Dare to Pair: Curry Chicken and Sauvignon Blanc

Hi my wino loving friends!

Spring is upon us and that, to me, heralds in the beautiful white wines and the soft roses from around the world. I’ve been craving crisp white wine since the sun started shining, and yet with the constant switch in weather, I feel like we’ve all been on our toes, wondering when summer is actually going to hit.

This sort of give and take, push and pull, of the seasons and the weather inspired me to find a very uncommon sort of wine pairing for you guys. Not only in food flavor, but also in wine choice.

This led me down a long, winding path to a favorite recipe inspired by an exotic find I stumbled upon at Whole Foods. With the harsh chill of the rain and the occasional shining sun, I decided to go for a Thai inspired dinner but wanted to make it somewhat easy and comforting in this gloomy season. So, with the help of the Hot For Food Blog (a great vegan couple who make some aMAzing recipes), I decided to make a curry chicken sandwich and, with its varied and intricate flavors, determined it would pair beautifully with a sauvignon blanc.

Now, I have to admit, I am not a sauvignon blanc fan. Sauvi’s are typically very crisp, light, and dry, and their flavor profiles can either range from grassy and sort of pungent to citrusy and tropical. I have an issue with this because I love American wines and sometimes tend to buy those more than the old world wines, but American sauvi’s are just so so citrusy and acidic. I have had a hard time pairing them with any foods that I personally enjoy… but this is probably due to the fact that I don’t even like drinking them on their own. They aren’t aged typically, and especially not in oak barrels (usually stainless steel if anything). I’m going to have to start venturing into French Sancerre and Loire whites (which are typically Sauvignon blanc)… Maybe that’ll be a good learning experience for us all 🙂 would you guys be interested in wine comparisons with food? Hmmmm….

However

I found this beautiful, organic and vegan-friendly, Las Mulas Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Chile! I was so excited to find something that wasn’t American, was organic, and vegan. I have had a good run with New Zealand sauvignon blancs (Matua is a great brand, and their pinot noir is phenomenal), but I couldn’t stop myself when I discovered this Las Mulas wine.


Paired together, the spicy paprika and curry in the chicken tasted so good with the wine. I was so surprised! The wine was grassy and not at all citrusy (SUCCESS!), so it balanced the food perfectly. I also put sprouts on the sandwich and I think that gave the wine a nice little complement as well. And I’m so happy the curry was mixed in with vegan mayo, because that bit of creaminess completely negated any acidity in the wine. I kept the raisins out of the recipe (because I honestly don’t like them lol) and I think that’s a good idea when you drink something so, so dry. Keep your food in the same sweetness group as your wines, just an FYI. There’s a reason (amongst many) why ice wines are best with dessert and why chardonnays go great with salads.

I would absolutely recommend a nice, easy drinking afternoon, pretending it’s sunny out with your comfort food and your elegant sauvignon blanc.

Let’s just cross our fingers and have another sip, hoping summer gets here soon!

Recipe:

2.5 cups “chicken” (I used Tofurky chicken strips, but the Beyond Meat ones are way better!)

1/2 cup vegan mayo

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup onion (I used this instead of raisins 😛 )

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp curry

1/4 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Assemble with sprouts and tomato on thick whole grain bread. Serve with a glass of Las Mulas and enjoy 🙂

Vegan Food and Wine Pairing: Rose and Nicoise Salad

Hey, foodies!

So to break up the monotony of this hot summer weather, I decided to kind of go with the flow and find something light and refreshing to eat while I was relaxing with one of my Summer Reads. It was a hot, muggy day when I felt my stomach rumble and thought “Well, I’m only in the mood for a salad,” but I didn’t want a boring kind of thrown-together salad. Besides, salads are so easy to pair with wine (Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are staples) and I wanted a bit of a challenge.

So I found this recipe over at Minimalist Baker called a Vegan Nicoise Salad. I’m a sucker for French recipes (it’s the francaise in me, I’m guessing) and was so, so excited to have something different to eat and plan for. I have never had butter lettuce, so this was actually a really fun recipe to make and the homemade dressing has become a household favorite.

