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!

 

How to Pair Beer With Enchiladas

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

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

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

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

Check out the video for some fun camping footage:

The Pairing

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

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


Camping Enchiladas

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

At Home:

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

At Camp:

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

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

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

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

beer enchiladas pin.jpg

How to Open a Bottle of Wine

How to Open a Bottle of Wine on LibationsAcademy.com

Alright guys, its time for some real talk.

There are MANY contraptions out there that have been created to open wine...you've got the butterfly openers, the giant rabbit openers, the automatic battery-operated openers, the super-cool gas-powered openers...but I'm going to confidently tell you to throw all of them away (or give them away), because from here on out, you only need one contraption. It's called a wine key (aka waiter's corkscrew) and is something you can purchase for like, $2 at Trader Joe's.

Its sad when I hand a friend my wine key to open a bottle and they look at me with a blank stare because they've been using some other contraption all this time. Seriously guys, there will come a time in your life that you will be handed a wine key and be expected to open a wine with it...so...might as well just start using one for every day use!

Here's a step-by-step video on how to open wine like the pros do. If you need to buy a wine key, amazon is your friend: https://amzn.to/2KGtzls

Click the video below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to open a bottle of wine with a wine key.  

Cheers and Happy Opening!

How to Make Hot Buttered Rum

Confession: This blog post is not new. Well, the pictures are, but the original post was written in 2014 when I was a new blogger...and incredibly frustrated with my photography skills. I wanted to share this recipe with y'all again since it is my Christmas cocktail staple, but the original blog post was just too cute to revise. So if you've been along this blogging journey with me for a few years now, hopefully you can appreciate the nostalgia of what you're about to read as much as I do. Just a couple things are different now...Andrew and I are of course married, we live in our new (old) house with a REAL fireplace, and we no longer have to dream about snow...this time of year we get plenty of it in our new hometown of Reno. Enjoy the post, and enjoy your hot buttered rum.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on CaretoPair.com

Hot Butt Rum, Hot Butt Rum, na-na-na-na na-na-na-na Hot Butt Rum.

That is the tune that Andrew sings every time he makes me Hot Buttered Rum, replacing the lyrics of "Hot Cross Buns". He actually does this quite frequently, replacing lyrics to songs, especially around Christmas time. His favorite one (and secretly mine too) is replacing "kids jingle-belling and Dani Grams yelling" during the "most wonderful time of the year" song.  I gotta love our relationship. :)

Here in Las Vegas, we have to force ourselves into the holidays spirit. For those of us used to crappy, cold weather and dreary days around Christmas time, its difficult even after 10 years to adjust to the endless sunny days, palm trees, cacti, and warm daytime temperatures of the desert.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on CaretoPair.com

Despite having gotten our Christmas tree in t-shirts this year, our holiday season has been merry and bright thanks to one seasonally special drink: hot buttered rum. An irresistible cocktail with a funny name, this has been Andrew’s and my favorite holiday drink for the last few years. This is the go-to holiday concoction if you’re looking for something sweet and warming but don’t want the heaviness you’d get from creamy drinks like eggnog or baileys.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on CaretoPair.com

No matter how hot it may still be outside, a glass of hot buttered rum makes me want to snuggle in front of the (dvd) fireplace with the illusion that its snowy and cold out. And it’s a great one for your holiday guests—who doesn’t like butter, and who doesn’t like rum? You may get the occasional friend or family member who will look at you when you offer one with the look on their face like “butter in a cocktail??” You may even be thinking that right now. But trust me, this cocktail will be the hit while you’re decorating, while you’re eating cookies, while you’re opening presents…the opportunities are endless!

 Merry Christmas! I hope this cocktail enhances all the cheer in your home for the holidays!

Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Total time: 5 mins

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 2 Cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • dark rum (we often use spiced!)
  • hot water

Instructions

  1. With an electric mixer, blend butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl. Place in a sealable container and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. For each cocktail you make, spoon 1 Tablespoon of the butter mixture into a small mug. Top with 2-3 oz of dark rum, then fill the rest of the mug with hot water. Mix the contents of the mug together with a spoon or small whisk.
  3. Keep the butter mixture in the fridge and use whenever you are in the mood for another hot buttered rum! (Makes about 12 drinks total)
Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on CaretoPair.com

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

The Cemetery Sour Cocktail

The Cemetery Sage Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com
The Cemetery Sage Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com

Today I'm bringing you a very special cocktail made with Cemetery Gin, a local gin made in Northern Nevada that highlights local ingredients like pine nut and lavender. Our "Cemetery Sour" cocktail incorporates these flavors along with lemon and sage to create an enticingly aromatic, sweet and sour libation.

I think it's safe to say that my lovely husband has graduated from being a home bartender to a home mixologist. While I'm making dinner, he's the one making cocktails. Usually he sticks to the classics, but when he plays around with new flavors, he transforms those classics into beautiful, new concoctions.

He had so much fun last weekend playing around with flavors to create a great cocktail from the (now almost gone) bottle of Cemetery Gin that we recently purchased. You may be thinking "Cemetery Gin? Never heard of it"...and right you are! This is a special gin that is produced and only sold locally in Northern Nevada. It comes from Virginia City--one of the most historic ghost towns in the west that is located a half hour away from Reno--and proceeds from sales of the gin go to the upkeep and restoration of the town's very old (and famous) cemetery. (Learn more about Virginia City here)

The Cemetery Sour Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com

I not only enjoy supporting this gin because its proceeds go to a good cause, but because this gin is distinctly Nevadan. And for those of you that know me personally, you may be familiar with my obsession of this beautiful state that I live in. The creators of Cemetery Gin wanted to showcase aromatics that you might smell after a rainstorm up here in northern Nevada, like desert sage and lavender. They also added pine nuts to the mix which grow abundantly out here. The result is a highly vibrant, aromatic gin that is just begging to go into a cocktail.

The Cemetery Sage Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com

Andrew played around a bit with different different ingredients that would enhance the flavor of this gin (because the last thing we wanted to do was hide those flavors). He wanted to do a variation of a classic "sour" cocktail, which uses a base spirit (like gin) plus lemon or lime and a sweetener. After many variations...and many spare cocktails for me to drink up...we finally came across the winning combination: lavender syrup, fresh sage, and a firey lemon squeeze. Because what's a cocktail without fire?

The Cemetery Sour Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com

Don't be scared by the fire thinking you'll never be able to pull it off...because it is amazing. Surely this is a cocktail to make in front of a crowd to show off your bartending skills. You'll need a few ingredients that may be difficult to get...for one, unless you live in Northern Nevada, you won't find this gin in stores. Currently I don't see anywhere online to buy Cemetery Gin, so I hope that changes. I guess you'll just need to come visit the biggest little city in the world and get a bottle yourself!

The Cocktail

To make the Cemetery Sour, you'll need the Cemetery Gin (you can of course use other gins, but they won't have the same flavors that incorporate the same way), fresh sage, fresh lemon, and lavender simple syrup. Here's how you make that:

Homemade Lavender Simple Syrup

Boil 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white sugar, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender blossoms (you can also substitute dried lavender). Stir constantly until all of the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, then strain into a mason jar. Keep refrigerated when not using.

The Cemetery Sour Cocktail using Virginia City Nevada Cemetery Gin, sage, and lemon. Great Halloween cocktail and refreshing enough to drink year round! via CaretoPair.com

Once you have your lavender syrup, you can make the cocktail! Have fun with this one and don't be afraid of the use of fire. It really makes the cocktail!

The Cemetery Sour Cocktail

Author: Dani

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Cemetery Gin
  • 1 oz Lavender Simple Syrup (directions, above)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cocktail by rubbing a fresh sage leaf around the rim of a martini glass
  2. In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, stir the gin, lavender syrup, and lemon juice together
  3. Strain contents of the shaker into the prepared martini glass
  4. Light a match and hold it close to the drink. Briskly squeeze the lemon rind over the flame. The oils will ignite as they move towards the cocktail. Don't worry, you wont get burned. Extinguish your match safely.
  5. Bruise the remaining sage leaf by placing it flat on your palm and slapping it briskly with your other hand. This will release the oils and aromas from the sage leaf. Place the bruised sage leaf across the cocktail for garnish

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.

 

Salted Caramel Apple Flip

The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com
The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com

This Salted Caramel Apple Flip cocktail is one of the best drinks to bring in the chilly season! Made with Salted Caramel vodka and apple spice syrup, its the best dessert cocktail you'll have all fall.

I really hate talking about the weather but I just have to give you a little Reno weather update--last week it was 90 degrees and the thought of pumpkin-spice-anything seemed wrong. Last night IT SNOWED. And I mean snowed. I shoveled 2 inches of snow off my car this morning.

