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

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

Dare to Pair: Christmas Edition!

Dare to Pair: Christmas Edition!

Happy Holiblogs, friends, and Merry Christmas!

This Dare to Pair is a little on the fun side. I wanted to make a vegan-friendly meal to pair with a hearty red wine for a traditional Christmas dinner, but as I planned this dinner, I realized improvisation is your best friend! When I think of a Christmas meal, I think of some sort of roast, mashed potatoes, and every vegetable under the sun. I took this idea and morphed it into mashed potatoes, roast asparagus, and… drumroll please… the most (in)famous tofu dinner, Tofurky!

I had never made Tofurky before, but based on its flavor profile, I figured it’d be safe to pair it with something that pairs well with actual turkey: Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Garnacha are a few that I know work well with turkey. Riesling and Gewurtz are honestly the two biggest wines for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals- their fruity flavors balanced with spice and (for the most part) high acidity and low tannins make them super pleasing to the mild yet sometimes smoky flavor of the turkey. However, I felt like it was time to pair a red with a vegan-friendly meal, so I turned to my love of French wines: a Beaujolais!

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Roast, dipping bread, and wine for two!

Beaujolais refers to a region in France where the majority of red wines are made using the Gamay grape (the white wine is usually Chardonnay). The French are very specific in the categorization and creation of their wines. Beaujolais wines tend to be very light-bodied and low in tannin, and I got especially lucky because the vintage of the Louis Jadot Beaujolais that I paired was also more balanced in acidity than I had expected (high acidity is pretty common, but this one didn’t seem too typically acidic) . It paired so beautifully with the Tofurky and gravy, I was honestly so, so surprised. Even with the roasted asparagus, the wine didn’t lose its fruity flavor or become overpowered by the vegetable. Sometimes, starches can bring out strange flavors with light reds, but the mashed potatoes (even though they were super garlicky) were incredibly well-paired.

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Not impressed…

The only thing I wasn’t entirely pleased with was the actual Tofurky gr
avy that they provided. It tasted fine with the wine, but it didn’t really compliment the actual food… next time, I’ll definitely be making my own from scratch. I mean… look at those… lumps…

And as for the carnivore in the family, my boyfriend was actually super impressed by the whole meal! I think he liked it better than I did, to be 100% honest. Tofurky is kind of an acquired taste… I used the glaze that they suggested on the box (it said olive oil and a bit of soy sauce), but next time I’ll do something stronger (more soy sauce!) and then probably pair it with a Gewurtztraminer. I think the strong smoky flavor of Tofu and the stuffing (my favorite, dang it was good!) would be really complimentary to a spicy wine like a Gewurtz. But for a red, the Beaujolais really was the way to go, and I’d absolutely suggest that instead of a pinot noir (which can sometimes be overly fruity).

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Thanks for taking the time to hang out and I hope this inspires you to have a cruelty-free Christmas roast 🙂 Complete with a fantastic red wine as well!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

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Bonus pic of the Mary’s Angel ornament my Grandma sends me every year 🙂 Merry Christmas! ❤

 

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Hey, everyone!

It’s been quite some time since I had such an amazing food and wine pairing that just had to be shared, but this one I have for you today is truly inspirational.

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Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving!

I am not a picky eater, not in the least, but for a very long time I’ve had trouble with my diet (I am lactose intolerant and, while I struggled for a decade with it, I wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem until about four years ago). My stomach problems aren’t cured at all, but I’ve been gently climbing the rungs to an all-vegan diet. Besides my own health, I have chosen to do this for moral reasons as well, and though I don’t tout this to my peers, I’m quite proud of the decisions I’ve made.

 
That being said, choosing to persue a vegan life style has made it VERY interesting cooking for my boyfriend and celebrating special occasions with my loved ones. It seems like most people and most events revolve around meat-based and dairy-based dishes. Thanksgiving is absoLUTEly one of these holidays, and I decided to go all out and challenge myself with a meal that was vegan friendly.

 
image2Part of what appealed to me about this challenge is that food and wine pairings so often revolve around the meat in a dish. This is because they usually have such complimentary acids and flavors; ever have a nice spicy syrah with a steak au poivre? It’s like they were made for each other.

