Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide

Thanksgiving wine pairing

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we’ve put together this helpful guide to assist you with choosing wines to pair with your holiday feast. Whether you’re cooking a traditional turkey or putting together something a little more unconventional, we’re here to help you choose your Thanksgiving wine pairing. This guide will help you elevate your meal from traditional to transcendental.

What’s on the menu?

Appetizers

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Cheese plates: Pair with dry, mineral-driven white wines such as Chenin Blanc, Cava, or Champagne.

Seafood Canapés: White wines are a no-brainer for seafood snacks. Look for Sancerre, sparkling Vouvray, or rich and minerally Catalan whites.

Aperitifs: If you want to skip the pre-feast delicacies and go straight for an aperitif, try a vermouth cocktail, pétillant naturel from the Loire Valley, or any joyful sparkling wine to get the conversation flowing. Cocktails are also a great option, and one of my favorites for a pre-dinner libation is the French 75.

First Courses

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Soups: Many rich and creamy soups will pair beautifully with an equally rich and creamy white wine. Try a Cour-Cheverny, California Chardonnay, or aromatic Viognier. If the soup has some sweetness (like butternut squash bisque), try to find a wine with a little sweetness to match.

Salads: Pair your wines according to the dressing on your salad. If you’re doing a bright and acidic vinaigrette, stick with wines with lots of acidity like Melon de Bourgogne, crisp and dry Chenin Blanc, Chablis, or Gruner Veltliner. If you’re using a balsamic vinaigrette, pair it with a Provencal Rosé instead of a white wine. If you’re doing a creamy dressing, choose fuller-bodied whites with creamy texture such as white Burgundy, California Chardonnay, or Viognier.

Main Courses

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Turkey (or any other poultry): Nothing says Thanksgiving like your traditional turkey. Whether it’s thoughtfully brined and roasted, deep fried in your back yard, or smoked in a fancy smoker, the right wine will bring it class and elegance. You can go for a white wine, a rosé, or a lighter-bodied red – any of them will knock it out of the park. Consider fuller-bodied whites such as white Burgundy, California Chardonnay, Rhone whites (Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier), or even a light and fresh Provencal Rosé. For reds, excellent choices would be Beaujolais (gamay), medium-bodied Zinfandel (look for examples from the Russian River Valley), light red Burgundy, Pinot Meunier, fresh and juicy Carignan blends, or even Cheverny rouge (Pinot Noir/Gamay blend).

Ham: Another old standby for Thanksgiving Day is a honey-baked ham. My go-to in this case would be an off-dry rosé, fruity Pinot Noir, cru Beaujolais, Gewurtztraminer, or hard apple cider.

Lamb: Although a bit unconventional, it’s not unheard of for people to prepare lamb for Thanksgiving. My go-to for fall lamb would be wines to compliment the gaminess such as Counoise, new world Pinot Noir, Gamay, red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Rioja, or Malbec. Choose medium-bodied wines with an herbal component if you’re doing herb-roasted lamb served rare, and fuller-bodied wines if you’re braising shanks or shoulder.

Beef: If you’re anything like me, you might be preparing something untraditional such as beef. Maybe you’re roasting prime rib, or braising meltingly-tender beef cheeks. In this case, excellent pairings would include Cabernet Sauvignon, red Bordeaux, rich Italian Teroldego, or smoky Austrian Blaufrankisch.

Vegetarian dishes: Most of us have a beloved close friend who prefers their protein from vegetable sources. For mushroom-based dishes, look for earthy wines such as red Burgundy and other French Pinot Noir-based blends. For tomato-based dishes, look for spicy Italian reds or tomato-y Cabernet Franc. For something creamy like a veggie pot pie, equally rich and creamy whites like white Burgundy, Viognier, or Grenache Blanc. Orange wines are a great option for roasted vegetable dishes.

