How to Pair Wine With Barbecue

There are a few dishes out there that beer hands-down wins the war over wine when it comes to pairings.

Barbecue is DEFINITELY one of those dishes

How to Pair  Wine With Barbecue

Let’s start off by clarifying that we’re not talking about throwing some steaks on a grill and calling that barbecue. The debate of what barbecue is is a topic for another day, but what we are referring to here is meat slow-cooked over indirect heat (or smoked) over several hours and then served with barbecue sauce, coleslaw, potato salad, beans, cornbread, or whatever other sides you feel worthy.

Smoked meat and wine? Amazing. My real problem with pairing wine with barbecue is not the barbecued meat on its own, its with barbecue sauce.

Most barbecue sauces have sweet and spicy flavors which generally do not pair well with wine. Sweet flavors in food need sweet wines to match, otherwise the wine will taste bitter and flabby. Spicy flavors also need a sweet wine to cool it down: a dry wine will seem hot and more alcoholic if paired with spicy food, and a wine high in alcohol will elevate all those spicy flavors. It isn’t very pleasant.

So really, we are very limited to wines that could theoretically pair well with barbecue. They must be sweet and low in alcohol.

I got so sick of the arguments with bbq and wine that I decided yesterday to make a bunch of traditional bbq fare, open up a couple of wines, and test it all out. I realize that there are many styles of barbecue, so I made sure to cover (most) of the bases.

The food

Carolina Pulled Pork, Memphis-style ribs and smoked beef brisket and served them up with cole slaw, potato salad, beans, pickles and potato chips. Then we made authentic Carolina, Kansas City, Texas and Memphis barbecue sauce.

The wines

  • Zinfandel

  • Shiraz (Syrah)

  • Carmenere

  • Riesling

Here was the general concensus:

We all loved each of the wines on their own (obviously).

Carmenere

The Carmenere didn’t really pair with anything because it was a dry wine with no residual sugar. Any “smoky”, charred flavors in it got cancelled out when paired with food, so it didn’t taste like much.

Shiraz

The shiraz was also bad. This was a fun one that was aged in whiskey barrels so on its own it had really rich black fruit characteristic and a nice dilly vanilla note from the oak. But the spices from the barbecue just overwhelmed the wine, made it taste super hot and took away all the fruity flavors.

Zinfandel

This was the best of the red wine selection. On its own, the wine definitely had a little bit of residual sugar (sweetness) and was a total fruit bomb (like most zinfandels). The barbecue made it seem less sweet and took away most of the fruit and made it seem SUPER oaky, which is crazy since it didn’t smell or taste like oak at all on its own!

Riesling

Of all the wines, the Riesling was by far the best with barbecue. It was the most sweet out of the bunch so it cooled down the sweet and spicy flavors in the food. When eating it with food, it actually didn’t taste sweet at all...it just worked because the food was equally as sweet.

The Final Verdict

None of these wines actually went well with barbecue. The Riesling just worked the best and the Zinfandel was decent. The good news about this experiment is that I went from being totally anti-wine at barbecues to kind of not minding it. Because let’s be honest...before we sat down to eat I had backup beers waiting because I thought wine and barbecue was going to be absolutely awful. But it was tolerable...it just wasn’t amazing.

Bottom Line, this is all subjective so don’t get mad at me if you really think wine and barbecue go together. If you tell yourself it does, chances are you won’t mind it. But here’s my advice if you’re going to a traditional barbecue and HAVE to bring wine: bring a wine with residual sugar in it, like the following:

Wines to bring to a barbecue

  • Riesling

  • Moscato

  • Gewurztraminer

  • Zinfandel

  • Brachetto

Break out the beer if that’s your style, because for every wine that is tolerable with barbecue, there are 5 beers that will gladly step in to accomodate those sweet and spicy flavors.

Check out the video for footage of the wine and barbecue party! Cheers!

 

Roasted Bone Marrow Paired With Syrah

Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!

Don't be afraid of bone marrow: it is one of the healthiest meals you can eat while you are under the weather. It also makes a great meal to serve to visiting friends. They may give you "a look" at first, but I guarantee their minds will be changed once they try this delicious and simple dish!

Let me tell you about my love affair with bone marrow. A few years ago I was sick...for like a month. I was flying across the country to visit my friend in DC and warned her about my illness. Of course, traveling didn't do me any good and I arrived at her house feeling worse than I did before. I felt so bad and thought our time together would be ruined...

Fast forward 1 DAY and I was miraculously better. I felt like a rockstar and was ready to go see the sites (and drink all the beer, of course). Why? The night before, she served me bone marrow. To this day, if I'm feeling under the weather, I rush to the store and get some. Think about it--bones contain a ton of nutrients that our body needs. When we consume those nutrients in a superfood like bone marrow, our body is likely going to be happy and have extra power to kick an illness. It's the same reason why chicken broth is so good for you. This is just way fancier.

Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!
Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!

Sometimes I actually feel a little guilty eating bone marrow when I'm sick! Like, why do I deserve such a fancy meal when I feel crappy?

Fear not, this meal is not limited to when you're just under the weather. Bone Marrow is an excellent dish to serve as a first course or light meal when company comes over. It goes excellently with cheese and wine, and is a cinch to make. Speaking of wine...

The Pairing

Bone Marrow goes excellently with wine. Seriously. Any wine. I'm giving you the full spectrum here. If you have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc open, enjoy it with this dish. Bubbly? Absolutely. Moscato? meh...but if you like sweet wines, you won't mind this pairing. I was lucky enough to have a bottle of this beautiful Jean Luc Colombo Cornas opened up when we made this dish and it was FANTASTIC. Cornas is a region in the northern Rhone Valley in France famous for long-lived wines made from 100% Syrah. This bottle had some intense black pepper, dark red fruit, and plenty of earthy funk that melded perfectly with the spices we put on the marrow.

Jean Luc Colombo Cornas Red Wine Paired Perfectly with Roasted Bone Marrow. Made from 100% Syrah, it makes a perfect wine pairing!
Jean Luc Colombo Cornas Red Wine Paired Perfectly with Roasted Bone Marrow. Made from 100% Syrah, it makes a perfect wine pairing!

When it comes to bone marrow, I like to open up the biggest red wines because they stand up so nicely to the richness of the dish. Most big reds also have flavors that complement the herbs and spices in the marrow as well. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux Blend, especially from the homeland (Bordeaux)
  • Syrah from the Rhone Valley, especially Cotes du Rhone or Crozes Hermitages (or Cornas, if you can find one!)
  • Mourvedre, especially those from Southern France
  • Aglianico
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Nero d'Avola

The possibilities really are endless, so have fun with this pairing. If the regions or grapes I noted are scary to you, no worries...stick with your go-to's and it'll still be good!

Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!
Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!

The Recipe

Bone Marrow is incredibly easy to make. Actually, think about my recipe below as more of a guideline than anything. Is there an herb you think would be good on it that I didn't list? Sprinkle some on! Don't have parsley or something I put in the recipe? Just omit it! If anything, just sprinkle some salt on these bones and you'll be good to go.

Where do you find bone marrow? At any grocery store that has a butcher! Sometimes you may need to ask for it, but they'll always have it in the back. Marrow bones are cheap and often marketed as treats for dogs. Channel your inner caveman and you won't feel weird eating it.

