Super Bowl is a day for gathering and watching a good matchup, laughing at new commercials and of course... it is all about the food and wine. This year a good friend dropped by to see us for the day's festivities. Of course, it helped that he is a chef and he wanted to show my hubby how to make sausage. And so we did!!
Wine is not the only thing I am passionate about… STAR WARS!!! Do you have your tickets already? My overactive mind worked up these pairings of the characters & type of wine. What are your thoughts?
* Special note: Thank you David Netzer for the excellent call on the R2-D2 pairing. Much better than my French Viognier.
I am in two book clubs but yet still read many more books than that in a month. How you ask with a busy schedule? The secret is audiobooks. Everytime I exercise I am listening to a book. Three of my recent reads would be fantastic for a book club for they not only have great content to discuss but lend themselves to some terrific entertaining themes.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
This is by far the best book I have read this year. If you loved “The Paris Wife” then you will love this book. In an NPR interview she said, “It is my fate to illuminate the lives of these one-of-a-kind notable women that have been somehow forgotten by history.” Inspiration is coming from safaris and Champagne!
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, translated by Simon Pare
A charming book with heartfelt sentiment all with the backdrop of Paris and Southern France. Monsieur Perdu doles out books like a doctor to a patient. The books are medicine for what ails a particular person. I feel the same way about wine. When I consult people for wine choices I not only ask what food is being served I ask about what mood they are trying to establish.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
I am almost finished reading this book and find it highly entertaining and reflective of today’s food obsessed lifestyles. I burst out laughing at a few points. If you are into food and wine this is a must read.
We were so blessed to have a fantastic holiday season socializing with our loved ones, but it continued into the new year as there simply wasn’t enough time to get ALL the partying in. I offered to host (cleaning, location, and cooking only) a wine dinner with my friends and wine colleagues who ship my wines to you all year long. I thought, “Let’s go out with a bang!” And that's just what we did.
6 courses, 54 wineglasses, 14 bottles, 9 people, 6 loads for the dishwasher.
In the end, it was a glorious evening with some beautiful human beings! Ok… now it is time to start the diet.
When I first began WU, I offered a case of wine I called “The First Aid Kit.” Basically, it had a wine for any food, occasion, or moment that might arise. I thought of it the other day when I got caught with my pants down… I didn’t have what we needed to make the meal better. Sadly, I didn’t heed my own advice and I was unprepared. I stopped selling these kits as a stock item because the sheets I would send along were logistically problematic, but I still on occasion help people “be prepared.”
The idea is simple: you have 6 whites and 6 reds (really I prefer 8 whites and 4 reds but customers like the idea of 6/6) with varying body weights, fruity vs earthy notes, and acid levels. This way if someone shows up at your house with anything from sushi to beef wellington, you are prepared.
Here's what you should have on hand to be fully prepared:
1. German Riesling > For sushi. The clean flavors and absence of oak echo the clean flavors of fresh fish. Try also with pork. It's a contrast in bodies, but it works.
2. Pinot Blanc or Pinot Auxerrois from Alsace or Gruner Veltliner from Austria > For Asian food. These will work with Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc. Also great with salads as the high acid levels can handle the dressing.
3. A sparkling wine, preferably Champagne > Do I really need to explain the need?
4. Sauvignon Blanc > You always need an aromatic that can echo aromatic foods like asparagus, goat cheese, or even curries. Also great with salads as it typically can handle the dressings.
5. Bordeaux Blanc > You want the aromatic and freshness yet a little more body than a Sauvignon Blanc alone. This is perfect with Mexican food as it works with guac and can work with light meats and fishes.
6. Chardonnay, either unoaked or balanced oak > Reach for this with fuller fishes like salmon and even chicken and pork.
1. Rosé > Tuna niçoise salad, picnics, apps… such a flexible wine.
2. Beaujolais > Works nicely with mushrooms and even some fishes. Can also handle soy sauce but be careful pairing with Asian meals.
3. Pinot Noir > Medium bodied and can work with salmon, chicken, pork, and earthier flavors.
4. Spanish Tempranillo or Rhône reds or Dolcetto > We all need something on hand to work with red sauces and weeknight meals. These are the workhorses of the red wine world.
5. California Zinfandel or a Syrah > Don’t we all BBQ?
6. Cabernet Sauvignon > The big daddy…with the big tannins, big body, big flavor. Pairs with big meat flavors.
Before you even ask… no, you don’t need to keep all those whites in your refrigerator. It only takes 15 minutes to ice a wine down.
I don’t know about you, but I am looking in my cellar tonight to make sure I am prepared.
Chablis, a region in northern Burgundy, produces Chardonnay—and not like any other chardonnay in the world. Climate is the first element that is different: it is much cooler than other Chardonnay growing regions. The cooler climate creates juice that is less fruity and has higher acid levels. The second element that makes it different is that for the most part it’s naked… unoaked in other words. At Grand Cru and Premier Cru levels they might receive some oak, but at the winemakers discretion.
