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.
THE LINEUP:

Double Creme
Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek
Aged Goat
DePreof La Grande Blanche
Boulevard Two Jokers Double Wit
Pecorino
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
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The holidays are a great time to exercise those “green” muscles of yours and choose organic wines to pair with your feast!

There are multiple levels of organic wines. Not all bottles that bear the words natural, sustainable, biodynamic or eco-friendly are actually organic. Let’s take a look at what the differences on the labels really mean:

Organic – In order for a wine to have the official USDA seal, it must be produced from certified organic grapes and in certified organic facility. These wines may have naturally occurring sulfites but no added sulfites. Sulfites are the preservative used in wine production.

Made with Organic Grapes – These wines are produced in the same fashion as the ones mentioned above, but they can contain low levels of added sulfites, therefore the label will not have the USDA seal on it.

A traditional holiday dinner is quite the conundrum for sommeliers. We put such a variety of flavors and textures into this one meal, it is often difficult to perfectly pair one glass of wine with that full plate of food. That being said, it also opens the door to experiment with new wines and pairings to test your palate and have some fun!

I personally believe that you can pair sparkling wine with almost anything. Whether you enjoy it with your meal or just a holiday toast, the Albert Mann Cremant d’Alsace (www.albertmann.com) from France is a great organic choice! White wines with a hint of sweetness or spice work very well, I recommend the organic Viognier from Australia’s Yalumba (www.yalumba.com). When choosing a red, light to medium bodied styles that feature both fruit and earthiness pair best. The King Estate Pinot Noir (www.kingestate.com) from Oregon is a beautiful representation.

Remember, more than anything else, the key to pairing food and wine is just simply that you enjoy it.

Article: Herb’n Maid, http://www.herbnmaid.com/
Continuing with the Food and Wine Pairing Series

at Provisions Market,

we are shifting gears a bit and having a

Food and BEER Pairing Class!

Tuesday November 10

6:30pm – 7:45pm

THE MENU

Reception Beer

Bell’s Winter White

Michigan

Fontina and Arugula Salad with Fresh Blackberry Vinaigrette

Paired with Cantillon St. Lamvinus

Belgium


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Paired with Avery DuganA IPA
Boulder, Colorado

AND

Southern Tier IPA
New York

Wiener Schnitzel with Gruyere Spatzle

Paired with Great Divide Tripel Belgian Ale
Denver, Colorado

Baby Bison Burger with Tomato Relish and Sharp Cheddar

Paired with Beer Here Pumpernickel Porter
Copenhagen, Denwark

Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Coffee Mousse

Paired with Dieu du Ciel “Aphrodisiac”
Montreal, Quebec
***will be served two ways ~
cold and slightly warmed for a new experience!***

Five courses with five (or more!) paired beers for $25!

or by calling 314.989.0020
CHEERS!

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!

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

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

Spanish Chorizo-Manchego Corn Cake
2007 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble
Spain

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

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

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.
Provisions Gourment Market continues the
Food and Wine Pairing Series presented by STLwinegirl
with our fifth installment:
“Unbelievable Wines from Unlikely Places”
October 6, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Cake with Shrimp and Tomato-Garlic Vinaigrette
NV Gruet Rosé Sparkling
New Mexico

Chickpea and Vegetable Samosa
2007 Chateau Indage Chenin Blanc
India

Rustic Brazilian Beef Pastry
2006 Miolo Pinot Noir
Brazil

Frikkadel Meatballs with Quinoa
2005 Golden Kaan Pinotage
South Africa

Canadian Brown Sugar Pie
2004 Konzelmann Late Harvest Gewürztraminer
Canada

We are officially SOLD OUT for this class, but look for
our next installment on Tuesday October 20 at 6:30pm

“Indigenous Grapes of Missouri”

We will be featuring the best of the best of our local
grape varietals from Missouri wineries
paired with a combination of infamous St. Louis dishes
and recipes featuring local products.
Book now to ensure space!

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
Schramsberg
California

“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
California
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.

HERE’S TO LOOKING FORWARD TO COOKING FABULOUS MEALS AND POURING FABULOUS WINES FOR OUR FABULOUS FRIENDS IN HIS NEW FABULOUS HOUSE!

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.