How do you eat bone marrow? Most are cut crosswise (like in my pictures), meaning you get to dig deep to get your food! Use the smallest spoon you can find or a little skewer or knife. Scrape the marrow out of the bone (it has the consistency of jelly) and spread onto pieces of bread or homemade croutons.

Homemade croutons for roasted bone marrow |Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!
Homemade croutons for roasted bone marrow |Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!

When you are done with your bones, don't forget to make homemade bone broth!

Roasted Bone Marrow

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Marrow Bones, cut crosswise or lengthwise
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley, minced
  • 1 baguette (for homemade croutes)
  • 1 Tbsp Butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  2. Pat the bones dry. They should be free of any exterior meat (they come this way from the butcher). Place them cut-side up (vertical if cut crosswise) in a small roasting pan and sprinkle the salt, minced rosemary, thyme, and parsley on top. (you may use whatever herbs you have on hand or think would taste good!)
  3. Place in the preheated oven, being careful that the bones do not topple over. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the marrow has started bubbling over.
  4. Meanwhile, make the croutes--cut a baguette into as many slices as desired. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a cast-iron pan and place the baguette slices evenly along the bottom. Toast for a minute or two, then flip each slice over and repeat. Remove promptly when toasted to your liking.
  5. Serve the bone marrow cut-side up with tiny spoons and dig the marrow from the bones. There's always way more in there than you expect! Spoon the marrow onto the toast and enjoy.
Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!
Recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow | Wine Pairing Syrah | Roasted Bone Marrow is a Superfood to help heal illness!

Spooky Wine and Fancy Dinner: A Halloween Treat for the Adults

It will be easy to keep the vampires away with all the garlic on top of this easy-to-make roast! Keep the Halloween theme going by pairing this meal with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

It's a Halloween treat for adults! Keep the vampires away with roasted garlic over roast beef and pair with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Click to get the recipe! CaretoPair.com

My Pinterest feed this time of year gets bombarded with Halloween-ified food: deviled eggs that look like spiders, meat loaf that looks like rats, spaghetti that looks like brains...

That's good and all for Halloween parties, but I'm not too fond of intentionally making my food look like bugs, rodents, or anything else I would normally never consume. So in today's post I bring you a little bit of a fancier way to celebrate Halloween (and to make it an excuse to drink wine).

It's a Halloween treat for adults! Keep the vampires away with roasted garlic over roast beef and pair with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Click to get the recipe! CaretoPair.com

This Halloween I am protecting you from vampires with a dish with plenty of garlic! Roasted garlic, that is. So if you feel like getting into the Halloween spirit while having some friends over on a Friday night, but aren't going all "Halloween Party" crazy, this is a fun way to incorporate the holiday into your evening.

Word has it that garlic wards off evil spirits. If you're afraid of spirits, hang some garlic on your front door like people have done for centuries. It'll keep them away from your house. In the middle ages. it was common to wear garlic braids around your neck to protect yourself from werewolves. And then of course...there's vampires, who despise garlic. Why do all things evil seem to hate garlic? The best explanation is perhaps because blood-sucking insects also hate garlic, so naturally, vampires will too...

It's a Halloween treat for adults! Keep the vampires away with roasted garlic over roast beef and pair with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Click to get the recipe! CaretoPair.com

As a garlic-loving foodie, I believe in eating as much garlic as possible to ward off evil spirits. Those vampires won't want to come near me with my lovely garlic breath! Garlic is really good at fighting off illness, so with this cold weather coming in, we have even more reason to eat plenty of it.

The Pairing

A Halloween-inspired dish deserves a Halloween-inspired wine! Naturally I've chosen one of the spookiest out there--Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Translating to "the Devil's Cellar", Casillero del Diablo takes its name from an old legend in Chilean wine country. Back in the day, the winery's wines were kept under lock and key at night. But somehow, bottles still went missing. To keep thiefs away, a rumor was spread that the Devil resided in that cellar, and was taking the wine for himself. People believed it and stayed away..those that dared to enter claimed they even saw the Devil himself.  It was a great way to keep those wines safe, but who knows? Maybe the Devil did want a little good grape juice from time to time.

Anyway, that's the spookiest wine story you'll ever hear from me. There are many wines made under the Casillero del Diablo lineup, but for this roasted garlic and pot roast pairing I chose to feature the Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a simple dish to make but will certainly wow the crowd. Steak and Cab are best friends in the wine world (I did a whole post on it here) so this dish was quite a no-brainer. The Casillero del Diablo isn't a pricey wine (retailing right under $15 usually) and boasts big, ripe black-fruit flavors, making it perfect for a hearty dish like this pot roast. The subtle oak and earthy components in the wine will also match well with all that roasted garlic, too. Mmmmmm....

It's a Halloween treat for adults! Keep the vampires away with roasted garlic over roast beef and pair with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Click to get the recipe! CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

This is a terribly easy recipe that may make you feel guilty to serve to your guests...but they don't need to know how little effort it takes! The roast just takes some time in the oven...and make sure you give it plenty of time! Low and slow equals amazing flavors in this one, friends. Be sure to make the roasted garlic first...you can easily heat it back up when it comes time to serve dinner. I suggest accompanying this meal with simple mashed potatoes and a vegetable like green beans. Easy peasy and perfect  for company!

Beef Roast with Roasted Garlic

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 3 hours 15 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 heads of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced.
  • 1 4 lb boneless beef chuck roast
  • red wine

Instructions

  1. First, make the roasted garlic: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the tops from 3 heads of garlic, just enough to expose the garlic cloves inside.
  2. Place 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a small baking dish and swerve around so that the oil covers the entire bottom. Place the garlic heads cut-side-up in the pan. If they don't fit flat, just slice the bottom of the head a little bit.
  3. Drizzle the garlic heads with a little more olive oil (to prevent burning!) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and cook for about 40-45 minutes. Your kitchen is going to smell amazing!
  4. When they are roasted and a little browned, remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled enough to handle, squeeze the bottom of the garlic heads to pop out the garlic cloves. This may get a little messy (your hands will get oily), but it is super easy!
  5. Chop garlic cloves into smaller pieces and place in a dish. Set aside until ready to reheat and serve.
  6. Next, make the roast beef: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 Tbs of butter over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven. Once melted, brown each side of the roast. Remove from the pan. Add the sliced onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the roast back into the pan and pour enough wine over it to fill the pan about an inch above the bottom. Place into the preheated oven and cook for 3 hours, or 45 minutes per pound. The roast will be ready when a thermometer placed in it reaches 130 degrees. Remove from oven and slice. Serve with the chopped roasted garlic, reheated over the stove or microwave if needed.

 

Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

There's nothing quite like a homemade bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. But to make this meal even better, serve a hearty glass of Italian Wine along side it! Here are a few of my favorite wines to pair with this dish.

Oh, pasta, how may I proclaim my love for you? So many people try to tell me you are bad for me, but I don't care.

Homemade pasta and sauce is my ultimate comfort food. I worship my favorite Italian Cookbook (that I didn't even buy--it randomly came with the All-Clad pots and pans I bought a few years ago). But guess what? A recipe for spaghetti and meatballs isn't in there! GASP!