The result of the climate and the winemaking is a wine that is best described as “steely.” The acid backbone is as straight as a knife’s edge. Sounds yummy right? What makes this all palatable is that Chardonnay is naturally the most full-bodied white wine out there. Tension is created between the two (body and acid), and then throw in terroir. Jancis Robinson, my favorite wine writer, describes Chablis as the “purest” expression of varietal character. And almost all experts would agree that the aging potential of Chablis is well worth the wait.
The precision of Chablis may not be for everyone. It's akin to punctuating every sentence so carefully that you create a "sit upright" speech. Most people prefer to be carefree, say what they like how they like, and drink warmer climate Chards and not think about their punctuation or posture. That is fine… leave the Chablis for those who want to embrace good posture (we can’t slouch and relax all the time…that would get a bit droll after a while). Change things up! Embrace good abs and drink Chablis!
I know, yes I am a wine lover, but I did cheat on wine the other night. The owner of Tacolicious and Mosta, Joe Hargrave, is a colleague of mine. He had a special tequila tasting with a visiting chef from Mexico, Donnie Masterson, who happens to be a mutual colleague and friend. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out Joe’s new space in the Mission and to see Donnie again. So with some friends we set our sails for the Mission on a tequila expedition.
Donnie’s food rocked and it paired well with the tequilas presented. He didn’t necessarily stick with traditional Mexican fare, but those flavors definitely prevailed. One of the passed appetizers was a pork and shrimp lollipop with a tamarindo glaze. A welcome modern “pop” to traditional Mexican food, it worked so well with the margarita, and the playful presentation was just plain fun. I actually found the last pairing of an añejo tequila with coconut tres leches cake the most interesting. I was shocked by how the cake brought out chocolate notes from the tequila.
My only complaint is that I wish I had ordered a Negra Modela earlier in the night, as sipping tequila alone just didn’t quench my thirst. After a few sips of the cerveza, my palate was cleared, my whistle was wet, and I could enjoy the intricate flavors of the tequila much more. So the next time you are presented with a tequila tasting dinner, order some beer as a companion.
You must check out Joe’s space in the mission or the marina. http://tacolicioussf.com
And the next time you find yourself in San Miguel de Allende, head to Donnie’s place http://therestaurantsanmiguel.com
Definitely back in the swing of things since the remodel. The last dinner party I threw before the remodel was for one of the book clubs I belong to. Fittingly, the first dinner party in the new dining room was for the same book club. We read The Crimson Petal and White by Michael Faber. The book was just ok, a fun read but I’ve read better books. The whole time leading up to the dinner, I was angry with myself for choosing a book that took place in Victorian England. It was a challenge to be inspired by a cuisine that I am not very enamored with. But Beef Wellington à la Gordon Ramsay, saved the day as well a delicious sticky toffee pudding.
My apologies for being off the radar for a few months. I have been trying to finish up a major remodel on the home front, and food and wine actually became a lost art. Last Sunday I was finally able to unearth my collection of cookbooks and wine books. It was seeing long-lost friends, I quickly was overwhelmed with all of the menu possibilities.
I got right back into the groove last night. I was the host for my book club meeting for Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. The menu I chose didn’t exactly pair with the book for I had been craving a Niçcoise Salad with Rosé for some time now. We finished off the meal with a light summer dessert of Fresh Berry Pavlova.
I do have some lovely Rosés in stock now for your summer fun. They range in price from $12 to $15 a bottle (a 10% on case orders), with several different varietals to choose from (Syrah, Grenache, Merlot and Pinot Noir). All from France! Call or email me today to receive your rosés in time for July 4th.
Just when I thought that Twitter was the biggest waste of time, I had a lovely exchange of tweets with Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter. In our “conversation”, I was able to revisit some thoughts about his writing style and the characters in his book. Somehow, we got on the subject of wine—shocking, I know. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation where I am trying to figure out what kind of wine would best complement Urrea’s writing style:
Urrealism: You have to teach me about wine so I don't bring Thunderbird or Boone's Farm Pear Nectar.
WineUnleashed: I have to think about what type of wine you would be, based on your writing style.
Urrealism: It should be bold, yet indecisive. With a piquant bouquet redolent of narcissus and gummy bears. Vino bueno.
WineUnleashed: yes, bold structure but lots of texture, more earthy than fruity, but has to have soft curves to it. I am thinking a Barbaresco.
Urrealism: You're so good.
WineUnleashed: Merely inspired by Teresita & of course, Huila.
Urrealism: You say the sweetest thangs! We should create a Teresita wine. Cabora Cabernet?
WineUnleashed: umm Cabora might be a tad to warm to create the true nature of Teresita. Or perhaps we could get a Shaman to help too.
WineUnleashed: oh wait...Shaman created beverages... that has been done! It's called Mezcal!
Urrealism: Whoo-whee, Mezcal. Bad mojo. Of course, Absinthe is a shaman's drink too. Goth shamans.
That was great fun. To read the exchange here takes about 2 seconds but in real time, the anticipation of waiting to read what this wonderful writer would say next was, well, intoxicating. I kept thinking about what type of wine he would be, so I came up with this list. The wine, based on Urrea’s writing style, would be:
So there you have it, a fun exercise to match a person’s personality, writing style, or cooking style with wine. To finish this train of thought: if Twitter was a wine, it would be wine from a box—accessible to all, friendly, clever engineering.
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.