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Pairing Merlot with Food

Let’s talk about what a fantastic variety Merlot is for accompanying dinner. This medium bodied red wine can be round and silky, making it a great wine to bring to the table. So, here is a quick and easy guide on pairing Merlot with food!

Quick tip: match the wine with food using by using the wine in marinades and sauces.

Flavors

Consider the flavors of the wine, and create a match by incorporating or complementing those flavors in the food:
Plum
Cherry
Raspberry
Figs
Baking spices
Vanilla

Start with one of these proteins to pair with Merlot:

Beef
Lamb
Venison
Pork
Chicken
Duck

And/or include ingredients that connect the wine with the food (aka “bridge ingredients”):

Berries
Currants
Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Herbs (especially thyme)
Cheddar Cheese
Mustard
Garlic

Noah Fox Reed, currently the winemaker at Tinte Cellars, once suggested pairing Merlot with food you normally pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. Think grilled or roasted beef, lamb, and duck.

Merlot

Although red wines have been known to be traditionally served with red meat, vegetarians should not despair! Try a dish such as farrotto, a preparation made in the style of risotto that substitutes the rice with the ancient grain farro. It’s got a richer flavor, and the dish has more weight to it making it perfect for fall and pairing with Merlot.

One of my favorite Merlot pairings comes from a friend – a cherry and basil salad with balsamic onions. Instead of lettuce she uses basil leaves. There are some lovely cherry infused balsamic vinegars that can be used to make a vinaigrette dressing. Give it a try during cherry season!

Whether we’re celebrating Merlot Month in October, International Merlot Day in November, or just a regular weeknight, Merlot is a variety we tend to keep on hand at home for regular uncorking. It’s a softer red wine than some other varieties, and it suits the type of foods I often prepare for dinner. What are you serving up with Merlot? Head on over to Instagram and spill it!

Washington State Exceeds 1,000 Wineries

It’s a time of exciting growth for Washington State’s wine industry! As of October 2019, more than 1,000 winery licenses were active. That is a major milestone.

According to the Washington Wine Commission, vineyard acreage in Washington also continues to grow at a rapid pace. Twenty years ago, there were four American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) producing 24,000 acres of wine grapes and 70,000 tons of grapes. Today there are more than 59,000 acres of vineyards across 14 AVAs that produced 260,000 tons of grapes last year. That translates to more than $7 billion contributed to the state’s economy and roughly $2.4 billion in revenue.

Hollywood Star Kyle MacLachlan owns a winery in Washington State (image by Andrea Johnson courtesy of Washington Wine Commission)

“We still have so much room to grow, both on the winery and vineyard side,” announced Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. “Washington is the New Epicenter of Wine – and truly, still just getting started.”

Celebrate this Washington Wine Milestone

Well, my friends, this milestone calls for a toast! What shall we uncork? With all those wineries, and since Washington State is the second largest wine producing state in the U.S., there are a lot of choices. Reflecting back on the hundreds of wines I had an opportunity to taste this year, here is a recap of some that would certainly be appropriate to celebrate this significant achievement.

Winning Wines from the Seattle Wine Awards

Medal winners from  the Seattle Wine Awards always add life to a party!

L’Ecole Semillon received my highest score in the white Bordeaux category. Year in, year out, this Double Gold winning wine is always tops in my books. Plus, at $15 a bottle, the quality for the price is exceptional.

Of course, Cab is king! Of those I reviewed, the 2016 Ambassador Wines of Washington Estate Plenipotentiary Cabernet Sauvignon was at the top of my list.

Walla Walla Wines

Walla Walla offers up a number of wines to get to know. The highly acclaimed Figgins Estate Red is a surefire head turner. However, for something more moderately priced,  Elephant Seven’s Cosmic Reflection would make an out of this world party guest.

Red Mountain Wines

Savvy wine drinkers know, “Red Mountain does an amazing balancing act between power and elegance.” Even Texas based Certified Specialist of Wine, Kat René of The Corkscrew Concierge will tell you that. Therefore, if you’re looking for a wine with a big personality, taste Red Mountain wine.

Whichever wine you choose to celebrate this Washington State wine milestone, be sure to share it on Instagram or Twitter using the #wawine hashtag. I look forward to seeing what Washington wines you’re drinking, so be sure to tag me and #letstalkaboutwine!

Resources

Washington State Wine Commission
L’Ecole No 41
Ambassador Winery
Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
Red Mountain AVA

Résonance Opens in Carlton Oregon

According to a Wine Spectator article, Résonance , Maison Louis Jadot’s first winery outside of Burgundy, was due to open its visitor center this summer. That meant it would be open in time for my most recent road trip to Oregon Wine Country. The Résonance website didn’t yet have information about visiting the property. However, the Oregon winery’s social media feeds made mention of wine and food experiences. Be still my heart!

An email inquiry resulted in a timely reply from Karen Kissane, Hospitality Manager, with a couple of options.

Wine and Food Experiences at Résonance

Vineyard Tour & Seated Tasting

$45/person, $30 with membership

Enjoy a glass of Résonance Rosé as we explore our Certified Organic estate vineyard. We will finish with a curated flight of four wines accompanied with a local cheese plate.

Please allow for 60 minutes for the experience. Tastings are $45 per person and hosted daily at 11am and 3pm, weather permitting and by reservation only. 48-hour advance notice required.

-or-

What Grows Together, Goes Together

Terrior Provisions Tasting – $75/person, $45 with membership

This unique terrior tasting highlights 6 single vineyard wines, both current and past vintages, along with locally sourced seasonal provisions representing a sense of place.

This immersive seated experience is hosted in the communal, yet intimate setting of our Résonance Room.

