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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Holiday Weekend – A Pairing Adventure, Part 1

Holidays in our house have always been two-part affairs. A Christmas Eve gathering with heavy appetizers and paired libations, and then a holiday meal of roast beast or glazed ham and assorted sides, with a few wines that will blend well and keep us from saying anything that will get one disinvited next year.

This year was no exception – just with a slightly smaller crowd. Momma WineOH came from North Carolina for the holiday week, and we dragged in Chef Buglet from Chardon, because my daughter’s desserts and mashed potatoes are a requirement for any gathering of family.

Saturday’s menu consisted of: (click on the links for the recipes)

Raspberry Baked Brie

2010 Gerard Bertrand Picpoul de PinetMomma WineOH requested this after seeing it posted on the site following the Beaujolais tasting. It was just as delicious this time! We paired a 2010 Gerard Bertrand Picpoul de Pinet with the brie. The crisp acidity in Picpoul goes beautifully with the cream. Floral and peach aromas are typical of this varietal from the Languedoc. The raspberry jam made from King Estate pinot noir complements those flavors.

Squash & Pear Bisque

We used a pumpkin squash bisque for a pre-holiday tasting, so I decided to try my hand at preparing a bisque. It’s easier than it looks. You should give it a try. Curry, ginger and nutmeg add tasty fall or holiday flavors. Pair a Viognier with this soup. I’m a fan of Virginia Viognier, so try this site as a guide, VAWineTime – you might also try Bonny Doon Viognier or something from Cote Rotie or Languedoc.

         Sausage Balls

A family tradition, sausage balls have been a staple of Christmas in our house for years. I’ve paired many wines with this, including Mollydooker’s Two Left Feet, always an incredible wine, but occasionally hard to come by – a Zinfandel will pair well, and we opened up Plungerhead from The Other Guys. They have a few I haven’t had… so if you have enjoyed The White Knight or Pennywise, let me know your thoughts. 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Sausage Bites

These are my go to appetizers for a crowd. They pair beautifully with red wine, and can be made ahead and reheated. I invariably put these tasty bites with a pinot noir, because well…. it just rocks together. There are some incredible pinot noirs to be had in the $15-18 range. Good ones to be had at $9-14. And amazingness above $20, particularly out of the Pacific Northwest. In the everyday catagory, go for Rex Goliath – in the mid range, Underwood Cellars or Castle Rock are consistent and tasty. Above that… the sky is the limit and the flavor profiles and quality increase exponentially.

This was our Christmas Eve spread… stay tuned for our Christmas pairings, including the breakfast casserole, and

“what do you serve with Waldorf Salad”…

What did you have for Christmas Eve? Do you have traditions for the night before Christmas? Share them in the comments!

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Light by Beaujolais – A Pairing Adventure

I had the privilege of inviting a few people over to MissWineOH headquarters for a Beaujolais tasting on December 7. It was a collision of two worlds – a few people from #MrWineOH’s office, and a few great people I’d met through my tastings.

SEDavenport and her husband, WhyCLE and her beau, and EatDrinkClev joined us to delve into the beaujolais world and nosh on some appetizers. The entire event was a twitter tasting and broadcast under the #beaujolais hashtag. All of the Beaujolais wines were served chilled to 60°F.

We started the evening with a little palate cleansing French sparkling. Yes, there are reasonable French sparklings – we picked up ours from Wine and Design in Tremont for less than $15.  The first Beaujolais poured was a 2010 Christophe Pacalet, Chiroubles. Most of our guests thought it to be a light, fruity wine. Others tasted a perfume base, followed by the fruit. This was not high on the list of favorites for the evening at $16.99. It was paired with a Pastry Wrapped Baked Brie.

Baked Brie Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large sheet of puff pastry dough or 1 tube of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 round or wedge of Brie cheese (do not remove rind)
  • Raspberry Jam, or other sweet jam
  • Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 On a non-stick cookie sheet, lay out the puff pastry or the crescent rolls flat; put brie round or wedge on top.

2 Spread jam on brie, fold dough over top, cutting off excess dough. Drizzle maple syrup and place a handful of brown sugar on top.

3 Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes, pastry should be golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with crackers and apple slices.

The 2009 Domaine de Colette, Regnie was the second wine poured. All cherry and berry on the palate, this wine opened up nicely and was enjoyed for the duration. We paired it with a soppressata, beef sausage, and smoked gouda platter – the olives were a hit or miss. Some thought they paired well, others thought the quality price ratio was not up to par. This wine retails for $18.99.

The third wine we poured was the 2009 Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly. This Brouilly is from the among the oldest and most historic estates in the region of Beaujolais. Medium bodied, fruity, with a long finish, most of our guests picked this as the QPR winner of the evening at $13.95. It was paired with a Proscuitto wrapped camembert.

Proscuitto Wrapped Camembert

Ingredients

  • 6 large fresh sage leaves
  • 8 oz. whole round camembert
  • 6 large slices prosciutto
  • 12 slices French bread stick (baguette), toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Arrange 3 sage leaves on top of the camembert. Place 3 slices of prosciutto over the sage. Carefully turn the camembert over and fold in the ends of the prosciutto slices to enclose. Repeat with the remaining sage and prosciutto to completely enclose the camembert.
  2. Place the camembert on the lined tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp and the camembert is soft. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the bread.