It is funny that this dish isn't Italian at all: I'm pretty positive that spaghetti and meatballs was an invention of Italian-American restaurants. Authentic or not, I'm in love. Sweet sauce and spicy meatballs? What more do we need in life?

The Pairing

Even though Spaghetti and Meatballs may not completely be an Italian dish, Italian wine is its best friend. If you've read my other favorite pasta-and-tomato-sauce posts like Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce and Spaghettini and Eggplant Parmesan, you might be familiar with my theory: dishes with tomato sauce love red wines that contain a lot of acidity. You know that sour sensation your mouth gets when you eat something that is very lemony? Your mouth may even start to water? That is acidity, and tomato sauce has a lot of that going on in it. The best red wines will also have high acidity to match the tomato sauce. Couple that with some earthy funk and red fruit flavors in the wine and you've got yourself a match made in heaven.

Suggested Wines to Drink with Your Spaghetti and Meatballs

Italian Reds have the best acidity of any red wine I've ever had, so they are a no-brainer when it comes to choosing what to accompany my spaghetti and meatballs. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sangiovese
  • Chianti (learn more here)
  • Tuscan Red Blends
  • Barbera
  • Aglianico
  • Nero d'Avola
  • Merlot (preferably a super-fruity, high-acid version)
  • Primitivo or Zinfandel

Wines to Avoid

  • Pinot Noir: although this wine may have the high acidity to match spaghetti and meatballs, it usually is too light and will clash with the dish. I actually tried this pairing last night--it didn't work.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, and Bordeaux Blends: frankly I just think these wines are too big and will overwhelm this dish. But remember, pairing wine is not black and white: there may be some versions of these wines that would pair decently with this dish.
  • White Wine: just stay away. Red wine is the winner in this pairing.

The Recipe

Use any spaghetti and meatball recipe you love for this wine pairing but make sure its not too spicy. This was my first time making spaghetti and meatballs from scratch (I know--what is wrong with me?!) so I made the meatballs based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs and accompanied them with my favorite homemade tomato sauce. It turned out pretty amazing. Enjoy!


Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins

Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 4

Meatball recipe adapted from Natashaskitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of white bread, crusts removed and torn into little pieces
  • 2/3 Cup cold water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb sweet ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 Cup flour to dredge the meatballs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Cups crushed canned Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the bread pieces and flour. Set aside for about 5 minutes, then mash with a fork.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, sausage, parmesan, garlic cloves, salt, black pepper, egg, and mashed bread crumbs. Mix until combined.
  3. Using your hands, take a handful of the mixture and roll into a meatball, about 1 1/2 inches round. Then dredge in the flour. Set aside and continue until all of the meatballs have been formed and dredged.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Working in batches, add enough meatballs to fill the bottom of the dutch oven and saute all sides until brown. When they have browned, set them aside and continue with the remaining batches. I actually only used 1/2 of the batch of meatballs and froze the others for later.
  5. Once all of the meatballs have been browned, start the sauce: In the same saucepan once all meatball have been removed, add the canned tomatoes, butter, onion, and salt. Heat to a simmer, then add back in the meatballs. Cook at a very low simmer for about 30 minutes, then cover and increase the heat a bit to cook the meatballs all the way through (about 15 additional minutes).
  6. Meanwhile, make boil the pasta and drain.
  7. Once the sauce is finished, taste and add any salt (if needed). Remove the onion and add the pasta. Stir completely so the sauce and meatballs are integrated, then serve. Sprinkle basil over finished plated dishes.

Roast Leg of Lamb Wine Pairing

You just bought a glorious leg or rack of lamb for dinner tonight and you need a bottle of wine to go with it. Lucky for you, this is one of the greatest dishes to pair with wine! Here is my all-time favorite wine to drink alongside roasted lamb.

Friends, you are looking at our Easter dinner right there. For 2 of us. (We had shepherd's pie and scotch broth afterwards for daaaays.) I apologize for the lack of pictures but...this lamb needed to be eaten pronto. And lets be honest, I was a little limited on finding appealing angles to photograph that ginormous leg. So on that note, let's get right to the pairing!

The Wine Pairing

Lamb is one of those meals that BEGS for wine. Beer will do well too, but wine is better! Lamb is a relatively easy dish to pair with wine. No matter what kind of cut you are roasting, you're probably seasoning it with these ingredients: salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Amiright? So naturally, as long as you're using these seasonings, the same kind of wine will apply to any cut of lamb meat (like lamb chops, rack of lamb, lamb shoulder, etc.)

Its no surprise that lamb is a bit gamy...old-tasting, if we want to be frank. Naturally, in my opinion, the best wine to match with a gamy piece of meat is an old-world, funky Bordeaux blend. Left bank, right bank, you choose...just make sure it is "old-worldy". What do I mean by that? Think about these flavors in wine (in a good way)...wet leaves, tobacco, old leather, dried fruit...if you have never tasted these flavors in wine and think I'm being totally crazy, don't be alarmed. Just go get yourself a bottle of Bordeaux and drink it with your roasted lamb. You'll see what I mean.

Choosing a Wine for this Meal

Bordeaux can totally be an intimidating region when it comes to wine. We all know its famous and expensive for some reason, but many of us have no idea what a Bordeaux blend actually is. So lets break that down:

Bordeaux can be split into two distinct regions: Left Bank and Right Bank. We say "bank" in reference to being on "the left bank of the river" that flows through the region.

Bordeaux blends from the left bank are generally based on Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Cabernet Franc as support. Many Cab-based Bordeaux blends taste much like the Cabs we are used to from the rest of the world...plus an added old-world funkiness perfect for pairing with lamb. Look for a wine from these regions which are all "left bank":

  • The Medoc or Haut Medoc
  • St. Estephe, St. Julien, Pauillac, or Margaux (these will most likely be the best in quality/most expensive)
  • Graves
  • Pessac-Leognan

Bordeaux blends from the right bank are almost always based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc. These wines in comparison tend to be super funky and old-worldy if you're not used to them...perfect for lamb! But if you're afraid of getting a wine that's too funky, maybe stick with left-bank. Look for wines from these right-bank regions:

  • St. Emilion
  • Pomerol

If you Are Afraid of Bordeaux...

I get it. If you're not ready to take on a Bordeaux blend to pair with lamb, there are plenty of other options. A Cabernet Sauvignon from anywhere in the world will pair well with this dish. General red blends will also do well as long as they are not ridiculously fruity/sweet. I also love a good Syrah or Grenache blend from the Rhone Valley in France for this meal.

Still confused on what to do? Feel free to leave a comment below or for a faster response, drop a note on the CaretoPair Facebook Page!

Hungry for More?

Classic Wine Pairing: Beef Bourguignon and Pinot Noir

Its about time we start looking at some classic food and wine pairings. Beef Bourgignon is a French staple and the fanciest version of a stew I've ever devoured. Read on to learn about this classic dish and what wine to serve alongside it!

Do you ever have a hankering to make a meal that really takes some elbow grease? A meal that takes you over a day to prepare, plus spend a few more hours of active kitchen time? Beef Bourgignon (made the right way!) is your best friend, if that's the case. By the time Andrew and I had this dinner on the table, I was tired, cranky, and ready to order a pizza. This meal was WORK. But, like most meals that that take time, this was worth it.

