More Great Wine – More Great Recipes


A big thank you to the huge amount of you that shared and read last week’s blog on comfort food.  I had tremendous feedback, especially from some non-wine drinkers who really enjoyed the recipes.   (Lisa, again thanks for the great idea)…Are we on to something here?  Or is winter bringing out the comfort food in people?  It doesn’t matter, here are a few more of my favorite recipes with some of my favorite wines and some new wines I have discovered since the holidays.

   Caprese Chicken

Nothing irritates me more than making a recipe, and it doesn’t come out looking like the recipe.  I guarantee, if you try this recipe, it will come out looking like the picture above.  Also, it is so easy, both my cooking-challenged sisters could make this recipe, and it would still come out looking like the picture.  I had this recipe last night, so I thought I would share it today.  EASY!

Caprese Chicken (5 easy ingredients)

* Chicken Breast * Mozzarella Cheese *Balsamic Vinegar * Tomato * Sun-dried Tomato Salad Dressing *Basil

– Cook the chicken in the Sun-dried Tomato Salad Dressing till almost done

– Slice real Mozzarella cheese and place it on top

– Lay a slice of tomato (or 2) on top

Finish cooking, till the Mozzarella cheese has started to melt down the sides

Remote from heat, and drizzle Balsamic vinegar over the chicken.  Sprinkle with Basil, and I love fresh Basil.

Every time I make this for guests, they are super impressed, and  honestly, it’s my week-day go-to chicken dish, because it is so easy.

Now the fun part….. matching the wine!

This is the wine I had with it, it’s a Pinot Noir from Burgundy.   Oh, to say they were good together would be an understatement.   It was divine.   It was a 2006 Savigny Les Beaune from the Burguny region in France.  So flavorful and smooth, there is not a drop left in that bottle this morning.

The wine next to it  is a new wine I have discovered this past week, and it would be a great wine to go with those delicious chicken flavors.  A blend of Syrah (55%), Grenache, Mourvedre and Petit Sirah make it complex enough to stand up to all those unique flavors in the Caprese Chicken, but won’t over power it.  Winemaker Austin Hope has created a delicious fruity wine with flavors of smoke and violets.  I have to stop recommending wine to people, I went back to buy more at my favorite store and it was sold out.  As was this one….

The DaDa 2 from Argentina, which is 100% Merlot, was sold out as well.  This wine would also go excellent with the chicken, and at just $15.99 a bottle, this is a staple in my wine rack.  I have everyone at the Radio Station I work at (the job that pays for the wine) drinking this wine and loving it…. I have to stop that.. (only kidding).  Plump, juicy and flavorful, this wine goes great with most chicken and pork dishes.

A Chardonnay would also go perfect with this chicken dish, and this is a new one I got this week.  490 Meters Chardonnay is fresh and fruity with flavors of peach, fruit salad and citrus.    And it comes in under $20.  Another choice for Chardonnay, would be the Dreaming Tree Chardonnay from Dave Matthews’ Vineyard in California.
And because Caprese Chicken is Italian, an Italian Pinot Grigio would be awesome together.   A good rule of thumb is that a wine from a region on many occasions will go with food from the region.  In all my wine courses I am told, ‘Match the wine of a region to the food of the region’.    So many wines, one chicken dish.
BBQ Ribs  ( I knew that would get your attention!)
My Dad says that I make the best BBQ Ribs he has ever had.  And every time he comes to visit, or I go home to visit, he asks me to make my ribs.  Like the picture below I separate my Baby Back Ribs bone by bone as well.   This recipe isn’t hard either, but it does take some time.
So you start with my marinade.  As you can tell with many of my recipes, I don’t use measuring spoons, so just toss it in a bowl.
* Brown Sugar * Vinegar * Worcestershire Sauce * Lime Juice * Fresh Ground Pepper * Chili Powder * Garlic * Paprika * Bottle of BBQ Sauce.
I like to marinade them for 6 hours, or even overnight.  Then I put them in my crock pot, and slow cook them for about 3 hours.  Your house will smell delicious.  Then I fire up the grill and finish them off to get those nice grill marks, and a little more BBQ sauce.   Low heat, as they are cooked and you don’t want them to burn.
Here’s the beauty about making BBQ ribs.  You enjoy wine while cooking the ribs on the grill,  and you enjoy wine while eating the ribs.  It’s win-win really.
Having an Old Vine Zinfandel with BBQ ribs is like having the love of your life serenade you with a love song.  It’s just makes your heart skip a beat.  Gnarly head is one of my favorites and under $20, another win-win situation.  An old vine Zinfandel makes a statement, and a delicious one.  Flavors of spice, plum, vanilla and toasted oak, this wine goes with any food you want to put on the grill.
A California Cabernet Sauvignon would also go hand in hand with BBQ ribs and McManis makes a gorgeous award-winning Cab.  Dark berry fruits, a hint of smoke, and toasty oak screams for BBQ ribs.  Also a great wine with BBQ steak.  I am a huge fan of the full line of wines from the McManis family.  Check them out, and let me know what you think.

On that note, I thought this was good advice to leave you with.  Live Simply, Laugh Often and Wine A Lot!  Thanks for sharing with your friends, it’s greatly appreciated.

Till next week, In Vino Veritas  (In Wine there is Truth)


Comfort Food – Comfort Wine!

Every once in a while, I get writer’s block.  For the past 3 years, I have consistently wrote a wine blog on Saturday mornings, and I never want to skip a Saturday, because I really appreciate the people who tell me that they enjoy sitting with a cup of coffee and reading the blog.  So a big thank you to my friend Lisa Peach Butt, who gave me the idea behind this week’s blog.  I put it out on the Wine – In My Opinion Facebook page (shameless plug here – and she told me one of the things she’d like to know is which wine to serve with which food.

And since most of Canada and much of the United States is in the middle of a polar vortex, and we are having one of the worst winters in a few years…. I thought back on the food I’ve been cooking and eating these past couple of weeks.  I’m not only going to write on  Comfort food, and which wine goes best with your favorite comfort foods, but I’m going to share some of my favorite comfort food recipes.

This is what I had last night, with some honey roasted potatoes.   It’s a Spicy Honey Chicken.  Simple and easy to make.   Combine honey, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, vinegar, (I used balsamic), chili powder and some salt and pepper.   I added some Frank’s Hot Sauce, because I like spicy food, but it wasn’t in the recipe.   Mix it all together, and pour it over your favorite chicken.  Last night I used thighs.  Bake it in the oven till the chicken is done, or you can do what I did, and take advantage of +1 degree weather, and BBQ’d it.  I used an aluminum foil pan from the dollar store, and did it on the grill.


And this is the wine I had with it.   A brand new Pinot Noir I tried from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Winemaker Brent Marris created a beauty with the perfect amount of acidity and a light touch of oak that came in under $20.  Any Pinot Noir will do because the soft vibrant flavors of the wine don’t compete with the taste of the dish, and even a nice Zinfandel.   Pictured is one of my favorites, 7 Deadly Zins, which I always have in my wine rack.   For my white wine loving friends, because of the spiciness of the chicken, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio.  You can go with Chardonnay for a chicken dish, but the spiciness of this particular dish, I think, pairs well with something a little more crisp.    Here are a couple of my favorites, which come in around the $20 mark here in Canada.  The Sauvignon Blanc is from New Zealand, and the Pinot Grigio is from Italy.  Both wines are light and crisp won’t overpower the chicken, but compliment it.


Also this past week, I made Bowtie Chicken Alfredo Pasta.  You know, the weight scale wouldn’t groan as much as it does, if there wasn’t decadent delicious foods like this pasta dish.

I know…. right?  Mercy, it was good.  I got this from a website called ‘The Pioneer Woman’.  Ree Drummond is my hero.  She can cook like no man’s tomorrow.  She has a show on the Food Network and a wonderful website.  What I like most about the website, The Pioneer Woman, is that she breaks down the recipes step by step, and shows pictures along the way.  Here is the link to the recipe for Bowtie Chicken Alfredo.  The only thing I added, because with the heavy cream and real butter I was worried  it may not have had enough calories, (groan!)  I added real bacon bits.  I cooked a couple of strips of maple infused bacon, and made bacon bits.