I paired this with potato salad (instead of putting the potatoes on the salad itself) and made my guy some ribs. Together we ate with some glasses of Rosé from Charles and Charles. Enchante, if you please.

 The recipe for the salad was super easy:


1 Head Butter Lettuce

Nicoise Olives (I used Greek because for some reason my grocery store doesn’t carry Nicoise…???)

Cherry Tomatoes

Chickpeas (mashed with Dill, Maple Syrup, and Mustard… seriously, SO SO good!!! This is to replace the tuna in typical Nicoise salads)

Green Beans (boiled real quick to take out the rawness)

And the special Homemade dressing (click on the link above for the ingredients- it’s incredible)

 

I paired this with a Rosé thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’ll pair well with the chickpeas. Rosé’s go great with fish, so I thought- tuna is usually too strong for a Rosé, so it should work well with something milder but just as hearty (chickpeas), right?

Funnily enough, the Rosé paired best with the ribs that night. It’s sweet, strawberry flavors brought out the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. Paired with the salad, the wine had some good, light flavors to it, but the acidity in the dressing brought out the acidity in the wine. It made it kinda pucker-y which isn’t a good thing…

The wine, overall, was a beautiful, light, fruity wine that had a ton of flavor on its own. I would totally drink this wine again and make this salad again, but not pair them together. This salad would have paired better with a Chardonnay for sure- to cut that acidity and balance out the creamy butter lettuce. I really think that would have been a better pairing.

But, we live and learn! And I genuinely think you guys should try out the recipe on Minimalist Baker. They are an amazing power-couple running that site and they have some brilliant recipes.

Summer is the perfect time for Rosés, so I think I’ll try another pairing just to see what happens! What do you guys think? Are you guys super into these dinner recipes or do you want me to work on some dessert/dessert wine pairings, too?

And as always, until next time my reading winos!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Vegan Wine Pairings: Spicy Sushi Bowl and Gewurztraminer

Oh boy… you probably noticed my little posts about vegan food and wine pairings went a little AWOL last month. Nothing is as frustrating as looking for a pan that you need to cook with only to realize it’s already packed up and in your new place while you’re waiting out your old lease!

This was what the last two weeks of us living in our old apartment was like, so sadly there wasn’t much cooking to be done. Also since moving, I realized we need a lot more kitchen-y things than I had thought. Spatulas? Nope. Slotted spoons? Nope. Measuring spoons? Nope. So we definitely had to improvise once we got all moved in and settled.

Though we were missing some of the kitchen basics, I decided I still really wanted to cook something up for you guys and make a pairing we could discuss. So after throwing out some ideas (I don’t have a 9×14 pan anymore?! Where did it go???) I decided to do something a little comforting, healthy, and super, super easy.

At first I wanted to make vegan sushi because my mom sent me this KILLER recipe on Pinterest, but I instead kind of adapted it to make it as a sushi bowl (I didn’t think purchasing a bamboo rolling mat as my first essential was very prudent). I’ll list a few of the recipes I looked over at the end, but it was one of the easiest recipes I’ve done yet. I just needed my cutting board, a knife, a pot for the rice, and a small mixing bowl… which I didn’t have… so I used a cute glass!

The sushi is topped with a spicy vegan-mayo drizzle, and honestly I made it a little extra spicy with more sriracha to replace the heap of wasabi I usually LOVE on my sushi. I paired it with a spicy Gewurztraminer, which, for those of you who love Riesling, would probably die for.

Gewurz is typically a German grape, but you can find some great American renditions of it like I did. Pacific Rim is one of the better choices that I could find, and the notes of the wine were super florally and spicy (not peppery, more of a bite like chili but not that hot… ahhh I love wine tasting notes lol). To top it off, it’s also a vegan wine! Hooray!


