Tag Archives: wine and food pairings

Wine and food pairings: One Thanksgiving turkey, five dinners, five wines

five dinners, five wines

Who knew this turkey would lend itself to five dinners and five wines?

What do with a 20-pound turkey? Use it to for five dinners paired with five wines

This year, the Wine Curmudgeon’s Thanksgiving turkey weighed 20 pounds. My old pal Jim Serroka, who shares holiday cooking duties with me, wanted lots of turkey for leftovers. Needless to say, we got them – as well as another post in the blog’s wine and food pairings series: One entree that can be turned into five dinners with five wines.

The goal here was to pair quality cheap wine with the leftovers as simply as possible – no wine geek for advice, no examining the turkey’s entrails for wines to drink. My wine and food pairings:

• The Thanksgiving turkey. Roasted with lots of herbs and vegetables, and stuffed with the Kleinpeter family’s traditional chicken cornbread dressing. I picked three wines; two were disappointing, proving that even I can over-think wine and food pairings. But the third was an old pal, the $16 Clos de Gilroy grenache from Bonny Doon. How winemaker Randall Graham gets cherryish fruit, a little earthiness, some white pepper, and a delightful freshness from California grenache is beyond my understanding, but I’m glad he does.

• Turkey rice cake. One of my great cooking discoveries was that rice freezes. Make eight cups in the rice cooker, divide it into 2- or 3-cup packages, freeze, and thaw when necessary. This was chopped leftover turkey, some of the roasted vegetables, and an egg mixed with rice; basically the same thing I did with noodles for the roast chicken post. The wine was a sample, the $25 Markham merlot – dependable and high quality and what California merlot is supposed to taste like – lighter and more approachable than cabernet sauvignon, with dark fruit and subtler tannins. And it didn’t overwhelm the rice cakes.

• Turkey sausage okra gumbo. I’ve been making this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey since I moved to Dallas, so long ago the city had two newspapers. It’s more or less the classic recipe – make the roux, add chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, stir, add the stock, stir, add the okra, let it simmer, and finish with the sausage and turkey. And no tomatoes – absolutely, positively no tomatoes. The wine was an $8 Rivarey Crianza, a tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain. It was simple and fruity, but with enough structure and backbone for the dark, smoky gumbo.

• Baked turkey Reubens. This is a Siegel family tradition; my Dad made these when I was a kid using Pepperidge Farm brown and serve rolls and leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It’s sliced turkey breast, quality Swiss cheese, canned and drained sauerkraut, and my Dad’s thousand island dressing (his secret ingredient was lime juice). Make the sandwich, wrap in foil, and bake until crusty. And what better wine than rose? The Ned, a $12 New Zealand pink wine, did the trick, and it will be even better in six months. This was a 2016, and had only been in the bottle for six or eight weeks.

• Turkey torte. This sort of baked Spanish-style omelette is usually made with potatoes, but turkey (with sauteed onions and peppers) works well, too. I drank a bottle of cava, a $10 Spanish sparkler called – believe it or not – Lady of Spain. The wine has been inconsistent, but this bottle was very cava-like, with tight bubbles and lemon fruit. And, of course, Spanish wine with a Spanish dish, one of the ways to make pairings work with less trouble.

More on five dinners, five wines
One chicken, five dinners, five wines
One pork shoulder, five dinners, five wines

Wine and food pairings: One pork shoulder, five dinners, five wines

wine and food pairingsSo many of you appreciated the first five dinners, five wines post, featuring a whole chicken, that it’s back again — one pork shoulder that turned into five dinners with five wines to show just how simple wine and food pairings should be. Because, as I wrote the first time, “Wine drinkers can get so hung up on wine and food pairings that it’s almost paralytic. … Which, of course, defeats the purpose of enjoying wine.”

This time, I “roasted” a bone-in, 9-pound pork shoulder in the slow cooker, turning the cooked pork into five dinners (and freezing the remaining 4 1/2 pounds for another day). I paired each dinner with a cheap wine, not going to much more trouble with the pairing than saying, “Hmmm, what will go with this?” and then picking a wine I liked. Which is, of course, the best way to enjoy wine.