Our last Beaujolais of the evening was the 2010 Pavillion de Chavennes, Cote de Brouilly – the most complex wine of the night, there was a floral aroma on the nose and spice on the finish. Even at the $21.99 price point, this became the crowd favorite and quickly disappeared. We paired this wine with Crunchy Apple Salsa over Chicken.

Crunchy Apple Salsa over Chicken

Salsa

2 cups York or Fuji apples, halved, cored and chopped

3/4 cup (1 large) Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Marinade

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup apple juice

1/2 tsp. grated lime peel

1/2 tsp. salt

Dash pepper

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine salsa ingredients and mix well; allow flavors to blend about 1/2 hour. Serve over or alongside grilled chicken. Makes 3 cups salsa. For grilled chicken combine marinade ingredients, pour over chicken breasts. Marinate for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and cook in an oiled skillet, turning once, until done.

WhyCLE takes pictures, I pour wine. (Thanks, Jen!)

It wouldn’t be #MissWineOH without a cupcake pairing. I chilled and poured the 2007 Markko Select Reserve Johannesburg Riesling. If you have never experienced Ohio wines, Markko makes some of the finest in the state. This is a slightly sweet riesling with floral aromas. I’d pair this with a seafood dinner or a savory chicken dish.

The cupcake I chose for this event and pairing was the pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing from A Cookie and A Cupcake, on of my favorite Cleveland bakers. The savory pumpkin paired beautifully with the riesling. It balanced the sweetness of the residual sugar in the wine, while allowing the minerality to show through.

So, what was the conclusion? A rousing success of course! The wines of Beaujolais are always lovely, and you should seek them out when you find them. I’d recommend pairing a Beaujolais with food – try some of the recipes I’ve included. Many thanks to @sedavenport, @whycle and @eatdrinkclev for joining us. Follow them on twitter because they are interesting and cool ladies in Cleveland.

If you’d like to join us for a future event, stay tuned to the calendar. We’ve got #wineandcupcakes and #beerandcupcakes coming up in January. Or like MissWineOH on Facebook for wine related articles and information from around the world.

The Beaujolais wines were provided by Discover Beaujolais.

Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

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Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

I am a sucker for a good dessert wine during the holiday season. I’ve been known to open up a late harvest wine while preparing a holiday season meal or party appetizers. While these wines can – and should – be enjoyed any time of the year – they are particularly endearing during this season. Late harvest wine, Icewine, Port and Sherry are all included in this category. While true port and sherry is particular to specific regions of the world – this is a great opportunity to explore varieties from the “Other 46”.

Chocolate Lab from Barrel Oak Winery

courtesy of Vinoshipper

Chocolate Lab, Barrel Oak Winery, Delaplane, VA – $31

Chocolate Lab is my recommendation for anyone who would like to experience something in the “chocolate wine” catagory, but isn’t enthused with the idea of merlot blended with chocolate syrup. This is a totally unique port style wine infused with essences drawn from cocoa beans added to the wine during secondary fermentation. Its not terribly sweet at 5% RS, and its been aged in recovered American oak whiskey barrels. I’ve paired with berry tarts. This is one of a kind and delicious.

Gray Ghost Winery - dessert wine

Adieu, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Amissville, VA – $23-25

This one is produced only in exceptional years, so its not always available, but when it is – wow – a special wine!  With an RS of 11.5%  – although it really doesn’t taste like its that high, it makes for a perfect after dinner sipper. Rich peach, honey, Muscat and apricot aromas compliment a light cheese platter or your holiday pumpkin pie.

Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine

Cabernet Franc Ice Wine, Ferrante Winery, Harpersfield Township, OH – $34.99

One of the sweetest ice wines I’ve tried recently is the Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine. This one is from select estate grown grapes frozen on the vine. Aromas and flavors of sweet raspberry and cherry. 17% Residual Sugar. While it is definitely a sweet one, the cab franc flavor from Ferrante’s wonderful estate grapes is obvious, and a red dessert wine is still a unique experience at most parties. I pair this one with savory tarts, mince meat pies or créme brule. This is a red wine, but please chill it down for the best experience.

Seven port wine - King Family VineyardsSeven, 2009, Port Wine from Merlot grapes, King Family Vineyards, Crozet, VA $29.95

At the American Wine Bloggers Conference, we encountered some folks in the atrium pouring a Virginia post style wine that I’d never seen. Named for the 7th chukker in polo ~ like the 19th hole in golf, its made in the traditional Porto style with an American twist. This port wine is made with 100% Merlot and is fortified with brandy. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for 2 years and bottled as a 500mL – slightly larger than most of these. 3% residual sugar. 18% alcohol.  If you are a port fan, this wine will tickle your fancy.

Hanover Park Winery Port HanoverPort Hanover, Chambourcin port style wine, Hanover Park Vineyards, Yadkinville, NC – $17

As a fan of the Chambourcin grape, I was really impressed with this port when I first experienced it. It is a beautiful example of all of the characteristics of the Chambourcin, a grape showing some serious success in North Carolina  – and showcased in a port style. An easy port wine to pair with an asiago cheese ball or dessert pieces from Lilly’s Chocolates, like the Cinnabunny.

The Virginia and North Carolina wines are available to be shipped to Ohio, and while Ferrante is only available in Ohio, the winery’s location close to Lake Erie, and many other wineries make for a great day trip. I have not seen the ice wine in retail stores in Cleveland, but it may be available if your wine shop carries Ferrante wines.

Do you have a favorite dessert, icewine (eiswein), or domestic port? Share them in the comments!

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