 
To prove to the world and all those who turn down their noses at meatless wine pairings wrong, I dug around and found what turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I (and my boyfriend) have ever had.

 
I found this recipe for a vegan “chicken” pot pie along with a rosemary and olive oil sweet potato recipe. I paired it with Charles Smith’s Eve Chardonnay, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so floored by my own… guesswork? Research?

 
I tweaked the recipe a bit, I used more of all the insides (carrots, “chicken” strips, peas, onions, garlic), and used whole wheat flour in the roux instead of chickpea flour. I’m sure the chickpea flour would still be good for those who want something gluten free, though. I also used a veggie bouillon cube in a half a cup of water instead of the not-chicken base.

 
I was surprised at how beautiful it looked when it came out of the oven, but I was even more astounded when we sat down to eat. I got multiple “this is amazing!”s and “I can’t believe this isn’t real chicken” (for real, I’m not lying!) from Jay, and he even asked me to cook it again for Thanksgiving this Thursday! When we tried it with the wine, we were just shocked. Eve is a MOSTLY stainless steel aged Chardonnay, so it didn’timage4 have any oakey overpowering flavor to it (it was fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 10 months in French oak, but it’s still really mellow… look at that color!). It is delicious on its own, it’s a bit florally with apple notes and creamy lemon flavors. It’s pairing with the food did not bring out it’s acidity, so it was perfectly mellow and flavorful as we ate. The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was that Charles Smith couldn’t guarantee that the wine wasn’t made with animal products (I guess it depends on the vintage), so next time I’ll look further into a wine before I pair it.

 
Overall, great recipe and pairing though. If you’re looking to start with pleasing pairings like this, something sort of easy but still difficult to find the perfect match, I would start here. And this is the perfect topper to a Thanksgiving meal- it seriously is mindblowingly good!

 
Have a very Happy and safe Thanksgiving, until next time!

 

 

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Bonus kitty and boyfriend food coma pic

Live,
Morgan Paige

Dare to Pair: Mimosas and Salad

Hey, everybody!

To get back into the swing of things, I figured I’d let you guys see an easy day wine and food pairing that anybody could do. I’m a HUGE fan of brunches and salads, and since my boyfriend and I were having a lazy, laundry-filled Sunday morning, I’d figured I’d treat myself to a delicious salad brunch complete with the one drink I’ve been craving: a mimosa!

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I knew exactly what sparkling wine I wanted to use (a beautiful Prosecco from Cavit called Lunetta), and so I decided to build a salad around that. The great thing about this brand is that they come in small bottles- I used a small, 187mL bottle for my single glass serving instead of opening an entire 750mL bottle for brunch. Sparkling wines usually lose their fizz withing a day if corked improperly and also lose their flavor within 3 days. I feel like the small bottles are just perfect, especially if you’re just treating yourself to an amazing brunch 🙂

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Now, salads are quite a challenge when it comes to pairing, because of all the options you have when it comes to building your salad. That’s partially why I decided to make it apart of this week’s “Dare to Pair.” The first thing I do when pairing salads is to start with the wine, because it tells us the most about a meal. We can begin with the acidity of the wine to tell us which toppings would work best, and in this case it is a highly acidic wine (sparklers tend to be acidic, and the addition of orange juice just makes it more so). So, naturally, we want to balance the acidity with something more neutral or alkaline. This means: raw veggies are our BEST friend! Next, I look at the body and consistency of the wine. Mimosa’s are known for being light and refreshing, so we could get away with pairing something that’s a little heavier but not too overpowering. In my opinion, this nixes the typical sources of protein, like chicken, red meat, or fish, but allows for a lot of other options like beans, meat-substitute, and light grains like rice.

So, to make my salad, I threw a couple of colorful bell peppers in there, bean sprouts, and red onions for my raw veggies. I also wanted to test a theory about grilled veggies; I used grilled zucchini and summer squash (perfect and in season!) to see if they would pair well, and also figured I’d try a fattier veggie like an avocado and even some falafel to see what paired well as a protein.

