How to Pair Wine With Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite meal of the year—Christmas of course wins the “favorite holiday” category, but let’s face it…what other meal do you have mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes on the dinner table at the same time?! (theoretically, I know I could do this any time, but it is more special if it only happens once a year!)

This is a holiday that exemplifies everything I stand for—enjoying a great meal around the dinner table with family and friends. This is a holiday that’s ALL about giving thanks, spending time with those you love, cooking, eating great food, and relaxing. It’s what I aspire to do every day of my life.

Thanksgiving also happens to be my favorite because I use it as an excuse to open a bunch of wine and beer, give everyone at least 5 glasses to *taste* said wine and beer, and have fun pairing with the myriad of side dishes on the table. It really is a dream come true for me.

Although I open about 9 different wine and beers every year, no matter how many people are over, I want to make things easy for you and give you my two must-have wines for the Thanksgiving table plus a couple of “runners up” that you can choose to add to your holiday as well.

Wine #1: Beaujolais

Bow-jo-what? Bow-Jo-Lay. This is THE wine to buy for Thanksgiving if you only plan to drink one thing all night. Beaujolais comes from Burgundy, France, and is made from a grape called Gamay. The wine is light-bodied like Pinot Noir and has lots of red fruit (think tart cherry, currant, and cranberry) going on. It also tends to be a bit herbal and earthy, depending on the kind you get. A wine that tastes like cranberries and has herbal notes to it is going to be PERFECT with Thanksgiving. Bam.

Dani's Picks: 

  • Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages $
  • Georges DuBeouf Beaujolais Villages $
  • any Cru Beaujolais $$
    • Morgon
    • Moulin-a-Vent
    • Brouilly
    • Cote de Brouilly
    • Julians
    • Chenas
    • Fleurie
    • Regnie
    • Chiroubles
    • Saint-Amour

Even better is that Beaujolais is kinda out of fashion right now, so you can get a GREAT bottle for under $20. Beaujolais Nouveau comes out around this time every year so that is a fine option, or if you want to spend a few extra bucks go for Beaujolais Villages. And then if you want to get really fancy you can do a Cru Beaujolais. Any of these will be perfect with Thanksgiving. If you don’t think you will like this wine, please just trust me and try it with this meal. It is such a good pairing that it won’t matter if you like bigger reds or whatever your reason is.

Wine #2: Riesling

Before you go all “I don’t like sweet wine” on me here, let’s think about the kinds of dishes that are served at Thanksgiving: sweet potatoes. Cranberries. Creamed Corn. I see a lot of sweet dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Sweet food does NOT go well with dry wine. Any Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, whatever that you put on the table that doesn’t have sweetness to it will not work with food that has sweetness. Therefore, Riesling is awesome with Thanksgiving because it has great acidity (perfect for food pairing) and a hint of sugar which will match any sweetness in dishes. Make sure to pick one that isn’t dry, but also don’t pick one that is dessert-sweet. We’re looking for off-dry or “kabinett” level here.

Dani’s Picks:

  • Elk Cove Estate Riesling, Willamette Valley OR $$
  • Dr. Loosen "Blue Slate" or "Dr. L", Mosel Germany $$
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley WA $
Thanksgiving pinterest thumb.jpg

Runner Ups

Pinot Noir

Similar to Gamay, this is a good pick if you can’t find Beaujolais or are really that afraid of trying something new.

Dani's Picks:

  • Rodney Strong Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley CA $$
  • Adelsheim Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley OR $$
  • Erath Pinot Noir, OR $

Gewurztraminer

this wine often has some residual sugar in it, acting like Riesling while pairing. Gewurztraminer is also known as the “spicy” grape, meaning it carries spice aromas and flavors like cinnamon, clove, ginger, and allspice (matching many flavors on the table)

Dani's Picks:

  • Trimbach Gewurztraminer, Alsace France $$
  • Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley WA $

Sparkling Wine

This is a great wine to have before dinnertime because it can get the party going. It also provides a nice palate-cleanser throughout the meal because those bubbles will scrub flavors off your palate. If you pick an off-dry style (one with a hint of sweetness), it will also pair well with dishes on the table (please refer back to the Riesling comments to understand why).

Dani's Picks:

  • Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley CA $$
  • Any Champagne
  • Freixenet (or any) Cava, Spain $

Looking for a wine to pair with pumpkin pie? Sorry, I’m not a fan of wine with pie. Beer wins that race. But if you must, opt for a sweet wine like Riesling or Moscato. Personally I might have some Bailey’s and coffee this year.

How to Pair Wine With Barbecue

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

Barbecue is DEFINITELY one of those dishes

How to Pair  Wine With Barbecue

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

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

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

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

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

The food

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

The wines

  • Zinfandel

  • Shiraz (Syrah)

  • Carmenere

  • Riesling

Here was the general concensus:

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

Carmenere

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

Shiraz

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

Zinfandel

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

Riesling

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

The Final Verdict

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

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

Wines to bring to a barbecue

  • Riesling

  • Moscato

  • Gewurztraminer

  • Zinfandel

  • Brachetto

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

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

 

Roasted Bone Marrow Paired With Syrah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

Roasted Bone Marrow

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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.

 

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 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

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.

 

Other Chicken Recipes and Pinot Noir Pairings

What Wine to Pair with Lemon Chicken and Other Chicken Recipes
What Wine to Pair with Lemon Chicken and Other Chicken Recipes
What Wine to Pair with Cedar Plank Salmon
What Wine to Pair with Cedar Plank Salmon
What Wine to Pair with Beef Bourguignon
What Wine to Pair with Beef Bourguignon

7 Romantic Meals to Cook for Date Night at Home (Plus What Wines to Pair With Them)

Skip the restaurant crowd and have a date night at home! Each meal includes wine or beer pairings to match Valentine’s day is less than a week away, did you remember to make reservations at your favorite restaurant? After working in fine dining for a number of years,  going to a restaurant on Valentine's Day could easily be one of my worst nightmares. So instead, my honey and I make a great meal at home and watch a good movie. Sooooo much better than fighting the crowded dining rooms and slammed kitchens of restaurants.

Here are 7 meals you can make right at home to celebrate date-night in. Pop open a bottle of the wine I suggest for each recipe, and you've got a perfect night!

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired with Albarino White Wine | CaretoPair.comSpicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp

This romantic dish comes together in just 15 minutes! Pair with a Spanish Albarino to really steam up your date night. Get the recipe and wine pairing

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Take Out: Pick Riesling for your favorite homemade or take out Chinese Dishes! | CaretoPair.comChinese Take-Out

Orange chicken, broccoli beef, and cream cheese wontons made at home can be much more flavorful (and rewarding) than ordering takeout. But if you don’t feel like cooking on date-night-in, you can still have a romantic meal by popping open your favorite bottle of riesling or pilsner. Get the recipes and pairings.

Classic Eggplant Parmesan Recipe and What Wine to Pair WIth It | CaretoPair.comEggplant Parmesan

This is one of those dishes that looks like you put a lot of work into it but really... you didn't. Pair it with Chianti and crusty bread and you've got yourself a meal. Get the Recipe and Pairing

Spaghetti WIne Pairing | CaretoPair.com

Spaghetti with Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce

What’s more romantic than recreating the scene from Lady and the Tramp? Here’s a super easy spaghetti dish that is great for both beginner and pro cooks. Most of the ingredients should already be in your pantry, too. Get the recipe and pairing

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

Beef Bourguignon

Okay, this is a date-night-in dish that will take some planning and active time in the kitchen. But I promise, the result is so rewarding! Pair this classic Burgundian meal with Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) for a date-night-in you won’t forget. Get the recipe and wine pairing