I really liked the pairing; the spicy drizzle was excellent with the wine, but I honestly would have rather had a creamier dish with it. The lightness of the edamame, cucumbers, and seaweed didn’t really have enough oomph to hold up the huge flavors of the wine, though the avocado really pulled through as the MVP. Surprisingly, the seaweed/nori actually tasted good with it, too, which makes me think a regular Riesling (not dry) would have paired perfectly with the food. It isn’t as complex but still has the light fruity flavor and sweetness to undercut the hot accent of the food.

As an aside, the next day Jay and I paired the leftover (gasp!) Gewurz with a vegan shepherd’s pie and it was actually WAY better than it had been with the sushi bowl. I think it’s because the potatoes were so creamy and gave the wine a bit of a foundation to hold on to. The sushi bowl was very lean and would be better with a lighter, better balanced wine.

I hope you guys enjoyed this! I’ll do another post soon about searching for the illusive perfect red wine and vegan meal pairing. Also, would you all be interested in the resources I used in learning about wine and my favorite references? I may put up a post this week about the books and websites I use in case anyone is interested!

Until next time, lovelies!

Recipe based off of:

Love and Olive Oil
Live,

Morgan Paige

Dare to Pair: Rioja and Veggie Burgers

Hey everyone!
This month’s dare to pair features the healthiest of junk food: veggie burgers and sweet potato nachos! I used the recipes from Half Baked Harvest (the Cuban burgers and the healthy nachos) to put together an awesome meal for myself and some friends, and I’m super excited because they came out so well.

(Honestly, I’m not surprised, Tieghan has some of the most incredible recipes… her BBQ pulled chicken is a staple in our house!)

This dinner was especially fun, because I got to try out some dairy-free/vegan cheese in both the burger and the nachos. I can’t believe how much better these products are getting. If anyone is interested, I used the Follow Your Heart cheeses, and they melted and shredded perfectly. The provolone one tasted so good!


None of us were huge fans of the teams playing for the Superbowl this year, but this meal caught our interest and kept us invested in the game. We were able to indulge a little bit with this spicy, exotic menu and to compliment it I pulled out two wines to taste against (you know… since last month’s pairing didn’t work so well 😛 ).

My first choice was a Rioja (named for the region it is produced in) called Paco Garcia that one of my friends brought back for me from Spain. It was a 2012 vintage and a blend of garnacha and tempranillo grapes. Unfortunately, we cannot seem to find it in our state yet, but it was absolutely phenomenal with the burgers and nachos. The spice and heft of the food paired so freaking perfectly with the complex garnacha blend. Garnacha (the Spanish name for the Grenache grape) is super mellow and high in flavors of red fruits and some light pepper. It didn’t have any of the characteristic leathery tastes that some aged Grenache wines can get, which was actually super ideal for this meal. There are tons of spices in these two recipes, and I think it complimented the relatively pleasing and just peppery notes in the wine.

 Since the Rioja did so well with dinner, we only barely tasted the Francis Coppola Pinot Noir against the food. It honestly wasn’t very spectacular and got overpowered by the multiple flavors that came together in the nachos. Plus, there are jalapenos and green chiles in the nachos and those REALLY overpowered the flavor of the pinot noir. It was good with the burger, however, as long as we kept the mango salsa off of it 🙂

I will definitely be looking into expanding my Spanish wine tastings with future meals. This has been the first red wine that paired super well with a vegetarian-based meal and I intend to keep this experiment going! Also, I’m thinking about adding some informative resources that I use for wine pairing and education… would anyone be interested in that? It’s pretty cool to see  how many books are out there and why each one is unique. I could also review tools and toys for wine (decanters, wine keys, aerators, etc.) if anyone is interested. Just let me know!

Here’s to a successful pairing, finally! 🙂

Until next time,

Live,

Morgan Paige

Dare to Pair: Vegan Pizza and Shiraz

90+ Cellars  

Dare to Pair: Vegan Pizza and 90+ Cellars Shiraz

Hey, everybody!

