Fire Up The Grill

It’s BBQ Season!  I love BBQ Season.  I am the Grilling Queen of the East Coast.  And I love enjoying a glass of wine while I’m barbecuing and while I’m eating the grilled delights.  Let’s have a bit of fun and talk about pairing up our favorite grilled food with some of our favorite wines.

Steak:

Doesn’t that make your mouth water?  A big juicy steak, in my opinion, requires a big juicy wine.  Most times a steak is served up with a big bold red, and I like a Shiraz or a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Here are two of my favorites.

    

I don’t have steak all that often, so when I do I tend to treat myself to a special wine.  You will never go wrong serving Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz or Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon (a Canadian favorite) with a grilled steak.   Both wines are big and bold in the glass with juicy fruits, oak aging and vanilla and spice.  A potent combination for any steak.  If you just drink white wines, give this one a try.

It’s the J.Lohr Chardonnay out of California, and it is everything a big Chardonnay should be.   Flavors of ripe apple, nectarine and some citrus with that buttery smooth oak aging – this one is a winner with chicken, pork and yes, even beef.

I would say chicken is my #1 grilled food.  I absolutely love chicken done on the BBQ.   Whether it’s wings, thighs or breasts, chicken makes for great grilled food.  And the wine.  I am loving Chardonnay at the moment with grilled chicken, like this one….

        

The J. Lohr Chardonnay mentioned above will also go divine with chicken.  Schuck’s Chardonnay is another great one out of California.  The unique packaging will hold up in an ice bucket, but it’s whats in the bottle that is most important.   Fun and crisp with buttery smoothness, love this with chicken.   With chicken, there’s a 50% I’ll be drinking red.  And my two favorite chicken pairings are Old Vine Zinfandels and Pinot Noir.

          

A few of my favorite Old Vine Zinfandels.    7 deadly Zins, is just what the name suggests, 7 different Zinfandel grapes from 7 different vineyards to make for one sinfully delicious food friendly wine.  Pepperwood Grove is being de-listed in Nova Scotia, so stock up.  They infuse pepper into the wine, light oak, big on fruity flavor.     And Twisted is another great priced wine in the old vine Zinfandel family.  Big ripe fruits, oak and pepper, also make it great with BBQ ribs.

 

       

Three of my favorite Pinot Noir wines.  The first one is Canadian, and our cool climate here in Canada make for a great Pinot Noir.  It’s raspberries and cherry fruits with a hint of oak make it so food friendly.   It’s under $20 in Newfoundland, can’t get this one in Nova Scotia.  But if you can find it in your local liquor store, pick it up.  The Smoking Loon is another Pinot under $20.  There was a time when you didn’t trust a Pinot Noir under $20, but those days are gone.  Soft subtle fruit with a hint of spice.  When in doubt about which red to serve with a meal, if you go with Pinot Noir you will hit it out of the ballpark 85% of the time.  That’s how food friendly it is.  And the last one is probably my favorite.  If you think Canada is making some good Pinot Noir, then New Zealand carries the crown.  They are known for 2 wines in particular, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  The Whitehaven is smooth and tasty with dark cherries and charred oak.

Next week, we are going to do pork, vegetables and I’ll mention seafood, even though I’m allergic to seafood and can’t eat it, I will pass along some recommendations.

Till next week, Cheers and fire up that grill!

 

Darlene

 

Discovering Fantastic Canadian Wines

When a person thinks of the fine wine countries, Canada may not be in the forefront for many people.  For a while now I have been broadcasting the fantastic Pinot Noir’s made here – the grape loves our cool Canadian climate.  Inniskillen makes a beauty for under $20.  However, the past couple of weeks I have tried several Canadian wines and they have wowed me!  And I don’t wow easily!

On Thursday the Benjamin Bridge Vineyard in Gaspereau, Nova Scotia released the 2012 vintage of the Nova 7 with much anticipation.  I had never tried this wine before and I don’t drink a lot of sparkling wines, but this one was fantastic.  Beautiful salmon color in the glass, the 2012 vintage is made of 8 different grapes, mostly Muscat and all the grapes were grown here in Nova Scotia.  In the mouth its lively and crisp with flavors of ruby-red grapefruit, lychee and a bit of a floral note.   Spicy food, oily fish, turkey or all by itself – this wine will wow your friends.  I regret only buying one bottle and may have to change that today.