The dinners and pairings are after the jump (and forgive me because there aren’t any pictures of the dinners — food art is not what I do best). Continue reading

Local wine, local food

local wineThe Wine Curmudgeon, despite his good intentions and his advocacy of all things local, is not perfect. Even the co-founder of Drink Local Wine sometimes forgets that local wine goes with local food.

Case in point: A recent dinner with pork shoulder rubbed with cumin and coriander, roasted with garlic. onions, and peppers, and served with guacamole and black beans. So, like the wine snobs and dilettantes that I spend so much time excoriating, I bought a French wine, a white from the Rhone, to drink with it.

What a maroon.

I live in Texas. I have been advocating Texas wine for Texas-style food for almost three decades. So why did I buy a French wine made with viognier when when we make some of the best viognier in the world in Texas?

Like I said, what a maroon.

It’s not so much that the white Rhone was overpriced and under-qualified. Even if it had been better made, it didn’t have the bright apricot and peach fruit to stand up to the pork the way a Texas viognier (Brennan, McPherson, and Pedernales among many others) would have. And it was heavier, as well, with an unpleasant oiliness, both qualities that didn’t complement the pork’s spiciness and something the best Texas viogniers don’t have. Ours are lighter and more crisp, which gives them an affinity for something as rich as the pork shoulder.

So the next time you opt for safe instead of local, know that you’re making the same mistake that I did. Just be willing to admit it, and do the right the next time.

Enough with the wine and food pairings already, because you’re not helping the cause

wine and food pairings

Since you don’t have any cheese, I assume you don’t have any wine pairings either?

The Wine Curmudgeon’s thoughts about pairing wine and food have evolved significantly over the past decade. I still think pairings are important, but if you don’t like big red wine, what’s the point of telling you to drink big red wine with certain food? All I ask is that you’re open-minded enough to consider pairings and don’t dismiss them as more wine foolishness.

Having said that, it’s not easy for wine drinkers — and even the most experienced among us — to keep an open mind. That’s because the wine business insists on overwhelming us with pairings that are at best impractical and at worst silly. How can we be expected to take pairings seriously when so many suggestions have so little relevance to what we really eat?

For example (all taken from fact sheets and back labels):

? A $10 Chilean pinot noir with paella. This is not to denigrate the Spanish classic (though I’ve never been able to master it), but to note that most of us will never taste paella. So why would anyone suggest it as a pairing, and especially for an every day wine?

? A high-end Napa Valley sauvignon blanc with “any fresh well-made cuisine.” Because, of course, the alternative is so appealing: Pairing a wine with any stale, poorly-made cuisine.

? A $10 Argentine cabernet sauvignon with “of course, our traditional Argentine asado.” I do this for a living, and I had to look up asado (which is lots of beef grilled outdoors over a wood fire). So how is anyone else supposed to know what it is?

The best way to do this? Keep it simple, like Gallo did with its 50th anniversary $7 Hearty Burgundy: chili. Which would work, by the way. Or even, as Rodney Strong does, leave them out, since no suggestions are better than silly ones.

More on wine and food pairings:
? The myth of of wine and food pairings
? Pairing wine with fast food
? Wine and food pairings: Do they matter?

The myth of wine and food pairings

The myth of wine and food pairings

You must drink big red wine with beef — or else!

Wine and food pairings are wine ?s version of Greek mythology. It ?s the solution to all of the wine industry ?s problems, even though ? like Apollo ?s oracle ? pairings don ?t mean all that much to the vast majority of wine drinkers.

This is not to say that wine and food pairings aren’t legitimate, because certain food tastes better with certain wine, and there is scientific evidence to support that. What it does mean is that, for most consumers, they aren ?t important. You can see more about this here. And here.

