Some things never change. Spring eventually comes, a rebirth takes place in gardens and vineyards, and the latest rosés are released for consumption. Last year my beverage of choice for sipping on the deck in the days of sunshine and warmth was the beautiful Devison Vintners Rosé. My latest order of the wine from Walla Walla winery Devison Vintners recently arrived on our Seattle doorstep. Clearly, spring is here!
A new vintage of blushing wine is a reminder that there are still exciting things happening. For Peter and Kelsey Devison, it means the launch of their brand, Devison Vintners, along with highly anticipated newly released wines. Coincidentally, the couple also have a baby on the way! So, let’s hold onto a sense of optimism, talk about the winemaking, and dive into a couple of their fantastic new bottles with eager anticipation.
There is no doubt that pasta is one of the most comforting foods. If you’re looking for an alternative to serving it coated in a red sauce, this light yet creamy Primavera Pesto Pasta recipe featuring mint and peas offers a fresh take perfectly suited to spring. This quick and satisfying dish incorporates a pesto alternative inspired by a preparation from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (remember when he was the Naked Chef?).
1 T butter (it’s okay to substitute olive oil if that’s all you have) 3 cloves chopped garlic (more or less if you prefer) 1 T flour 1 cup milk (for cooking I usually don’t use anything less than 2%) 1 cup frozen peas 1 cup mixed greens (I used a mix of spinach, baby kale, and baby bok choy) 1 bunch of fresh mint Juice and zest of 1 lemon 1/4 cup almonds or pistachios Parmesan cheese to grate over top
1 – 8 ounce box of pasta NOTE: be sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water
Are you trying to minimize trips to the grocery store during this Coronavirus pandemic? Although I did a fair job of stocking up on our favorite foods, we’re transitioning to cooking the last items in the pantry. It’s still possible to make the best of it, though, and bust out a bottle of wine with whatever may end up on our plates on any given night. Here goes nothing! Let’s talk about pairing wine with pantry staples.
Get Corny with Risotto
When recently asked what I cook while stuck at home, I answered, “Risotto.” It’s a dish that demands attention. Add water, stir, repeat. This meditative process helps take the mind off other worries. It also has a way of making me feel that I’m serving something fancy even though it is, at its heart, soul soothing comfort food. Plus, it’s so versatile. For example, add some frozen corn to a basic risotto and – voila – corn risotto.
Wine Pairings for Corn Risotto
Cantina de Vermentino Nord-Est Vermentino $15.99 purchased at Esquin I went absolutely bonkers for this pairing! The weight of the wine works perfectly with the creamy texture of the risotto. Geeky notes: this Italian white wine from Sardegna has an unctuous, waxy texture and an exotic combination of fruity melon notes and citrus giving way to surprisingly savory characteristics such as pepper and celery.
Here we are stuck at home. Well, at least there’s pasta in the pantry. Truly, no pantry should be without dried pasta and jarred sauce at any time. In this case, we’re talking about pretty much any dried noodle with a tomato based sauce, such as marinara. This pantry meal is a weeknight miracle enabling dinner to get on the table in a minimal amount of time. Now, let’s take it to the next level and talk about pairing pasta marinara with wine.
Wine Pairing Guidelines
When you hear wine pros talk about selecting a pairing for tomato sauce they talk about acidity. The rule in wine pairing is that the wine acidity level should be equal to or slightly greater than the level of the food’s acidity level. Since tomatoes are an acidic food, it follows that the wine to complement tomato sauce needs to meet or slightly exceed the sauce’s acidity. Blah, blah, blah, right? Who typically knows what that heck that means? Honestly, it wasn’t until I started seriously studying wine that I even contemplated acid in wine. So, here’s one way to simplify it. Think about how a squeeze of citrus can wake up a dressing or fried fish. Ta daaaaa! It’s because that squeeze of lemon or lime adds acid.
How do you know if a wine has bright acid? Basically, if the wine makes your mouth water after you swallow a sip then bingo, you have a winner! Several go-to red wine varieties with this characteristic are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Barbera.
Pairing Pasta Marinara with Washington Wines
Pro tip: when heating up the sauce, add a splash of wine. A splash for the cook might be just the right thing, too!
Washington State wines offer a New World interpretation of Old World varieties. The following are a few Washington wines I’ve had the pleasure of tasting recently and recommend.
As I write this, Washington State is under a stay-home order due to the recent pandemic. Local wineries have been hit hard as a result. Forced tasting room and restaurant closures combined with canceled release parties have resulted in decreased sales for many. Thankfully, a number of wineries have quickly pivoted and offer online and/or phone orders with options such as no-contact curbside pickup and even delivery. Some have shipping specials as well. If you are a wine lover and able to spend money to enjoy some wine at home, purchasing direct from wineries can help keep these businesses going. Just be sure to check each winery’s website or Facebook page for current updates. Don’t let these challenging times prevent you from getting your hands on some delectable juice and supporting the wine industry!
$32 / bottle This wine is 100% Sangiovese from the acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. Aged 24 months in 50% new French Oak barrels, I noted flavors of root beer candy, anise, Italian plum, and raspberry. It’s been dubbed the “yeah, sure” wine by tasting room staff because it’s what they say whenever asked if they want to open a bottle. In addition to being my recommended pour with pasta marinara, they suggest pairing it with everything from pho to tikka masala. The Foundry Vineyards Sangiovese is a delightfully juicy, lively wine.
$38 / bottle This wine is 91% Sangiovese and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet brings some chocolate to the party, making it a deeper, moodier style. In fact, if Cabernet Sauvignon is usually your go-to wine, this could be the gateway to other varieties. The Patterson Cellars Sangiovese is an ideal selection for those who appreciate a full bodied red wine.
$55 / bottle A lighter option, this Washington State example is crafted with fruit from the winery’s estate as well as McKinley Springs Vineyard. I picked up notes of leather and vibrant strawberry on the palate. This sassy Nebbiolo from Cascade Cliffs is delightfully approachable. I also couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle of their Dolcetto.
From atop an Italian hillside down to the Adriatic Sea grows a grape called Pecorino. Can you visualize rows of vineyards dancing in the sun among a backdrop of craggy mountains? A little daydreaming is sure to do us good right now. So, let’s talk about Pecorino wine.
First, let’s be clear. Yes, I’m talking about Pecorino wine, not Pecorino cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with the robust Italian cheese! It’s flavorful, salty, and part of my adulthood rather than childhood. Thus, Pecorino cheese does share some similarities to the Pecorino grape variety. The wine, however, is a little less prevalent here in the United States. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Pecorino Wine”