Dessert Course

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Pairing wine with dessert can be difficult to wrap one’s head around. Our very own Colleen McGarry wrote this helpful article to assist you with pairing wine with dessert. In a nutshell, you want to pair wines that have an equal amount of sweetness, or that are sweeter than your dessert. Try Sauternes with your apple pie or blue cheese, eau de vie (fruit brandy) with dishes made from the same fruit, or Gewurtztraminer with your spicy pumpkin pie. Chocolate-based desserts will be complimented best by ruby or tawny ports.

Need help choosing which wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast? Feel free to reach out to us by emailing info@winelandia.com!

Wine of the Week: Domaine Belluard 2010 “Mont Blanc” Brut

With summer coming to a close and the onset of fall, I wanted to feature a Wine of the Week that will pair well with the transition of seasonal ingredients. In summer, you see tons of summer squash, tomatoes, basil, corn, stone fruit, and berries. When fall arrives, so do the hard winter squashes, chicories, wild mushrooms, apples, pears, potatoes, fennel, and beets. I like to think of wines as seasonal, too, and the arrival of fall makes me crave different types of wine. I want wines that are less fruity; I look for wines that are more herbal and savory.

One of the wines in our shop that seems best suited for fall is the Domaine Belluard 2010 “Mont Blanc” Brut. It’s a biodynamically farmed sparkling wine made from a nearly extinct grape called Gringet, which there are only 22 hectares of in existence. Belluard seeks to preserve this rare and delicious grape by making a number of varietal wines from it. The “Mont Blanc” brut is produced from grapes grown on steep slopes and in poor soil. The wine is intensely mineral – if you’ve ever doubted the existence of minerality in wine, get a bottle of this and you will no longer doubt it. It smells intensely of crushed rocks, what you might imagine a quarry smells like. Along with the notable minerality, there are aromas of ginger, lemongrass, white flowers, and fresh alpine air. This is an elegant, profound, complex wine that is perfect to pair with a variety of fall foods.

This is a very rare wine, and it’s beauty is equal to it’s scarcity. Most of it was sold out across California before it recovered from bottle shock due to being transported across the globe. I opened a bottle of this just the other night at a friend’s house, and it’s singing right now.

Buy now on Winelandia.com!

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Blend: 100% Gringet
Region: 
France>Savoie>Haute-Savoie
Vineyard: 
Biodynamically farmed. Vines are planted on chalky scree slopes with southern exposure.
Tasting Notes: 
A profound sparkling wine, with notes of white flowers, ginger, lemongrass, and crushed rocks.
Food Pairing: Comté cheese, smoked trout, quiche, roasted hard winter squash with maldon salt
Production Notes:
 Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Fermented and aged in concrete egg. Minimum of 3 years on the lees. Bottled with minimal SO2.
Winemaker:
 Dominique Belluard
Bio: Deep in the eastern French Alps, near the Swiss border, the Belluard family has been making wine in the village of Ayse since 1947.  They are one of the region’s top Biodynamic producers. They started with vineyards of Gringet (a rare grape variety endemic to the region) and fruit orchards. They now own 12 of the 22 remaining hectares of this nearly extinct grape, and are doing their best to preserve it. Their vineyards are certified Biodynamic, and all of their wines are fermented and aged in concrete eggs instead of wood or stainless steel. Great care is taken in the production of these wines, utilizing only native yeasts, and even aging their own sparkling wines in the bottle (most producers outsource this).

Buy now on Winelandia.com!

Seasonal Foods: Nectarines

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The list of my Favorite Things About Summer includes the truckloads of stone fruits that appear at the farmer’s market in the beginning of June. Cherries, nectarines, apricots, pluots, apriums, and peaches all grace the stands with both ordinary and exotic-sounding names. Here in the Bay Area, we are lucky to have a ton of farmers bringing in a multitude flavorful varieties and hybrids. Some of my favorites include the Flavor King plum, Montmorency sour cherry, Flavor Grenade pluot, and the Carine white nectarine.

Stone fruits are a lot like wine; they can have high acid or low acid, tart skin or thick and tannic skin, and a multitude of complex flavors and aromas. Case in point – the Carine white nectarine (shown above), which is grown by Blossom Bluff Orchards in the town of Parlier, just west of King’s Canyon National Park. The Carine is a high-acid white nectarine (most white nectarines don’t have a lot of acid, like a yellow nectarine does), and Blossom Bluff is the only grower of this rare variety in the world. They were given a cutting of this experimental variety by a friend who stopped growing it because it was deemed “not commercially viable” due to it’s delicate nature and lack of shelf stability. The folks at Blossom Bluff decided to keep it because they felt it was special, and they were willing to take a loss in order to preserve this special fruit.

The Carine is special for a few reasons – the skin is delicate and tender, the flesh has a creamy texture and is perfectly balanced with sweetness and acidity, and the flavor has hints of sweet stone fruit blossoms. It’s Colleen’s favorite stone fruit, which makes perfect sense due to her love of floral white wines with great acidity.

If you want to try this special fruit, act quickly because it’s in season now. Blossom Bluff Orchards can be found at many Bay Area Farmer’s Markets, including the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in San Francisco.

 

Seasonal Foods: Garlic Scapes

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Garlic – quite possibly the most popular member of the allium family, a genus of plants that includes chives, onions, and leeks. Like all alliums, garlic produces flowers, and before a garlic flower blooms, the blooming stalk is called a scape.

I’m not sure how I found out about the miracle of garlic scapes. I probably just bought some on a whim (I get very excited about ultra-seasonal vegetables and buy them without knowing how to cook them) and googled around until I figured out what place they had in our culinary world. It turns out, garlic scapes make fantastic pesto, which freezes surprisingly well (recipe forthcoming).

Garlic scapes are in season RIGHT NOW, and they are only here for a short while, so get them while you can. You can find organic scapes at Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market through Knoll Farms or Thomas Farm. I’ve also seen non-organic scapes at the Alemany Farmer’s Market, as well as Berkeley Bowl.

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Recipe: Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad

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I have a secret: I’ve been religiously going to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning for… well, years. I’m sure if I ever didn’t show up for a couple of weeks in a row, one of the merchants I shop with every week would file a Missing Person’s report for me.

When we’re developing recipes for the wine club, this farmer’s market is usually the inspiration for our creations. You can buy literally ANYTHING here, if it’s in season and grown within a 200 mile radius (with the exception of garlic scapes, which I’ve given up on). It seems natural that I’d name a salad after this magical place, the muse in my lifelong culinary adventure.

This beautiful, seasonal salad is full of top-quality ingredients from some of my favorite Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market vendors. The spinach is from Star Route Farms in Bolinas; the strawberries are from Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz; the goat cheese is sourced from Petaluma cheese-maker Andante Dairy; the delicious crispy pancetta is from my favorite Hayes Valley butcher shop, Fatted Calf; the dressing comes from the market, too – the olive oil is from olive grower Sciabica & Sons, and the balsamic vinegar from Bariani. I’ll admit, even the sea salt used in the dressing comes from our very own San Francisco Bay. I feel very fortunate to have the bounty of California at my fingertips.

These ingredients converge to create a classic salad with a little bit of an Italian twist (I am part Italian, after all). It has all of the flavor components one could wish for in a salad; herbal, sweet, savory, salty, pungent, and creamy. They are a match made in heaven, and you can elevate it to another level by pairing it with the Grace Wine Co. Santa Barbara Highlands Rosé of Grenache, available in our online store. This superbly bright and aromatic rosé is the perfect compliment to such a salad, and I can easily imagine enjoying the two together every day for the rest of my life.

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad
prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:
1 basket sea scape strawberries
4 oz pancetta or bacon, diced
3 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
for the dressing:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. high-quality balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the diced pancetta or bacon until crisped. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise, into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Shake or whisk well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and strawberries, then toss with the dressing.
  5. Transfer the dressed strawberries and spinach to individual bowls, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and diced pancetta or bacon. Serve alongside a tasty, fragrant rosé.

 

Recipe: Asparagus with Morels, Green Garlic & Egg

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By now, you may have seen the mountains of asparagus at the Farmer’s Market. Asparagus is at the peak of it’s season, and you can buy fat, tender, delicious spears for a reasonable price. Sure, you might be able to find asparagus at the grocery store any time of the year, but if it’s not spring, it has traveled thousands of miles and usually tastes like cardboard. This is why I choose to eat seasonally – things just taste better.

When choosing your asparagus, go for the fatter spears, not the skinny ones. They tend to be more tender and flavorful. Choose bunches with tightly closed, firm tips, free of any rot. Once you get your asparagus home, don’t cut the ends off – instead just bend the bottom third of the spear and let it snap where it will – this will remove any fibrous or woody bits.

One of my favorite flavors to compliment asparagus with is spring morels, fresh from the forest. Their umami flavor is a wonderful enhancement to the sweet, tender asparagus. Green garlic is another springtime favorite of mine, which has a natural affinity for all things Spring. I wanted to combine these ingredients to make a healthy, delicious, seasonal meal – and so I did. This dish was so fantastic, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Wine pairing: Asparagus is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. For best results, go for an unoaked, aromatic white wine such as sparkling Vouvray, dry German riesling, Gruner Veltliner, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Asparagus with Morels, Green Garlic, & Egg
Author: Tala Drzewiecki
Cooking time: 35 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 bunch fat, fresh asparagus spears, preferably organic, tough ends snapped off
2 very fresh eggs
2 oz. fresh Morel mushrooms (or any wild mushroom you can find), sliced
1 stalk green garlic, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 small head frisée
1 oz. fresh goat cheese (optional)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
Olive oil
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste

for the salad dressing:
2 tbsp. Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a small pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it foams. Add the morels and green garlic to the pan with a little salt, and sautée until the garlic is soft and the mushrooms begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Heat a pan of water until it simmers (not boiling) for poaching your eggs, then add 2 tbsp. white vinegar to the poaching water.
  4. Toss the asparagus in olive oil and season with salt. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until cooked but still crisp.
  5. Divide the frisée between two plates.
  6. Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisk, and drizzle a small amount over the plated frisée.
  7. Crumble a little goat cheese over the frisée.
  8. Start poaching your eggs. Don’t let the water boil; keep it at a simmer. Poach the eggs for about 3 minutes, until cooked soft or medium.
  9. While the eggs are poaching, divide the roasted asparagus between the two plates, laying the spears neatly on top of the dressed frisée.
  10. Remove the poached eggs with a slotted spoon and place on top of the plated asparagus.
  11. Shave some Parmesan over the hot eggs and asparagus, to taste.
  12. Top the poached egg with the sautéed morels and green garlic, then season with fresh ground black pepper.

How To: Cook, Clean and Crack a Dungeness Crab

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I’ve been eating Dungeness crab since I was very young – growing up in the Pacific Northwest, it’s almost a requirement. Even as a kid, I refused most vegetables unless they were covered in cheese sauce, and I didn’t much care for meats. I ate a lot of potatoes and potato products, and I ate seafood like it was goin’ outta style. Put a bucket of steamed clams, or a pile of crab with a small dish of butter, and watch it all disappear within minutes. I think that’s where I got comfortable with the phenomenon of working for your food. These days, the harder I work, the more I enjoy it. Chestnuts, oysters, foraged mushrooms, cracked crab – and that’s why at least once every winter I buy crab from Pillar Point Harbor down in Half Moon Bay, still squirming as I carry it off the docks, and cook it, clean it, and eat it at home over some newspaper and great conversation.

