Pulled Pork Sandwich & Riesling

Why not add a little class to your next BBQ sandwich with a great glass of wine? If you think wine and bar food don’t belong together – think again! North Carolina vinegar-based BBQ requires a more subtle wine pairing than it’s Kansas City counterpart. One of my favorite, unconventional pairings with a pulled-pork sandwich piled high with cole slaw is an off-dry Riesling. Yes, you read that right! Think about it for a moment. What is one of the all-time favorite drinks in the south? Sweet tea. The off-dry Riesling acts as a slightly sweet balance to the vinegar and touch of spice in the BBQ. The piercing acidity in the Riesling mirrors the mouthwatering vinegar notes in the barbecue.

This pairing was discovered last summer when I was challenged by Doughties Barbecue to find the perfect pairing for a wine festival.  This was hands-down the surprise hit of the day! People were coming back to me for more of this delicious pairing. Doughtie’s delivers to your door, so why not place an order of their delicious barbecue and grab a bottle of Riesling for a super easy meal. Check it for yourself and find out what all the fuss is about!

Recommended Producers (Under $15) 

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!



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.

Recommended Producers 
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!



Butternut Squash Soup & Torrontes

Butternut squash soup with toasted sage and crabmeat is a classic fall dish. When it comes to wine for this hearty, decadent and creamy soup, I  typically reach for a nice Chardonnay aged in french oak to accentuate the baking spices in the dish, but I always like to mix things up a little with a great little sipper from South America.  Torrontes is Argentina’s signature white grape. It’s an aromatic varietal boasting beautiful floral notes of jasmine and roses,  stone fruit aromas, vibrant citrus along with a hint of honey, white pepper and sometimes herbs.

Depending on the producer, this wine can be a bit reminiscent of a Viognier or Gewurtztraminer.  The wine is light to medium-bodied with vibrant acidity similar to a Sauvignon Blanc that make it a great match with this soup. The acidity leaves your palate feeling refreshed in between bites and the brininess in the crab meat makes the wine’s fruit flavors come to life. You can serve this as a traditional soup or you can use it for an intriguing appetizer for guests as I have illustrated with this image. And of course, if you’re feeling a bit more traditional, you can grab your favorite bottle of Chardonnay for this dish.

Recommended Producers

Susana Balbo “Crios” Torrontes, Mendoza, Argentina (SRP: $12) 
Kaiken Torrontes, Salta, Argentina(SRP: $14)

Recipe: Butternut Squash w/Toasted Sage & Crabmeat 


1/4 cup olive oil
2 butternut squash
2 apples (Gala or MacIntosh)
1 onion
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. clove
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp. white pepper
8 oz crabmeat
10 sage leaves (julienned)


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut ends off squash and slice down the middle. Drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt & pepper and place upside down in large roasting pan. Pierce some holes in skin. Peel apples and slice in 4, add to the pan, peel and cut onions in quarters and add to pan. Add one cup of chicken stock to the pan and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly and scoop squash out of the skins and place in food processor along with onion and apple. Pulse ingredients for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup chicken stock and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a medium-large saucepan. Add coconut milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg & clove and heat over low heat until warmed through.

In a small saute pan, add 2 tbsp. olive oil, sage & crabmeat and cook for about 2-3 minutes over low-medium heat until crab is warm.

Spoon soup into a bowl and top with crab & sage mixture. Add diced apples for garnish and texture.  Serves 4.








Sautéed Shrimp & Albarino

Sautéed garlic shrimp paired with a crisp refreshing Albarino from the Rias Baixas region of Northwest Spain. Albarino is an indigenous varietal to Spain, most are fermented in stainless steel. It’s one of my go to summer wines. They offer a tremendous value and they come alive with white flower, bright citrus and a touch of brininess due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.  This is one of the quickest and easiest dishes to pull together, for those of you in a time crunch. Try one of these outstanding Albarino’s with sautéed shrimp, fish tacos, and an array of seafood dishes.

Recommended Producers

Burgans Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain (SRP: $13)
Martin Codax Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain (SRP: $15)
Pazo de Senorans Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain (SRP: $20)

Recipe: Sautéed Garlic Shrimp (Serves 4) 


1lb shrimp 16/20 count (peeled & deveined)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 lemon juiced & zest
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
5 oz. of spinach (optional)
1/4 cup white wine (Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)


In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add shrimp. Saute shrimp and cook for about 4 minutes, turning half way through. Remove with slotted spoon into bowl. Set aside. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds to release aromatics. Add white wine, tomatoes, spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Add shrimp back to pan with lemon juice & zest until the shrimp is heated through.