This has made such an impression on me that I ?ve pretty much given up on wine and food pairings (though I ?ll still suggest them). The cheap wine book goes into detail, but what it comes down to is this: If I tell people it ?s OK to drink what they want, then why I am telling them what to drink it with? All I ask is that wine drinkers be open to the concept of pairings and give them a try. If they don ?t like them, that ?s fine, too. As my brother says, ?I like big red wine. Why can ?t I drink it when I want

Nevertheless, many in the wine business see wine and food pairings as the key to increasing wine consumption in the U.S. (this being one of the most important exceptions). This approach shows up regularly in studies and white papers, and most recently in what was an otherwise outstanding effort to help the industry figure out how to get Hispanics to drink more wine.

But the report, issued by Rabobank, has this line: ?What support will be given for pairing wine with Hispanic food?” Forget the practicalities ? what exactly is Hispanic food, given that Hispanics come from dozens of countries and they even eat non-Hispanic food? More importantly, it also ignores the point that most consumers don ?t care about pairings and that pairings are especially intimidating to new wine drinkers. So how will that help lure Hispanics into wine?

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really paying attention when they write these things.

Winebits 237: Wine scores, wine auctions, wine pairings

? Decanter goes to 100-point system: Decanter, the British wine magazine, will start scoring wines with the 100-point system in its annual buying guide. ?Introducing the 100-point system is essential as Decanter is now a global magazine with more than half its readership outside the UK, ? said the magazine. This is shocking news, not only because Decanter is giving in to something that continues to lose favor, but because it has always been the most sensible of the Winestream Media (for what that ?s worth). The reason for this, I think, is the Chinese market, which has everyone in the wine business salivating (though there is no truth to the rumor that a Chinese language Wine Curmudgeon will soon launch ? the Wine ju l ot u). The Chinese may not understand the Decanter review, but they ?ll recognize the 100-point system ? another of the legacies the U.S. has given the world, like fast food and Coca-Cola.

? Wine prices slump: Those investments in fine wine continue to look like Florida swamp land. Wine sales at the world ?s top five auction houses were down 25 percent in the first half of 2012, which coincides with the slump in the fine wine stock market. I mention these things not because it ?s actually important, but because anyone who buys wine as an investment instead of drinking it — it's the world's best wine, after all — deserves whatever happens to them. Which, frankly, I kind of enjoy watching.

? Vegetarian food: It ?s summer, it ?s hot, and we ?re eating lighter, which includes vegetarian meals. My pal Dave McIntyre looks at the difficulty of finding wine to go with vegetarian dishes, since it would seem to exclude red wine. Writes Dave: ?On the whole, I ?d say don ?t sweat it so much and feel free to experiment. ? One key ? choose wines from cultures, like Greece and Italy, that do a lot of vegetarian food.

Winebits 212: Wine scores, grilled cheese wine, regional wine

? Score jiggling: Lots and lots of wine score news in the cyber-ether. Blake Gray has done some number crunching, and sees score inflation. Shocking news, no? My favorite was this article in the New York Times, in which the writer thinks he may have discovered how to buy really nice wine for less money — wait until Robert Parker lowers the wine's score, after Parisian retailers lower the price. It's the equivalent, he writes, of a Moody's downgrade. And any article on scoring that includes a reference to "Spinal Tap's" infamous 11-level sound system is well worth reading.

? Wine with grilled cheese: Food & Wine's Ray Isle, who knows his way around cheap wine, has some intriguing wine pairings for grilled cheese. And not just the classic white bread and American cheese version, but several more esoteric sandwiches, including one with Italian robiola cheese and mortadella sausage. Oddly, enough, the Wine Curmudgeon made croque monsieur, the French version, and tomato soup a couple of weeks ago, pairing them with the Chateau Bonnet red. Who knew I was on the cutting edge?

? Chefs love regional wine: Local wine, for the second year in a year, is one of the top 10 restaurant trends, says the National Restaurant Associaton. It's right up there with healthful meals for kids and ahead of culinary cocktails — pretty impressive, given how much ink the latter gets. I was skeptical when local wine made the list last year, but I'm beginning to see a trend, especially as we travel the country for DrinkLocalWine and see how enthusiastic so many chefs are. (Shameless plug for DLW 2012: Denver on April 28 — tickets on sale soon through the website.)