Please allow 90 minutes for the experience. Tastings are $75 per person and hosted Wednesdays-Sundays at 11am, by reservation only. 48-hour advance notice required.

Based on anticipated arrival time, I scheduled the Vineyard Tour & Seated Tasting for my husband and myself.

Arriving at Résonance

Although we visit Carlton annually, our time is usually spent in the small yet significant core area of the town within the well-respected Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area. Résonance is about five minutes west of that district. The drive offers an idyllic scene that initially provides a sense of calm. Then, heading up the hillside to the property, that peaceful feeling transforms into one of anticipation.

oregon vineyard

Continue reading “Résonance Opens in Carlton Oregon”

Mettler Family Vineyards GSM

I recently uncorked a sample bottle of Mettler Family Vineyards Estate Grown GSM. When most people hear, “Lodi,” they tend to think, “Zinfandel.” However, there are over 100 varieties grown in Lodi. This wine is just one of many examples of fantastic Lodi wine beyond Zin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If variety is the spice of life, Lodi is one spicy place!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Lodi, California. I have visited twice, most recently receiving the great honor of being invited to Lodi for a “Behind the Bottle” tour last year with the people of Visit Lodi. So, you’re probably thinking, “She must be biased in her opinion!” Perhaps, but the hubby absolutely loves this wine and he wasn’t with me on the tour!

Mettler Family Vineyards

Lodi is all about multi-generational farmed family wineries, and Mettler Family Vineyards is no exception. One of Lodi’s oldest farming families, the Mettlers have been tending to vineyards of premium wine grapes in Lodi since the late 1800s.

Notably, Adam Mettler, Winemaker for Mettler Family Vineyards as well as Michael David Winery, was named 2018 Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. This honor for Mettler and the Lodi region as a whole speaks to the innovation of the winemaking and its wow factor.

When I visited Lodi in 2017 the Mettler Family Vineyards Aglianico and Pinotage were on my list of recommended Lodi Wines. To that list I now add their GSM.

Mettler Family Estate Grown GSM

The price points on Mettler Family Vineyard wines are incredible for the quality, starting at just $19.99. Priced at $35, the current vintage of GSM is at the high end of pricing for this brand but still worth every penny.

The 2014 vintage is a blend of 40% Grenache, 36% Syrah, and 24% Mourvedre. Pretty aromas of violet emerge at first sniff, giving way to dried fruit. On the palate, the violet comes through along with baking spices and some candied cherry and raspberry. This red wine is an easy quaffer. I can still hear the hubby proclaim, “This is a great wine!”

wine and food pairing
Photo via Mettler Family Vineyard Facebook Page

Food Pairings for GSM

We enjoyed this wine with a tomato based pasta dish. However, the notes of baking spice coming off the wine had me thinking about rubbing a blend of cinnamon, clove, and allspice under the skin of a chicken before roasting the bird. Accompanied by a berry barbecue sauce, I think the fruitiness of the wine would come out even more.

Berry Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Have you tried this brand yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any Lodi wine you’ve experienced. Head on over to social media and #LetsTalkAboutWine!

More on Lodi Wine

Mettler Wines
Lodi Wine and Food: Where to Eat, Drink, and Explore
Lodi Wine Country’s Best Kept Secrets
Visit Lodi
Lodi Winegrape Commission

Pairing Rosé with Summertime Foods

When I ask my friends what they like to pair with rosé, many often cheekily respond, “Summer nights on the patio.” In all seriousness, though, rosé and summertime foods need to be on your picnic table! Let’s take a look at some of the mouthwatering rosé food pairings I’m serving up as well as those recommended by some of my favorite wine and food lovers on social media.

pairing for rose wine

Almond, Anchovy, and Fennel Toasts

This recipe for Almond, Anchovy, and Fennel Toasts comes from acclaimed chef, cookbook author, and TV host, Joanne Weir. Don’t let the anchovies turn your back on this delectable preparation. They add a bit of umami and saltiness which are countered nicely by a bright, dry rosé. This dish is my go-to starter when friends join us for dinner.

Salade Nicoise

A Provencal classic, this dish originated in the south of France where they know a thing or two about pairing rosé with food.

We also enjoy a variety of salads made with seasonal ingredients sourced from our local farmers market. Dry crisp rosés pair with more savory salads while off-dry (slightly sweet) rosés get poured with fruit based salads. A summer strawberry salad is a favorite of AdVINEtures.

Grilled Salmon

A crisp rosé and salmon are pure harmony. Pro tip:  sprinkle some smoked salt on the salmon during cooking.

Charcuterie and Cheese

“Honestly a cheese plate is my favorite pairing because that’s what I open for cheese plate nights on the patio!” professes Dani G. Morris. In agreement is Pam of Always5Star. Also, don’t miss the beautiful grazing boards from Fine Foodie Philanthropist.

Chilled Cherry Soup

chilled cherry summer soup with rose wine

If you like your wine on the sweet side, my recipe for Chilled Cherry Soup is the perfect pairing for an off-dry rosé on a hot summer day!

Hot Dogs

Although I’m not a hot dog eater myself, wine writers Michelle Williams and Kathleen Willcox sing the praises of a dog served up with a glass of pink.

Tater Tots

If you’re going to have hot dogs with your wine, you might as well take it to the next level and dish up some Tater Tots and dips. Right?

Serving Rosé

Sure, Rosé is meant to be chilled. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to drink it right out of the fridge. Consider taking rosé out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving time. That enables more of the enticing fruit flavors to show up.

Currently, I’m a little obsessed with Devison Vintners Rosé. What’s on your picnic table? Head on over to Twitter and Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine and rosé food pairings!