Beef Bourguignon homemade paired with a Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir). Classic wine pairing | CaretoPair.com
Beef Bourguignon homemade paired with a Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir). Classic wine pairing | CaretoPair.com

The Pairing

What we have here friends is a classic dish with a classic pairing. If you don't speak French (or just never made the connection), Beef Bourgignon comes from Burgundy--the small-ish, yet very powerful region in France famous for dijon mustard, creme de cassis, epoisses, and the most expensive wine in the world.

Yep that's right, Burgundy holds the award for the most expensive wines in the world (if you thought Bordeaux was the most expensive, you were close--that's the second most expensive region). I remember one day I had to deliver 2 bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti to a hotel guest. While holding the bottles I thought to myself "I have $30,000 in my hands...cost". I've never gripped a bottle of wine so hard in my life!

Okay back to the pairing...now theoretically, you're going to need 2 bottles of wine for this meal. One to drink (of course), and one to marinate the stew in for a whole day. Yes--beef drowned in wine for an entire day.

Now, the bottle that you use for the marinade should not be a $2 bottle. It should be a bottle of a wine that you would actually drink, so no cooking/jug wine! The classic type of wine to use would be a Burgundian Pinot Noir but those can get pricey. I'm pretty sure the cheapest one I found at Total Wine was $15 which wasn't too bad. If you don't want to go over $10, you can really use any red wine, but to keep this recipe authentic stick with a Pinot Noir.

On to the bottle you should DRINK with this (not so) beautiful Beef Bourgignon. Generally I think we assume big flavors from big meat, like beef, demand big wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Merlot. But for this pairing we keep it in the Burgundy family and serve Red Burgundy, aka Pinot Noir, with the meal.

Beef Bourguignon Paired with a Classic, Red Burgundy | CaretoPair.com
Beef Bourguignon Paired with a Classic, Red Burgundy | CaretoPair.com

Dani's Favorite (affordable) Red Burgundy Producers

  • Joseph Drouhin
  • Olivier LeFlaive
  • Faively
  • Bouchard
  • Evening Land

If you don't have access to a Burgundian Pinot Noir, an earthy pick from the Willamette Valley is a decent substitute. Try Domaine Drouhin or J. Christopher, if you can find it.

Boeuf Bourguignon Made the Classic Way, Plus the Perfect Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com
Boeuf Bourguignon Made the Classic Way, Plus the Perfect Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

I have had a big urge to feature some classic dishes on this website. I've been on Pinterest a bit too much lately (as if that's a thing) and as a result have been seeing way too many crazy, innovative recipes. While that's great and all, I'm going to remember that I am not an innovator myself. I like following recipes. Good Recipes. And I like pairing them with wine. That's what I'm good at. So, here is my favorite recipe for beef bourgignon courtesy of Anne Willan in her Country Cooking of France cookbook (which you should most definitely buy).

Classic Wine Pairing: Beef Bourguignon and Pinot Noir

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time:

24 hours

Cook time:

5 hours

Total time:

29 hours

Serves:

4-6

Recipe adapted from The Country Cooking of France Cookbook, Anne Willan.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless beef chuck
  • 1 lb boneless beef shank
  • vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Cups good-quality beef broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorn
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle of red wine (make it Pinot Noir!)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • 20-24 baby onions
  • 12 oz button mushrooms, quartered if large

Instructions

  1. A day before serving, marinate the beef. Cut the beef into 2-inch cubes and trim any excess fat off. Place into a deep bowl and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Pour the marinating wine over the meat and veggies and stir to mix. Add the garlic, peppercorns, and cloves on top. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, stirring once or twice.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Drain the marinated beef and veggies over a colander and bowl, capturing the wine from the marinade (but separating the liquids from the solids).
  3. Separate the pieces of meat and pat them dry with with paper towels. Heat 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil over high heat in a large dutch oven. Add the meat in batches, browning each about 4-5 minutes. Set to the side once browned and continue frying all the meat until completed.
  4. Add the drained vegetables to the pan and fry until they begin to brown, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour and while stirring continuously, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the reserved marinade wine to the pot and bring to a boil.
  5. After the wine has been boiling for a minute, add back in the meat and add enough beef broth to cover the contents of the pot. Bring back to a boil, then transfer to the oven and simmer until the beef is completely tender, 2 1/2-4 hours. Stir occasionally and add more broth if the sauce gets too thick.
  6. Meanwhile, make the garnish. Cook the bacon in a frying pan and allow to cool. Cut/slice the bacon into tiny pieces.
  7. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and add the baby onions. Saute over low heat, stirring often to make sure they color evenly, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
  8. Add the remaining butter to the pan with the mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside with the bacon and onions in a large bowl.
  9. When the beef is done, remove from the oven and lift them out of the stew with a draining spoon. Add them to the bowl with the garnish. Discard the herbs and any excess fat from the sauce.
  10. Strain the sauce over the beef and garnish pressing hard on the onions and carrots to extract as much juice as possible. Stir everything together, then put it all back in the dutch oven. Reheat over the stove for 5 to 8 minutes to blend the flavors.
  11. Finally, serve the beef bourguignon in bowls garnished with toasted croutes. (Simply toast some hearty bread, dip in melted butter, then dip into chopped parsley for presentation). No need to serve Boeuf Bourguinon over potatoes or any other carbohydrate--the stew itself will be very filling alone.

3.5.3208

Boeuf Bourguinon Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com
Boeuf Bourguinon Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com

Happy Pairing!

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Take-Out

My first time having "real" Chinese food was when I was a senior in high school. My friends took me to Panda Express. I know that this far from authentic Chinese fare, but it was the first Asian-inspired sensory experience my taste buds had ever gotten, and I was immediately in love.

Fast forward two years of living on a college campus and having Panda Express almost every day of my life, I had about enough of it. You know when you eat too much of something (you used to love) that you can't stand the thought of having any more? That happened with this chain. But I still love take-out. There's just something about all those sweet, sour, and salty flavors melding into one delicious meal.

The Pairing

So today I'm pairing take-out Chinese with wine. Don't get this mixed up with authentic Chinese cuisine, now. The two are very different. This post is for the sweet, fried, greasy take-out Chinese our taste buds love (even if our health does not). It can also be for homemade Chinese-take-out inspired dishes, like the ones I made for this post.

And the winning wine for this meal is....Riesling! Most wines clash with sweet and spicy flavors such as the ones we get in Chinese take-out. But an off-dry or medium-sweet Riesling is its best friend. Not only does the sweetness of Riesling match the sweetness of the food, it also calms the spice down from any sort of kung-pow chicken or hot and sour soup you may be including. I think what we love about Chinese take-out is all of the different flavors and textures we can have in one meal. Chinese food definitely is not boring. Riesling won't fight with the myriad of flavors; instead, it will cleanse your palette between each bite of deliciousness (and make you feel totally fancy).

When buying a Riesling to pair with your Chinese Take-Out, search for one that is off-dry to medium sweet. Look for "Qba", "Kabinett", or "Spatlese" on the label. Stay away from "late-harvest" or dessert-style Riesling (if it says beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese, or ice wine, it will be way too sweet for the meal). Do not drink dry Rieslings with Chinese food, either.