Apparently, some Canadian Merlot’s have won me over.  Last week  I wrote about the 2009 Burrowing Owl Merlot from the Okanagan Valley.  A fantastic Merlot and beautiful vintage.  The 2010 vintage got released earlier this week and I will be ordering a case of it.  I have a case coming of the Cabernet Sauvignon from Burrowing Owl, and will be writing about that one next week.

I had the pleasure this week of trying the 2009 Merlot from the Mission Hill vineyard, also in the Okanagan Valley.   It only makes sense.  Up until now, my favorite place that makes a Merlot has been the Washington State in the United States.  And if you go a few miles north you are in British Columbia.  This gorgeous Merlot with its aromas of plums, blackberries and a bit of Mocha.  Aged in French oak for 15 months, can you say YUM!  This smooth Merlot has hints of coffee on the palate, and is on my menu for tonight.  This will make any barbecued food purr in your mouth – I’m having it with a creamy pasta.  It’s that good.

I also had the opportunity to try the Mission Hill Chardonnay.   This was totally different from many Chardonnay’s  and I loved it.   It was smooth without the buttery creaminess of some Chardonnay’s.  I had a hard time detecting the oak, so every white wine drinker will love this wine.  Flavors of pineapple and apricot dance with crisp tropical notes.   Not words I normally use to describe a Chardonnay and it did spend 7 months in both French and American oak.  A gorgeous wine that is super food friendly.

So, that’s it for this week.  Go Canada Go.  You are making some fantastic wines – keep up the good work.

Until next week – Cheers

Darlene

Wines Even The Easter Bunny Will Love

I think it officially becomes Spring once Easter rolls around.  Tomorrow you are probably planning a big meal with family to celebrate Easter, and hopefully I can lend a hand with the wine.   No matter what you plan on serving tomorrow, hopefully I can help.

      

If you are going the traditional turkey route, here’s one of my favorites.  From the Napa Valley it’s Stags Leap Viognier.   This is a new grape I have discovered since moving to Nova Scotia, and I love the crisp vitality of the wine.  Flavors of white peach and a lovely acidity make for a well balanced white wine.  This wine is also fantastic with spicy Asian cuisine.

For those of you who gave up meat for Lent, you may be celebrating tomorrow with a big juicy steak, or a delicious pot roast.   Have I got the wine for you.

The 2010 Yalumba Pachwork Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia.   This is the type of wine that gave Australia the crown when it comes to a Shiraz.  Said to be one of Australia’s oldest vineyards, the Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz is a dark red color with earthy tones on the nose.  Deep rich fruit combine with flavors of cedar to make a great match with beef.

Another one of my favorites is from McGuigan Wines in Australia and winemaker Neil McGuigan.

The McGuigan Shortlist Shiraz is a beauty, with powerful flavors of red berry fruit and black currants.   The only problem with this wine is that they make very little of it each year, thus the shortlist.  It is fantastic wine, selling out fast all over Nova Scotia.  Each bottle has an individual number on it, and if you get the opportunity try this wine.

If you are doing pork, maybe a nice pork tenderloin, you can’t go wrong with a nice smoky Merlot.   You can’t go wrong with this one

You are going to love the Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa Merlot –  with its big bold color in the glass and flavors of plum, licorice and chocolate.   It’s a great wine with pork.  And it seems I’ve been having out in the ‘Wines from Australia’ section a lot lately, so here’s another great wine with pork.

The Velvet Devil Merlot is out of Washington State in the United States, and is a favorite Merlot of mine.   Dark cherries, tobacco, cedar and oak combine t make a powerful Merlot.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.  Enjoy family and friends with good food and good wine.  I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for reading each week.  And for Rick, Sue and the gang for allowing me to try new wines each week.

Cheers

Darlene

Some Australian Greats!

Today we venture to the land down under.  And discover a few great wines.   First a big thank you to all the readers last week, I am humbled and grateful by how many people read the blog on ‘Tips To Buying Wine’.   So in the past couple of weeks, I have had a couple of great wines from Australia, and they are both reasonably priced.

Peter Lehmann Layers – 2010 from the Barossa Valley.  What an exceptional treat.  It’s on sale right now at my NSLC, but regularly sells for $19.995 here.  Still a great price for this great wine.   Layers is an appropriate name for this multi-dimensional wine.  The label describes it as “Intriguingly complex, Simply beautiful.:”  I couldn’t agree more.  The intense fruit of the Shiraz, the spiciness of Grenache, the earthiness of Mouvedre and the structure of Tempranillo  blend together to surround your mouth with all of the flavours that each grape brings to the wine.  As my friend Rick says, you can actually feel all the layers on your palate.    I love wines from the Barossa Valley known for its Shiraz.  This is a great one that I am looking forward to having again.

