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!

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!

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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How to Pair Malbec with Food

Ten years ago things really started to heat up in my kitchen! I was a student at the Northwest Wine Academy not only studying the craft of winemaking, but learning the art of pairing the finished product with food. In one of the classes Chef Lenny Rede challenged us with an assignment he titled, “Iron Chef:  Malbec.” The goal was to create a dish to complement a Malbec of his choosing. Here are the principles we applied to pair Malbec with food.

Flavors in Malbec

Pair Malbec with food using similar or contrasting flavors.
Blackberry ♦ Blueberry ♦ Cocoa ♦ Citrus ♦ Black Pepper ♦ Smokiness

Ingredients

Select a base ingredient that is likely to match with the variety.
Beef ♦ Lamb ♦ Veal ♦ Pork ♦ Tuna ♦ Chicken ♦ Duck ♦ Sausage

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.
Blackberries ♦ Blueberries ♦ Mushrooms ♦ Sun Dried Tomato ♦ Balsamic Vinegar ♦ Beets ♦ Bacon ♦ Aged Cheeses ♦ Mustard

Cooking Techniques

Grilling ♦ Roasting ♦ Smoking ♦ Barbecuing

Of course, let’s not forget one of the great food and wine pairing principles that says, “If it grows together it goes together.” In other words, pair Malbec with a dish you would find in an area where the wine is widely produced, such as Argentina. You know, like grilled steak and chimichurri! Or empanadas.

Meat

Suggested Food Pairings for Malbec

Back in class, some roasted sweet potatoes that Chef had served us inspired me to consider preparing sweet potato gnocchi and topping it with a Chimichurri sauce rather than pesto. Then, my class partner tasted my gnocchi and very nicely suggested that we try something else. “It might take us a while to perfect the technique for making those light fluffy pillows,” she hinted. Let’s just say I’m still working on that!

Winning dishes presented in our Iron Chef:  Malbec showdown included vegan chili, goulash, and a lovely cheese plate.

A good friend prepares a roast chicken by massaging baking spices under the skin. It’s a truly lovely match for Malbec.

Mole sauce is also fun to pair with Malbec. I like to go rogue and use it as a pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or a topping for turkey meatloaf. In Seattle, the French Grocery at Pike Place Market usually carries a mole paste that enables the home cook to whip up a batch of mole without spending days in the kitchen.

Also, if you’re a fan of the grape, be sure to mark your calendar – Malbec World Day is on April 17th each year. Join the celebration!