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Wine + Food Pairing

Wine + Food Pairing

The Only 5 Wines You Need for Thanksgiving Dinner 2019

November 27, 2019

One of the nice things about hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is that historical precedent has done much of the menu planning for you. And the seasonal produce calendar does the rest. There’s turkey, dressing (or do you say stuffing?), mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce.

But what about the wine? Wine for Thanksgiving is a big deal, especially here in California. Of course, we’re all free to drink whatever we like with what we’re eating since the days of rigid pairing rules are over. 

After a couple decades of adult Thanksgivings, I’ve noticed that some wines create more delight–and pair with Thanksgiving’s rich, earthy and sweet flavors–better than others. So I created a list of wines that win when paired with most anything on your Thanksgiving table. If you can’t find these exact wines that’s OK; just use these five categories as a guide to happy Thanksgiving wine pairings and keep these in mind for your next big holiday dinner. 

No. 1: Bubbly

Sparkling wine is always festive and it’s a happy way to begin any dinner party, but especially one where you’re counting your blessings for the year. The acidity in a fine traditional method sparkling does a good job of priming your palate for dinner, and the toastiness from aging a bit will give the wine depth. This one made from 100% Chardonnay will pair beautifully with seafood starters like cracked Dungeness crab to creamy dips and chips and even white turkey meat.

My pick: 2016 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, $40

 

schramsberg blanc de blancs

Photo credit: Schramsberg

No. 2: Pinot Noir

So last Thanksgiving, everybody at the table was going on about how much they loooved Cab. But what wine did they all pounce on? My bottle of Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. I shouldn’t have been surprised. There’s a reason Pinot Noir is considered the most food friendly of all the red wines out there.  With its lovely aromatics and flavors that take you through bright acidity, red fruit, smoke, spice and earth it does all the things.  Whether you’ve got a forkful of turkey and cranberry, mushroom bread pudding, or Brussel sprouts with bacon, Pinot will make it better. 

My pick: 2016 Bohème Wines Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir, $55

 

Boheme Wines Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir

Photo credit: Bohème Wines

No. 3: Zinfandel

While the grape is originally from Croatia, the wine called Zinfandel is an American creation. And so it seems perfectly fitting for Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, with its tangy, berry-forward flavors, juiciness and soft tannins, it’s the kind of easy-drinking wine that’s perfect with dark turkey meat, pork roast, stuffing and gravy and all the other deliciousness on your holiday table.

My pick: 2017 Brown Estate Eastside Zinfandel, $55

 

Brown Estate Eastside Zinfandel

Photo credit: Brown Estate

 

No. 4: Older Napa Valley Bordeaux Style Wine

Some people couldn’t imagine having a special dinner without some Cabernet Sauvignon. I get that, but for me, pouring a young Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (with the possible exception of one by Heitz Cellar) at Thanksgiving evokes Godzilla stomping all over the dinner table, sending peas and onions, sweet potato casserole and gravy flying.

The exuberant fruit, tannins and alcohol make Cab and its Bordelais brothers way too big for this meal, unless you’re swapping ribeye for turkey. Ah, but a wine that’s nine or 10 years old? That’s a very different story. Over time that fruit calms down, allowing earthiness and spice to emerge, and the texture to become sublimely silky. See why Robert Parker called this wine “one of the finest California Cabernet Francs I have tasted.”

My pick: 2010 Turnbull Cellars Leopoldina Vineyard Cabernet Franc, $110

 

Turnbull Leopoldina Cabernet Franc

Photo credit: Turnbull Wine Cellars

No. 5: Tawny Port

Maybe you believe in drinking dessert with whatever red wine or Chardonnay you have lingering in your glass. It makes economic sense, but don’t you want your Thanksgiving dessert experience to be the ultimate? Do this by uncorking a tawny port. Tawny port has warm sweetness mingled with tangy dried fruit and nutty notes that are made for autumn. It will make you look at a pecan, sweet potato and pumpkin pie in a whole new light. And it’s delicious with aged Gouda too. 

My pick: Prager Noble Companion 10-year-old Tawny Port, $80

Photo credit: Prager Winery & Port Works

Food + Recipes, Wine + Food Pairing

Cheddar Cheese Coin Recipe

May 6, 2018
cheddar-cheese-coins-recipe

I needed hostess gifts for a couple Sunday visits, so I decided to race to Sunshine Market and grab the ingredients for some Cheddar Cheese Coins.

The friendly checker, sizing up the content of my basket, said “Enjoy your cookies!” When I told him I was making savory cheese crackers to pair with wine, the woman in line behind me jumped in with “I want some of those.”

If you think you’re too busy to bake or don’t always like the way your creations turn out — trust me, these Cheddar Cheese Coins are foolproof, easy and deliciously worth your time and effort. I like to make the dough ahead of time, keep it wrapped up in the freezer, and then slice and bake a log or two when I need something for a party or surprise guests.

A former co-worker named Elizabeth shared the original recipe. They’re basically classic savory shortbreads. Over the years, I’ve added some of my own touches — and you should feel free to do the same.

Cheddar Cheese Coins

Make 7 dozen

  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated and at room temperature
  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette

In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, cheddar cheese, flour, pecans, salt, cayenne, ancho chile powder and piment d’Espelette. Using your hands, mix well until all the ingredients are well-combined and it forms a dough.

Working on a lightly floured surface, take a hunk of dough and roll it into a 10 to 12 inch long log the diameter of a quarter. Wrap log in plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough. Put the dough you don’t plan to bake into the freezer, stored in a resealable plastic bag. Let the dough you plan to bake chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, slice the chilled log of dough into discs one-eighth inch thick. Place discs ¼-inch apart on a baking sheet that’s been greased lightly or is covered by a Silpat baking mat. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the coins are golden and the kitchen smells like toasty cheddar cheese and butter. Remove pan from the oven. Let the coins cool completely before removing them from the pan, or they might fall apart.

You might be tempted to cut the recipe in half so you won’t have so many on hand, but I don’t recommend it. Once you taste them, you’ll need more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinks, Wine + Food Pairing

Great Ideas for Last Minute Valentine’s Day Drinks & Food

February 14, 2011

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Even if you already celebrated Valentine’s Day over the weekend, it’s nice to extend the love-fest one more day, no? So if you’re still trying to think of a special and easy to treat your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a slide show of some of my favorite pink foods and drinks — along with simple recipes and wine pairing suggestions.

Most of the recipes have appeared at some time or another on The Bubbly Girl.com. Stop by the recipes section for the Kismet Cocktail, Raspberry Royale cocktail, the Chocolate Corks, which are airy but chocolaty and moist since they start with a yeast-based chocolate dough.

To make the super-simple and classic Jack Rose cocktail, add 1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur, two ounces applejack (or Calvados if you can’t find it) and the juice of half a lime to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it until your hands are really cold, then strain it into a smallish martini glass.

You could pick up ingredients for most of these recipes at Trader Joe’s, along with the super-affordable Blason Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, which comes from Burgundy. The Italian sparkling dessert wine Brachetto d’Acqui is getting more and more popular; it’s usually at BevMo or a larger liquor stores with a decent wine department.

Cin cin!

Entertaining, Wine + Food Pairing

Think Pink: Delicious & Easy Valentine’s Day Food & Drinks

February 13, 2011

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Whether you’ve got a big Valentine’s dinner planned or not, I think it’s nice to be able to start your celebration at home. So I put together a gallery with some of my favorite, easy-to-make pink foods and drinks for Valentine’s Day.

Visit the recipes section at The Bubbly Girl for the Kismet Cocktail, Raspberry Royale cocktail, and the Chocolate Corks which are fudgey and moist since they start with a yeast based chocolate dough.

You could pick up ingredients for most of these recipes at Trader Joe’s, along with the super-affordable Blason Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé. The red Italian sparkler Brachetto d’Acqui is usually at BevMo or a larger liquor stores with a decent wine department.

To make the Jack Rose cocktail, add 1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur, two ounces applejack (or Calvados if you can’t find it) and the juice of half a lime to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it until your hands are really cold, then strain it into a smallish martini glass.

Cheers!