NEW ADDITION:
Maya Gold from Green and Black Chocolate Bar
Dark chocolate with orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, spices…
LOVE IT!

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….

2007 Layer Cake Primitivo

100% Primitivo
Puglia, Italy

Average price range $12 to $15

“My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me the soils in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He told me the soil in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He said, the wine, if properly made,was like a great layer cake… fruit, mocha, chocolate, and hints of spice — and rich, always rich.
‘Never pass up a good Layer Cake,’ he would say.
‘I have always loved those words.’
– A TRIBUTE TO JAYSON WOODBRIDGE’S GRANDFATHER, A. ORLANDO

“The fruit comes from head-trained old vines and is harvested in early September. This is truly remarkable plant material in very old vineyards; some dating to Roman times. The soils in Manduria are red iron-rich clays with large calcareous rocks, shells and coral from ancient sea beds. We’re talking ancient, gnarled baskets hugging the ground and rocks around them, ancient chariots buried underneath, lost civilization stuff.”

A balance of elegance and power; inky black fruit, spice and white pepper, jammy black cherries, plums, blackberry fruit, truffles, tar, and espresso. Warm and rich in the mouth with a creamy texture; the ripe fruit is well supported by the deep structure of the wine.”

As of recent DNA analysis, we have learned that Italian Primitivo and Zinfandel are identical grape varietals. The exciting part about this is that we have yet another grape to show off stylistically different. One of the enjoyments I get out of wine is the ever-changing, ever-expanding, ever-differentiating versions.
Layer Cake is a brand that is showing wines from many different locations… Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Italian Primitivo, Malbec from Argentina and Shiraz from Southern Australia. This is a winemaker that refuses to settle on one region and chooses to make wines where he thinks they produce best.

For dinner tonight, I was in an Italian mood. Not a fan of the typical spaghetti with meat sauce or fettucine alfredo, I went for something more “rustic.” Whole wheat capelllini tossed in Tuneta olive oil and garlic, sauteed with prosciutto, mushrooms, and sage. Topped with a romano crusted grilled chicken. Because it’s my boyfriend’s favorite, we of course had to have cheese garlic bread (no worries, I have my own gourmet recipe for this!). On the side was a tossed green salad… one I like to call “a la Pasta House” 🙂 Yes, I have learned to make my own version…!

Per usual, I open the wine while I cook. The familiar aromas of a Zinfandel fill my glass. Dark black fruits of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry. Hints of mocha and spice, pepper too, maybe even a bit of cigar in there. (P.S. one of my favorite big red one aromas.) I appreciate the fullness of the wine without it being overpowering.

Pairing the food… In the most basic of terms, I am a sucker for cheese and red wine. So a meal that has a cheese, especially with salt and garlic, oh I am in heaven. The wine is not too strong for the chicken because the flavor profile of the dish is rather strong. Pasta always helps stand up to a ‘bigger’ wine. The creamy texture of the salad works nicely as well. And I love pepper and spice in a red wine. Love it.

While I have my favorite Zinfandels and have enjoyed a Primitivo or two in my day, I am very satisfied with this well-made, well-priced wine. If nothing else, it is worth picking up to compare it to a California Zinfandel… You will not be let down from nose to mouth.

Fireworks not anticipated, but enjoyment expected.

In Home Tasting 09.11.2009

September 12, 2009

So last night’s tasting was a little different than my previous events. The majority of the guests were couples I went to high school with and hadn’t seen in years! I knew right away we were in for a night of chat and fun!

Most of the guests had indicated that they didn’t know too much about wine and mostly just stuck to what they knew. The most popular “regular” wine was Riesling. Taking this information, I decided to try to use some familiar flavor profiles of the wines and really use my food pairings to enhance the wine choices that might be new to them.

We started with just going over my background, how I got into this whole biz and what they have been up to. Then the wine. First, we talked glassware. Shapes, sizes, brands, etc. Then I showed them my five step process to tasting wine and food. This led to some introductory questions and then on to the food!

