Foodie Friday: Breauxmance

It’s that time of year when we start to freshen up, emerge from winter hibernation, and embrace the flavors and seasonality of spring. Right on cue, Breaux Vineyards has released their very first bubbly, cleverly dubbed Breauxmance. A beautiful salmon hue, Breauxmance is made from 99% Vidal Blanc and 1% Chambourcin to provide a dash of color. Like all of Breaux’s wines, this one is made entirely from estate-grown grapes, and the bubbly was hand riddled onsite.

Photo credit: Kathy Lang Wiedemann

Photo credit: Kathy Lang Wiedemann

This sparkler is spring in a bottle; delicate and romantic, with nice acidity and perlage. It deserves a full-flavored counterpart that will challenge it and show it off. For that, I give you Devils on Horseback. Deliciously decadent, these babies pack a salty-sweet flavor that will allow the acid in Breaumance to slice through.

Why not have yourself a little Breauxmance this spring?

 

Devils on Horseback
20 Medjool Dates, pitted
4 oz Chevre or Goat Cheese
10 Bacon Strips, cut in half crosswise

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Cut a slit in each date, lengthwise
  3. Fill each slit with about ½ teaspoon of Chevre or Goat Cheese
  4. Use a half slice of bacon to wrap each stuffed date, and secure bacon with a toothpick
  5. Bake, on a tin foil-lined baking sheet, for about 25 minutes, or until bacon is fully crisped

Cheers!

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Foodie Friday: Appetizer Edition

Greetings food and wine lovers! This edition of Foodie Friday is dedicated to finding a decadent appetizer that can stand up to the winter cold, but won’t derail all those health-focused New Year’s resolutions. One that comes together quickly, with just a few simple ingredients, but pack plenty of satisfying flavor! I give you the Avocado & Pistachio Oil Crostini:

Avocado Pistachio Crostini

 

Please, hold your applause. This appetizer is simple, yet delicious and delivers a healthy dose of MUFAs while you’re imbibing. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • French baguette
  • 2 avocados
  • ½ cup crushed or chopped pistachio nuts
  • Pistachio oil
  • Salt to taste

Are you ready for how simple this is? Here’s what you do:

  1. Set your oven to Broil
  2. Slice the baguette and brush each one with a bit of pistachio oil
  3. Place them in the oven until crisp – it will happen quickly so don’t walk away!
  4. As you keep an eye on your bread, cut the avocado into slices
  5. Remove bread from the oven and top with avocado slices, sprinkle with pistachio nuts, and drizzle with remaining pistachio oil. Sprinkle salt on top

That’s it! Literally, less than 15 minutes for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Pair with a light, bright white wine. I like Sauvignon Blanc with this appetizer, and generally go with one from Flora Springs Soliloqy Vineyard, but I also think an Albariño or Petit Manseng could make wonderful pairings for this one! You may want to try Michael Shaps’ Odette, or Chrysalis’ Albariño. Bon appétit!

Foodie Friday: Spicy Melon Salad

In celebration of summer’s belated arrival, this Foodie Friday post is devoted to a refreshingly simple, yet flavor-packed, appetizer salad. A seemingly odd set of ingredients, this salad never fails to please at summer event,s and full credit for this incredible creation goes to Fusions Cuisine of Northern Virginia. The sweet, juicy melon provides a refreshing, cool background for the interplay of spices between the sambal and onion. The cilantro and mint then follow through to balance the heat on the finish.

My palate doesn’t always jump at the chance to mix savory and sweet in the same dish, but this salad is theater for your tongue. Try it. Trust me.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 1 Honeydew melon
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Sambal (a chili-garlic paste; find it in your grocery store’s international aisle)
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped Fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped Cilantro

Directions:

  • Peel and seed the honeydew, then cut the melon into one inch cubes
  • Add the other ingredients and toss to coat
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper

Suggested Pairing:

This salad has a ton of flavor, so you need a wine that will stand up to it. At the same time, the refreshing nature of the salad deserves an equally refreshing wine. Go with a Moscato d’Asti – it will stand up to the spice without competing with the dish. Try Cardinale Lanata Moscato d’Asti with a bright floral nose, and plenty of white peach on the palate.

 

Cardinale Lanata

Cardinale Lanata

Foodie Friday: The Magic of Meritage

Happy Friday! Today’s Foodie Friday post focuses on the true magic that can take shape when powerhouse varietals are blended together in order to highlight the best characteristics of each one. Bordeaux is perhaps the classic example of how grape varietals can be used to bring out the best in each other; combined in a way that contributes the best characteristics of each grape in order to elevate the final wine’s entire profile. At least, that’s the goal.