This month’s Dare to Pair features the oh-so-satisfying 90+ Cellars Shiraz and the most comforting of comfort foods- pizza!

In all honesty, November and December wore me out in terms of cooking. I wanted to make something that appealed to the worn-out, chilled-to-the-bone side of me that seems to rear its head during the winter. Ours has been a mild one, but when it’s cold, it’s cold. We have sheets of ice to greet us in the morning and a deadened winter sky to say goodnight… and the only way to combat these seasonal blues is with some good friends, good entertainment, and good food!

I have a hard time finding satisfying pizza, however, because I am lactose-intolerant. I haven’t had that nice creamy flavor of stringy, melted mozzarella for a long time, but what really draws me back to pizza is the dough. I’ve always been a huge pizza dough fan- I’d steal your crusts if you weren’t paying attention. So I excitedly picked up a local pizzeria’s dough, one that I tend to dream about when I go through bouts of not having a good Italian dish.

This is the Portland Pie Company’s dough that they make with Shipyard’s beer. They have so many flavors (garlic, wheat, original, basil to name a few) and even offer a gluten-free option, but the beer dough is by far my favorite. It’s just tangy enough and super flavorful and I think it gives the dough some heft. Portland Pie Company is one of my favorite local restaurants- there’s one in Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire, and if you go, think about picking up one of their pizza pockets!

Anyway, I decided to go kind of peppery with this pizza by topping it with arugula, marinara sauce, yellow tomatos, “bacon,” and shallots. The dough is so easy to work with and so agreeable to every topping. I paired it with some beer-battered fries and a nice Italian-inspired salad, and then came the fun part.

The wine!

I chose 90+ Cellars Shiraz, because shiraz tends to be peppery and super drinkable (syrah, the same grape but grown in France, tends to be earthier and more robust). In case I messed up the pairing, I knew I would still love this wine and could drink it on its own. A group of friends and I did a blind wine tasting once and tried this shiraz up against an incredibly expensive French Rhone (it was 100% syrah) and the Petite Petit petite syrah (California)- the 90+ was the most inexpensive of the group, but unanimously we agreed it was our favorite of the three!

Alas, I did end up fudging the pairing. I thought that a cheese-less pizza would be just enough oomph next to a hearty shiraz, with the spicy arugula and salty “bacon” (I’ll add a link to the fake bacon here… none of the boys at dinner realized it was fake bacon, just FYI). However, I was sadly mistaken. The shiraz paired super well with the salty fries and the sweet salad, but the tomato-based marinara sauce just amplified all of the acidity in the wine and killed the flavor. It was so overpowering, I could only sip the wine when I ate the sides instead of the main dish. It was kind of disappointing, but just goes to show that flavor profile isn’t the most important part of what to look for when you’re pairing- acidity and tannin absolutely needs to be taken into account.

Case in point, Jay offered me his 90+ Cellars Riesling (can you tell we really like this brand? you can clink on the name for the link to their website), just for the hell of it, and it knocked my socks off. I couldn’t believe it. Who would pair a Riesling with pizza? But then again, it made sense with the peppery notes of the food being cut by the sweetness of the wine and the acidity of the food being matched by the acidity of the Riesling (typically very high for a wine!).

I think the reason most pizza is paired with heartier reds normally is because of the cheese. The lactic acid in cheese cuts the high tomato-based acidity of the marinara base, which in turn makes it more pleasing with a zinfandel or a syrah. So… if you are making a regular pizza, go for the red, and if you’re making a cheese-less pizza, go for a white.

Next time, I think I’ll make a pesto-based pizza (without the parmesan 😉 ) and see how that goes. This journey of trying to find good red wines to pair with vegan meals sure is enlightening! It’s such a learning process, but that is the world of wine, right?

Let me know what you think! Do any of you have any tried-and-true pairings in regards to pizza and wine? Pizza and beer is like peas in a pod, but wine just adds that little extra exotic touch 🙂

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige