3 Easy Pasta Dishes When You Have No Idea What to Make For Dinner

We all have those nights where we haven’t made a plan for dinner, haven’t gone grocery shopping, and don’t really FEEL like cooking…before reaching for the phone to order a pizza, I’m saving you with 3 easy pasta dishes that use ingredients you should already have in your pantry. Dinner? DONE!

Recipe 1: Pasta in Tomato and Onion Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion, cut in half

  • 5 Tbsp Butter

  • 1 28-oz can of imported tomatoes (or 2 smaller cans is fine) (crushed or petite diced is best)

  • 1 lb Pasta such as Spaghetti or Penne

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese and Crusty Bread

Directions

  1. Add the crushed tomatoes, butter and onion to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and simmer VERY slowly for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season as you see fit with salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  3. When the sauce is done, add the pasta to the saucepan and stir. Serve with optional grated parmesan on top and crusty bread on the side.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Chianti, or Barbera


Recipe 2: Pasta in Cream and Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Pasta such as Linguine or Fettuccine

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream, divided

  • 2/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided plus more for serving

  • 2 Tbsp Butter (make it good quality for best result)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Optional: freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  2. Add 2/3 Cup of the heavy cream and all of the butter into a large saucepan and turn the stove to medium heat. Cook and stir together until the butter has just melted and the cream has thickened up. Turn off the heat.

  3. Add the drained pasta to the butter and cream and turn the heat to low. Toss the pasta until thoroughly coated. Add the remaining 1/3 Cup heavy cream, the 2/3 Cup Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. If you have nutmeg, grate just a pinch over the pasta.

  4. Serve with grated Parmesan on top.

Wine Pairing: Oaked Chardonnay


Recipe 3: Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Pasta, such as Spaghetti or Angel Hair

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, more to taste

  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

  • Juice of 1 Lemon

  • 1/2 Cup reserved cooking liquid from the cooked pasta (feel free to substitute chicken stock or white wine)

  • a Handful of Spinach

  • Grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

  • Optional: Lemon Wedges for serving

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the cooked pasta, the lemon juice, the reserved cooking liquid, and spinach. Stir until the spinach wilts

  4. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on top and lemon wedges for extra acidity (optional)

Wine Pairing: Unoaked Chardonnay (like Chablis), Pinot Grigio, Sparkling Wine

pasta dinner pin.png

Scallops in Lemon Cream Sauce Paired With Chardonnay

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you might agree with me that Valentine’s Day is hands down the WORST night of the year (hello too many reservations and 2-tops! #restauranttalk).

So ever since I’ve began dating, I’ve never bothered to go out on Valentine’s Day. Instead, Andrew and I cook a nicer-than-usual meal at home, open up some wine, and enjoy our night together.

This year I’m sharing with you an incredibly easy date-night meal you can make at home whether its V-day or not! These scallops in lemon cream sauce come together in under 10 minutes and take hardly any skill at all (in case you’re new to cooking!). They also require minimal ingredients so overall, compared to going to a restaurant, you’ll be saving lots of money.

Remember to complete the meal with mashed potatoes and a salad!

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 pound scallops

  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced

  • salt and black pepper to taste

  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine

  • 1 Cup heavy cream or half and half

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • chopped chives for garnish

Directions

  1. Prepare side dishes and measure out ingredients prior to beginning since this meal comes out FAST!

  2. Thaw frozen scallops in cold water and pat dry with paper towels right before cooking.

  3. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure the pan is well heated, the add the scallops. Sear for 3 minutes on one side until golden brown, then flip and sear for another 2 minutes. Transfer scallops to a plate.

  4. Turn the heat down a bit, then melt 2 Tbsp of butter into the same pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  5. Add the wine and simmer until the wine reduces by about half.

  6. Turn the heat to low, then add the cream and stir until well thickened. Add the lemon juice, stir, then add the scallops back into the pan.

  7. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

How to Pair Beer With Enchiladas

Hey guys! I'm so excited to share with you today some footage from last weekend's camping trip in the Sierras. Since I'm trying to make as much content as possible, why not make a video of what we ate and drank?

So I give you, Dinner and Drinks, camping edition.

Andrew and I like to go all-out when it comes to eating while camping, but that doesn't mean we want to spend hours cooking (unless that means sitting around a campfire while your food cooks!). So prepping ahead is key.

This was the first time I made this enchilada recipe, and it was very easy to prep at home and then just assemble in camp. We just cooked them on the stovetop, but if you're making these while camping, feel free to use a grill or a dutch oven in the campfire, whichever you prefer. The meat is already cooked prior to camp so you basically just need to warm everything up and melt the cheese!

Check out the video for some fun camping footage:

The Pairing

To me, the best beer to pair with Mexican fare like enchiladas is American Pale Ale, which is a snappy, refreshing beer that showcases the flavors of Cascade hops. Pale Ales have a fresh, citrusy quality (from the hops!) that match the spices in dishes like enchiladas. They are also fairly bitter, which will cut through the fattiness of all the cheese as well.

I brought along Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on our camping trip, but feel free to use any American Pale Ale you prefer. If you can't find any Pale Ale, American IPA will also work nicely, although since it is more bitter and has less FLAVOR from the hops, it is not my first choice. But then again we were camping, so I wouldn't have been too picky on any beer I drank with dinner. Cheers and happy pairing!


Camping Enchiladas

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
  • 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can refried beans
  • sour cream (for topping)
  • salsa (for topping)

At Home:

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add diced chicken and green chiles, season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked completely through. Remove from heat. If making for camping, let cool and store in a container in the cooler until ready to use.

At Camp:

1. Lightly oil a cast iron pan or dutch oven. Place some of the chicken mixture, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese into a tortilla, then roll up and place in the pan.

2. Continue filling remaining tortillas (we ate 2 per person and were STUFFED!) then place, rolled up, into a line in the pan. top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Any remaining beans may be heated separately and served on the side.

3. Place pan over medium-high heat on a grill or stovetop. To make the cheese melt quicker, place foil on top. If using a dutch oven in a campfire, place near hot coals...the enchiladas will be done in about 15 minutes.

4. Serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped onion, cilantro, or whatever other toppings you desire!

beer enchiladas pin.jpg

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!

4 Wines to Have on the Thanksgiving Table

It's almost that time to wake up early, watch the parade, make the pumpkin pie, and decorate the table for Thanksgiving! I look forward to this day every year not only for the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes (potatoes are my favorite) but because its the day that I can put multiple wine glasses at each place setting, open a ton of bottles, and force my family to try everything while I enthusiastically shout out what wine to try with which dish (it really is a dream come true). Just kidding, I don't force anyone to drink wine. But it is pretty awesome getting to taste each wine with the side dishes and having those "aha!" moments where something works really well.

With that, I give you my top 4 wines to have on your Thanksgiving table this year and every year after this. Since you'll hopefully have plenty of people over to drink 4 bottles of wine, this is a great way to get variety onto the table and avoid buying multiple bottles of the same wine. Woohoo!

What wine to do you pair with Thanksgiving dinner? I say, pair 4 of them! Here are the top 4 wines that must be on your Thanksgiving dinner table | Lessons in Libations

1. Sparkling Wine

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with sparkling wine?! Not only are bubbles great for the holidays, but they also pair with the many flavors of the meal. Each time you take a sip of sparkling wine, the bubbles scrub your tongue clean, giving you a fresh palate for the next bite of food you take. With all the flavors going on in Thanksgiving side dishes, sparkling wine will help cleanse your palate.

You have lots of choices when it comes to bubbles, depending on your budget. Cava, Prosecco, Champagne...all good. My biggest piece of advice, however, is to spend at least $10 on that bottle of bubbly. Any less, and you risk the bottle being force-carbonated which might give you a nasty hangover for Black Friday. (And nobody wants that).

Dani's Picks:

  • Nino Franco Prosecco Brut $
  • Freixenet Brut $
  • Roederer Estate Brut Rosé $$
  • Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut $$$

2. Riesling

Riesling is an absolute MUST at the Thanksgiving table! There are lots of sweet flavors in the dishes, so you need a sweet wine to balance them out. However, don’t go buying late-harvest, dessert-style Rieslings as they are way too sweet and heavy to pair with dinner. Instead, opt for a Kabinett Riesling from Germany or a domestic off-dry example. These wines are great pairings for Thanksgiving because the sweetness of the wine matches the sweetness in the food and won't overpower even the lightest dishes.

Dani's Picks:

  • Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Mosel, Germany $
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley, Washington $
  • Dr. Loosen "Blue Slate" Kabinett Mosel, Germany $$
  • Elk Cove, Willamette Valley, Oregon $$

3. Beaujolais

Thanksgiving is my favorite time to drink Beaujolais. It is actually the first red wine I think of when preparing my wine list for the big day. I partly enjoy it so much with this holiday because I never seem to drink it any other time of the year, even though it's a great little wine with a very small price tag. A light red wine made from the gamay grape, Beaujolais boasts vibrant flavors of bright red fruit and even a bit of candied "grapeiness". Its a crowd-pleaser, as usual sweet-wine drinkers even warm up to it, and it pairs incredibly with Thankgsiving. You can usually find a cheap Beaujolais under $10, but for a few dollars more, you can get the best of the best, Cru Beaujolais. I say if you get one wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner, make it this one. Note: Beaujolais Nouveau hits stores in November each year, so it should be very easy to find.

Dani's Picks:

  • Any Beaujolais-Villages
  • Any Beaujolais that says "Morgon", "Brouilly", or "Moulin-a-Vent"
  • Favorite producers: Joseph Drouhin and Georges DuBoeuf

4. Pinot Noir/Red Burgundy

Like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir is a great wine for Thanksgiving because it is light, fruity, and low in tannin. Thanksgiving dishes are not heavy  so these light-bodied wines will complement, rather than overpower, them. Personally I suggest a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley or Burgundy as these are usually the lightest and have a bit more earthiness to them than their California counterparts.

My Picks:

  • Erath, Willamette Valley, Oregon $
  • Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon $$
  • Flowers, Sonoma Coast, California $$
  • Any red burgundy--look for Savigny-Les-Beaune or Nuits-St. Georges for good values

Other Favorites of Mine

Gewurztraminer or Cabernet Franc are also great additions to the Thanksgiving table if you are feeling a bit more adventurous. Just stay away from big wines like Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, unless you have guests coming over that will not settle with anything else (in which you should make them bring their own wine. Just saying.)

What are your favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner? Let me know in the comment

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.

 

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles with Sausage and Festbier

Here's a new recipe for tonight--these sweet, buttery sauerkraut noodles are a great change to your typical pasta dish. They're ready in under 30 minutes! Serve with some sausage and a big glass of festbier to celebrate Oktoberfest at home!

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles with Beer Brats and Oktoberfest--this is a super-easy weeknight meal that is a good change from your usual pasta! Serve with any kind of sausage and a big glass of Oktoberfest beer to make it a complete meal | CaretoPair.com

Somehow its the end of September, Oktoberfest is over in 2 days, and I haven't shared any beer pairings for the occasion yet. Where. does. time. go??

You may or may not know this already, but Oktoberfest beers, recently somewhat changed to be called "Festbiers" are my favorite beers of all time.

Big statement, I know.

But it's true, and why? Because Festbier is the absolute best beer to pair with food. Seriously. 

Festbier, formerly known as Oktoberfest, or Marzen, is the best beer to be in your fridge this fall. It pairs with everything, including this recipe for sweet buttery sauerkraut noodles and sausage! | CaretoPair.com

Festbier/Oktoberfest/Marzen

Festbier, Oktoberfest, and Marzen are the three styles of beer commonly associated with the Oktoberfest celebration held in Munich every year. They are all pretty similar, but can still have some differences. For example, the "Oktoberfest" style that is actually served at Oktoberfest seems to be getting lighter and lighter every year. Marzen is the traditional style that Oktoberfest beers derived from, and festbiers are what we call any beer commemorating those beers served at the festival. Confusing!

What these three beers mostly have in common is their color and maltiness. Festbiers can be light or dark, but in general we like to see them the color of this beauty in my pictures today...golden with some amber highlights. The flavor is exactly what you'd expect from this color as well. Festbiers are the perfect balance between malty, biscuity sweetness supported by a crisp, clean hopped finish. They go great with everything...literally...because they stand up to most foods but won't overwhelm them. Any food you associate with Germany will pair excellently with Festbier (like pretzels, sausage, mustard, cheese...) but these also go great with bar food like burgers, sandwiches, and even salads. If there's one beer to have in your fridge this season, it's Festbier!

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles with Beer Brats and Oktoberfest--this is a super-easy weeknight meal that is a good change from your usual pasta! Serve with any kind of sausage and a big glass of Oktoberfest beer to make it a complete meal | CaretoPair.com

My Favorite Oktoberfest/Marzen/Festbiers

  • Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen
  • Firestone-Walker Oaktoberfest
  • Victory Brewing Festbier
  • Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest (I was pleasantly surprised by this one, amazing)
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen

The Recipe

Where did this recipe come from? My momma! Since I grew up in the midwest with a Polish heritage, these kinds of dishes are the ultimate comfort food for me. I'm pretty sure these buttery, sauerkraut noodles originally came from the traditional Polish dish called Haluski that uses cabbage, but personally I prefer the tang that sauerkraut gives the dish (It's quicker to make, too!).

This dish isn't much to look at but oh-is-it-good. I served it with brats that I simply boiled in beer, but you can serve it with any sausage you prefer or just alone. My mom usually brings them to potlucks and family gatherings because it can easily feed a crowd. All of the ingredients are pantry-staples (or am I the only one that readily keeps sauerkraut at home?) so you can easily whip this up on a night where you just don't feel like trying too hard. Within 30 minutes you'll have a beer in your hand and food in your tummy.

Side note: I used artisan-type wide-and-flat egg noodles for this dish, but if you can't find something like that, any egg noodle (including the curly kind!) will work just fine.

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles

Author: Dani 

Prep time: 3 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 23 mins

Serves: 6 big servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb wide egg noodles
  • 8 oz butter, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced (not chopped)
  • 1 14.5 oz can of sauerkraut (bavarian-style, if available)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the egg noodles. Cook until the noodles are soft, then drain. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile in a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and stir. This will essentially become the "sauce" for the noodles. Cover and cook the butter and onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are nice and soft (about 10-15 minutes). If you wish, you can raise the heat of the pan for the last few minutes to brown the butter and onions a bit, but make sure the butter doesn't burn or evaporate.
  3. Once the onions have finished cooking, pour the drained sauerkraut and noodles into the pan. Stir until noodles are coated and add more butter if needed. Season generously with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Serve with beer brats or any kind of cooked sausage and a stein of festbier!
Festbier, formerly known as Oktoberfest, or Marzen, is the best beer to be in your fridge this fall. It pairs with everything, including this recipe for sweet buttery sauerkraut noodles and sausage! | CaretoPair.com

What Wine to Pair with Grilled Ribs

Fire up the grill and pop that cork! Wine and grilled ribs will work beautifully together as long as you've picked the right wine. Accompany it with homemade coleslaw and potato salad, or any of your favorite sides that aren't too sweet.

Lots of red wines pair perfectly with grilled ribs. Try Zinfandel, Syrah, or even Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit CaretoPair to find out more!

Do you retire your grill as soon as its not "grilling weather" anymore? Or in your world, is it always grilling weather? I feel like this time of year as fall creeps in quicker and quicker, we are trading barbecues and grilled dinners for pot roasts and soups...but I've decided to squeeze in one last recipe this season!

So let's get one thing straight...today I am not pairing wine and "barbecue". I am pairing wine with grilled ribs. What's the difference? True barbecue is when meat has been slow cooked for hours and is usually slathered in sweet, sticky sauce. Sweet foods and dry wines equal disaster, so please don't open a bottle of wine when you've made true barbecue. Its actually one of my greatest pet peeves when I see barbecue and wine paired together.  More info. 

Charred, Grilled Ribs and Wine? Yes. It works. Check out this wine pairing we did with grilled ribs and coleslaw | CaretoPair.com

The Pairing

Today we're talking about Grilled ribs, which are not slow-cooked all day like barbecued ribs, but cooked quickly over an open flame. Grilled meats all have delicious, toasty, charred, slightly burnt flavors in them which work perfectly with wine and beer.

What kind of wine? The biggest reds you've got! There are many wines here that will pair nicely, but in particular, I suggest opening a bottle of California Zinfandel with grilled ribs. Zinfandel is big on flavor and alcohol, which will stand up to the richness of grilled ribs. I like to call Zinfandel a "fruit bomb" because it can have flavors anywhere from raspberry and black cherry to black plum, blackberry, and raisin. Often the fruit character is jammy or stewed, which contrasts incredibly well with the grilled flavors of the ribs.

And although its a common misconception that Zinfandel is "spicy", it does go excellently with foods that have a little spice going on in them. Think about spices you encounter in dry rubs.. those go great with fruity zinfandel.

Other wines that will work great with grilled ribs include Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah (especially those from the Rhone Valley in France) or red blends. I suggest these because they generally have higher alcohol, bigger bodies, or both that will stand up to the big flavors in grilled ribs. Grenache and Syrah often carry black pepper flavors which will also pair excellently.

Lots of red wines pair perfectly with grilled ribs. Try Zinfandel, Syrah, or even Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit CaretoPair to find out more!

Some Wine Suggestions to Serve with Grilled Ribs:

Zinfandel

  • Terra d'Oro Zinfandel, Amador County $
  • Ravenswood Zinfandel, any appellation $-$$ (found in most stores)
  • Francis Coppola Director's Cut Zinfandel, Dry Creek $$
  • Inglenook's Edezione Pennino Zinfandel, Napa Valley $$$

Syrah/Grenache

  • Torres Sangra de Toro Garnacha, Spain $
  • Chapoutier Belle Rouge Cotes du Rhone, France $$
  • Qupe Syrah, Central Coast $$

Cabernet Sauvignon/Red Blends

  • Spring Valley Vineyards "Frederick", Walla Walla, WA $$$
  • Cline Family Vineyards "Cashmere", California $$
  • Gamble Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $$

So fire up that grill one last time this season and enjoy with a big glass of red wine! Happy Pairing!

Lots of red wines pair perfectly with grilled ribs. Try Zinfandel, Syrah, or even Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit CaretoPair to find out more!

Looking for a Pairing for Sweet Barbecued Ribs? Click here.

Thirsty for More? Check out these Pairings:

What Wine to Pair with Chicken Wings

What Wine to Pair with Roast Leg of Lamb

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Takeout

The Best Beers to Pair With Chicken Wings

This beer pairing may be a no-brainer since wings and beer go together like PB and J. But beers come in all shapes and flavors, so some will accentuate particular wings moreso than others. Read on to find out which beer is best with your favorite chicken wings.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

You may remember this post I did about a month ago on which wine to pair with wings...which is a difficult pairing because wine and wings are not best friends like beer and wings.

There I said it. Sorry, wine lovers. Beer wins this round. Can you imagine a night at the bar with your favorite basket of wings without a cold, delicious beer alongside it? (But not too cold, because icy cold beer has no flavor [wink wink].) Beer naturally works well with wings because the carbonation cools down the spicy flavors in whatever wing sauce you've got going on. If the wings are sweet, the malt in the beer will also complement that. Whether you want to accentuate the spiciness of the wings or calm it down is another story though. Depending on if you can handle the heat or not determines which beer you should have alongside.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If You Like It Hot and Want It Hotter

...then go with a hoppy beer. Hops in beer actually accentuate the heat in foods, so the IPA you have next to your wings will actually make those wings taster hotter. So for people like me that can't handle the heat, IPAs are a no-no. But people like my husband? Bring on the heat! The hoppier your beer, the more it will accentuate the spiciness of the wings, so here's a list of beers to pick out going from medium to most-hoppy (with my suggestions in parenthesis):

  • Hoppy Lager (Anchor Lager, Sudwerk California Lager)
  • American Amber Ale (Speakeasy Prohibition Ale)
  • American Pale Ale (Victory Headwaters, Sierra Nevada)
  • India Pale Ale (Firestone Union Jack, Great Basin Icky IPA)
  • Double IPA (Harpoon Leviathon, Dogfish Head 90 Minute)

If You Eat Hot Wings But Want to Cool Down With Beer

...then go for a malt-focused ale or straightforward lager. If hops aren't at the forefront of the beer profile then surely the malt will be, and malt will ease the heat of those chicken wings so you can cool down. These are my favorite beers to pair with spicy wings because I like to get some spice but then cool down from the refreshing swig of beer. Basically, malt (the grains in beer) provide the sweetness in beer, which is balanced by the addition of hops. Beer that doesn't have a lot of hops in it will therefore be more malty, which will cool down the spice in hot chicken wings. This includes all of those mass-market American Lagers too, so don't worry about pairing one of them with your wings (I give you permission!). Here are some of my suggestions of beer to cool down your wings:

  • Oktoberfest/Marzen (Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen, Victory Festbier)
  • English Brown Ale (Newcastle, Sam Smith's)
  • Pilsner (North Coast Scrimshaw, Firestone Pivo)
  • Hefeweizen/Wheat Ale (New Belgium Snapshot, Weihenstephaner)
  • Kolsch
Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If you Like Sweet or Tangy Wings

If spice just ain't-yo-thang, don't worry--beer will still keep you covered. Any of the above beers in the "cool you down" category will work just fine, but you also have some other options. Belgian ales in particular are going to be your friend with sweet wings, because almost all of them have some sort of fruity spiced component going on. Whether its the dark fruit flavors  like plum, raisin and dried cherry you get in a Belgian dubbel or the citrus, orangy, peppery character coming from a Belgian tripel, all these flavors will do well with your sweet wings. Here are just a few that will work great:

  • Belgian Dubbel (Chimay Red, Affligem)
  • Belgian Tripel (Westmalle, Unibroue La Fin du Monde)
  • Belgian Dark Strong (Chimay Grande Reserve, Rochefort 8)
  • Belgian Golden Strong (Duvel, North Coast Pranqster)
  • Saison (Saison Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin)
  • Sour Ales (Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie)
The best list of beers to pair with chicken wings, whether you want them to heat things up or cool things down | CaretoPair.com

Isn't that a lot of beer to choose from?! Holy Moly beer and chicken wings like each other. Bottom line: enjoy the two together and don't think too hard about the pairing...most beers are going to naturally work. Just know that hoppy beers will accentuate the spice in your wings and malty beer will cool the spice down. Happy Pairing!

Thirsty for More? Try Out These Beer Pairings:

Caesar Salad + Helles Lager

What Beer to Pair with Fish and Chips

Beef Carbonnade + Belgian Dubbel

The BEST Gazpacho I've Ever Had, Paired With Rosé

Gazpacho is a cold soup that couldn't be easier to make during the heat of summer. Pair it with a chilled glass of rosé and a cheese plate for an easy, relaxed meal.

This homemade gazpacho is seriously the BEST I've ever had. Served with a glass of rosé wine and cheese plate, this makes an easy, relaxed summer meal |CaretoPair.com

School may be in session already (really Reno? Beginning of August?), but summer is definitely not over, my friends. Its a scorching 97 degrees today. So let's not get ahead of ourselves and start dreaming about hot apple cider and pumpkin lattes. We've still got time to enjoy the warm weather that we'll be missing in a few months.

So let's talk cold soup. Sounds a little strange, right? My favorite chilled soup, Gazpacho, doesn't really require any time in the kitchen...or the stove. After I'm done making it (in the short 25 minutes that it takes), I almost feel guilty that I've technically made soup...I get a sort of "that's it?" mentality. Yes, that's it, and with a little time in the fridge to meld the flavors together, this soup erases any sort of "cold soup" reservations you may previously had.

This homemade gazpacho is seriously the BEST I've ever had. Served with a glass of rosé wine and cheese plate, this makes an easy, relaxed summer meal |CaretoPair.com

The first time I ever had gazpacho was at Mon Ami Gabi: a very famous restaurant in Las Vegas (and Chicago) that I used to work at. I never had cold soup before and had that same reservation we all have before trying it for the first time. It was the best soup I'd ever had (no joke!) and I made sure to have some every time our chef let me sneak it out of the kitchen.

Although my days working at Mon Ami Gabi are over, I've still craved Gazpacho every summer. I tried numerous recipes claiming to be "authentic Spanish Gazpacho" and was constantly disappointed. All I wanted was the Mon Ami Gabi version. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I apparently grew a brain and googled "Mon Ami Gabi Gazpacho" and voila! The recipe showed up right on page 1. Thank you, internet.

This homemade gazpacho is seriously the BEST I've ever had. Served with a glass of rosé wine and cheese plate, this makes an easy, relaxed summer meal |CaretoPair.com

The Pairing

My husband and I usually eat dinner pretty late (almost always after 8pm, which is late in my book) and the night I made this gazpacho was no exception. I was getting ready to sit down in front of the TV with this soup to watch a movie with him, but he suggested that we sit outside and watch the sunset.

What?! Is that romance I detect?!

What an amazing idea that was. We served up a cheese plate, put a bottle of rosé on ice, and enjoyed our gazpacho while the sun disappeared and the stars came out. Then we sat for hours just sipping on our wine and enjoying the beautiful summer evening. This pairing today goes beyond what wine goes best with the soup--its about what atmosphere to enjoy with the soup. A cold soup like gazpacho goes best while enjoying the last days of summer...and a cheese plate, and a chilled bottle of rosé. Sometimes we all need a little reminder to go beyond our normal dinner routine, and this was mine. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a bowl of gazpacho as much as I enjoyed it that evening.

This homemade gazpacho is seriously the BEST I've ever had. Served with a glass of rosé wine and cheese plate, this makes an easy, relaxed summer meal |CaretoPair.com

So...pair this soup with a chilled bottle of rosé. And a cheese plate, to complete the meal. Not many other wines will pair well with gazpacho because it has tricky flavors like jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. But whenever other wines can't stand up to certain flavors, rosé comes in to save the day. It drinks like a white but has characteristics of a red, which makes rosé very versatile. Make sure you pick one that is dry to off-dry (so no white zinfandels, you hear?). Almost every wine-producing region in the world makes rosé, so feel free to be adventurous and pick something new. I had the Belleruche Cotes du Rhone from Chapoutier (from the Rhone Valley in France) with this meal and it was fabulous.

In the mood for beer? You have lots of choices with gazpacho. Pick a light, slightly fruity beer like a Belgian wit or German Hefeweizen, which will pick up on the acidity from the soup and complement the refreshing nature of the dish. Pilsner will also work nicely, just make sure the beer is not too bitter/hoppy which will overwhelm the gazpacho.

The Recipe

As I said prior, I can't take credit for this gazpacho as it is a recipe shared by Chef John Simmons of Mon Ami Gabi. My biggest advice is to use fresh, farmer's market-type heirloom tomatoes which will give much better flavor than those under-ripe tomatoes you buy at the grocery store. Make the soup in the afternoon and let it chill for a few hours before serving--that gives the soup some time to meld and intensify the flavors. The soup is even better the day after as leftovers!

The BEST Gazpacho I've Ever Had, Paired With Rosé

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 4 large bowls

Recipe adapted from 86lemons.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of day-old French bread (or slice bread, if you don't have), torn into pieces
  • 2 1/2 Cups tomato juice
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed

Instructions

  1. Place the torn pieces of bread in a bowl. Pour 1 1/2 Cups of tomato juice, 1/4 Cup olive oil, and the cider vinegar over the bread and stir to combine.
  2. Blanche the tomatoes: fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Using a sharp knife, make "X" slits onto the bottom of each tomato which will make the skin easy to remove. Once the water in the pot is boiling, plunge the tomatoes into it for about 1 minute. Immediately drain the tomatoes and cover with cold water.
  3. When the tomatoes have cooled enough to touch, peel off the skins. Cut them in half and remove the seeds. Place in a blender.
  4. Next, peel the cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds/insides with a spoon and cut into chunks. Cut off the top of the red peppers and remove the inside seeds. Cut into smaller pieces, then add, along with the cucumbers, to the blender.
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of tomato juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil to the blender, then the salt, cilantro, chopped onion, parsley, and garlic cloves. Blend all ingredients together. I had to pulse the blender quite a bit and stir things around quite a lot to accomplish this task.
  6. At this point, my blender was pretty full, so I poured half of the blended mixture into a separate bowl.
  7. Add a few pieces of bread to the blender and blend to thicken the mixture. Continue adding the bread and any residual tomato juice/olive oil until the soup has thickened. Finally, add the jalapeno and blend until incorporated. Soup should be a bit chunky, not watery.
  8. If you had to remove some of the soup because your blender was too small, pour out some of the blended soup into the same bowl, stir, then add some back into the blender and blend. Continue to pour out/return to the blender until the soup in the bowl and the blender have combined and are consistent.
This homemade gazpacho is seriously the BEST I've ever had. Served with a glass of rosé wine and cheese plate, this makes an easy, relaxed summer meal |CaretoPair.com

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

These tacos take shrimp ceviche from appetizer to full-blown dinner! No need to turn on the oven...or even the stove. Pair them with a crisp Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to complete the meal.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

Welcome to the dog days of summer, winos! Today is the first day of August and I have been feeling the heat...because this is the first season I've spent without air conditioning in a long time.  Our house has a swamp cooler that instantly makes the house freezing cold, which isn't exactly my cup of tea. So its been a battle deciding which is better--wearing close to nothing and still feeling too hot, or having to put on a sweater in the middle of summer because that damn swamp cooler is blasting in my face...

Needless to say, I've been blaming the heat as an excuse not to do any cooking in the kitchen. But we still gotta eat, right? Enter: a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and shrimp ceviche tacos. Dinner. DONE.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

Have you ever made ceviche before? There are many different variations, but my favorite is made with fresh shrimp.  You do not cook the shrimp--simply soak it in fresh lime juice for about 15 minutes which will "cook" it. If you are too afraid to eat raw shrimp, then go ahead and throw them on the stove for a few minutes (and risk heating up your house!). But remember that millions of people have eaten ceviche with raw fish for many, many years. And you gotta live a little dangerously every once in a while, right? Just use fresh, good-quality shrimp and take that risk!

The Pairing

If you have ever taken a wine class with me before, you may remember that one of my favorite summer wines is Sauvignon Blanc. In particular, I love Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Not that I have anything against other countries that produce this little wine, I just think I found the sweet spot with examples from Chile.

Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, crisp and refreshing dry white wine that features aromas and flavors of tropical and citrus fruits. Most usually have a "green" character to them too, with notes of bell pepper or jalapeno (one of the easiest indicators when you're guessing what kind of wine you have in front of you).

Sauvignon Blanc from cool climates, like New Zealand, have ripping acidity and "unripe" fruit flavors. Ones from warmer climates, like the USA, will be heavier-bodied and "riper". I like to think of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc as right in the middle: they have crisp acidity and a great balance between ripe and unripe fruit flavors. They also have a great price tag. Chilean wines are a great value to the American customer since you can easily find a bottle under $15.

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc makes an amazing pairing to shrimp ceviche tacos| CaretoPair.com

So for my shrimp ceviche taco dinner, I chose the Gran Reserva Series Riberas Sauvignon Blanc from Concha y Toro to serve alongside it. This wine had everything I wanted in a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc: crisp acidity that stood up to the high acidity in the ceviche, refreshing lime and grapefruit notes that went alongside the flavors in the tacos, and a clean finish. This wine in particular comes from the Colchagua Valley (within Rapel Valley) which is known for its cool climate and perfect for the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Concha y Toro is not a hard wine to find in wine shops, but if you don't have access to it, any Chilean Sauvignon Blanc will go great with this meal.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

I really tried to be creative with this one, guys, but at the end of the day, you gotta keep things classic and simple! I love ceviche so much that I wanted to make it into a main course for dinner. Usually we serve ceviche as a salsa with corn chips, so instead I served them street-taco style in corn tortillas. Top with a little avocado and cilantro, and you've got yourself a meal! Simply use any ceviche recipe you'd like (many have different kinds of fish in them instead of shrimp), but here is the one I used. Happy Pairing!

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pound high quality peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1 Cup lime juice, divided (from about 2 limes)
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Small corn or wheat tortillas
  • chopped avocado, cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the shrimp in a large, nonmetalic mixing bowl. Add 1/2 Cup of lime juice and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the cucumber and tomatoes and add to another bowl along with the cilantro and red onion. Seed the jalapeno and mince it well, add to the same bowl. Mix in the remaining 1/2 Cup of lime juice with the vegetables.
  3. When the shrimp have finished "cooking", add them along with any remaining juices into the bowl with the other vegetables. Mix well to incorporate.
  4. Set tortillas onto plates (double up if they are a little flimsy) and top with the ceviche mixture. Top with chopped avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Serve immediately.

Thirsty for More? Try these other summer recipes and wine pairings:

Broiled Swordfish with Lemon Butter Sauce

Spicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired with Albarino

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Paired with Gewurztraminer

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rosé

this red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts goes perfectly with a dry rosé | CaretoPair.com

If you're in need of an easy weeknight meal (or a quick meal to make on the weekend while company is over), look no further. This roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts is a great way to use fresh ingredients in a quick amount of time. Enjoy it alongside a cool glass of crisp, dry rosé.

It's about 100 degrees today and in between laying in the sun every 15 minutes to *try* to get my white skin a few shades darker, I find myself inspired to finally write again. FINALLY. Yes, unfortunately I've had a bad case of writer's block this week. Maybe I just needed some sun.

The truth is, I love this website, and I love to write. However, amidst all of my research across the internet on "how to grow your blog" I have gotten a bit bombarded with too much information, much with opposing ideas. Many articles tell you to be personal, others tell you to be on point at all times--only focus on the topic at hand. People don't necessarily care about how your day is going, they want to know how you can help them and want that information NOW.

roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts + a rose wine pairing on CaretoPair.com

When I started this blog, I chose to be very specific. The purpose of this blog is to help readers find a wine or beer to pair with their meal, most of which I provide a recipe for. I love this website and I love to help people; however, focusing on wine and beer pairings and ONLY writing about them has me in a bit of a funk. So let's make this blog a little more personal. While still helping you out. I hope that sounds as good to you as it does to me :) :)

The Recipe

Today's recipe and wine pairing comes from a few weeks ago when I was inspired to roast red peppers...because they were on sale! I usually keep red peppers off my shopping list because, sorry, I'm not paying over a dollar a pepper just to add some color to my recipes. But when the Smith's grocery ad came in and I saw that they were under a dollar a piece, I couldn't resist. I pulled out all of my favorite recipes on pinterest with red peppers and went to work.

The result? A simple red pepper cream sauce over pounded chicken breasts (which were also on sale, yippee!). I combined a few ideas from other bloggers' creations and realized that red pepper, cream, and goat cheese would be a fantastic combination. This truly was an easy meal to make, and I feel so accomplished having finally roasted my own peppers. You can always substitute roasted red peppers from a jar, but if they're in season, go ahead and roast them yourself. It takes minimal effort and just a little bit of time.

roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts + a rose wine pairing on CaretoPair.com

The Pairing

There's a few wines that will actually work with this chicken and red pepper cream sauce, but given the 100 degree temperatures today, I figured a crisp, dry rosé was the best choice. Spring and summer indeed are the seasons for rosé, but so many people get confused with what to pair this wine with. Does it go with food we usually pair with white wine? Yes. Does it pair with food we would have with red wine? Yes. In fact, rosé is one of the most versatile wines out there...it goes with many foods that other wines won't. Rosé drinks like a white while having subtle fresh red fruit flavors like strawberry and tart cherry, which goes with many different dishes. We've got lots of flavors going on in our roasted red pepper cream sauce--red peppers, spinach, garlic, cream...all of which the rosé can stand up to. Just make sure whichever rosé wine you choose is DRY, not sweet.

If you're not a fan of rosé, this dish could also pair with an unoaked chardonnay or dry riesling. In the beer department, try a light amber ale or craft Pilsner.

Chicken Closeup

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rose

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers (or 1 Cup of roasted red peppers)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1/2 Cup onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream (or more as needed)
  • 4 oz goat cheese

Instructions

  1. First, roast the red peppers: Preheat your oven broiler to high. Cut off a portion of the top so that the stem and membrane come out. Then cut each pepper in half and remove any remaining membrane (white part) or seeds. Place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet skin-side up and place under the broiler for 10-15 minutes, until the skins have begun to char. Immediately place the peppers in a plastic bag for another 10 minutes which will help loosen the skins. When the peppers have cooled enough, remove the skins from them (which should peel off very easily) and chop the rest of the remaining parts. This can be done in advance, prior to dinnertime.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet and add chicken. Saute each side until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. Next, add more butter if needed and saute the chopped onion for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped red pepper and saute for an additional minute or so.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the spinach, heavy cream and goat cheese. Stir together until the goat cheese has completely melted, the spinach has wilted, and the other ingredients have become incorporated.
  5. Add the chicken back into the pan to heat through, then serve immediately. If you like your sauce extra saucy, feel free to add more cream as needed.

3.5.3208

Thirsty for more? Try out these recipes:

What Wine to Pair with Roast Chicken

Grilled Lamb and Fresh Peach Salsa Paired with Rose

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned

What Wine to Pair With Chicken Wings

Chicken wings usually go hand-in-hand with beer, but what if you are in the mood for a glass of wine? Today's chicken wing wine pairing will help you out when you want to go beyond wings and beer.

Today's pairing might be considered the ultimate challenge for wine, but I'm doing it anyway! Why is it such a challenge?

Because wings generally do NOT pair well with wine.

In chicken wings, its all about the sauce; and wing sauce is usually spicy or sweet. Spicy and sweet are flavors that are incredibly difficult to match up to wine. Spicy foods enhance the perception of alcohol and tannin in red wine, so forget drinking any reds with wing sauce that has any sort of kick to it (which is most of them). And generally you need a wine that is just as sweet, if not more sweet, than the food you're pairing it with. Since 90% of wines are dry out there, they won't go well with your sweet wing sauce.

What to Pair with Chicken Wings

So...we can't do any red wines or dry wines, so what are we left with? Sweet, white wine. (And you thought wings were manly.)

Men, put your egos away for 2 seconds and realize that sweet wine and hot, spicy chicken wings pair perfectly together. Sweetness in wine actually cools down the effects of spicy foods, so the two go hand-in-hand. My number one wine to pair with wings is off-dry Riesling. Off-dry means that it has a touch of sweetness but won't be too sweet or overwhelming like a dessert-sweet Riesling will be.

Look for a German Riesling that says "Kabinett" on the bottle. Do not buy anything that says "Trocken", as that is German for "dry" (which will taste terrible with our wings, as we pointed out earlier). If you are buying a domestic Riesling, take a look at the label and see if the level of sweetness is stated. Ideally you want something with a little sugar but not too crazy. Stay away from any bottle that says "Icewine" (it'll be way too sweet).

Dani's Recommendations for Commonly-Available Riesling:

  • Dr. Loosen "Estate Kabinett" Riesling (Mosel, Germnay)
  • Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling (Mosel, Germany)
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling (Washington)
  • Anew Riesling (Washington)
Chicken wings make a tough wine pairing, but some wines do work! Check out Dani's recommendation for pairing wine and spicy chicken wings together | CaretoPair.com

Other Libations that Work

There's a few other sweet wines out there that can be great with chicken wings. Just make sure the wine is actually sweet as some producers make "dry" styles. And dry wine with sweet and spicy chicken wings equals disaster! Try:

  • Gewurztraminer
  • Moscato
  • Sparkling wine made in the "Extra Dry" or "Demi-Sec" style. Learn More.

And then, of course, there's beer...who's bubbles will scrub away all the spice lingering in your mouth from those chicken wings. Beer really is a no-brainer with wings, so stay tuned for my next post which will highlight the best ones to pair it with.

Have fun feeling extra-fancy with your wine and chicken wings! To make your own wings at home, I really like this recipe from Living Lou.

Chicken Wings can be a tough dish for wine pairing, but there are some wines that work! Dani from Care to Pair lists out what your wine needs to have in order to pair with sweet or spicy chicken wings | CaretoPair.com

Classic Caesar Salad Paired with Helles Lager

This classic Caesar salad recipe and beer pairing may seem a little simple, but oftentimes the simplest things in life are the best things in life, right?

A classic caesar salad recipe and a beer pairing to go with it! This pairing may seem simple but sometimes the simplest things in life are the best :)

So that bowl of caesar salad in the picture really doesn't look too big but let me assure you that it is. In fact, it may have just been my dinner on a night last weekend when I was feeling particularly lazy. Like, there's-no-food-in-the-house-but-I'm-not-going-grocery-shopping kind of lazy. So I had lettuce, old bread, and a few other staples in the house. Cue: caesar salad for dinner.

Have you ever made caesar salad dressing before?

Why do we even buy dressings in the store anymore??

This salad dressing was impossibly easy to make plus made me feel great that I wasn't downing some store-bought, preservative-packed dressing that I probably would have poured too much onto my salad anyway (aren't we all guilty of that?). It still boggles my mind how we forgot that anything prepackaged in our homes could also be made from scratch.

Anyway, this salad took me a whole 10 minutes to make using ingredients I already had in the kitchen (score!). Do recipes with raw eggs and anchovies scare you? Too bad. Take the risk, its worth it. And no, caesar salad does not taste like anchovies. I promise you its all in your head!

The Pairing

Now onto the important stuff...the beer pairing! Just like this recipe, the beer you pair with it should always be stocked in your fridge: a Munich Helles Lager.

What's that, you ask? I had the same reaction when I first learned about this beer that happens to be the most popular beer style in Bavaria. "Helles" in German means "light", so essentially this is the German equivalent to the light beers we drink here in America...except the Germans actually keep the flavors in their light beers (ooooh...burn).

Helles Lager accounts for about half of Germany's beer consumption because it is light, refreshing, and easy to drink. The style originated in Munich in 1895 by the Spaten Brewery to compete with Pilsner-style beers. Unlike German Pilsner, Helles Lager emphasizes on malt sweetness rather than bittering hops; the beer isn't sweet by any means, but the hops just balance the beer rather than provide a bitter edge. I like to describe these beers as "bready", and the style happens to be one of my go-to's for simple meals like this (and thus why I always have some in the fridge).

And that, my friends, is exactly why we are pairing a Munich Helles Lager with this Caesar Salad instead of a regular ol' Pilsner. Most well-made Pilsners these days contain substantial hop bitterness which might overwhelm this dish. A Munich Helles Lager is light enough to complement the salad while providing carbonation to calm down the bright acidity from the dressing. The lager's "bready"  nature also goes great with the croutons. You could almost say the beer acts as an additional crouton to the salad (and there is no such thing as too many croutons). Like I first said, this pairing is a simple one, but oh is it good.

Examples of Munich Helles Lager

  • Weihenstephaner Original (used in this post!)
  • Spaten Premium Lager
  • Paulaner Premium Lager

If you don't have access to any of these beers, go ahead and pop open your favorite Pilsner with this salad and it will still be delicious. If you have any session beers or "light" versions of beers as well, those will work too. I particularly love the entire lineup of Session Ales from Full Sail Brewing.

The Recipe

If you already have some store-bought Caesar salad dressing in your fridge, go ahead and use it for this pairing, I don't mind! But I'm telling you--homemade is sooooo much better and so easy to make. Thanks to my husband's unusual love for anchovies, we have plenty of canned ones in the pantry. I can't go near the stuff, so I keep a handy tube of anchovy paste stocked for any recipes that call for it. Anchovy paste can be found in any grocery store near the canned anchovies.