Let's just say Reno likes to be very clear when the seasons are changing. It'll be back in the 70s in a few days, but this snow served as a reminder that summer is definitely over. Thanks, October!

The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com
The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com

So I've decided to welcome autumn with a little salted caramel apple cocktail. This baby is better than dessert, y'all. I'm simply in love. For those of you that know me well, you know you'll never see me at a bar ordering sweet froo-froo cocktails made from some crazy flavored vodka. But that's exactly what this cocktail is and I love it.

A little backstory--a week ago I saw that October 3rd is National Vodka Day. Usually I don't care about these national-whatever-days (because there seems to be one every week!) but I decided to take on the challenge. After all, I am not a big vodka drinker and the only post I've ever done on vodka is the gypsy queen (back when my blog was a whole 6 months old...don't mind the pictures!).

I tell Andrew about my challenge...which really just means its his challenge since he's the bartender in this household...and he immediately goes through our pitiful vodka stash. He takes out the Stoli Salted Caramel flavored vodka. My first thought? "Absolutely Not".

Then he makes me this sweet, caramelly, rich, better-than-any-dessert cocktail using some homemade apple simple syrup we had made, an egg white, and garnished it with some walnuts. And allllll my reservations about flavored vodka went out the window.

The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com
The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! CaretoPair.com

For all my vodka-haters out there, stop hatin. Even if you don't generally care for sweet, dessert-style cocktails, give this one a try. Trust me, I am the queeeeeeen of hating on flavored vodka and sweet drinks but I have been stopped in my tracks with this one!

The Recipe

This cocktail takes a little bit of work to get there, but once you have all your ingredients, it is super simple to make. First, buy the Stoli Salted Caramel Vodka if you don't already randomly have it in your bar inventory (and if you do, I applaud you...I have no idea where ours came from). Then, make the simple syrup (recipe follows). The simple syrup isn't hard to make but you'll have to wait a whole two hours for it to infuse, so maybe make this before you plan on drinking. Then all you need is an egg white and some chopped walnuts and you've got yourself a cocktail! Don't be thrown off by the egg white in this recipe, by the way. Egg whites are common in many cocktails to make them frothy. This cocktail wouldn't be called a flip if you didn't add it!

Salted Caramel Apple Flip

Recipe Type

:

Cocktail

Cuisine:

Fall Cocktails

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time:

5 mins

Cook time:

5 mins

Total time:

10 mins

Serves:

1

This Salted Caramel Apple Flip is the perfect way to welcome chilly weather!

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Stolichinaya Salted Caramel Vodka
  • 1 oz apple spice simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • 1 egg white
  • chopped walnuts, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour vodka, simple syrup, and egg white into an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake vigorously for 1 minute.
  3. Strain into a martini glass and sprinkle with chopped walnuts as a garnish.

3.5.3208

To Make the Apple Spice Simple Syrup:

1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1 apple, cored and diced 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add sugar and water to a pot and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, take the pot off heat and add the diced apple and cinnamon. Let steep for 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer. Store in the refrigerator.

The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! 

The Salted Caramel Apple Flip Cocktail using Stoli salted caramel vodka, simple syrup, and an egg white. One of the best cocktails for fall! 

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles with Sausage and Festbier

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

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

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

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

Big statement, I know.

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

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

Festbier/Oktoberfest/Marzen

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

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

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

My Favorite Oktoberfest/Marzen/Festbiers

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

The Recipe

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

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

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

Sweet Buttery Sauerkraut Noodles

Author: Dani 

Prep time: 3 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 23 mins

Serves: 6 big servings

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

What Wine to Pair with Grilled Ribs

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

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

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

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

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

Some Wine Suggestions to Serve with Grilled Ribs:

Zinfandel

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

Syrah/Grenache

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

Cabernet Sauvignon/Red Blends

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

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

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

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

Thirsty for More? Check out these Pairings:

What Wine to Pair with Chicken Wings

What Wine to Pair with Roast Leg of Lamb

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Takeout

The Best Beers to Pair With Chicken Wings

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

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

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

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

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

If You Like It Hot and Want It Hotter

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

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

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

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

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

If you Like Sweet or Tangy Wings

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

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

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

Thirsty for More? Try Out These Beer Pairings:

Caesar Salad + Helles Lager

What Beer to Pair with Fish and Chips

Beef Carbonnade + Belgian Dubbel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

What?! Is that romance I detect?!