And for those curious, I used my typical dressing: a splash of olive oil and a dab of balsamic vinegar. I know this is also very acidic for the meal, but it honestly paired really deliciously with the mimosa. I only used a small amount of vinegar, so the taste wasn’t overpowering.

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The raw veggies were perfect with the drink, and even the avocado and falafel worked splendidly. No flavors were overpowered- I could taste everything in the Prosecco without losing the substance of the food. The only thing I wish I hadn’t thrown in there were the grilled veggies. They had a faint flavor of fish after I tried them with the mimosa, one that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I don’t know if maybe the orange juice that was the culprit, though, because sparkling wine is such a forgiving pairing drink. Either way, my suggestion is this: no mimosa’s paired with grilled zucchini.

So, on any hot, summer morning, I would highly recommend you build your own favorite salad and pair it with some great white wine. Do any of you have a favorite wine you’d like to try pairing? Or any tried-and-true duos for your lazy Sunday brunch? Let me know!

And until next time,

Live,

Morgan

Dare to Pair: Featuring Klinker Brick Zinfandel and BBQ Pulled Chicken

Hey, everyone!

I really hope you all had an amazing Fourth of July! I am so grateful- my holiday was chock full of filling food and good friends, and we even got to watch dueling firework shows! That is one of the thrilling parts of living in an apartment complex in the center of a sprawling city; you can always find a vantage point to watch at least three firework displays at once, and you’re never disappointed.

It’s been a while since I did a food and wine pairing, so I took this holiday as an occasion to treat myself and my friends to a special dinner. Well, it honestly wasn’t so special, but actually super fun and easy. You know when you fall across a recipe that just turns into a meal staple? That’s what happened when I stumbled upon Half Baked Harvest’s BBQ Pulled Chicken.

Food Prep and Goofy Grins
Food Prep and Goofy Grins

Each time I make this recipe, I tweak a spice here or there or try a different beer in the sauce. I honestly use half of the chili powder recommended (believe me, it’s more than enough) and the beer I used here, a local craft brew, has definitely been the best one yet. I’ve used a pumpkin beer, a summer wheat, and I even tried a nut brown ale at one point, but none of them were as complimentary as this one! It’s White Birch Brewery’s First Sparrow, a smokey Grodziskie style beer that is absolutely PERFECT paired with BBQ Sauce and the prominent spices. It’s a Spring seasonal at this brewery, and I could only find it in one local independent store in Londonderry, NH called The Drinkery.

America! Happy 4th!
America! Happy 4th!

The end result was a beautiful, tender pulled chicken, heavy on the heat. I used spinach and arugula for the greens, on the vine tomatoes, red onion, and fluffy potato rolls. Paired that with corn-on-the-cob (made the easiest way on Earth, in the microwave *gasp*) and seasoned french fries, and the meal was done. Of course, I followed it with traditional chocolate chip cookies, because I felt there aren’t many desserts more patriotic than homemade baked goods!

“But, wait!” You say! What about the wine?

Holy Grail Zin
Holy Grail Zin

Oh, yes, there’s wine! I figured, with all the heavy smoke and spices in the recipe, either a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel would pair well… and Zin is definitely the way to go (even though it is chicken, trust me!). This particular one, Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, is so deep and delicious, it has the heavy fruit flavors and just the right amount of spicyness. It’s such a well balanced wine, any Zin that was mostly spice would probably over shadow the actual fresh spices in the food, and one that is too jammy would fall flat and it’s flavors would be hidden behind the meal. Instead, this one had a nice ZING upon swallowing when paired with the BBQ chicken, I would definitely definitely recommend it.

I hope this has given you guys a little idea of what to look for when pairing. I like to try different things and do experimental pairings, but really, this is one hell of a duo that goes together like Batman and Robin; absolute, unthinking perfection!

Until next time, I can’t wait to chat again!

Live,

Morgan

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Sunday Family Dinner: BBQ Style!

