Posts Tagged ‘Zinfandel’

It’s that time of year…dinner party season!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
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Whether you have cabin fever or mid-winter blues, warm your house with the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen & the constant ringing of the doorbell as friends & neighbours arrive. Here’s an article Debbie wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Ottawa at Home Magazine. 

Pondview Rose with foodHosting a gathering of any kind – dinner party, potluck or cocktails – can be hectic & unnerving even for the best prepared host.  Having the evening fully catered definitely takes the weight off the menu but really part of the fun is planning the menu & cooking for your guests.  With this underway, you are then faced with the looming question – what drinks to serve and should it be white wine or red wine –  or something else entirely?

“I have been called on numerous times for suggestions of crowd pleasing wines that won’t break the bank…yet will impress”, says Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier & founder of Savvy Company.  “I even had someone call me from the Spanish wine aisle at the LCBO & couldn’t decide which ones to buy.  So they texted me photos of what was on the shelf & we shopped ‘virtually’ together!”

 Debbie’s tips for your next fun wine & food filled evening:

wine_tasting_sparklingPop the corks!  Greet your guests with a glass of bubbly – it is a great way to kick off the evening.  Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava are sure fire bets of sparkling wines priced under $20.

The 30-70 rule – buy 30% white wine & the rest red wines, especially in the winter when it is natural to want a glass of heavier wine

Chill your wine in the snow!  No need for bags of ice when there is lots of snow around. Shovel the white stuff into a wine bucket or place bottles in the snowbank at the front door or on your back deck.

Have a mini wine tasting.  Give each guest or set each place at the table with 2 or 3 wine glasses and a sampling (2 oz or so) of different wines in each.  Throughout the evening ask your guests which wine they think is best with the food.  Guaranteed that this will become a lively conversation!

A quick Wine & Food Pairing 101

grapes Niagara-on-the-Lake Sept 2013 low res“Stay close to your roots. Or, rather, stay close to your wine’s roots. Wines are always best matched with foods from the regions where they are made”, says Debbie about pairing wine and food. “Uncork a bottle of wine from Italy with a meal of Italian cuisine – afterall, both the wine and food from this country were meant to go together.  Same with French, German, Spanish fare…and Canadian too!”

White or red wine? Toss out the idea to match your wine with the meat. Fish, chicken and meat is the canvas — what matters is flavour. Make your choice on the spices, marinade or sauce—choose the wine that will make your meal sing. Debbie offers these ‘rules of thumb’:

Wine and…

…spicy food – look to the hard-to-pronounce white wine
If you’re tucking into an Indian curry, Thai dish or Mexican dinner, uncork a bottle of Gewürztraminer – the light and naturally sweet wine will play with the exotic spices and ingredients that will add WOW to your meal.

…salad – go bone dry
Think dry and crisp when matching to salads. The acidity of the vinegar in the dressing can play havoc with the wine, making it taste more acidic or ‘tinny’. Pinot Grigio from Italy or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand are always safe bets.  Or Debbie suggests to simply skip serving wine with this course to take a break and cleanse the palate for the rest of the meal to come.

…grilled fish – smell the flowers & roses
With grilled fish you can swing both ways by serving a glass of a medium bodied floral white wine like Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) that complements the flavours of the fish or a light bodied red wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir – one that has notes of red roses – to amplify the charred flavours.

…heavier meats – need heat & smoke
Warm spice (think cinnamon and cloves), smoke and plum aromas and tastes in a red wine go superbly with the marinade on lamb chops, saucey spareribs or a herb encrusted roast beef.  Add to your shopping list a bottle of Carmenère from Chile (pronounced car-men-EHR) or a red Zinfandel from California.

Looking for a shopping list of wines?

Savvy Company’s Sommeliers give ‘must buy’ recommendations every two weeks in their blog ‘If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages…’. 

Cheers & bon appétit!
-Debbie

 

 

 

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D is for Dessert! A Delicious Chocolate Terrine

Posted by Patti

Monday, September 10th, 2012
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This is the last week in our ABCD blogs where A is for Australian wines, B is for BBQ recipes, C is for Chilean wines and D…well it is for Desserts of all kinds.  Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, we have a treat to serve after every meal.

For starters…Chocolate.  Honestly, who doesn’t like chocolate? Here is a favorite (and easy dessert) from Savvy Sommelier Patti who always gets rave reviews when she makes this dessert.

