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How to Pair Chardonnay with Food

Chardonnay is one of the most popular wine varieties in the world. In fact, it is the most widely planted white grape variety here in Washington State. This food friendly white wine also happens to complement a number of my favorite dishes! To create the ultimate match, here are some easy tips to pair chardonnay with food.

Chardonnay Food Pairing
Shrimp Risotto and Chardonnay are a great match

Flavors in Chardonnay

Match Chardonnay with food using similar or contrasting flavors.
♦ Pear ♦ Lemon ♦ Apple ♦ Pineapple ♦ Vanilla ♦ Butter

Base Ingredients

Select a base ingredient that is likely to match with the variety.
♦ Crab ♦ Shrimp ♦ Scallops ♦ Mussels ♦ Halibut ♦ Salmon
♦ Chicken ♦ Turkey ♦ Quail ♦ Lobster

Bridge Ingredients

And/or use these bridge ingredients:
Tip: select one or just a few. A dish that’s too busy competes with the wine rather than complements it.
♦ Apple ♦ Pear ♦ Fennel ♦ Citrus ♦ Corn ♦ Dijon Mustard ♦ Vanilla
♦ Dairy ♦ Roasted Garlic ♦ Parmesan ♦ Swiss Cheese

Suggested to Pair Chardonnay with Food

When we’re in a celebratory mood at our house, I make a batch of crab cakes and break out a lightly oaked chardonnay. This pairing is THE way to celebrate a special occasion! Buttered corn makes a terrific side.

Food Pairing for Chardonnay
Crab Cakes and Chardonnay are the ultimate celebratory pairing

Riff on risotto and drizzle it with truffle oil for a decadent pairing. Or, keep it classic and top that risotto with some shrimp. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Chablis. Chablis hails from the Bourgogne region in France where the Chardonnay is known for its bright acidity and minerality. Translation:  it’s the opposite of buttery California Chardonnay.

Alternatively, try dishes such as lemon chicken, corn chowder (chilled or warm), roasted salmon, or Thanksgiving fare. It is also a nice pairing for my Light Weeknight Macaroni and Cheese Recipe.

Chardonnay Day

One of my early experiences on Twitter involved participating in wine chats. Initially there was Taste Live. Then, Rick Bakas founded Chardonnay day in 2010. It gave us the perfect excuse to gather with friends over food and wine. Of course, it also meant posting impressions of the wines and pairings on Twitter.

Chardonnay Day still takes place annually on the Thursday before Memorial Day. Either Twitter or Instagram are great places to share your experience. If you’re celebrating on this day, be sure to use the #ChardDay hashtag and tag me so I can see how you choose to pair Chardonnay with food!

#LetsTalkAboutWine

Celebrate National Moscato Day

National Moscato Day takes place on May 9th. Will you be celebrating the bubbly beverage? If so, here’s what you need to know to make the most of the occasion.

Moscato is light, slightly fizzy (technical wine word:  frizzante), and delightful to sip! It makes a great day drinking wine if you’re looking for an adult beverage to serve with brunch. However, at our house, we enjoy uncorking a bottle at the end of a meal to enjoy with dessert or on its own. Most bottles we purchase range in 5-7% alcohol by volume as compared to 12-14% for typical still wines. So, even if we’ve had wine with dinner, a little Moscato won’t put us over the edge.

National Moscato Day

Nerd Facts

Moscato is the Italian word for the Muscat Blanc grapes from which the wine is made. This variety is one of the oldest in the world!

Delicate honeysuckle and orange blossom aromatics are trademarks of this quaffable wine.  Thankfully, it tastes as pleasant as it smells. While sweet, it is not weighty or cloying.

Pairing Moscato

Personally, I adore almost anything lavender with Moscato, such as lavender shortbread or lavender ice cream. Likely because the lavender echoes the floral characteristic of the wine.

Tiramisu, however, is hands down the penultimate pairing.

chcocolate lady fingers coffee liqueur
Tiramisu Ingredients

So, how will you celebrate National Moscato Day? As with all social media wine holidays, be sure to use the right hashtag and share on social media. Head on over to Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine and #MoscatoDay!

Other Fun Wine Holidays

International Tempranillo Day
Malbec World Day – April 17
Taste Washington Wine Month – March
Washington Wine Month – August
Zinfandel Day

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Behind the Taste NW Wine Awards

Have you ever wondered about behind the scenes details at wine awards programs? On Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, the Taste NW Wine & Cider Awards took place at the historic Swedish Club in Seattle, Washington. Advanced Sommelier and Taste NW Executive Director, Christopher Chan, extended an invitation to be a member of the Tasting Panel. Extremely honored, I accepted, of course. The following is some insight gained as to what goes into a program of this scale.

Wine Competition Setup

The Taste NW Wine & Cider Awards encompass the Seattle Wine Awards, Oregon Wine Awards, and Idaho Wine Awards. Celebrating its twelfth anniversary this year, it is lauded as the premier Pacific Northwest wine and cider evaluation and awards program. Each entry is evaluated for aroma, flavor, typicity, balance, complexity, and overall impression. In the end, the top expressions earn Double Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Grand Awards of Excellence.

Wine Professionals
2019 Wine Awards Tasting Panel (Image Courtesy of Seattle Wine Awards)

The Scene

Continue reading “Behind the Taste NW Wine Awards”

Taste Red Mountain Wine

Do you believe you can taste terroir? Red Mountain AVA is the smallest and warmest wine grape growing region in Washington State. Wines crafted with fruit grown here are known for their structure and concentration. Often, I sense a bit of smokiness in the wines. Whether or not you believe it’s due to the terroir, one thing is for sure – there are phenomenal wines being crafted with Red Mountain AVA grapes.