With the summer coming to an end, we decided to spend our sunny weekend outdoors. It’s been hot and humid, but there’s really something special about grilling outside with a nice cold drink in one hand and a plate full of smoky goodness. Matt invited us over, so Jay and I threw together a salad, mashed potatoes, and an assortment of craft beers. The mashed potatoes I made in a crockpot, and were honestly the best potatoes I have ever made. I used this recipe and replaced the cream cheese and half-and-half with unsweetened almond milk. I also used margarine instead of butter (lactose-intolerance at it’s best 😦 ) and it turned out perfect! 

There’s a little beer store down the road from where we live (literally called The Beer Store), and we picked up a couple of six packs to pair with the burgers and potatoes. Unknowingly, Matt had grabbed some wine! So we had an awesome assortment to sip at with our various foods.

Food Prep and Some Liquid Vice!
Food Prep and Some Liquid Vice!

We grabbed Wolaver’s Oatmeal Stout, Otter Creek Copper Ale, and Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar. Rogue makes some phenomenal beer, I absolutely loved the Hazelnut Brown. It was a little heavy, but not nearly as heavy as the Stout! On top of this, Matt brought Mionetto Prosecco, Allegrini Ripasso Valpolicella, and Terre Rouge Ascent 2006 Syrah. We only opened the Ascent, and that was all we needed! It was perfect and spicy and earthy, very well balanced and paired a little too beautifully with our food.

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I fried up the tofu while Matt manned the grill, and I eventually went out to pet his little kitty Nala. She’s the queen of the neighborhood! We kept it simple and cracked open the beer with the food, but afterwards, we ate some fantastic Blueberry Pie from Nashua’s own Crosby’s Bakery and uncorked the Syrah. We had a spread of burgers, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, a simple garden salad, fried tofu, soft cheese, and strawberries. Matt made his own pickles which we also dug into! So delectable when they’re homemade!

For a BBQ, it makes sense to keep things simple and straightforward. The food is pretty much the showcase of the evening, so we were aiming to keep the drink pairings straightforward, but somehow the Syrah just stole the show. It was a bit aged, which mellowed any harshness that Syrahs can sometimes showcase, and had such beautiful flavors. For a finale of a wine, it really was perfect. I’d suggest to anyone, that branching out a bit in terms of wine can sometimes yield fantastical results. You may even surprise yourself and discover a taste for a new varietal or region.

If anyone is interested in learning about wines or have any basic questions, let me know! I will try to address some basic wine knowledge and pairings soon. It’s an awesome, educational topic and its so much fun to talk about 🙂 Thanks everyone for reading! See you soon!

Love,

Morgan

Family Dinner Sunday: Spontaneous Edition!

Hey guys! So, we all have busy weeks and busy schedules, so sometimes, plans go awry. This weekend, my friends and I decided to go see the movie Guardians of the Galaxy instead of our normally planned dinner. Spontaneity is the spice of life, am I right? So we went to our local movie theater, got dinner and drinks, laughed our butts off, then came home and had a little wine and cheese spread. All of the cheese and other nibbles were courtesy of my friend Matt, and since it was so last minute, I had to quick choose which wines would go best with the snacks! Gotta love a challenge 🙂

image (6)So here we are with some of the beginnings of the fixin’s. He brought two types of goat cheese, one was filled with fig, also aged sharp cheddar (that’s the one covered in the black wax; it used to be my favorite kind of cheese!), brie, pate, pear paste, apricot paste, hot pepper jam, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and crackers! And forgive me for not getting such beautiful pictures, but I wanted you all to see just how easy it is to pair food and wine. So I had to document the night!

As you can see above, we had already decided to pour a glass before we got chopping and plating.

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Triscuits are classy… right?

image (4)Matt was a super sport! We had a good time putting everything out and snacking. I decided to go with a Prosecco, a nice frizzante (which means the bubbles are smaller and there are more of them!) Italian sparkling wine, and a Californian Pinot Noir. It’s quite hard to find a Pinot Noir that doesn’t pair well with platters because they tend to be light and very agreeable, and Prosecco and cheese are like matches made in heaven!