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

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

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

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

The Recipe

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

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

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 4 large bowls

Recipe adapted from 86lemons.com

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Recipe

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

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

Broiled Swordfish with Lemon Butter Sauce

Spicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired with Albarino

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Paired with Gewurztraminer

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rosé

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Recipe

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

Chicken Closeup

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rose

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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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

The Sherry Sangaree Cocktail

Sherry may be out of fashion right now, but this cocktail will surely have you bringing it back. The Sangaree Cocktail livens up dry sherry with Cointreau, simple syrup, and a lemon twist--perfect if you're a dry sherry newbie or are in the mood for something a little different...and delicious.

Oh sherry, why must you be out of fashion?

I love sherry and its story. You want to learn about a wine that is taken pretty seriously? Research Sherry. There are entire books written about sherry, and rightfully so--sherry is awesome. It happens to be one of the most complex fortified wines out there and therefore can be pretty confusing. If you're not familiar, Sherry is from the Jerez region of Spain. Its HOT down there, and the climate of the region creates an environment perfect for the grapes going into Sherry that no other region in the world can replicate. So, really, Sherry is pretty freaking special and one of the coolest fortified wines out there (in my opinion).

But sherry indeed fell out of fashion in the 20th century thanks to changing tastes and bad economies. Here in America, its hard to find something decent beyond "cooking" sherry. Such a shame. But don't worry friends, good sherry is out there, and you should find yourself a bottle. There are various types of sherry: Fino sherry (aka dry Sherry) which is the most delicate and famous sherry out there; Oloroso sherry, which is darker in color and fairly dry as well (although in this country they are predominantly sweet); and cream sherry, which is perhaps the most popular because of its sweet, dessert-style flavor.

Confused? Don't worry, you don't need to be a sherry expert. But you do need to make sure you have the right sherry for the cocktail you're making. One of my favorite cocktails in the entire world, the Andalucia, calls for cream sherry. The one I'm sharing with you today calls for dry sherry. Dry sherry indeed tastes...dry. Its also nutty and can have a "salty" taste to it which freaks people out. I love sampling people on dry sherry for the first time and seeing the reaction on their faces--the "dryness" is just something we're not used to drinking, so it tastes weird at first. But its delicious as an aperitif (as a cocktail before your meal) and ESPECIALLY delicious with nutty cheeses (mmmm....Manchego). If you buy a bottle though and its not your cup of tea, that's okay. Make yourself this Sangaree cocktail and it will surely change your mind!

The Recipe

I stumbled upon this recipe one evening in my favorite cocktail recipe book, The Ultimate Bar Book (highly recommended). Friends, I gotta say, this cocktail is freaking delicious. Especially if you are not a sherry fan. I don't really know how to explain it, but the harmony between the Cointreau and sherry is beautiful while the simple syrup livens everything up. But you have to be careful--it has 4 ounces of 17% abv wine in it PLUS Cointreau and simple syrup...so this cocktail is dangerous. It definitely had me feeling happy after just one. You can sub Triple Sec for the Cointreau if you don't have any, but make sure you add that one to your bar inventory--it is richer than Triple Sec and is called for in many cocktails. As for the Fino Sherry (or dry sherry), you don't have to buy anything super expensive if you don't want to, but don't go so low as using sherry designated for cooking. I found the Harltley and Gibson's Fino Sherry for about $20 at a local wine shop.

The Sherry Sangaree

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Dry Sherry
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Stir the Sherry, Cointreau, and simple syrup together in an ice-filled mixing glass.
  2. Strain into an ice-filled wine glass (I like using one giant ice cube, as shown in the photos).
  3. Run the lemon peel along the rim of the wine glass, twist it over the glass, then drop it in.