Last week the Taste Red Mountain event took place at the World Trade Center in Seattle. Read on for a few highlights from that experience.

Now you might be thinking, “There’s Nancy going on about Washington State Wine again!” However, people from all over gush about wines from Red Mountain. In fact, here’s what Texas based Kat René, Certified Specialist of Wine and author of The Corkscrew Concierge, says about her experience with the region:

Tasting wine from Red Mountain was one of those “aha” moments for me. I don’t drink a great deal of Cabernet Sauvignon and I was convinced that I would never love Syrah. Red Mountain changed that for me. I was like, “who knew?!” It does an amazing balancing act between power and elegance.

Duckhorn Wine Bottle

Canvasback

The Canvasback 2016 Grand Passage Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a show stopper! For those not familiar with this brand, it is part of the Duckhorn portfolio. This bottling of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot is composed of their very best lots. Admittedly, at $84 it’s not cheap but dang, it’s worth it!

White Wine

Fidélitas

2017 Optu White Wine ($30)
Sure, many associate Red Mountain with red wine. However, for a refreshing change of pace try the 2017 Fidélitas Optu White Wine, a Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon sourced from Klipsun Vineyard. It spends time in 50% neutral oak, 25% new oak, and 25% concrete egg, making it a textural delight on the palate. I’m suddenly craving seafood!

Red Mountain Wine

Hightower Cellars

2015 Merlot ($30)
After recently hearing a local wine buyer wax poetic about this under the radar winery, I just had to have a taste. Am I glad I did! At $30 a bottle, the Hightower Cellars Merlot is a steal of a deal for the level of quality. This juicy wine offers bright fruit on the palate wrapped up in velvety tannins. Pair this wine with Friday night and Netflix.

Sangiovese Wine Bottle

Kiona Vineyards

2016 Estate Red Mountain Sangiovese ($30)
The Kiona tasting room was the first one I visited on Red Mountain way back, so the wines – and the family behind the wines – have a special place in my heart. This Sangiovese is a delectable easy drinker with characteristics of sweet tobacco along with chocolate notes. Will somebody please bring me some pasta?

Red Mountain Syrah

Muret-Gaston Winery

2013 Syrah ($50)
I have been partial to the wines of talented owner/winemaker Kyle Johnson ever since I became familiar with them as a wine buyer for a small shop. If there’s a variety that reveals a sense of place more than any other, it has to be Syrah. The Muret-Gaston Syrah showcases the intensity of the region with its rich black fruit profile. Uncork a bottle and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door!

Do you have a favorite Red Mountain winery? Head on over to Twitter or Instagram and #letstalkaboutwine!

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in exploring more wine from Washington, get to know some Walla Walla wines.

Many thanks to Laura Huston of Belle & Bottle for the invite to Taste Red Mountain. Her Bothell studio is a great place to seek out quality wines of Washington State and enjoy some fun wine events.

Auction of Washington Wines Spring Dinner Series

There is an exciting experience coming to Seattle for fans of Washington Wine! We’re talking about phenomenal winemaker dinners. What’s the big deal? Well, my friends, these dinners involve five of Washington’s favorite winemakers paired with five talented Seattle chefs including two James Beard Award Nominees from this year! There’s wine and food pairing, obviously. Plus, it’s all in the name of fundraising. So read on for more details about this special Dinner Series happening for one night only.

Presented by the Auction of Washington Wines, the dinner series benefits Seattle Children’s and the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program. “Spring Winemaker Dinners are a great way to connect winemakers with wine lovers”, says Jamie Peha, Executive Director. “We enjoy kicking off our event series with these one-night-only meals highlighting the best of the season in Seattle-area restaurants.” Guests have the opportunity to learn about each wine as they are poured with each course, directly from the Winemaker and Chef who created the pairing.

Dinner Series Details

These five dinners run concurrently
Thursday, April 25th, 6:30 p.m.
Seattle locations
All tickets $150 each, including wine, food, and service
More details available on the Auction of Washington Wines website.

Invite a friend, choose from one of these five memorable spring dinners, and enjoy the evening for a good cause!

Dusted Valley at Sawyer
Restaurant: Sawyer – 2019 James Beard Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant
Location: Ballard
Chef: Mitch Mayer
Winery: Chad Johnson of Dusted Valley

Kevin White Winery at FlintCreek Cattle Co.
Restaurant: FlintCreek Cattle Co.
Location: Greenwood
Chef: Eric Donnelly, 2019 James Beard “Best Chef in the Northwest” semifinalist
Winery: Kevin White “Winemaker to Watch” of Kevin White Winery

EFESTÉ at Lark
Restaurant: Lark
Location: Capitol Hill
Chef: John Sundstrom 2007 James Beard “Best Chef Northwest”
Winery: EFESTÉ

Latta Wines at Rider
Restaurant: Rider
Location: Downtown
Chef: Dan Mallahan
Winery: “Washington gamechanger” Latta Wines

Barrage Cellars at Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi
Restaurant: Ascend
Location: Bellevue
Chef: Sean Mayhew
Winery: Kevin Correll, Barrage Cellars

Are you as excited as I am about these dinners? Then head on over to my Instagram page and share your favorite winemaker/chef pairing! #letstalkaboutwine

If you’re interested in putting your own wine and food pairing skills to the test, check out my posts on Pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with Food and Pairing Cabernet Franc with Food.