Classic Caesar Salad

Author:

Dani

Prep time:

35 mins

Cook time:

3 mins

Total time:

38 mins

Serves:

2 Salads

Serves 2 (or 1 very hungry person!) Original recipe adapted from simplyrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • A few thin slices of baguette (3-4 slices per serving)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste (or one anchovy)
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1 lemon, cut in half for juicing
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Mince the garlic cloves very fine and add them to a large bowl with the olive oil. Let sit for 30 minutes (and get yourself a beer!)
  2. Meanwhile, make the croutons: brush the baquette lightly either with butter or a bit of the garlic-oil mixture. Place under a broiler for about 3 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  3. After the oil has sat for 30 minutes, add the egg, anchovy paste, and parmesan. Squeeze one half of a lemon into the bowl and whisk to combine. Taste, and add more lemon juice as needed. I used about 3/4 of a lemon total. Taste again and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Break up the lettuce leaves with your hands and toss in with the dressing, coating all the lettuce leaves well. Place the salad into bowls and break the toasted baquette slices over to create croutons (you can also leave some full slices on the side like I did).
  5. Shave additional parmesan cheese over the top and serve immediately.

3.5.3208

Thirsty for More? Try these Pairings!

Battered Fish and Chips Paired with Cream Ale

Homemade Brownies Paired with Sweet Stout

Whiskey Barbecue Chicken Paired with Pale Ale

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?

Swordfish Wine Pairing: Make it Broiled with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Ever wonder what wine to pair with swordfish? There are many to choose from, actually; it depends on how you want to cook this dish. In this pairing, I broiled swordfish steaks and served them with a delicious lemon-butter wine sauce...perfect with a crisp, acidic white wine.

Its no secret that I really, really, really like lemony dishes. (Here are two of my favorites: lemon chicken and easy peasy lemon spaghetti.) God help me if I run out of lemons in the house. They add so much character to the simplest of meals.  Squeeze a lemon over anything and its instantly brighter. So guess what I did to this swordfish? Gave it some zip with a lemon-butter sauce.

The Pairing

The number one thing to consider when pairing lemony dishes with wine is: are there lemon flavors in the wine? If the answer to that question is "yes", you'll most likely have a great wine pairing. Of course this means that white wines totally reign over reds for this one. The ideal wine I want with this dish is a medium-bodied, refreshing white wine with high acidity and plenty of lemon and citrus flavors. I chose Principessa Gavi from Banfi to eat with this dish and it was perfect! Gavi is a DOCG in Piedmont (northwestern Italy) for white wines made from the cortese grape. Naturally, its got a dry, crisp, refreshing character with high acidity and plenty of those lemon flavors that  I was looking for (and olive, which also went great with this dish).

However, if you don't find a Gavi, that's okay. This pairing is where you can have some fun, friends. Find a cool, weird varietal that you may have never heard of before. As long as its bright and acidic, it'll work.

Dani's Picks for Wines to Pair with Broiled Swordfish

  • Gavi
  • Verdicchio
  • Picpoul (a lemony varietal from southern France)
  • Pinot Grigio (make it from Italy)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (but stay away from New Zealand or America which may overwhelm this dish)
  • Chablis: always yummy

As you can see, I have a lot of suggestions and am barely scratching the surface. Have fun with this pairing, its an easy one! Just make sure not to buy a wine that is too weighty or aromatic. Stay away from: oaked Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Torrontes, and Viognier.

The Recipe

We call swordfish steaks "steaks" because its a pretty meaty fish. It can be made many different ways, but it was a great way to celebrate the weather getting warmer by broiling this one and lightening it up with a lemon butter sauce with dill. Leave the skin on the swordfish as it helps keep the fish moist (ew, I hate that word). Recipes adapted from finecooking.com and ehow.com.

Broiled Swordfish Steaks with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine (use whatever you're pairing your dinner with)
  • 1/4 Cup minced yellow onion
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Swordfish steaks, about 1 lb total
  • small amount of butter (about 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced very finely

Instructions

  1. First, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the onion and wine and simmer over medium-high heat until the wine has reduced to 1/3 of its size, stirring occasionally. (About 10 minutes)
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add a few cubes of butter, whisking them into the wine until fully melted. Repeat with the rest of the butter cubes.
  3. Stir in the dill, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper if desired (I didn't).
  4. Next, heat the broiler to high and let warm up for about 5 minutes. Brush the swordfish steaks with a thin layer of room-temperature butter and season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic on both sides. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil (to encourage browning) and place under the broiler about 5 inches away from the heating element.
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes until the swordfish begins to brown. Remove from the broiler and flip the fish with a spatula. Place back under the broiler and continue to brown for an additional 5 minutes .Meanwhile, reheat the lemon-butter sauce if necessary.
  6. Serve the swordfish over rice and pour the lemon-butter sauce all over it. Sqeeze a lemon over everything for an extra boost of acidity.

Thirsty for More?

What Wine to Pair with Fried Chicken

Did you just pick up a bucket of chicken or heating up the deep fryer to make it at home? Instantly make fried chicken fancy by pairing it with some bubbly!

A few months ago my sister told me she was making her boyfriend his favorite home-cooked meal, fried chicken, and asked me what wine to pair with it. My first thought: what?! Who drinks wine with fried chicken? Then I thought: why not? On the rare occasion that I eat fried chicken, I'm pairing it with beer. But my sister was making it for a special occasion and wanted to serve it with wine, so okay! You want wine with your fried chicken? You got it! So thus, I bring you a post on pairing fried chicken and wine.

The Disaster

In an attempt to make all our meals at home these days without the dependence of pre-made food at the grocery store or fast-food restaurants, I decided to make fried chicken at home (which I had never done before). And when I say "I", I mean I completely pawned this one off on my husband. For those of you who make fried chicken at home...how do you do it?! For those of you looking to make this dish for the first time at home: proceed with caution.

This was by far the most intense, time-consuming, dish-dirtying, smoke-detector-going-off meal we've ever made. Between getting the oil to the right temperature and then keeping it at the right temperature, this took way longer than I had expected. I actually abandoned my husband after the first batch to go take pictures of the chicken and the poor guy was cursing every other word while getting splattered and burned with hot oil. Somehow he even managed to spill a bunch of oil down the front of the stove, to which the dog had a field day. It was one of those meals that you told yourself you'll never make again...until you try it. And then it all became clear. Best fried chicken I've ever had in my entire life. Now I know why the South makes such a big deal of it!

The Pairing

As you can clearly see in the pictures, I paired fried chicken with bubbly.

But what kind of bubbles, Dani??

So a big reason why beer goes well with anything fried is because the carbonation you get in beer will cut through fat. In case you didn't know, that fried goodness in fried chicken is alllll fat. So pairing a fried food with bubbly wine will do the same thing that beer does. Bonus: bubbly wine almost always has high acidity which will also cut through the fattiness in fried chicken.

The best sparkling wine to pair with fried chicken is one with a hint of sweetness. In the wine world, we would call this an "Extra Dry" style of sparkling wine. I know, confusing, right? Extra Dry denotes that there's a teeny tiny bit of sugar left in the bottle of bubbly, which will pair excellently with the juicy sweetness in the fried chicken.  You'll find bottles of Extra Dry almost anywhere sparkling wine is sold; in fact, you'll see it right on the label, so you'll know you're making the right purchase. All kinds of wine come in the Extra Dry style, including domestic sparkling wine, Cava, and Champagne. So whatever you decide to purchase will fit your budget no matter what that is.

