Beer and Cheese PLEASE!

August 31, 2010

Although we often think of wine and cheese as perfect partners, this is not always the case. Beer also makes an excellent complement! In celebration of this, STLwinegirl and The Wine and Cheese Place continue the summer cheese pairing series with “Beer and Cheese PLEASE!” Come enjoy five different style cheeses, each paired with two beers of similar style.

Thursday, September 2nd from 6pm to 7:30pm in Clayton.

Double Creme
Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek
Aged Goat
DePreof La Grande Blanche
Boulevard Two Jokers Double Wit
Sierra Nevada Tumbler Brown Ale
Corsendonk Brown Ale
English Cheddar
Southern Tier 2XIPA
Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
Blue Cheese
Amager Batch One Danish Barley Wine
Hofstetten Barley Wine
$30 per person.
Reservations Required. Book online or by calling 314.727.8788

In Home Tasting 10.16.2009

October 17, 2009

Last night’s tasting was for a friend (and previous tasting attendee).
A group of friends settling in for an evening of
education and entertainment…. oh, and glorious food and wine.

Knowing the couple’s wine background, I tried to choose some familiar names and some unfamiliar varietals. Her husband loves Caymus Cab, so I went with their white. No one seemed to be too familiar with sparkling wines. For reds, I wanted to help show them the “Old World” of wine since they usually buy domestic… For foods, I chose items that I knew would be new to them as well as playing on some old favorites but adding a twist. I also threw in a little “Thanksgiving spirit” as the season calls for it!

Greek Goat Cheese Tartlet
Smoked Salmon with Cilantro-Chive Yogurt
NV Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosè

Roasted Turkey with Brie Sauce
with Cranberry-Apple Compote
2007 Caymus Conundrum
Napa Valley, California

Spanish Chorizo-Manchego Corn Cake
2007 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble

Braised Lamb and Truffled Mushroom Risotto
2007 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscana Red
Tuscany, Italy

Pumpkin-Pecan Turtle Brownie
Warre’s Otima 10 Year Tawny Port

The excitement of the guests about the experience,
the foods and the wines was incredible.
Great feedback, wonderful questions, expansion of horizons.
All the reasons I do what I do.

In Celebration… 09.20.2009

September 29, 2009

So, last Sunday, my boyfriend pulled the trigger and bought a house! He has been looking and looking for months and months. And, to top it all off, he is building! WOW! A brand new house! Craziness!!!

So naturally, being who I am, what I am, I run off to the grocery store for wine, cheese, dinner and dessert! I roamed the new Schnucks in Des Peres for over an hour. I knew I wanted to do a little play on surf and turf, but had to choose the surf and the turf… not to mention, the sides, the cheese, the wine and the dessert! Then back to the apartment to set up. I knew we would need at least 5 different glasses for the evening and wanted to set the table with beautiful plates and candles.

Now, being who he is, I of course greeted him at the door with a snifter of Grand Marnier (his drink of choice!) for our first toast. Next, popped open the bubbly. I wanted a rosé, so I went with the Mirabelle from Schramsberg….

Mirabelle Brut Rosé

“A specially crafted blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Schramsberg’s select cool-climate vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas of Northern California. Pinot Noir provide brightness of berry fruit and body, while Chardonnay lends length and zest to the palate. Additional flavor depth and aromatic complexity results from the blending of base wine lots aged in barrels and tanks for one or more years. The finished Brut Rosé exhibits fresh, elegant and toasty aromas that lead into lively and delicious fruit flavors on the palate.”

Cheese plate consists of an Italian Tallegio and Spanish Mahon, fig compote and whole wheat crackers. A wonderful complement to our glasses of sparkling while I work on the main course!

Let’s start with the “SURF” ~ Bacon wrapped scallops. Something you should know… boyfriend loves bacon. Period. End of story. I knew I should incorporate it into his “celebration” dinner so it later found itself wrapped around nice, big sea scallops. I marinated the scallops in mango and citrus juice concoction and covered them with a lime seafood rub. No bacon yet.

***Cooking notes: Marinate for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. When ready, heat olive oil in frying pan until medium to high heat. Sear scallops on each side for only 2 minutes. You want to achieve color and crust but not cook through. Set aside until ready to cook to serve. At that time, wrapped pre-cooked bacon around scallop and secure with toothpick. Heat scallops in oven of 300 degrees for only about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook or else they will become “rubbery.”***

White wine pairing for scallops was a beautiful Italian blend.

2008 Carpineto Dogajolo Bianco

Tuscany, Italy
40% Chardonnay
30% Grechetto
30% Sauvignon Blanc.

“Pleasantly fruity, elegantly aromatic, it shows good body and agreeable acidity. It has a fresh, harmonious taste.”

We really loved this wine. While this would be an obvious pick for a summer white for me, the food pairing here was incredible. The nose was full of apple and green fruit and the mouth was well balanced with the sweetness of fruit and richness of the earth.

Now, on to the “TURF” ~ Whiskey Lamb Chops. I debated between veal or lamb. I think in the end, it was the better choice for the scallop accompaniment. I soaked each side of the chop in a little honey and whiskey, then used a blend of spices and dried onions to season. Looking to play up the natural juices of the lamb while highlighting a touch of sweetness to emulate the scallop.

***Cooking notes: Marinate for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Like the scallop you are looking to get color and crust on the meat in a quick, very hot way (do not burn!) and then pull off the heat to let the meat “rest.” Set aside until ready to cook to serve. At that time, put chops in oven of 400 degrees for only about 5 minutes for medium rare.***

Wine pairing for the lamb was an old vine Zinfandel.

2007 Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel

100% Zinfandel
From vines that are 80 to 100 years old.