This dish has ‘have a glass of wine with me‘ written all over it.   A Chardonnay would go hand in hand beautifully.  The rich creaminess of a nice Chardonnay would compliment the rich creaminess of the pasta dish.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  One comes in under $20, the other… ah, not so much.
Red wine also goes beautifully with the Bowtie Chicken Alfredo.  So many red wines.  because of the richness of the dish, a nice smoky Merlot or a nice Cote du Rhone from France, or a GSM, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.   Here are a couple of my favorites.  The Velvet Devil Merlot is from Washington State and is under $20, and the Cote du Rhone is from France.  (bet you guessed that one) and it comes in under $15 – and a great value.  The GSM is from the U.S.A and is about $21 here.
Another big dish this week I think many people enjoyed, was Shepherd’s Pie.  Nothing says comfort food like Shepherd’s Pie.  Ok, maybe for some homemade Mac and Cheese.  But for me, its pasta and/or Shepherd’s Pie.   Or how about a nice beef stew… yeah!
Any dish with all this meat, gravy, potatoes and veggies, a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are so many good Cabernet Sauvignon wines that come out of California for under $20. we don’t have the time or the room to talk about them all.  So let’s pick a couple.  You can’t go wrong with Robert Mondavi, he has spent years perfecting Cabernet Sauvignon.  The other one is a Beringer, but really, anything Cabernet Sauvignon would go with Shepherd’s Pie or beef stew.
For all my white wine loving readers, a well-oaked Chardonnay would be perfect.  As well, I have heard of a Viognier.  A Viognier is one of my favorites with turkey.  And I’ve heard for the reason, it can cut through fatty red meat.    And this is my favorite, from Stags Leap.  They make a beautiful Viognier, complex, well-balanced and vibrant.  Me, I still like a red with my beef.
Well that’s it for this week.  I have to go walk off some of this comfort food I’ve been eating.  Enjoy the recipes and enjoy the wine.
Till next week, Cheers



Hello New Year

Here it is again, the beginning of a brand new year.  I always look at this time of the year as a clean slate.  It’s exciting, we get to write what we want 2014 to look like.   There’s a quote that says, and I’m not sure who said it, but it goes something like this… “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch again”.   And although I am not one to make resolutions, I do have some ideas of what I would like to do in 2014, especially as it relates to wine!

As most of you know, I take a big trip every year, and this year I have the opportunity to travel to Tuscanny.  A group of new friends I met through my Old World Wine Class this past year are going on a guided trip, headed by our teacher.  Mark DeWolf is the President of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, and he also owns a company called By The Glass, which does guided tours through Italy.  It’s a fantastic opportunity and the only thing I have to check on, is because most meals are included, I have to see how much seafood fare is on the menu, as I am allergic.   But there are 9 winery tours lined up – how exciting will that be!

That trip is for one week in the beginning of May.  And at the same time, a couple of friends of mine are going to be visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy for 3 weeks.  Since I would like to stay longer than one week in Italy, and see more of Italy, I am going to take the train down to the Amalfi Coast for a few days and tour around with my friends.   Hello dream vacation of a lifetime.
I would also like to continue my wine education in 2014.  Still awaiting on my mark from Old World Wine, but I am seriously considering taking New World Wine through the CAPS program this year.   That would be very exciting for me, as I am a huge fan of New World wines.   United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (just to name a few)… I would love to discover new wines from these regions.   That’s one of the things I enjoyed the most from the Old World Wine course, was the new wines I discovered, that I probably wouldn’t venture out and buy unless I had the chance to try them… For example a $76 Pomerol from France.  It was a beauty though.
And how about a Tokaji – I would never have discovered the luscious taste of Tokaji without taking a wine course.
Royal Tokaji Wine Company 5 Puttonyos Aszu
And of course every time a person takes a new course, there’s always the interesting people you meet.  And it doesn’t have to be about wine.  Take a course in anything that interests you, and I guarantee you will meet a new friend… or two!  It’s also a fantastic way to break up those long winter months.
And then of course there are the new wines waiting to be discovered in 2014.  I follow several wine blogs, and wine loving people on Facebook and Twitter, and I love when they throw out a recommendation on a great new wine.   Just recently on twitter, I had someone send a great soundtrack to enjoy while enjoying a glass of wine.  Would you believe there are many people who read this blog that I have never met in person?  Yet we have become friends through social media and our love of wine.  And I am always learning from these wine loving, haven’t met yet, friends.
I love to eat almost as much as I love to drink wine, and look forward to discovering new recipes and experiences in 2014 as well.    So there you have it, some of the many reasons I am excited about 2014.  I would love to hear from you, what are you excited about in 2014?
Till next week, Cheers