**on that note: Cava is one of the best values of sparkling wine out there. You can find bottles as little as $8/btl. This is one of my favorite value wines if the occasion doesn't call for Champagne**

But I Don't Have Sparkling Wine at the House. What Else Goes with Fried Chicken?

I know we all don't just have cases of extra dry sparkling wine lying around the house. If you don't have access to any bubbles, fear not: Other pairings will work:

  • Chardonnay. One with some oak and butter will complement the sweetness of the chicken nicely.
  • Sauvignon Blanc. Most SB will have wonderfully high acidity that will cut nicely through the fatty fried bits.
  • Beer. Almost any kind, actually. My favorite beer style to pair with fried food is Extra Special Bitter (ESB). Check out this post to find out more.

At the end of the day, just drink what you like with fried chicken, whether that be sweet tea, soda, beer or wine. Although there are some rules when it comes to food pairings, rules are meant to be broken.

To make the same fried chicken recipe that I used (highly recommended, although intense and time-consuming), click here.

What Wine to Pair with Popcorn

Have you hit that point in your life where there's nothing more you'd rather do on a Friday night than sit in front of the TV in your jammies, cuddled up in a blanket, with a big bowl of buttery popcorn? Because I have definitely hit that point in my life. My friends, let's add a bottle of wine to that scenario. Your Friday (or any night, who are we kidding?) has just gone from great to positively kick-ass. So what wine goes best with that big, buttery bowl of popcorn? A bottle of big, buttery Chardonnay. Butter + more butter = bliss, after all. And the good news is, the buttery flavors in Chardonnay don't ACTUALLY come from added butter, so your diet doesn't have to take that extra hit! (But seriously who goes on a diet that eliminates butter? Butter makes everything better.)

Why Does Chardonnay Sometimes Taste Like Butter?

There's a little thing called malolactic fermentation that Chardonnay can go through when its transforming from grape juice to wine. Malolactic fermentation (let's call it "malo" for short) is a naturally-occuring, secondary fermentation where sour malic acids (like the flavors you get in a sour apple) are turned into lactic acids (like those found in butter and cream). Almost all red wines go through malolactic fermentation because their flavors need to soften out. Whites, on the other hand, have a choice. Chardonnay doesn't always have to go though malo, but when it does, you get a heavier-bodied wine with those classic butter and cream flavors. If the Chardonnay ages in oak before going into the bottle in your hands, you'll have an even more rich, creamy wine. A perfect pairing with popcorn.

How to Pair Chardonnay with Popcorn

So we want three things when we're pairing Chardonnay with Popcorn: weight, oak and buttery flavors coming from malolactic fermentation. A heavy-bodied wine will coat your mouth while the buttery flavors will naturally compliment the corn kernels. When it comes to Chardonnays with some weight and oak on them, I go to California--Napa, in particular, although there are great examples from many parts of the state. For this post I wanted to feature one of my favorite weeknight-drinking Chardonnays from Napa Valley: Franciscan Estate. It has an amazing balance of acidity and weight, giving some incredible cream and butter flavors that went amazing with the popcorn I whipped up. If you can't get your hands on a bottle, however, don't worry--many Chardonnays will pair with popcorn so feel free to be adventurous.

Other Recommended Chardonnays to Pair with Popcorn

I don't want to get too fancy on you since we're just enjoying a lazy Friday night in front of the TV with a bottle of wine and a bowl of popcorn, so let's pick all Chardonnays under $20, most of which you can find at your local grocery store. Score!

  • Franciscan, Napa Valley (the wine featured in this post)
  • Napa Cellars, Napa Valley
  • Francis Ford Coppola, Monterey County
  • Ferrari-Carano, Sonoma County
  • Chloe, North Coast

Other Food Pairings With Chardonnay on this Blog:

Lemon Chicken and ChardonnayPork Loin with Mustard Basil Cream Sauce

**All opinions on this blog are my own; I did not receive compensation from any of these brands...I just love supporting their wines because they are delicious with popcorn!

What Wine to Pair with Roast Chicken

Roasted Chicken is not as hard as you think. Put a glass of Pinot Noir alongside it and you've got yourself a meal!

Whether you purchased a rotisserie chicken at the store or are cooking one yourself, roast chicken is an easy dish to pair with wine. But which varietal really is best?! Read on to find out!

Roast Chicken is soooo easy to make. Why are people so afraid to cook it? Granted, purchasing a cooked rotisserie chicken at the store is very convenient, but it is much cheaper to just buy a raw chicken yourself and cook it at home. All you need is a few hours of oven time--believe it or not, this dish takes less time working in the kitchen than most of my other recipes! I've also noticed that you get much more meat for your money if you purchase a raw bird rather than a cooked rotisserie. Bonus!

But however which way you want to acquire your roasted chicken, the meal's not complete without a wine, right?!

Roasted Chicken is one of the easiest meals to make, honest! I don't know why people waste their money on overpriced rotisserie chickens when you can get much more meat with your money on a raw one

The Wine Pairing

I think the third or fourth post I made on this website was a beer pairing with roast chicken (don't mind the terrible pictures!). Although I love a good beer with my chicken, I have to admit that wine wins this battle. There's just something about the crispy, slightly greasy chicken skin complementing an acidic, earthy wine.

For any roasted chicken dish, find a good bottle of Pinot Noir to accompany it. This one is an easy pairing--any Pinot Noir should work as there are none I can think of that would overwhelm this chicken. Why does Pinot Noir work so well? Pinot is light, so it won't drown out the natural chicken flavors. The bright, red fruit dominating Pinot Noir's palate will trick your mind into thinking its a sweet sauce to complement the meat. If the wine has any earthiness (think potting soil, cedar, or herbaceous flavors), it will act like a natural seasoning for the crispy roasted chicken. Drool.

I'm a big fan of Oregon Pinot Noir myself, but really, any region will work with this dish. Whether you pick a fruit-bomb Pinot Noir or a cool-climate, restrained example, you won't be disappointed at its match with roasted chicken.

Dani's Regional Pinot Noir Picks for Roasted Chicken:

  • Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
  • Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • Napa Valley Pinot Noir
  • New Zealand Pinot Noir
What Wine Should You Pair with Roasted Chicken? A light, fruity Pinot Noir!

The Recipe

There are lots of recipes out there on how to roast a chicken, but I like to keep it simple. This recipe just uses a few lemons, salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavors of the chicken. Don't forget to use the leftover bones and meat to make your own chicken broth!

Easy Roast Chicken with Lemons

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins

Total time: 1 hour 40 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 3-5 pound chicken
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 lemons

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water. Let it sit for a few minutes at an angle to drain the excess water, then pat dry with paper towels (also inside and out).
  3. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper, inside and out. Use your fingers to rub the seasonings into the skin.
  4. Roll each lemon with a bit of pressure onto a countertop to soften them up. With a fork, prick each lemon all around to expose the inside juice.
  5. Place the lemons inside the bird's cavity.
  6. With kitchen string, tie the legs together; not too tight, just to hold them in place close to the rest of the bird.
  7. Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down. No need to add any oil or additional cooking liquid. Place it into the upper third of the preheated oven.
  8. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over carefully so that the breast faces up. Cook for another 30-35 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat of the oven up to 300 degrees and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Total, the chicken should cook about 20-25 minutes per pound (so a 4 pound chicken would cook for about 80 minutes).
  10. When the chicken is finished, remove from the oven and carve. No need to remove the lemons from the cavity. Use any juices in the pan to serve over the meat.

 

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