7 Romantic Meals to make for Date Night In

Rib-Eye Steak Made in the Reverse-Sear Method

This is my go-to Valentine’s day meal because it is just as good, if not better, as going to our favorite steak house... sans crowded dining room. Treat yourself to a good cut of meat and open your favorite bottle of Napa Cabernet to guarantee a happy date. Get the recipe and wine pairing

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Compote; Pair it with Framboise

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberries and Framboise

Don’t forget about dessert! This white chocolate cheesecake is simple yet impressive, and can be made in advance so you don’t have to take a break from date-night. Pair it with a fruit lambic for a great end to your evening. Get the recipe and wine pairing

Spicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired With Albarino

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired with Albarino. This easy meal gets cooked up in 10 minutes! Make it spicy...or not. Serve over Rice | CaretoPair.com

Looking for a shrimp dish that isn't pasta or tacos? Here's your answer. Chipotle Cream Shrimp is quick yet delectable, easy enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for date-night-in. Serve it with rice and a glass of Albarino to complete the meal.

Okay y'all, let's talk about how great shrimp is for two seconds. My family never ate shrimp when I was growing up. We never really ate anything from the ocean considering we lived in the Midwest and my mom is 100% Polish. Makes sense, right?

Well my poor mother is missing out! Shrimp is so easy to make! I just love (great) food that cooks fast. And we're not talking about putting something in the microwave, either. I love shrimp, but it is hard to find recipes out there that don't involve the shrimp being in tacos or pasta. So when I discovered this way of making shrimp, I rushed to the store (literally) to try it out.

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired With Albarino White Wine | CaretoPair.com

First time I made it--not spicy enough. So I made it again. Perfect. And the best news? Only took me 15 minutes. So whether its date-night-in or just an I'm-in-a-shrimp-kind-of-mood weeknight, this is a dish to add to your menu.

The Pairing

Pair this Chipotle Cream Shrimp with a glass of Albarino. If you don't have access to Albarino, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc will pair nicely as well. Albarino is an interesting grape that has gained popularity in the states in the past 5 or 6 years. It produces an aromatic wine with primary aromas of citrus (think orange, grapefruit, lemon) and stone fruit (like peaches and nectarines). It can also be reminiscent of sea spray, given that the vineyards that produce Albarino in the "green" northwestern coast of Spain are in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The bright, crisp, refreshing character will cut right through the spice and cream in this shrimp dish, making you think of a bright sunny day no matter what time of year it is.

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired with Albarino White Wine | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

Serve this shrimp over white or brown rice, or on its own! My "side dish" of choice is chips and guacamole...highly appropriate. For the wine, use 1/4 Cup of the Albarino you'll be serving with it afterwards. Or if you have any other dry white wine that needs to be used up, anything will work.

Spicy and Creamy Chipotle Shrimp

Author: Dani

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Serves: 2-3

Recipe adapted from The Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine (you can use the albarino you will be pairing this meal with. Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay would work too)
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (keep the seeds for added heat)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (about 3 cloves, minced)

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, 4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add half the shrimp (or all, depending on how big your pan is) and saute until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip each shrimp and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. When the shrimp are just cooked through, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Melt an additional 3 Tbsp of butter in the pan and repeat the above process with the remaining uncooked shrimp. Set them aside when finished.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 additional Tbsp of butter. Once melted, add the wine. Simmer until it has thickened, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, chopped chipotle chiles, worchestershire sauce, and garlic. Stir to combine.
  6. Return the shrimp to the pan to heat through. Serve immediately over brown or white rice and garnished with chopped cilantro.

 

Spicy and Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired with Albarino | CaretoPair.com

Happy Pairing!

Classic Wine Pairing: Beef Bourguignon and Pinot Noir

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dani's Favorite (affordable) Red Burgundy Producers

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

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

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

The Recipe

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

Classic Wine Pairing: Beef Bourguignon and Pinot Noir

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time:

24 hours

Cook time:

5 hours

Total time:

29 hours

Serves:

4-6

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

3.5.3208

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

Happy Pairing!

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Take-Out

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

The Recipes

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

The Recipes we used:

Happy Pairing!