The Recipes

I'm totally cool with you ordering take out, sitting down in front of the TV with your honey and enjoying a bottle of Riesling. In fact, its possibly the best way to make your take-out fancy on a Friday night date-night in. But if you're in the mood to cook for a little bit, making your own Chinese take-out inspired meal will be amazing and very rewarding. For my spread, I made baked cream cheese wontons, beef and broccoli, orange chicken, hot and sour soup, and a side of white rice. The meal took me over an hour to make but it was soooooo delicious. I'm not sure Andrew and I will be ordering take out anymore...unless we are feeling lazy, of course. I'm telling you, cooking your own take-out inspired Chinese food at home is much more delicious than ordering out.

The Recipes we used:

Happy Pairing!

Alaskan Brewing Heritage Coffee Brown Ale Paired with Coffee-Rub Steak

Beer? Coffee? Steak? Yes please.

A few weeks ago, I received a treat in the mail.

It was the new "Pilot Series" release from Alaskan Brewery: a Heritage Coffee Brown Ale. Plus I got a packet of coffee beans from Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. (also from Juneau, Alaska) which were the same blend used to make the beer.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I have enjoyed some coffee stouts and porters in the past. But a coffee brown ale? I had never seen one before. I was immediately intrigued by this new style.

Andrew and I opened up the bottle to taste it. Since I'm not a coffee drinker, I didn't really know what to expect. Sometimes coffee stouts and porters accentuate coffee flavors so much that it turns out too roasted, too intense, and sometimes even on the edge of burnt and bitter.These attributes are usually too much for me. The Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale had none of these overpowering attributes. Because its a brown ale, everything is scaled back and the true essence of the coffee beans take center stage.  I was pleasantly surprised and never thought I would enjoy something so coffee-flavored before!

After doing a bit of research, I learned that Alaskan Brewing made the beer by roasting some of the malt for it in the coffee roaster used at Heritage Coffee company. Since malt roasts at a much lower temperature than coffee beans, they had to be very careful not to start a fire. Doing this clearly was well worth it!

The Pairing

I made Andrew go to the store and buy two more bottles of the Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale so we could play around with them. I wanted to pair our next bottle with a nice batch of brownies, but he had the idea of using the coffee beans to make a coffee-rub steak. Winner!

I often warn people about pairing flavors in drinks with the same exact flavors in food. For example, I once made some spicy tacos and paired them with a chile-flavored beer. On its own, the beer was amazing. But with the food, it didn't taste like anything. Quite often if you pair food and drinks together with too-similar flavors, they'll end up cancelling each other out.

I was afraid that would happen to this meal, but that was not the case! In fact, giving the steak a little coffee flavor with the rub accentuated the Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale just perfectly. Nothing about either was too overwhelming for its partner.

If you live in a state that carries Alaskan Brewery beers, I strongly suggest treating yourself to this Coffee Brown Ale! Like I said, I don't even drink coffee, yet I loved this beer. It goes great with steak but will also pair nicely with anything that you'd eat with coffee. Beer for breakfast, anyone?

Side note, this beer is a limited release so if you're not reading this in the fall/wintertime, it might not be available for purchase. But you can sub a different coffee-flavored beer in if you'd like.

Coffee Rubbed Steak with Alaskan Brewing Coffee Brown Ale | CaretoPair.com
Coffee Rubbed Steak with Alaskan Brewing Coffee Brown Ale | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

Andrew created this simple rub by grinding the coffee beans down to espresso and adding other ingredients to complement the steak. We didn't want to make things too spicy, which might contrast with the beer, so we kept the cayenne pepper low. If you prefer a bit more spice, feel free to add more cayenne to the rub. To cook your steaks, we suggest following our recipe for the reverse-sear method. Its the only way we make steak anymore because they turn out perfectly every time!

Rub recipe adapted from food.com.

Coffee-Rub for Steaks

Serves: 4 Steaks

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp finely ground espresso
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Coat your steaks on all sides with the mixture and rub in well.
  2. Follow our instructions for reverse-seared steak (link above) or cook normally to your own preferred method.

Happy Pairing!

What Wine to Pair with Steak--and the Reverse-Sear Cooking Method

how to make perfect steak in the oven! And what wine to pair with that steak | CaretoPair.com

Ready for a date night in? This steak wine pairing is surprisingly one of the easiest meals you can prepare to impress your honey. And great for beginners, too!

This is a relatively basic wine pairing. Some can get really confusing, but this one is pretty straight forward. Steak's best friend is Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. There are other great wines out there that will work with steak (like this awesome Chimichurri-Steak Wine Pairing I did), but Cabernet is happiest with the simplest of steaks. There's nothing quite like the bite of a juicy steak with the sip of a juicy cab.

The Pairing

Today's pairing might be specifically for Cabernet from the Napa Valley, but if you don't have one from there, that's perfectly fine. Great Cabs come from all parts of California. Washington makes some beautiful ones too. Get out of the US and there are delicious Cabernet Sauvignons grown everywhere: France, Italy, Australia, Chile...

But Napa Valley is the king of New-World Cabernet Sauvignon. There's just something about them--each sip tastes like you bit into a juicy ripe plum. Or blackberry, or black cherry. They are quite rich, with big structure and tannin that will stand up to the weight of the steak. Cabernet from anywhere will most likely work with this recipe, but Napa Cab will carry the complexity needed to match it.

Napa Cabernet Suggestions

There are over 400 wineries just in the Napa Valley alone today. So you've got a lot of choices! I have what seems to be a million favorites (which is impossible, I know), but if you're looking to purchase a more expensive bottle for a special celebration, here are my go-to's:

  • Inglenook (Cask or Rubicon, both amazing)
  • Schraeder (RBS is my favorite, but they're all amazing)
  • Trinchero
  • Robert Mondavi Winery (Reserve)
  • BV (esp. Georges de Latour)
  • Hall
  • Chappellet
  • Spottswoode
  • Bennett Family

Need something a little less expensive? I think the offerings from Franciscan Estate and Charles Krug are two of the best values in the market. If you need a bottle under $20, go outside of Napa. Washington and Chile have some great Cabs for the price.

Side Note: the ones I listed above can get pretty pricey. Find new favorites at the price point you're comfortable with, but generally expect to pay a little more for Napa Cab since there is such a high demand for it!

The Recipe

Now that you know what wine to open, its time to learn how to make steak...in the oven?? Its a crazy concept that even I was skeptical about the first time the hubby brought it up, but honestly, this is our new favorite way to cook steak. Previously, we were on the bandwagon of grilling it outside for a few minutes on each side. But sometimes it would overcook. And the steak always picked up that smoky grill taste, which is great occasionally, but not every time.

The reverse-sear method consists of cooking the steak internally first in a low-temperature oven. Then you just finish it off by pan-searing it on the stove. This method cooks the steak more evenly than if you were to first sear then place it into the oven, or simply grill it. And although you can put whatever seasonings you want on it, we prefer to keep it simple with just salt and pepper.

To make this recipe and pairing into a meal, cook up some garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts as an accompaniment. Enjoy your date night in with an incredible meal you cooked yourself! Happy Pairing!