Thirsty for More? Check out these Cocktail Recipes:

The Andalucia

The Chapala

The Gimlet

5 Storage Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Beer

Are you storing your beer correctly? These 5 common mistakes that can ruin beer may surprise you |CaretoPair.com

You spent your hard-earned money on some good beer—it would be a shame to let it spoil just because you stored it incorrectly! Here are 5 mistakes you might be making that is accelerating the decimation of your beer:

Mistake #1: You Left the Beer in Your Car

Its summertime and you just grabbed a case of pilsner to quench your thirst at your friend’s upcoming pool party. But after your stop to the beer shop, you needed to run to Target. Then Home Depot. Then to the movies...While you’re running all these errands, the beer is sitting in high temperatures either in your trunk or your backseat. Treat your newly-purchased beer like a gallon of milk—you wouldn’t leave that in your car in the hot weather, would you? Heat will essentially “cook” the beer and break it down, leaving you with plenty of off flavors. Make the beer shop your last stop when it’s warm outside so you can quickly get it home and out of the heat. (The same goes for wine, too).

Mistake #2: You Are Storing Your Beer in the Garage

Garages are possibly the worst place to store your beer. You might as well just keep it outside, which is also a no-no. Unless your garage is temperature-controlled, your beer is going through many temperature fluctuations—too much heat on the hot days, and near-freezing temperatures on the cold ones. Your precious beer needs to avoid temperature fluctuations whether they be hot or cold, so keeping the beer inside, or better yet—in the fridge, is ideal.

P.S.—once your beer is cold, it should stay cold, so avoid taking beer out of the fridge unless you plan to drink it right away.

Mistake #3: You Are Exposing Your Beer to Light

You probably know that sunlight can “skunk” beer in minutes (make it smell like a skunk..and therefore ruining it), but did you know that artificial light can do the same? Even if you are storing your beer inside your home (yay!), if the bottles are constantly seeing sunlight or the lights from your home, they can still be affected. So store your beer in the darkest, coolest part of your home, like in a basement or a closet.

Side Note: this applies to bottled beer only; cans are the only vessel that blocks 100% of light from the beer. Brown bottles block 95% of the light, but clear, green, or blue bottles offer almost no protection against skunking. This is also why so many beers come packaged in surrounding cardboard—to protect them from the effects of light.

Mistake #4: You Are Waiting Too Long To Drink Your Beer

Beer is not wine, friends, so don’t age it. Some beers can age, yes, but 90% of them out there are meant to be drank fresh.  Many beers contain an expiration date or a date of production; if you don’t see a date, drink that beer within 3 months. If you’ve been keeping it in the refrigerator, it will be good for up to 6 months. After that time frame, the hop aromas will start declining as well as any bitterness, fruit or malt components. In even more time, the beer will develop signs of oxidation and off-flavors. Bottom line, just drink your beer.

Mistake #5: You Are Storing The Beer on Its Side

Again, beer is not wine, so there is no reason to store it on its side. Many people think that beers enclosed with corks need to be stored on their side to keep the cork moist but really, the cork will be fine (unless you are aging your beer for upwards of 15 years, which may be too long even for aged beers). Beers should be stored upright so that any yeast or sediment that develops will settle to the bottom of the bottle—so that when you pour out that beer, you can leave the glop behind. This really only pertains to older, purposely-aged beers and hefeweizens, but now you know that beer needs to be stored upright.

How to Correctly Store Your Beer

So, let’s quickly summarize how you should store your beer based on all of these mistakes I just mentioned:

  •         Store your beer upright in a cool, dark place to avoid contact with heat and light
  •         Drink your beer within 3-6 months of purchasing, depending on how cold your storage conditions are
  •         Avoid temperature fluctuations in your beer by all means (once it’s cold, keep it cold)
  •         Never leave your beer in a hot car/trunk

See, that’s not so hard, right?

Thirsty for More?

Recipe for Beer Cheese Soup

Cocktail Time: The Andalucia

What Beer to Pair with BBQ Ribs

 

Classic Caesar Salad Paired with Helles Lager

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

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

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

Have you ever made caesar salad dressing before?

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

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

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

The Pairing

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

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

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

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

Examples of Munich Helles Lager

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

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

The Recipe

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

Classic Caesar Salad

Author:

Dani

Prep time:

35 mins

Cook time:

3 mins

Total time:

38 mins

Serves:

2 Salads

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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Thirsty for More? Try these Pairings!

Battered Fish and Chips Paired with Cream Ale

Homemade Brownies Paired with Sweet Stout

Whiskey Barbecue Chicken Paired with Pale Ale

Opened Wine: How Long It Lasts

How long does opened wine last? Did you open up a bottle of wine today and decide it can't be finished? That's okay, because it will last you a little longer if you take a few steps to preserve it. Read on to find out how long your bottle of opened wine actually lasts.