Cooking and cleaning crab is NOT a pretty job, but it doesn’t take that long and it’s not that hard. There’s nothing too precise about it at all, really. It requires a bit of muscle and a somewhat strong stomach, a stock pot, and about 20 minutes of your time. Start with a fresh, live crab.

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Dungeness season starts in November in the Bay Area, and you can get crabs at Fisherman’s Wharf (believe it or not, they do still sell fish there!), Pillar Point Harbor, or any number of seafood shops. The closer you are to the fisherman, the less you’ll pay by the pound. I paid between $5 and $7 per pound this year. Most crabs are somewhere around 1.5 to 3lbs. I budget a full crab per person, and then you’ll have leftovers for crab cakes, crab dip, crab salad, crab omelets… The list goes on. Anyway, the hardest part (physically, I mean, and maybe morally) is to get the crab in the pot. They will likely struggle. It’s best to pick them up by the butt (as illustrated above) either with tongs or your hand, and try to put them in the pot upside down. Their legs will flail and fight, so try to put the lid down quickly, and then tuck in any remaining legs that refuse to go in initially. About the pot – an inch or two of water set to boil, and a steamer basket if you have one – but don’t worry if you don’t – is all you’ll need. Once the water is boiling, drop your friend in and cover him with the lid. Hold the lid down until you’re sure the struggle is over. Set a timer for 12-15 minutes – 12 minutes for a little 1.5 pounder, 15 minutes for a larger crab, and wait. Now your crab will be the beautiful, vibrant orange you see in the first photograph.

Next, we move on to the cleaning. It’s gross, I’m not going to lie. For a long time, I made my best friend (my ersatz boyfriend) do it for me because I was squeamish. Now I can do it, but I still don’t like it. I never will. Run copious cold water over the crab to cool his insides (yes, it is a boy, you can tell by the pointy apron you’re about to snap off.) Then, bend his apron back, as shown. Get a good grip close to the base of the body, and snap it all the way off. You should reveal an indentation that you can stick your thumb into.

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I’m holding the crab steady with my dominant hand here – my left – and putting the thumb of my right hand into the indentation. Slide it in as far as you can, and get a good grip with both hands. You’re going to pop the top off the entire crab. Restaurants save this part of the carapace for presentation at the table, but since we’re eating at home, you can just discard it when you’re done. Anyway, get a grip, grab it tightly, and pull it away from your other hand. P2010054

Now, it’s likely a bunch of gross crap will fall out into your sink. Don’t let it go down the drain, even if you have a garbage disposal. It’s probably going to make your kitchen and pipes smelly, and we don’t want that. Scoop it all into the garbage or compost. You’ll be left with a sad, topless crab that looks something like this. This is the grossest part, so just get it over with carefully but quickly.P2010056

Essentially, you’re pulling all of the guts and gills off the crab and leaving the body meat behind. If it’s not stuck inside a crevice of shell, you probably don’t want it. There is some red stuff, some yellow stuff, some fibrous white stuff, some squishy white stuff… You want to get rid of all of it. Some of it is crab butter, but since I don’t have a taste for it, I’m not going to tell you about it. Just scoop and pull all of it off the body and toss it. Once you get the majority off, start running water over the crab again to rinse any bits off. You’ll reveal a clean white interior shell, beautiful white meat, and the red of the exterior shell showing on the legs. Once you’ve rinsed and picked all the yellow, red, and white goo and gills off the body, your crab will look like this.P2010057Take one hemisphere in each hand, with the round portion fitting inside of your hands. There will be a large indentation down the middle where the crab’s organs and gills were. Your thumbs will fit nicely in this space. Snap the crab in half this way, with one half of a body and legs broken free from the other half.

That’s it! Now, what to drink, and how to serve? I love to eat my crab with drawn butter and lemon. Some like mayonnaise, some like olive oil. You can even throw it on a baking sheet, baste it with garlic and oil, and roast it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes to infuse it with those flavors. So many options!

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As for the wine, I’ll always pick something white – fresh, dry, lean, minerally, and especially bubbly. Sparklers pair excellently with shellfish of all types. You can’t go wrong with a Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc, a Champagne, a Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc. We paired crab in a beautiful salad with the 2012 Frantz Saumon Mineral + from our recent club shipment – it was sublime.

What do you drink with your crab? Have you ever prepared one at home? If so, how do you do it? Let us know!

 

Recipe: Spring Lamb Chops with Herbes de Provence

P2010142Lamb is especially delicious in the spring, and this dish is meant to highlight the ingredient. The preparation is a snap, and the cook time is 10 minutes or less! High-quality lamb chops are not inexpensive, but they impress a dinner party, or a special someone. We got ours from Olivier’s Butchery, in the Dogpatch. We highly recommend their always-fresh products – they carry poultry, beef, pork, lamb, and include a variety of both well known and lesser-known cuts. Check ‘em out!

Mourvèdre is most often grown in the Provence and Rhone regions in France, and are described as having a “garrigue” quality. Garrigue is the scrub on the land in that area, similar to our chapparal in California. This dish is meant to pair with the 2012 La Clarine Farm Cedarville Mourvèdre. We use herbes de Provence, a French herb blend that evokes garrigue, as the spice on these chops. That integrates the flavor evoked by the wine into the flavor evoked by the dish, making them truly complementary.

Prep time: 1 hour, active time 15 minutes
Serves 4 as an entree
Author: Colleen McGarry

Ingredients:

8 lamb chops – about 2 lbs. (2 per person)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Method:

  1. Peel, then mince the cloves of garlic. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic, then using the blade of the knife like a spatula, rub the salt into the garlic. Once the mixture resembles a paste, move the paste into a small bowl.
  2. Add the pepper, herbes de provence, and olive oil to the garlic paste and mix well.
  3. On a large plate or cutting board, lay out the chops flat. Pat dry if there is any surface moisture.
  4. Divide half the paste evenly onto the surfaces of the chops, and rub the paste to coat evenly. Flip each chop, and divide the remainder and rub to coat the other side of the chops. Set the chops aside on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Heat a cast iron pan or skillet on high on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes, or until it is searingly hot. Add 2-4 chops the hot pan, being careful not to crowd the pan you’re using. We did 3 at a time in a 12” skillet.
  6. After about 3 minutes, when there’s a brown crust on one side, flip the chops. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to achieve medium doneness.
  7. When done, move to serving plate and tent loosely with foil if you have additional chops to sear. Serve immediately.

Recipe: 3-Grain Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

P2010144Asparagus and mushroom risotto is a perennial spring dish, making use of the best the season has to offer. We kicked up the seasonality of the dish by incorporating green garlic, an ingredient that shares it’s season with asparagus and mushrooms. In order to make it a little more visually interesting and healthful, we decided to riff on it with multiple grains – this version has classic carnaroli or risotto rice, plus pearled barley and quinoa. You can swap in myriad other grains too, if you have a personal favorite. The grains are cooked separately to maintain their structural integrity, and the risotto is prepared in the traditional way – with lots of stirring. The veggies are sautéed and then everything comes together at the end. This risotto is a match made in heaven with the 2012 Radoar “Etza” Muller-Thurgau (featured in our winter wine club collection), a grape that is known to pair with asparagus – a very difficult-to-pair ingredient. Its acidity and depth match both the asparagus and the creaminess of risotto.

Prep time: 1 hour
Serves 4 as side dish
Author: Colleen McGarrry

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup quinoa (we used rainbow, any will do)
1 cup risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, etc.)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 stalks green garlic, sliced into thin rings
1 small yellow onion, diced
4-6 oz. morel or black trumpet mushrooms, chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut diagonally into 1” pieces
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup fresh shredded parmesan salt

Method:

  1. Bring a 2 or 3 quart pot of water to a boil, with 2 tablespoons of salt added. Once boiling, add the pearled barley. Cook the barley over a simmer until it’s hard in the middle, but beginning to give on the outside, about 10-15 minutes. Then, add the quinoa to the same pot and cook until both grains are tender, about 10-15 minutes more. Drain in a fine mesh strainer so the quinoa doesn’t escape. Set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven or pot (at least 5 quarts), melt one tablespoon of butter and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once sizzling, add the diced onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the risotto and stir constantly until the grains are translucent but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the chicken or vegetable stock in a separate pot until hot but not boiling, and leave at that temperature on a back burner on your stove. We used a quart of stock and 2 cups of water, but you will need anywhere between 4 and 6 cups of liquid.
  4. Once the rice is translucent, add the wine and stir constantly until almost completely absorbed.
  5. Commence “risottoing!” Add a ladleful of the hot liquid and stir every few seconds. Lower the heat to achieve a low simmer, and adjust the heat as needed to keep it there. Stir every 30-90 seconds, and when the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ladleful. Keep doing this while you proceed to step 6.
  6. In a skillet or sauté pan, combine the remaining tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the green garlic and sauté until soft, 1-2 minutes more.
  7. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water to the pan, put the lid on, and let steam for another 1- 2 minutes. Remove the lid, keep the heat at medium or medium high, and evaporate the remaining water. Remove the pan from the heat, moving the contents to a bowl, and set aside.
  8. Keep adding liquid and stirring the risotto until the rice is al dente – a tiny bit of chew in the center of a grain, but mostly soft and creamy. This will take somewhere around 20-30 minutes. Taste for salt and texture periodically along the way.
  9. Once the rice is about where you want it, add back in the barley and quinoa to allow the flavors to meld. You’ll want to add another ladleful of liquid to compensate for the additional grains. You’re aiming for a loose texture – looser than you think – because it will tighten up between the stove and the plate. Add the asparagus/mushroom mixture and stir, then turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan and pepper, and taste for seasoning one last time. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Creamy Dungeness, Avocado & Citrus Salad

P2010108The California Dungeness crab season usually runs from November to May. This local delicacy is highly regarded as one of the tastiest crustaceans in all of the sea. Dungeness crab is succulent and sweet, which makes it an excellent compliment to a wide variety of flavors.

In this recipe, we combine sweet Dungeness crabmeat with tangy seasonal citrus, creamy Hass avocado, and slightly bitter endive. We bring the variety of complimentary flavors together with a lemony tarragon crème frâiche dressing, and serve the salad atop “spoons” of Belgian endive. It’s surprisingly easy to make – the most important thing to remember is the quality of the ingredients you use. Taste the citrus before you buy it, make sure your avocado is perfectly ripe, and ensure your crabmeat is as fresh as you can get it.

This recipe was created to pair with the 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc offered in Winelandia’s winter wine club collection. The richness and texture of the dish is perfectly complimented by similar components of the wine, which also has juicy acidity and a taut mineral edge that makes what’s already a delicious dish even more delectable.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

12 oz fresh Dungeness crabmeat (if using live/whole crab, get a 2 lb crab)
2 medium cara cara oranges or 1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, segmented, and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium hass avocadoes
2 Belgian endives, separated into individual leaves

-Dressing-
1 cup (8oz) crème frâiche
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, around the seed. Remove the seed and cut the avocado into a grid pattern with the tip of a knife, being careful not to cut through the avocado skin or your hand. Scoop the cubed avocado out of the skin with a large spoon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, avocado cubes, and citrus pieces.
  4. Dress the salad with the prepared crème frâiche dressing, a little at a time. Dress to your taste – you will probably have some dressing left over. Gently fold the dressing into the salad with a large spoon, being careful not to mash the avocado.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  6. Scoop the prepared salad into the endive “spoons” and arrange on a serving plate. Garnish with more fresh chopped tarragon or fresh chopped chives.
  7. Open a chilled bottle of 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc and enjoy with people you love.

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