Cooking a Steak in an Oven

Ingredients

  • Steak of your choice (ribeye, new york, filet, etc.) This method works best with a steak at least 1 1/2 inch thick
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 F
  2. Prepare your steak: Generously coat both sides of the steak with kosher slat and course black pepper. Be sure to get all edges of the steak as well.
  3. You can either place the steak directly onto the oven rack with a foil-lined baking sheet underneath, or place a steak on a cooling rack with the baking sheet directly under it. Either way, the steak needs to be on a rack to allow the heat to circulate around it correctly. Placing it directly on a baking sheet or pan will cause it to cook unevenly.
  4. Cook the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 120 to 125 F (for medium-rare). Depending on the thickness of your steak, the timing will vary. Be sure to check the steak as it progresses in cooking.
  5. After the steak has reached the minimal internal temperature, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. After the steak has been resting about 10 minutes, heat a cast iron pan over high heat and let if get VERY HOT. After the 15 minute of rest time place the steak in the hot, dry cast iron pan and sear between 60 and 90 seconds (Andrew says it depends on how frisky he's feeling).
  6. Flip the steak and sear the other side for an additional 60-90 seconds. Remove immediately from the pan and serve.

Happy Cooking! 

Rosé Paired with Lamb and Fresh Peach Salsa

Are you a lamb lover? Do you often prefer it on the menu over a boring steak? Does the thought of having that game-y, delicious, succulent meat drive you bonkers like it does to me? If you don't like lamb, I bet its because you haven't had a good one before. Or you expected it to taste like steak and couldn't get over its weird, old-tasting deliciousness. That's the thing about lamb. You have to embrace its gaminess. Its a good thing, I promise. I love a well-prepared lamb dish over almost everything else in this world. However, peach salsa is about the last thing I think about having with it. When I found this recipe, however, I just had to try it. And for you skeptical eaters of lamb out there, this is a great dish to give it another try, because that peach salsa packs a lot of different flavors to accompany the lamb.

The Pairing

I usually pair lamb with very earthy, old-world style reds (Bordeaux blends are the classic pairing for lamb). However, this is one of those recipes that proves that you can't pair wine and beer to food solely based on what type of meat you are eating. The peach salsa on this lamb completely changes the flavors of the dish--don't pair this with a Bordeaux blend, I beg you!

The peach salsa gives many different flavors to this dish which can be difficult to pair--sweetness from the peaches, acidity from the onions, spice from the chipotle chile....there's a lot going on in this otherwise-seemingly simple dish. When you have sweetness in a dish you can pretty much rule out all red wines--it'll just make the wine taste overly tannic and bitter. (Side note, this is why chocolate and wine DO NOT go well together, no matter how many things online you read about it.) White wine might not be the best bet either since you still get that gaminess from the lamb. What is your answer? Rosé, my friends.

Rosé drinks like a white while having subtle flavors of our favorite reds. They won't have any tannins, so you can safely pair it with sweet dishes like our lamb and peach salsa. Sweet blush wines that are often confused with rosé are out there, but you don't want to pair one of those with this dish. Keep the rosé you choose dry, meaning no residual sugar whatsoever in the wine. (Sweet Wine won't do any good for the lamb itself.)

 My Favorite Rosé Regions

  • Tavel, Rhone, France
  • Provence, France
  • Willamette Valley, Oregon (they've been making some great rosé out of Pinot Noir)
  • Spanish "Rosado" (great values)
  • Rosé from Argentina (often made from Malbec, also good value)

Other Beverages You Can Pair With This Dish

Wine (not really recommended--stick with my rosé suggestions)

  • Viognier
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Unoaked Chardonnay

Beer

  • Saison
  • Pilsner
  • Belgian Tripel

The Recipe

I discovered this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma "Weeknight Fresh + Fast" Cookbook. It was ridiculously fast and easy to make and had some great flavors I usually don't combine with lamb. Cilantro rice makes a nice accompaniment to this dish. Great for a spring or summer weeknight where nothing sounds better than some fresh grilled food and a glass of rosé. Happy Pairing!


Lamb and Fresh Peach Salsa

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 7 mins

Total time: 12 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb shoulder bone-in chops, 1 inch thick each
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp minced red onion
  • 3 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced with sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Instructions

  1. Rub each side of the lamb chops with cumin and cinnamon. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then brush with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, stir to combine remaining ingredients to make the salsa.
  3. Place lamb chops on an outdoor gas grill over high heat. Cover the grill and cook the lamb about 3 1/2 minutes each side for medium-rare.
  4. When finished, place each lamb chop on a plate and spoon the salsa on top. Serve immediately.

Chimichurri Steak Wine Pairing

A few years ago I had the bright idea of having "wine pairing" parties. Since most of my friends at the time did not know too much about wine or didn't care for it, I thought this would be a great way to introduce them to wines in a fun party atmosphere. In theory, this was a great idea. In reality, it was so unbelievably fun and crazy that I had to vow it would be the first and the last wine pairing party of its kind.

Lets put it this way. The year prior I had planned a "chocolate and wine" party where I supplied all the wine and food and just asked everyone to pitch in $5 for the wine (these were the post-college days where we were all still pretty poor). It was awful going around asking everyone for money that I desperately needed to pay for the wine. I told myself never again.

Now for this new party, I decided to have everyone just bring their own bottle of wine. The theme of the party was "Argentina" and thanks to a cool cookbook I found, Andrew and I made a slurry of different Argentinean dishes we had never tried. I gave everyone suggestions of buying malbec, cabernet sauvignon, or torrontes from Argentina under $20 so that at the party, everyone could try the different wines of Argentina.

The next morning, I counted 26 bottles of empty wine. 26! We only had 20 people come to that party. Woops! That's right, so much wine was drank that everyone at least had a whole bottle to themselves. As the blurriness from the prior night started to become clear, I remembered how much fun, yet how crazy, it got after a few hours. The problem with wine is that it doesn't fill you up like beer, so people having a great time don't really know when to stop. Oh, then I remembered, when the wine ran out that everyone bought, I started opening up my personal collection (which is always a bad idea). And then when I went to bed (yes there were still people over when I went to bed...classy), everyone went to the local bar and continued the party. Needless to say, despite the great time we had at this Argentina wine pairing party.... for safety's sake...I haven't planned any more.

Moral of the story: wine pairing parties can be really fun, but proceed with caution (I fully plan on doing some posts in the near future about how to have wine pairing parties).

Now that my hubby and I are all grown up and much classier than those days of  crazy drunken parties (yeah, right), I'd like to share with you this Argentinean staple that was quite the hit at our original party. Argentina is on my wish list of countries to visit; mainly for visiting wineries, but also to sample all of their delicious food. Apparently they eat beef, beef, and beef. And then more beef. Sometimes with a side of beef. And Chimichurri sauce, that delicious looking green condiment you're looking at in all of this post's pictures.

The Pairing

Luckily for you, steak has a lot of friends in the red wine world--cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, zinfandel, red blends...they all pair really well with steak. In the top picture I actually have a bottle of cabernet showcased. But when it comes to Argentinean-style steak with chimichurri on top, I suggest keeping up with the theme and pairing it with the country's most prized grape: malbec.