I once had a friend that had an opened bottle of Beaujolais sitting in her counter-top wine rack for months. MONTHS. Maybe even years. Every time I saw it, I cringed. The poor bottle was dusty and the juice inside was trashed. More so, I pitied the person that dared to take the next sip from it. First lesson in this article: do not leave opened wine sitting on your counter-top. Ever. (Refer to "Store wine in the Fridge", below, if that statement makes you confused). And please, for-the-love-of-vino, don't keep a bottle opened for a month.

So how long does your bottle of opened wine last? Well friends, just like almost everything that concerns the wine world, it depends. I'm sure that is not the answer you were looking for, but this is not a black-and-white scenario. Rule of thumb: if it has been four days, definitely dump that bottle out. For me, however, sometimes even a day-old opened bottle of wine must be poured down the drain. Here are some factors that will determine the length your bottle of wine will last after being opened:

Factors Determining How Long Your Wine Will Keep

Alcohol. The statement of dumping your bottle if opened for more than 4 days does not concern wines that are higher than 18% abv. Alcohol is a natural preservative to wine, so the higher the alcohol, the longer that bottle will last. Wines at 14% abv or higher will last longer (like a day longer) than wines lower than 14%, and wines that are 18% or more can be kept for weeks if stored properly (see below). So, don't go dumping your delicious bottle of Port, Sherry, or Madeira out, you hear me?

Example: A bottle of Riesling at 11% abv will age quickly, not lasting more than 1-2 days. A 14% bottle of Malbec, however, might last 2-3 days. Both bottles will be aging in this time frame, however, and will not taste the same as when you first popped the cork.

Red Wine or White Wine. In general, red wine will last longer than white wine (again, gray area here though). Red wine has more color pigmentation, tannin, and other components that will take longer to break down, so it lasts longer. The heavier the red wine is, the longer it will take to age. Many white wines should be drank young because they don't have these structural elements; this is why (with the exception of a few varietals), most white wines are not meant to age more than 5 years.

Age. This is a bit of a given. Obviously, younger wines will take a bit more time to age than wines that are already old. However, wines that are meant to be drank young won't be any good after some time being opened. In general though, a wine from 2015 will last a bit longer in an opened bottle than the same wine from 2010.

Price. This is when you may want to roll your eyes at me, but generally, more expensive wines will last longer than value wines. That is because expensive wines are generally more complex, meaning they have more flavors and characteristics going on that will take longer to break down and fall out. However, this also means you spent more money on this wonderful bottle of wine, so why risk it going bad? I'm a fan of drinking the wine I spent my hard-earned money on. (wink wink)

How to Keep Your Wine as Fresh as Possible

There are 3 factors that kill wine: heat, light, and oxygen. So, just do these two things to keep your wine as fresh as possible:

Close Tightly. The more oxygen that gets into wine, the more likely that wine will turn into vinegar. Unless I have a wine that needs to breathe, I put the cork or screw cap back on while my wine sits at the dinner table. If the bottle isn't finished after dinner, then it gets closed up extra tight and heads to the refrigerator. Screw caps are better than corks to store opened wine because they close the bottle up the most, eliminating any more oxygen from entering. (Although corks also close the wine, some oxygen will still slowly leak into the bottle). So if you are someone that only drinks a glass or two from a bottle a night, screw cap-enclosed wine is your new best friend.

Store in the Fridge. Warm temperatures accelerate the aging process, so protect your wine by keeping it in the refrigerator (never, ever store your wine in the freezer unless you want a wine slushee). If you keep it on the counter, the wine will be affected by heat and light, which is a big no-no. Store it in the fridge upright if possible so there is less surface area of the wine in contact with oxygen (which is taking up the empty space of the bottle). And most importantly--don't forget that your wine is in the fridge!

Final Word of Advice

The piece of advice I'd like to leave you with is this: just drink that bottle of wine! A wine changes in appearance, aroma, and flavor the minute you open it. It can be really cool to experience how the wine "opens up" with time, but with too much time, your wine will be unpalatable. Take all the measures I suggested above to keep your wine as fresh as possible for the next time you pour yourself a glass. But overall, do not keep a wine opened for more than 1-2 days.

Thirsty for more? Here are Links to My Favorite Recipes:

Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Roasted Chicken Paired with Pinot Noir

Broiled Swordfish Paired with Gavi