Bon Appetit!
Patti

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Patti Petty

Ingredients

14oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
5 tbsp. strong espresso coffee
2 tbsp. brandy
6 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream chilled

Method

  1. One loaf pan, 8½” x 4½” x 3”, greased and lined with baking parchment
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees
  3. Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the cocoa and coffee. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and melt gently, stirring frequently. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the brandy and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and very thick.
  5. In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds a soft peak.
  6. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs. When combined, fold the whipped cream in.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, then stand the pan in a bain-marie.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 for about 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool in the bain-marie for about 45 minutes, then lift the pan out of the bain-marie and leave until completely cold.
  10. Chill overnight then turn out. Serve dusted with confectioner’ sugar or alternately prepare a bittersweet chocolate ganache and smooth over entire surface.
  11. Store, well wrapped in refrigerator.

 

What bottle of wine to uncork?

As the food & wine pairing tip says on the business card of Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm – “A rich, dark chocolate cake & a big, bold red wine – a heavenly match.” Serve a California Zinfandel or velvety Chilean Carmenere or a jammy Cabernet Franc from British Columbia or Ontario.  If you rather a sweet wine with chocolate, then a tawny port or a Hungarian specality – Tokai – would definitely fit the bill.

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Menu Matching – which wines to serve?

Posted by Gina

Monday, December 29th, 2008
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Gina –
From your bio, I see that you enjoy pairing wine with food.  Your help would be greatly appreciated to guide me in selecting wines for each course for my upcoming dinner party.

 

Appetizer: Endive boats with mango, blue cheese, candied pecans, warmed in oven.  Should I serve a Sauvignon Blanc? or perhaps a Viognier?

 

Soup Course: Butternut squash, apple, and smoked cheddar soup.  I have read alot about Quebec’s cider wine – what would you like of serving it with the soup?

 

Pasta Course: Homemade gnocchi.  My first inclination would be to serve a Valpolicella – what do you think?

 

Main Course: Grilled steak, creamy white beans, sauted green beans.  Do you have a favorite Australian Shiraz? or Cab Sauvignon to recommend?

 

Dessert Course: Flourless chocolate cake – I have read that a red Zinfandel from California is a good match with chocolate cake.  What do you think about this?

Thanks so much,
– MARY

Hi Mary,
Your menu sounds delicious and I like the direction you are going with your wine pairings.  With respect to your first wine, have you considered a sparkling?  They pair wonderfully with all kinds of foods, stimulate the palate for the dishes to come and make your guests feel special.  A dry cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy would be delicious.

I love soups!  Your Cider wine may be a good match at this point if it’s not too sweet.  A lightly oaked Chardonnay is another suggestion (but again, like sweetness in the cider, too much oak could steal the show from your lovely soup.)

Moving on…I really like your idea of a Valpolicella with the gnocchi and for the main course of grilled steaks, definitely uncork a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the dessert finale, if your flourless chocolate cake is like the recipe I use, it is on the wonderfully, richer side.  A red Zinfandel from California does work well with chocolate cake, yet with your menu, it may not be as much of a statement after the Cabernet Sauvignon. If your budget allows, perhaps you might like to try an Italian Amarone red wine (one of my favourites!) or a bottle of Spanish Madeira (lightly sweet).

Enjoy your evening!  If you get a chance perhaps you could let me know what wines you selected and what your dinner guests thought of the pairing.

Cheers!
-Gina

 

Hi Gina,
Thanks very much for your help! It was great to get such personalized assitance. I took your suggestion to go with a Sparkling wine with the appetizers, and it was perfect. This was a very nice set up for the rest of the night. I also went with a Chardonnay with the soup as you suggested, which complimented wonderfully.  As I anticipated, the Valpolicella went great with the gnocci, as did the Cab Sauv with the steaks.

 

The only thing that didn’t go “perfectly”, was the dessert. The LCBO that I went to didn’t have any Amarone, so I went with a bottle of port that I had in my house already. It could be just my tastebuds… I don’t particularly love port. In any case, all in all it was a great  night and my guests appreciated my efforts!

 

Thanks so much, I hope that I may ask your assistance in the future. I also find your website very useful.

 

Thanks again,
– MARY

 

Feel free to email the Savvy Team with your menu and we will offer you suggestions of wines to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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