Malbec is a pretty purple grape; put it next to a glass of cabernet sauvignon and you'll see what I mean. Its big, fruity, and usually well-oaked. It's a heavy-bodied wine (think whole milk compared to water), so it needs a heavy meal to pair with it. Enter a juicy, peppered steak. Match made in heaven. Since the chimichurri has a great deal of garlic aroma and flavor to it, it pairs nicely with a fruit-forward red like malbec.

Other wines you can pair with Chimichurri Steak:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina makes some great ones at great values)
  • Merlot
  • Syrah/Shiraz
  • Zinfandel
  • Red blends (think: cab-based, syrah based)

In the Mood for Beer?

  • Amber ale will work best with steak
  • California Common (Anchor Steam)
  • Pilsner
Chimichurri Steak Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com
Chimichurri Steak Wine Pairing | CaretoPair.com

 The Recipe

I'm not used to putting sauce on my steak, but gosh-darn-it this was delicious. Chimichurri is based on garlic, parsley, and vinegar. Most recipes state to serve it with flank steak, but really, it can go on anything. The steak we used in the pictures was a NY strip and it was delish. Grill it, pan fry it, prepare your steak your favorite way and enhance it with this chimichurri sauce (and some malbec). Chimichurri can also go on chicken, pork, veggies...pretty much anything you want. And side note, if you're a garlic lover, this sauce will make you go crazy just by the way it smells. It was hard for me not to eat it before the steak was even done!

Ending Fun Fact: Argentineans eat their steak well-done. I was told by an American that lived there that he would have to tell restaurants to serve him his steak blue (raw) and even then it would still come out medium. Crazy!


Chimichurri Sauce

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup chopped flat-leaf parlsey
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano (optional but worth it)
  • 2 Tbsp minced onion or shallot
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp freshly sqeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until well mixed but not pureed. Serve on top of your favorite prepared steak.
  2. Enjoy with Argentinean Malbec or any red Argentinean wine!

Happy Pairing!

Vienna Lager Paired with Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Malty Vienna Lager Paired with Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Cinco de Mayo is merely three weeks away. (And so is...my wedding...when did that sneak up on me?) To commemorate the upcoming holiday, my blogging buddy Kristi from South of Vanilla and I are doing a few collaboration posts celebrating food and wine pairings of Mexico!

First up--We have her amazing Paleo-diet take on tacos, using sweet potatoes! Who knew cinco de mayo could be so healthy? Kristi started her blog about a year ago and focuses on recipes that reflect her primative, paleo-diet lifestyle. Now, I'm not usually one to follow diets (and unfortunately, beer, spirits and wine usually don't fit into the majority of diet regimens) but I'm a big supporter of the Paleo ideology. I'm a big fan of avoiding processed foods at all costs, and many of her recipes allow me to do that. Like this recipe--who would have thought to substitute tortillas for sweet potatoes?! Genius.

I've decided to pair this recipe with my favorite, easy-drinking Mexican beer. No, its not Corona...

Vienna Lager

Vienna-style lager. What is it? Have you ever even heard of it? It is actually a fairly common beer but has somehow been neglected by the craft beer world as a recognized style. Us beer snobs like to associate one commonly-known beer with it, and that would be the Mexican brand Negra Modelo. Why wouldn't we associate a beer from Austria with it?? Because, my friends, unfortunately this style of beer is nearly extinct in its homeland of Vienna. Thanks to the Mexicans, though, the style lives on!

Fun fact: the Hapsburg dynasty of Austria ruled Mexico for three short years. The Mexicans quickly kicked them out, but did like the Vienna-style beer, however, so kept it...along with the polka music. That's right, the Polka-sounding Mexican music we still hear today actually originated while Mexico was under Austrian rule. Isn't it cool how beer opens up a world of historical facts??

Although not as malty as the original Vienna lagers, Negra Modelo exemplifies the style in a very easy-drinking, modern-approach way. Vienna lagers have a rich malty aroma while keeping a clean lager character. They are usually amber or copper colored and have a great, aromatic, off-white foam head. On the palate, you really get that malty breadiness from the Vienna malt, sometimes with a toasty (but not roasted!) characteristic. Hops are there but are well-balanced. This is not a hoppy beer by any means. If you generally like Oktoberfest beers, this is another style to try.

The Pairing

This easy-drinking dark lager goes hand in hand with South of Vanilla's Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Now, essentially, this recipe is a healthy, paleo-version of the Mexican taco. I love pairing complex dishes like this one with dark beers. Especially malty ones, like Vienna Lager! The sweetness from the potatoes match with the sweetness in the malt. The balanced hops stand up to the ground beef, and altogether, the many flavors of the taco toppings aren't overpowered by any element in the beer. And thanks to the crisp, dry finish of the beer, each new bite of the taco will seem like your first. For this pairing, you don't want any beer that's TOO dark and roasty, which may overpower the more delicate flavors you get from the guacamole and salsa, so a caramel-toned beer like this really solves the equation. Plus, tacos with good Mexican beer? You shouldn't have it any other way! Click here to get the recipe!

Other Examples of Vienna Lager

Although you should DEFINITELY drink Negra Modelo with this Cinco de Mayo dish, there are other great examples of Vienna Lager to try out there:

  • Gordon Biersch Vienna Lager
  • Brooklyn  Lager
  • Saratoga Lager
  • Penn Pilsner
  • Old Dominion Aviater Amber Lager

Happy Pairings!

Beef Carbonnade Paired with Belgian Ale

Hello my libation-loving friends. Long time no blogged. If you're not a personal friend of mine, you probably don't know that I up and moved to Reno, NV. Yep, Andrew and I had about enough of Las Vegas and decided it was time for a new adventure. Of course, we couldn't have waited until AFTER our wedding, but that's how life works, right? We decided to have a new house, new city, new jobs, new marriage, new new new everything all within two months. I have been in Reno a week now, and already am at a noticeable peace with myself. Even though initially moving 8 hours away from home was ridiculously stressful, I have found in this last week, even with unpacking, starting my new job, having the in-laws in town, and not knowing what the hell I got myself into, that I am relaxed, I am happy, and I am calm. It is a feeling I haven't experienced in over 3 years--since Andrew and I started dating, in fact. So although my mind keeps asking "why again did we move to Reno?", my heart reassures me that although I don't know why it was the right decision, it was the right decision regardless.

So, lets get back to the blog now, shall we? With all this Reno talk, I must say there is one bittersweet thing I'm missing already--the Vegas weather. Reno is not bad, I PROMISE! Its actually beautiful out right now, I have the windows open (its a good 65 out right now). However, Reno is a mountain town. It gets COLD here at night (like, in the low 20's...lots colder than Vegas ever gets). So even though its March, I'm actually getting my first taste of winter.

The Recipe

So I was horribly unsurprised when I started craving this hearty dish from my favorite cookbook, The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. Seriously, go buy it. I have made this dish four times now (which could be considered a record for me repeating ANY recipe). This dish is simple and prepares like a stew, but without all the carrots and potatoes and stuff. In fact, all it has really is caramelized onions and beer. Doesn't that just sound amazing?! Trust me, my amateur-photography photos do no justice. Willan suggested serving it with Braised Red Cabbage and I couldn't agree more. Besides making the dish beautifully vibrant, it adds a harmonious sweetness to the beef. The dish is hearty, warming, and can be made ahead of time if you are entertaining some friends. If you can, save some for leftovers--this dish is even better the 2nd or 3rd day after the flavors have had time to meld together.