In 1988, a collective of American winemakers formed the Meritage Association (which is now the Meritage Alliance), taking their name from the amalgamation of the words “merit” and “heritage” (which, by the way, is how Meritage is pronounced – it rhymes with heritage).  Believing that blending grape varieties to make a better, more expressive wine is one of the highest arts in winemaking, the Alliance was formed to identify high quality wines that cannot be varietally labeled because they do not consist of at least 75% of a single grape variety. The initial mission of the Alliance was to standardize and increase visibility for the American version of these Bordeaux blends.

Meritage

The Meritage Alliance Website

Today, Meritage is still made using the “noble” grape varieties. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc for red blends, and Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle du Bordelais for white wines.

Like Bordeaux blends, Meritage can fetch impressive prices, but that doesn’t mean that high quality versions aren’t available at a more palatable price point. Case and point: Genesis Meritage by Hogue Cellars. This wine from Columbia Valley, Washington is available at $12 a bottle, and packs a beautiful nose of blackberry and fig, with more dark fruit, delicious vanilla, and warm spice coming through on the palate. With its soft tannins and full body, this wine makes the perfect dessert pairing.

Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage

Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage

For this Foodie Friday pairing, I’m keeping it super simple (it being the Friday before a holiday weekend – I know you have BBQs and celebrations to plan): pair this wine with Ghirardelli assorted dark chocolate squares. Since these are bite size and come in a great variety, this pairing really lends itself to a backyard party (and won’t overwhelm those who may have already, ahem, overeaten).

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, and please don’t forget to take a moment and raise a glass to all our Servicemen and Women who make incredible sacrifices for all of us! Cheers!

Foodie Friday: On a Mission for Morels

This blog is about wine. Devoted to adventures in oenophilia and all great things grape. But every so often, a stunning ingredient steals the show; one that truly makes a meal exquisite. Such is the case today with the magnificent morel mushroom.

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This funny-looking fungus is highly sought after this time of year. Imparting an extremely decadent yet delicate flavor, they are often the centerpiece of springtime culinary creations. Morels appear once a year, magically conjured by some complex formula of ground temperature, precipitation and earthen magic. On a recent hike, we were lucky enough to discover these little beauties just waiting to be plucked for a dish that would make them sing.

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These savory specimens would become the inspiration for what some might call a death-row meal: sautéed asparagus, truffled fresh fettuccini, and filet with a morel mushroom cream sauce. A delightful palette of earthy, uninhibited flavors intermingling to provide what can only be described as a foodgasm.

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Since morels are an ingredient to be celebrated, we thought we’d through off the reins and break the “rules” with the wine pairing. While most red meat recipes call for a structured, tannic red wine, we paired this spectacular meal with a dry Virginia Viognier. The nuanced flavors in the wine complimented the interplay of food flavors beautifully. Neither outshone or overpowered the other, leading to a gastronomically perfect meal. For this edition of Foodie Friday, I give you this morel mushroom cream sauce recipe (paired here with filet) and invite you to use it with, well, anything. Enjoy!

Foodie Friday: Cucumber Roll-ups!

Happy Friday, and welcome to a new series here on Cuvee: Foodie Fridays! Each week, I’ll post a delectable dish along with a wine pairing to share with your guests or with your special someone. Starting off easy with an awesome appetizer that is perfect for spring/summer meals: chorizo-goat cheese stuffed cucumber roll-ups.

Just a few ingredients will earn you rave reviews!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 English Cucumber (the longer kind, usually plastic wrapped in the grocery store)
  • .5 lb Chorizo
  • 1 4-ounce log of goat cheese
  • Toothpicks for serving

Directions for Deliciousness:

  • Cook the chorizo in a skillet (if using chorizo sausage, remove from casing before cooking)
  • Allow chorizo to cool slightly. While still warm, mix goat cheese in with chorizo
  • Put mixture into a bowl and chill in refrigerator (at least one hour, but can be made ahead and chilled overnight)
  • Peel cucumber, and cut it in half
  • Now slice thin pieces of cucumber lengthwise (the easiest way to do this is using a mandolin, but a knife will work with steady hands)
  • Once chilled, spoon a tablespoon of chorizo-goat cheese mixture onto one end of each cucumber slice.
  • Roll the cucumber up around the mixture and secure with a toothpick.

Suggested pairing:

2011 Shenandoah Vineyards Chenin Blanc-Viognier – This wine really does showcase the best of both Chenin Blanc and Viognier worlds. Predominantly Chenin Blanc, this blend has the body and creaminess to stand up to the goat cheese in this appetizer, but is light enough not to overpower the cool crispness of the cucumber. The Viognier adds just a hint white peach. Enjoy!