Selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine doesn’t have to be a source of stress and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Consider starting your festivities with a sparkling brut rosé as an aperitif and then opt for a white and a red option for your main course and let your guests decide what pairing they enjoy the most. Read more…
Wine Barrel Art in Hampton Roads
Mike Prieto, owner of Barrel-Art, opened his rustic workshop in Norfolk in the spring of 2013 and has been creating exquisite pieces ever since. He is one of the few artisans in the country creating handcrafted furniture exclusively from wine barrels. Prieto is constantly coming up with innovative ideas. Today, he has more than 50 products in his portfolio ranging from riddling racksimported from Champagne to bar stools to cozy dog beds and custom-made Adirondack chairs. Read Crystal’s full article on hrscene.com.
Herb Crusted Goat Cheese & Rosé
Herb crusted goat cheese with short bread cookies paired with an off-dry rosé is the perfect pairing for a relaxing summer afternoon and it all comes together in less than 5 minutes!
When it comes to goat cheese, Sauvignon Blanc is always a perfect match, but I assure you a rosé can be just as tantalizing!
It’s hard to explain, but something magical happens on your palate when you combine the tangy goat cheese with the lovely floral notes of lavender in the Herbs de Provence, a touch of sweetness from the short bread cookies and the sweet succulent strawberry flavors and crisp acidity of the rosé. Yes, you could certainly use regular old crackers, but the short bread really takes this pairing to a whole new level.
For this pairing, I chose the Caves De L’Angevine Rosé d’Anjou. It’s a luscious off-dry rose made from the Cabernet Franc in the Anjou area of the Loire Valley. Aromas of sweet summer strawberries and ripe watermelon leave you salivating for that first sip. The palate boasts juicy red berries and melon flavors with a touch of minerality, refreshing acidity and a kiss of sweetness. Rosé’s from this area tend to be a touch sweeter than its counterparts from Provence.
The preparation is super simple. Take a log of plain goat cheese, roll the cheese in ¼ cup of Herbs de Provence (dried). Make sure all sides are well coated and serve on a platter with short bread cookies. Add some fresh fruit on the side and you have a beautiful snack to share with friends.
The wine was purchased from Whole Foods and retails for $10 a bottle! At this value, it’s a great wine to buy by the case for your summer picnics and barbecues. Cheers!
Chocolate & Wine Pairings
Pairing wine with chocolate sounds like a match made in heaven, but the wrong pairings can leave a bitter taste on your palate. However, the right coupling can create a euphoric experience for your taste buds!
A general rule of the thumb when it comes to wine and dessert pairings is to select a sweeter wine than the dessert. While this is a good start for creating exquisite wine and chocolate pairings, there is plenty of gray area and personal preference also comes into play.
One of the most important things to think about when pairing wine and chocolate has to do with tannins. Dark (bittersweet) chocolate with a high cocoa content has more tannins than milk chocolate. Tannic chocolate and tannic wine compete for the same palate space leaving behind a somewhat chalky, unsavory taste on your mid-palate. If you love dark chocolate, opt for a sweeter dessert wine like Sauternes or Banyuls. If you love a drier red wine, choose fruit infused dark chocolate and a fruit forward red wine with integrated tannins like a Zinfandel. The fruit filling will bring out the fruit notes in the wine.
Here are a few wine and chocolate pairing ideas that will please even the pickiest palates. For a fun get together, host a wine and chocolate night at your house with some of these classic pairings.
Champagne – For an ultimate pairing, think white chocolate covered strawberries, white chocolate caramel apples or white chocolate shortbread. The fresh baked brioche characteristics in the bubbly provide a perfect complement to the shortbread and the high acidity is the perfect counterpoint to the creamy white chocolate. Looking for a budget friendly sparkler, grab a Vouvray Demi-Sec or Prosecco.
Riesling – This is unexpected and delicious when pairing with dark chocolate covered ginger or a milk chocolate bar with stone fruit and nuts.
Zinfandel – A youthful fruit forward Zinfandel can provide an interesting pairing with fruit infused milk chocolate and milk chocolate covered bacon.
Sparkling Brachetto – A sweet Italian dessert wine with notes of sweet raspberry and rose petals is decadent with just about any chocolate. The Rosa Regale paired with chocolate covered strawberries, dark chocolate raspberry truffles or chocolate cupcakes is a match made in heaven!
Port – A ruby port paired with chocolate peanut butter cups will create a nostalgic experience. The combined flavor profile will be reminiscent of an adult PB&J. A tawny port with notes of caramel and fig paired with milk chocolate covered graham crackers will create a taste sensation similar to a Twix bar.
Baked Eggplant & Barbera
There’s nothing more comforting than a hearty Italian dinner! When I am celebrating a special occasion, my Italian wine of choice is typically a Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo, but most nights I gravitate toward a fruit forward Barbera from Piedmont.
The Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is always a reliable option. Pio Cesare has been producing quality wines for five generations. Barbera is a grape varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy. It tends to have vibrant fruit characteristics with high acidity and mellow tannins. This is a versatile wine that generally drinks best when young and pairs beautifully with an array of menu items from eggplant parmesan to pizza to pasta carbonara! Barbera also tends to be one of the best values at your local Italian eatery.
Tasting Notes: 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
The 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is an elegant structured wine with aromas of juicy plum, blackberry & cherry with complex notes of cedar, tobacco, anise, violet & sweet spice.
Damilano Barbera d’Asti,Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $16)
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
La Spinetta Ca di Pian Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $22)
Recipe: Baked Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan (Makes 6 large or 9 small pieces)
2 large egglplants (1/4 inch thick slices)
1 cup flour (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
1 cup breadcrumbs (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
2 eggs (whisked)
Olive Oil for sautéing
3 cups marinara sauce (preferably homeade)
16 oz mozzarella cheese (shredded)
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 package frozen spinach (defrosted & well drained)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Mix ricotta, 1 egg, parmesan, spinach, salt, pepper & Italian seasoning (set aside). Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 dishes in an assembly line.
Dredge eggplant in flour, egg and breadcrumb mixtures. Saute for 2-3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
In a 9×9 baking dish, add thin layer of marinara sauce followed by a layer of eggplant. Add ricotta mixture, a layer of mozzarella cheese and more tomato sauce. Repeat with another layer and top off final layer with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil for a golden crust. Depending on the size of the eggplant, you should have 2-3 layers. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. Let rest 15 minutes and serve!