The Pairing

As with all recipes that call for beer or wine in the cooking, you should choose the same or similar beer to pair with it. However, this is not a set-in-stone rule. This dish calls for a full 750ml of beer (the same size as a standard bottle of wine). That's a lot of beer! Pick a dark or heavy Belgian-style ale such as a dubbel, Belgian Golden Strong or Dark Strong. These beers will have good maltiness, sweetness, and fruitiness that we're looking for in the dish. Stay away from Tripels since they could be too hoppy and overpower the caramelized onions.

Pair this dish with the same Belgian Ales as mentioned above. After all, this dish has its origins in that part of the world, so we might as well pay tribute! The great thing with Belgian Ales is that most of them have some level of sweetness, which will pair great with the sweetness in this dish. I tried both Red Chimay (Dubbel) and Blue Chimay (Belgian Dark Strong) with the Carbonnade and, although both were good in their own way, Andrew and I both preferred the blue. A dish like this needs a boozy (+7% abv if possible), malty, heavy beer to stand up to it. An easy rule of thumb is to make sure whatever beer you choose is dark. Again, stay away from hoppy beers like Tripels that will counteract the sweetness in the onions.

If you don't have access to Belgian Ales, or just want to try something different, a dark, malty robust porter would go great with this too. Choose a beer with chocolate notes and you won't be disappointed.

Pairing Suggestions

Belgian Dark Strong Ale

  • Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue)
  • Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emporer
  • Rochefort 8 or 10
  • Gulden Draak

Belgian Dubbel

  • Chimay Premier (Red)
  • Westmalle Dubbel
  • La Trappe Dubbel

American Abbey Ale

  • New Belgium Abbey Belgian Style Ale
  • North Coast Brother Thelonious
  • Unibroue Maudite

Wine Pairing

  • this truly is a dish meant for beer, but if you have a guest coming over that will only have wine, choose an off-dry Riesling (QbA or Kabinett would be fine)

 

Beef Carbonnade 

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 3 hours 30 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

Recipe adapted from Anne Willan's "The Country Cooking of France" Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless chuck/stew beef
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 large Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 3 Cups/750ml Dark Beer
  • 1 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or a few sprigs of fresh)
  • 1/2 baguette of bread (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Hot Dijon Mustard (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Trim any excess fat from the beef and cut into 2-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat butter and 1 Tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Place half of the beef cubes in the pot and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside; brown the remaining beef and set aside also.
  3. Add the remaining Tbsp of oil to the pan with the onions. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Reduce heat to low and cook until the onions are very soft, stirring often. This should take about 20 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and add the sugar. Continue frying until the onions are carmelized but not burnt, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the beer and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in the broth, nutmeg, parsley and thyme. Return the beef to the pan stir well. Bring back to a boil.
  6. Cover the dutch oven and cook in the oven until the beef is very tender, about 2 or 2.5 hours. Check the beef every 30 minutes and stir, adding any more broth if it gets too dry. At the end of cooking, the sauce should be very thick and concentrated.
  7. The dish may be cooled and stored in the refrigerator at this point for later use. To finish, simply reheat on the stove top (a longer reheating under low heat will yield the best result).
  8. Serve with toasted slices of baguette with dijon mustard if desired.

Happy Pairing! 

Hearty Beef Stew Simmered in Smoked Porter

Hearty Beef Stew Simmered in Smoked Porter. If you are not a fan of stew, this recipe will change your mind! |CaretoPair.com

There's nothing quite like a hearty, warming beef stew simmering on the stove on a cold day. This stew is the only one we make at our household simply because it is the best. An entire bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter goes into it, and then we serve another bottle of the same beer with the meal!

When you think of stew, you probably think of cold weather. But you probably don't think about beer, right? Beer is what makes this recipe so special. What stew wouldn't be good after its been simmered in beer for about 3 hours??

I will admit that prior to this recipe, I wasn't the biggest fan of stew. It's really not much to look at, right? When I started dating my husband he ranted and raved about his "Alaskan Smoked Porter Stew". I secretly dreaded the day he made me try it. Aaaaaand then...I tried it. It was amazing. And completely changed my mind about stew. Now we buy at least two bottles of Smoked Porter every year it is released so we can make this stew. (Its a specialty release from Alaskan Brewery, only available in the fall/winter.)

Ohhhh yeah, talk about greatness! While this stew is simmering for 3 hours, the smoked flavors from the beer meld with the veggies and beef in perfect harmony. While writing this post, Andrew told me that the original version of this recipe actually only calls for a porter, not necessarily a smoked porter. Which means my fiance is a genius for using Alaskan Brewery's Smoked Porter. In contrast to a regular porter, the smoked porter adds a deeper flavor: an extra meatiness, a heartiness that actually gives the stew substance. Its not just meat and potatoes anymore, its a smoky, peppery meal that gets better with every bite (and even better the day after--if you have any leftovers).

The Beer

Alaskan Smoked Porter is a seasonal release from the Alaskan Brewing Company (you guessed it...in Alaska!). Every year they bottle the beer, they mark the vintage on it--when breweries display the year like this, it usually means the beer is meant for aging (or just ages well. Drink that beer as soon as you want). Being a beer with a lot of powerful smokiness, this porter ages particularly well. Holding a bottle for a few years will mellow those flavors out and create a different drinking experience than just drinking it as soon as it becomes available. If you've never had smoked beer, it kind of tastes the way it sounds...smokey. But don't worry, it doesn't straight up taste like a campfire. Its a meaty beer with flavors of black pepper, chocolate, and bacon. There's a hidden sweetness in the beer too, kind of reminiscent of maple syrup. Just think about what these flavors do to the stew!

If you want to try this beer with something other than this stew, it pairs excellently with other meals with strong flavors. Think grilled or smoked meats or anything with bacon--the smokiness in the beer will just add to the smokiness of those foods. If you're afraid to try a smoked beer, then cooking with it is a great option since it will cook down and mellow out. There are other beer options to pair with this stew as well if you really don't like the sound of a smoked porter. Andrew opened up a belgian dubbel with it on our "leftovers" night. It was sweeter and fruitier than the smoked ale, which contrasted with the flavors in the dish in a good way.


Beef Stew Simmered in Smoked Porter

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 4 hours 30 mins

Total time: 4 hours 40 mins

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1 inch chunks if not already
  • 1 22oz bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter (or 2 12oz bottles of any other porter ale)
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz water
  • 4 Cups beef broth
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 Cup flour
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 red potatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large stew pot. When hot, sear the stew meat on all sides until brown.
  2. Remove meat from pot (leave butter, oil and drippings). Add the onion and cook until caramelized. Mix in the flour.
  3. Add the beef broth, beer, tomato paste, 8 oz of water, salt and pepper and return the beef to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer the stew for three hours.
  5. When the meat is tender after 3 hours, add the celery, carrots and potatoes. Simmer an additional 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Final Note: I did not receive compensation of any kind from Alaskan Brewery to write this post. Their Smoked Porter is simply our favorite beer to make the recipe with. All opinions are my own :)

Happy Pairing!