“This wine shows wonderful dusty raspberry, blackberry, white pepper and spice, with coffee and chocolate characters. Ripe fruit and soft tannins make this a mouth-coating rich vintage. Aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes.”
I wanted big, fruity and earthy for the meat. On one hand, I love to have my white and red wines to be very different! On the other hand, I did not want it to overpower the lamb. Let me tell you… it did not. (Insert smiley face here.)

Now to balance the meal are the side dishes.

First up… the vegetable ~ brussel sprouts with sage brown butter. I a bought beautiful, fresh selection of eight. I very much recommendation going with fresh not frozen for this vegetable! Bring water to a boil and drop in halved sprouts. Leave them until the rise and turn a bright beautiful green color. In a saucepan, I browned whole butter. Once melted, added chopped fresh sage. Cook until brown and aromatic. Toss brussel sprouts and sage butter together in a bowl and set aside. If you are not immediately serving, you can pop these back in the oven for a few minutes before meal.

For my starch ~ roasted fingerling and purple potatoes. Slice raw potatoes and coat them with olive oil and roasting spices. I do this in a ziploc bag so I can control the process. Put in a roasting pan and in the oven on 400 until soft.

With wines…..
As you can see, we still have our snifters of Grand Marnier “just in case.”

I had a huge dessert plan, but after all of this… we ended up just munching on Mayan Dark Chocolate and finishing the Zinfandel. I know, I know, we broke the traditional dessert/wine pairing rule (Dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself), but the earth and chocolate in both the wine and the dessert was just what we needed to end the evening.


Casa Lapostolle

Cabernet Sauvignon
85 % Cabernet Sauvignon
6% Carmenere
6% Petit Verdot
3% Cabernet Franc

Rapal Valley, Chile

Average price $13 to $19

“The 2005-2006 season was quite normal but late summer temperatures were cooler and resulted in a growing season that was drier and colder than the past seven years. There was no rainfall during harvest; but due to the cooler temperatures throughout, the primary challenge of the 2006 vintage was the extended hang-time in order for each variety to reach proper phenolic maturity. This extension of the season conserved the fruit and allowed for good concentration with soft, well-rounded tannins. Cold nights at the beginning of April preserved the natural fruit acidity and lively expression. On the other hand, we were lucky that conditions remained stable and a dry autumn allowed us to wait patiently to harvest ripe fruits at the level of maturity we were looking for.”
70 % of the blend was aged for 6 months in used French oak barrels.
30 % of the blend was aged in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting notes from producer:
COLOR: Pretty bright red with ruby violet hints.
NOSE: Red fruit and cassis well balanced with an elegant touch of oak.
MOUTH: Middle body and good tannic structure create a wine that is perfect to be enjoyed today or cellar for several years.

Truth be told, this wine tasting was a tribute to my boyfriend. He is an avid (yes, AVID) Grand Marnier drinker. Casa Lapostolle is a branch off of the Marnier Lapostolle family. The great granddaughter Alexandra and her husband Cyril started this particular winery in Chile in 1994. Chile has a climate and terrior similar to parts of France. Today, Casa Lapostolle owns 350 has in three different vineyards and produce a total of 200.000 cases spread over Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère, and Syrah. Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère are among the most successful.

I decided upfront that tonight’s wine would only be tasted with cheese. While one would probably lean toward a Spanish influenced cheese, I wanted something big, creamy and stinky. Enter Époisses. I would go as far as to say that this is my favorite cheese of all time. Not only for flavor texture, etc… but it has an emotional connection for me. My best girls from San Francisco and I would eat this, guacamole and an expensive bottle of red wine while watching Sex and the City on any given random night… Yes, it’s true.

Upon opening, the alcohol was apparent. At 14.5%, you wouldn’t think you would be able to detect the alcohol straight up front, but you did. At this point, I made the decision to decant. I often get asked “when to decant?” ~ honestly, it’s a personal choice… age (young or old), alcohol content, time of consumption, etc all play roles. Just like all wine is different at any moment, all wine will react to decanting differently… No “hard and fast” rules. Some will argue otherwise, not me.

After about 30 minutes, the aromas of strawberry, currants and blackberries start to emerge. I can sense the oak as well. The taste is not what one would expect of a typical Cabernet Sauvignon. But remember, we aren’t in Napa anymore…

The underlying herbaceous makes me think of meats rubbed with fresh herbs or even mushroom pairings. It is also not a super heavy wine. I would say closer to medium bodied versus the fullness of a traditional Cab or Bordeaux.

Pairing-wise… I am happy. I like the cut into the pungency but thoroughly enjoy the enhancement of earthiness. While there are probably a plethora of dishes that would be my first choice pairings, I am not regretting the decision of simple cheese and wine tonight.

Chilean Cabernets are very different from your “expected” Cabs of California. Lighter in body, style and flavor… Chilean Cabs are a combination of Old World and New World ideals ~ bringing the earth and spice of the Old World while being fruit forward as a New World wine.

I do not recommend going into these wines with expectations. Allow yourself to experience something new. Let your mind make it’s own assumptions, comparisons and accusations. As a “new” addition to our world wine profile, it deserves our respect and time to create it’s own profile.

Maya Gold from Green and Black Chocolate Bar
Dark chocolate with orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, spices…

As most of you know, I don’t always go by the rule “dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert” ~ I love big red wines with dark chocolate and rich desserts.

The spice, chocolate and red wine combination is amazing. A perfect mellow yet rich ending to my evening. One of which that needed kind uplifting and a comforting conclusion.
Highly recommended this chocolate bar (I mean, who doesn’t love a Mayan Mocha from Kaldi’s???) but also a thought on dark red wines paired with simple dark chocolate….