Guys, I'm so excited about today's guest post! Do you remember my good friend Margeaux? If not, you can refresh your memory here and here! Well, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, I figured that it would be helpful for all of us to have a quick primer on Pairing Wine with Food. After all, I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of us who will be having a "date night" at home on February 14 rather than braving the restaurant crowds.
If you're planning a cozy night in with your sweetheart, then you have come to the right place! Margeaux is an expert on all things WINE (she really does work in the wine industry) and she's a true enthusiast of all things BOOZY! There are so many fun reasons that I love this girl, and you're about to see a little glimpse of why she's so much fun. Take it away, Margeaux!
Wine is mysterious and intimidating, right?
Let's start with a few simple facts:
My dear friend Blair is amazing. That being said, when it comes to drinking, she is a lightweight,……… she rarely drinks during the day. It's kind of adorable. She’s one of those people that wonders how to store “the rest of the bottle,” – not an issue I have ever faced. I suppose wine isn't a necessary component of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, changing the world, or raising half of the future male population. If I had three boys? I'd drink three times as much as a preventative measure. The math is sound, my husband checked.
The Seasoned Mom has very bravely requested this “guest post,” just in time for Valentine’s Day. As Blair has likely told you (in her intro, per my request), I am a wine expert. No additional credentials needed. Because Blair said so.
I wish I could remember when wine and I first met, I’m sure it’s a charming story, a “meet cute” if you will. All I know is that since that day, wine has been pairing beautifully with my life. I confess. Yes, I am one of those awful, lucky people that gets to “do what they love,” I know, I know, it makes me queasy too. One of the best parts about wine (one of my favorites, right below alcohol content), is its undisputable ability to affirm one’s self-importance. So while wine can be intimidating, it is sooo worth it. Consider me your personal wine cupid, I’m here to give you the “pssssttt” to make you look like a genius on a day where it could pay really off…wink, wink. Why rely on your own tasting acumen? Do you really have the time? I didn’t think so.
Naturally, the society-imposed stress of Valentine’s Day will make you eager to drink, but WHAT to drink is the question. #realproblems
Now, if you live in the backside of beyond, like Blair and I do, you are going to have to make the dreaded trip “into town,” in order to find that perfect bottle. Do yourself a favor and buy a case, most wine shops give a discount for 6 or 12 bottles and it’s not like you are going to stop drinking, we all know better than that.
So, there you are at your “local” (I use the term loosely here) wine shop, what next? Well, go in and bring your ID, you look so young today!
Depending on the evening’s menu or lack thereof, you can go in a number of directions, but don’t be scared, they all lead to wine. You are having steak aren’t you? I knew it! No, I am not inside your head, you’re just so cute and predictable…I can relate. My answer to nearly every pairing question is Pinot noir. (Everyone knows this). That being said, if you are having a pepper crusted steak, marinated steak, aged steak I would recommend a heavier red. A California Cabernet will be the obvious choice, but is it your choice? I don’t think so! You can get a much better value by choosing a Merlot from California, or a red (Merlot, Cab, blend) from Washington State. Here’s a few that should be readily available and ready to drink:
- Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Merlot 2011, $50 (they also make a lovely Estate Sauvignon Blanc for those that are looking for a white to pair with fish or cream sauce based meals – get the 2013 vintage for $25)
- Woodward Canyon “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, $60
- Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2012 $55
- Duckhorn Napa Merlot 2012 $50
- Chateau St Michelle is widely distributed and produces some good albeit mainstream wines, if you want a lovely, not too sweet Riesling, try the 2012/2013 Eroica $20. Their reds are very affordable and decent.
If you are having a “natural” steak (little to no marinade), lamb, salmon, pork, salad, sex or corndogs…..you want a Pinot noir.
Pinot noir is, “Adored by critics, prized by collectors, Pinot Noir is one of most tantalizing yet temperamental varietals in the world. For many wine enthusiasts, this is part of the appeal of Pinot -- it doesn't reveal its charms easily.Pinot Noir's virtue also stems from the unique characteristics of the grape. The skins are especially delicate, which accounts for the lighter color and body of the finished wine. But, despite the delicacy, the best wines have excellent backbone and length, providing aromatic intensity unlike any other grape.” – Wine Access.com
For a juicy/ripe/bolder Pinot noir, find a California or Oregon Pinot noir 2010 or 2012 vintage.
For an elegant/austere/delicate Pinot noir, find a Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot noir 2011 vintage.
For an expensive and potentially delicious Pinot noir, go for a Burgundy 2008, 2011 or 2012, if you must go this route, please find a Gevrey Chambertin.
Here are some truly incredible producers that should be fairly easy to find: (prices are approx. and will depend on where you are located and who you purchase the wine from)
- WillaKenzie Estate “Gisele” Pinot noir 2012, Willamette Valley (Yamhill Carlton AVA), Oregon $25
- WillaKenzie Estate “Pierre Leon” Pinot noir 2011, Willamette Valley (Yamhill Carlton AVA), Oregon $60
- Seasmoke Pinot noir – any kind you can get your sticky hands on. My son Ian, was born 2 weeks late and exactly 42 weeks after hubs and I guzzled a 1.5L bottle of 2008 “Southing” Pinot noir on Thanksgiving 2011. Good times and in the theme of “incredible producers,” ahem, ahem…
- Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot noir 2012, Oregon $30
- Merry Edwards, Russian River Pinot noir 2011/12, California $50
- Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Pinot noir, 2011/12, California $45
If all else fails, or you just love those sexy bubbles, seek out a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rose $75, any vintage. You are welcome.
Disclaimer – I have the privilege to represent WillaKenzie Estate as their National Sales Manager and MAY be a bit bias.
Happy Valentine’s Day, you crazy kids.