Today we're welcoming guest blogger Heather, a lover of cooking and wine. She and her little family are gearing up for Easter and we're sure many of you are too, so she's going to share some recipes paired with some of our wines. Look at that, much of the work is already done for you!
I remember one of the first wine tastings I attended at a vineyard (read: where people know what they’re talking about as opposed to just drinking whatever bottle’s open at the time). I nearly rolled my eyes when our host claimed the variety of red wine he was about to pour had “notes of tobacco”. First, I thought he was crazy. What wine tastes like tobacco? And two, who would want to drink a wine that tastes like tobacco?
Then I gently sniffed the wine like I knew what I was doing (I didn’t) and tipped the dark red liquid hesitantly towards my lips. It was delicious, but not reminiscent of tobacco. It was bold and somewhat fruity. Then as I swallowed and was about to open my mouth to let our server know he was full of bologna, I tasted it. The hints of tobacco. It was more like what I’d imagine a tobacco barn to smell like; deep, rich, and smoky. I can’t claim to have ever tasted tobacco but that’s exactly the flavor I experienced. He hit the nail on the head. It was like someone with an old, rich, expensive cigar walked by and tainted my glass of wine, for the better.
I can’t claim to be any kind of an expert, but since then, I’ve been more open to the flavors and aromas different wines can bring to the table. Choosing a flavor profile based on my mood, the event, or the food. Food and wine pairing is one of the last things I ever expected to think about, but food and wine are pretty much a match made in heaven. They can complement each other, they can offset one another, and they can overpower one another. The last one is what I try to stay away from, but besides that, I don’t tend to follow any official “rules” to pairing dishes. To me, that’s the best part about drinking wine: you don’t have to stay within a certain box (or would that be bottle?).
With Easter around the corner, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite out-of-the-box Easter dishes and some ideas for which 90+ Cellars wines to pair them with. Of course, feel free to stray from my suggestions, but here goes:
An appetizer serves as a teaser for your tastebuds; a little something to hold you over until the main show arrives. The crunch of this grilled French bread crostini pairs perfectly with the slight zing of the bubbles in a light Prosecco. Delicate on it’s own, the Prosecco won’t overpower the entrées to come, but flavorful enough to bring out the hints of lemon in the crostini’s artichoke topping.
This simple dish brings surprising elegance to your diner table, with tart sundried tomatoes and fresh, crispy kale. While rich red wines are often paired with powerful meats and light pasta dishes tend to go with white wines, I love the way a deep, earthy red can pick up on the other elements of a dish, such as the greens in this sundried tomato and kale dish. The robust, peppery flavors of the wine match well with the otherwise delicate flavors of the pasta.
The citrus and floral tones of a not-too-sweet Pinot Grigio are the perfect match for these crispy, rosemary-laden roasted red potatoes. The floral hints magnify the flavor of the rosemary while the fruity tones let the natural earthy flavor of the potatoes shine through. Parboiling the potatoes before tossing them in a hot oven gives the potatoes a slightly crunching outside without having to coat them in a flavor-masking batter.
Poached in pomegranate, raspberry, and vanilla, these pears are delicious served warm after dinner, or even cold as a pre-holiday dinner appetizer.The French red's raspberry finish and finesse echo the flavors in this simple dessert or side dish, bringing the wine's flavor to a whole new level. The mild flavors of the pear allow the bold tones of a full-bodied wine to take center-stage without overpowering the palate.
The mocha hints of a Malbec lend themselves perfectly to the dark chocolate bites in these chewy and decadent cinnamon rolls. Pairing a sweet roll like these, with notes of dark chocolate and hazelnut, with wine instead of coffee takes it from a casual brunch food to a delectable dessert. Perhaps I’m just biased because I love a good Malbec and I most certainly love chocolate-filled cinnamon buns, but you really can’t go wrong with this one no matter what time of you day you eat them.
Heather is a toddler wrangler by day and health and fitness writer by night. She loves swimming, ice coffee, and wine of course. You can find her around the web: with a Side of Sneakers, tiny sneakers, and Babble.