Thai Basil Shrimp with Lemongrass Jasmine Rice
2008 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier from California

Sage Chicken with Spinach-Gouda Cream Sauce
2007 La Crema Chardonnay from Sonoma, California

***used this opportunity to experiment… we poured the wine into our regular glasses to swirl, smell and taste, then I had them pour the wine into a small plastic cocktail cup to emphasize the difference proper glassware does make (a little trick learned from Riedel!). I also opened up a traditional French Chardonnay, a Verget, to taste side by side to showcase how the same grape can be so stylisticly different in aroma and flavor.***

Slow Roasted Pork with Butternut Squash-Apple Polenta
2005 Hahn Family Estates Pinot Noir from Monterey, California

Duck Mole Enchiladas with Goat Cheese
2006 BIN 36 Syrah from Central Coast, California

Honey Almond Ricotta Cheesecake
Il Conte Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont, Italy

Discussion was flowing. So many fantastic questions. The group showed a lot of excitement, interest and eagerness to learn. We even had a couple guests that had never had red wine. And while, upon first taste, they were in no way converted, but the food pairing really opened up their palate and minds to future experimenting.

This was a great example of why I do this for a living. It is unbelievably fun and rewarding to be able to share your knowledge and passion with people in a relaxed and exciting setting. To help take away to discomfort of asking about wine. To be able to share with them answers to questions they have been wondering about for years. To provide fabulous food and wine to a group of friends and family to enjoy. To help bring ease to the experience of choosing, ordering and drinking wine. To show the ways that wine and food can be used together to enhance the full experience of both. And while there is no way to go over everything in one evening, I truly feel that we covered a wide range of topics and information. This tasting went on until almost midnight (my lastest In Home Tasting to date), a testiment to the fun and amazing interaction that was taking place.

Thank you to all that came. I truly enjoyed your company and hope that I helped bring the world of food and wine into a new light for you. See you again at a future STLwinegirl event! 🙂

And here we are again…
your fantasy teams have been picked,
your team paraphernalia is out and about,
your jerseys are washed (hopefully) and ready for wear…
Now it’s time to think about that favorite Sunday football food! Yes, we all know that beer is the traditional matchup for your favorite greasy bites…
BUT what if you are in the mood for wine instead?

My tips for wine pairings with top football foods:

WINGS
Buffalo Style – Riesling or Gewurztraminer to cool it down
Traditional – Chardonnay to play on the butter

NACHOS
Spicy Chicken Nachos – the sweetness of a Viognier will help balance out the spice
Big Beefy or Steak Nachos – Zinfandel to stand up to the heartiness and pepper

POPCORN
I love a sparkling wine with the butter and crunch of popcorn (especially a Blanc de Blanc!)

QUESADILLAS
Mild Chicken – Sauvignon Blanc for a refreshing twist
Grilled Steak – For a smooth complement, try a Merlot
PIZZA
Cheese, Pepperoni, ANYTHING – go for that Italian Red, such as a Dolcetto
If you like loads of veggies on your pie, pick up an earthier red like a Chianti (Sangiovese)
SANDWICHES
Turkey – Try a Pinot Noir to add some depth
Roast Beef – Go big with a Cabernet Sauvignon
BLT – How about a Beaujolais?
CROCK POT ‘LIL’ SMOKIES
If you like your BBQ sauce with a touch of spice like I do, definitely pop the Syrah/Shiraz
DIPS
Dill (my boyfriend’s favorite!) – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would play nicely
French Onion – Tough one, Gruner Vetliner? This may be an experiment of mine 😉
Guacamole – Go light with Vinho Verde or play up creamy avocado with Oregon Pinot Gris
Salsa – Thinking to go sparkling again here, like a Cava
FRIED FOODS
Fried Chicken – Believe it or not… sparkling again! Think Coke & chips – bubbles & fried food!
Stuffed Mushrooms – Earthy Pinot Noir
Mozzarella Sticks – Go back to Italy, Nero d’Avola
CHILI
It was brought to my attention that I forgot the ALL IMPORTANT delicacy that is CHILI!
My recommendation here (assuming it is a nice spicy, meaty, cheesy, and full of onions and beans) would be an Malbec from Argentina… I mean, if you are gonna go big, GO BIG! 🙂
And LAST but NOT least….
Our St. Louis favorite (in case you missed my tip in St. Louis Magazine!)…
TOASTED RAVIOLI – I am partial to a Montepulciano for the sweet fruit and smooth body
What are your favorite football foods?
Do you have a favorite wine to pair?
Need a suggestion?

Good luck to all and because I am the STLwinegirl,
of course, GO RAMS! 😉