Are you planning on having steak in the near future.  Then please try this next wine with it.  Another great wine from the Barossa Valley that I have had the pleasure of enjoying the past couple of weeks is the McGuigan 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon The Shortlist.  You may have heard me talk about McGuigan’s before, the Black Label Shiraz is a great value.

At under $13, it’s easy to drink and one of the best values in any Liquor Store.  This McGuigan is the wealthier cousin , but so worth the money.

I had No 11087 but each bottle  has its own individual number.   It’s pleasure to the senses in a bottle.  At just under $25, I still think this is a great value.  It’s a spectacular complex wine with flavours of blackberry, plum and mint.   Neil McGuigan is a third generation wine-maker and knows what he is doing.   He says 2009 was a mild growing season so that the grapes had a chance to ripen slowly.

Here’s a great steak recipe from Natalie Maclean’s site that I had when I had this wine.  Check out Natalie’s site at www.nataliemaclean.com  I am one of the wine reviewers for her site.

Grilled Steak with Arugula, Tomato and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 6

3 strip loin steaks – 1 inch thick ½ lb baby arugula 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half

Vinaigrette

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper

To prepare the vinaigrette, simply shake the ingredients in a sealed container.  Layer arugula and tomatoes on a platter or individual plates.

Bring steaks to room temperature and preheat grill to high.  Brush steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill each side for 4 minutes (for medium rare with internal temperature 130-135oF) and let rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the steak along the short side and place on top of arugula.  Drizzle approximately 1 oz vinaigrette per serving on steak and serve.

Delicious!!!  Here’s a food tip.  I have recently discovered spectacular Balsamic Vinegar – from a specialty shop, it’s pricey, but so worth it.  The one I bought was a maple infused Balsamic Vinegar.   I will talk more about good quality Balsamic Vinegars and Olive Oils next week.

Till next week, thank you again for reading.  And Cheers

Darlene

Wines To Keep You Warm This Winter!

Mother Nature sure has been having fun this year.   A long cold snap, and when it does warm up, we get snow…. and lots of it.  I think it has been the same for most of Canada.

So, here are some new wines I have tried lately to keep those cold nights at bay.  And keep reading for a great recipe of Honey Roasted Potatoes.  How’s that for comfort food.

My friend Sue at the NSLC hit it out of the ball park this week, when she asked me to try the new Rhiannon Red Wine from Rutherford Ranch in the Napa Valley of California.

The 2010 vintage is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera.  At just under $21, this is my new favorite wine.  The Goddess Rhiannon is a Welsh Lunar Goddess who’s name means ‘Great Queen’ or ‘Divine’.   It is the perfect name for this divine wine.    My first taste, I was thinking ‘medium bodied, fruity, flavours of cherries with a hint of vanilla….And then the explosion of taste happened, where the wine lingered to a magnificent finish.   Low acidity and moderate tannins made for a divinely smooth wine.  Robert Parker called the Rutherford Ranch wines the best value in Napa Valley.   Run, don’t walk, to your closest Liquor Store and get a bottle of this wine.

Rolf Binder Wines - Halcyon Cabernet Merlot 2008

Another spectacular wine I tried this week was the Rolf Binder Halcyon 2008 Cabarnet Sauvignon from the Barossa Valley in Australia.   This wine was a gift from friends and what a great gift it was.  A super smooth wine that combined flavours of blueberries, chocolate, herbs, spices and a nice long opulent finish.   I had this wine with grilled pork and it was a perfect combination.  I also teamed that with Honey Roasted potatoes – talk about comfort food.  I have had many requests for this simple recipe, so here it is.

Honey Roasted Potatoes

You will need:

Potatoes, peeled and quartered.

Diced onion

Melted butter  (don’t use margarine)

Honey

Dry mustard

Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Place potatoes in a single layer in the dish and top with the diced onion.

In a small bowl, combine melted better, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over potatoes and onion.

Bake for 35 or 40 minutes until tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Delicious!  Enjoy

Have a great week, stay warm and enjoy the food and wine.

Darlene