish is ready, tilt the cooking pot and draw off about ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the juices. Whisk enough of these flavorful juices into the aioli to make it thin enough to drizzle. Taste for salt.

With a spatula transfer the vegetables and fish to individual shallow bowls or plates. Spoon aioli over the fish. Garnish with more chopped parsley.

Suggested Pairings: 

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ Rosella Rosé – Delicate flavor with a hint of grapefruit and a slightly dry and crisp finish.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Rosé of Sangiovese –  Lightly pink, near-dry, delicately scented and flavored Rose′ wine, very much in the dryer, food-friendly European style.

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery ~ 2016 Grenache Blanc – Green apple and mandarin orange dominate with citrus peel with herbal notes in the mix.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Smoky Cherry BBQ Sauce and Red Cabbage Citrus Slaw

Friday, June 29th, 2018

This looks like an amazing dish to serve for your 4th of July BBQ! Fresh cherries round out the smoky heat of a feisty barbecue sauce that glazes tender pork ribs as they crisp on the grill. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound fresh California cherries, pitted, chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chili pepper (or smoked Hungarian paprika)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Rub:
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 racks baby back ribs, each about 2 pounds, membranes removed

Slaw:
1/2 medium head red cabbage, finely shredded, about 4 cups
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely grated with juices, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Make the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender, process until smooth and taste for seasoning.

Prepare the ribs:
In a small bowl, combine the rub ingredients. Evenly coat the ribs with the rub. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium-low heat (about 300°F). Grill the ribs, bone-side down over indirect heat, with the lid closed, until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. During the last 20 to 30 minutes of grilling time, baste the ribs with the glaze every 5 or 10 minutes. Remove the ribs from the grill and let rest 5 minutes, then cut into individual ribs for serving.

While the ribs are grilling, make the slaw:
Combine all of the slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop.
Serve the ribs with the remaining sauce for dipping and the slaw.

Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon –  These grapes hail from the oldest vineyards in Temecula, planted in 1968. This wine offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint.

Doffo Winery ~2015 Zinfandel – Awarded 1st place at Temecula Valley People’s Choice Blind Tasting!

Leoness Cellars ~ 2015 Cellar Selection Zinfandel – This wine offers beautiful aromas and flavors of sweet blackberry and juicy plum, with hints of clove and black licorice framed by soft tannins and a long, silky finish.

Thornton Winery ~ 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – Very classic berry and pepper aromas came forth while subtle herbaeceous notes meld with the warm toasty aromas from the oak.

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California

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Summertime Sipping!

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Barbecues are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the day with Dad. And all that grillin’ just screams for a good red wine. But if you’re thinking it’s too warm for red, think again! With these few tips, finding the perfect summer sip won’t have to put your love of red on hold.

  • Chill out! Pop your bottle of red wine in the fridge for about 30 mins – or in an ice chest for about half that – and you’ll be amazed at how much more refreshing it will taste.
  • No or Low Oak wines are generally fresher and fruitier.
  • Low to Moderate Alcohol levels usually equate to lower tannin levels for a wine that won’t weigh you down.
  • Light to Medium bodied wines tend to be easy on the palate, bright and light.

So, whether you’re in the backyard or on the beach – serving burgers and brats, or steak and grilled veggies – there’s tons of options for pairing your favorite Temecula Valley wine with whatever you’re serving up.

If the mainstay is red meat, a spicy Zinfandel or Syrah would be perfect. If you’re looking for a more mellow choice, a fruit forward Merlot always works; it’s also great with chicken, pork chops or fish. If your fave is a Cabernet, go ahead and drink what you like. But try not to shortchange your options. Go for a nice red blend for the best of all worlds. And don’t forget about a blush wine; there’s nothing a nice dry rosé can’t do for spicy ribs and coleslaw – or a plate of spicy hot wings!

A few Temecula Valley wine suggestions for your next barbecue:

Baily Winery ~ Rosé of Sangiovese: fun, fruity and full of character

Danza del Sol Winery ~ Grenache: the color is light, but the aromas are bright

Maurice Car’rie Winery ~ Cody’s Crush: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah blend

Oak Mountain Winery ~ Merlot: berry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and abundant smokey oak

Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ Big Fred’s Red: ripe blueberry and black cherry, hints of caramel

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