So here, you can see a fun, spontaneous picture… my roommate may be derping out, but whatever. It’s the only picture I got of the two bottles of wine. I decided on the Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir and Mionetto Il Prosecco. They were both so delicious, always make sure you chill your sparkling whites!

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Thanks everyone for reading, I hope you learned something cool today and maybe even got a laugh out of this. Life doesn’t need to be planned out, sometimes it’s fun to just go with the flow and see what you can do to make it memorable. And when you’re surrounded by friends and loved ones, it can only get better!

Love,

Morgan

 

 

Family Dinner Sunday: Featuring Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and Justin Obtuse Dessert Wine

Hey, everyone!

As most of you may know about me, I work in the wine industry and am fairly new to it. Being a couple of years in, I’ve gotten to know the basics, and I’ve finally started out experimenting with wines and trying new things. Especially in terms of the food and wine pairing category!

I will never pretend to be an expert, but I’d love to share some of the things I’ve learned and tried, and would love to take you all along this wonderful journey of pairing and enjoying the simple things in life 🙂

I decided to ask my little friend family to be my guinea pigs. Who doesn’t want to try some nice food and wine combinations? I want to try to keep them somewhat themed and simple, so that all of you can see first hand just how easy it is to awe with just a little tips and tricks.

For the first Family Dinner Sunday, I actually made a larger menu than I had previously planned on. I’m a novice cook (at best!) and really, really, love to bake. So the main feature of this meal was our dessert wine and the cake I decided to pair along with it. Since the cake was a little bit of a hassle, I worked on that first, and decided to do something simple for dinner. Here are the two recipes I used:

Slowcooker Chicken Ceasar Salad Sandwiches

La Bete Noire, or Flourless Chocolate Cake

With both of these, I had the wine in mind first, instead of the meal. These were just simple, easy American dishes with fun twists that made them just a little out of the ordinary! 🙂

The Shredded Chicken Ceasar turned out nice and yummy, but the only thing I would suggest is not cooking it for four hours if you’re using a 5-quart slowcooker. I know the recipe says that’s okay, but it definitely should stick to only 3 if that’s the size cooker you have. Ceasar is also reportedly a favor hard flavor to pair with wine (lemon and anchovy? hu?). However, with the chicken and the cream base, I figured a nice oakey chardonnay would still have some power over the flavors, and luckily I was not wrong! Me, my boyfriend Jay, and our friend Matt (who are two of the biggest wine buffs I know) all agreed that it paired really well. And they even went back for seconds!

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I added a little plate of mixed herbs and greens, avocado, and sliced cherry tomatoes. I baked up some sweet potato fries, too, which paired SO well with the Chardonnay as well. Creamy foods go well with creamy wines, guys!

Noms!
Noms!

And to top it off, I oh-so proudly delivered the belle of the ball: a nice flourless chocolate cake to go with Justin’s Obtuse dessert wine. This wine came in the little 375mL bottles and is such a steal (in NH it’s $9.99) for its quality. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon wine, but the way they make it is just how Ports are made. It was phenomenal! It was still nice and sweet, but still very crisp with a lot of Cabernet flavors. It didn’t taste like a traditional dessert wine because it wasn’t so heavy and syrupy. It paired beautifully with the cake, which the boys loved (and my boyfriend isn’t a chocolate lover, either).

Only three ingredients! And the book I am currently in love with <3
Only three ingredients! And the book I am currently in love with ❤

So easy, the cake was only three ingredients! I even made myself a little drink while I was waiting for the cake to cool 🙂 What’s better than some cream liqueur in your coffee? Next time, I’ll have to cook with wine so I can sip that as I go. The back of the Obtuse bottle said that it paired well with souffles and truffles…

Who am I kidding, I can’t bake a souffle, yet! When pairings like this get thrown your way, and you know there’s no way in hell you can do something like that, then don’t be afraid to improvise. Essentially, this whole night was an improvisation; but I had a goal in mind! I knew something rich and chocolatey would pair well, so I just kind of ran with that small tidbit of info.

Couldn't resist taking a bite... or five
Couldn’t resist taking a bite… or five