Archive for Food/Drink Pairing

What NOT To Pair With Wine

This morning over my eggs and champagne (just kidding about the champagne), I was reading a great article from The Clever Root, “Risky Relationships: The Eight Killer Foods That Make Wine Taste Terrible”, by Karen MacNeil.

Sadly, the article isn’t on their website so I’ll have to paraphrase her thoughts on those eight foods:

  1. Artichokes – don’t do with tannic wines, will leave your wine tasting like a tin can
  2. Asparagus – Sauvignon Blanc would work, but only if you grill the asparagus, as for reds, forget it
  3. Cruciferous & Leafy Green Vegetable – just say no to wine with these because of the sulfur released from cooking
  4. Eggs – ditto on the sulfur content
  5. Chiles – stay away from tannic or high alcohol wines like Zinfandel, the capsaicin in the chilies intensifies the heat, tannins, and alcohol
  6. White Wine Vinegar – makes you wine taste astringent, use lemon juice, good quality Sherry, or balsamic
  7. Raw Garlic and Onions – sautéed them first
  8. Chocolate – forget reds and white, head for Port or Madeira to stand up to the power of chocolate

Interested on how others feel about food and wine? Pop over to Serious Eats and check out this ARTICLE.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

The Host Gift, Some Etiquette.

So, you’ve been invited to dinner. What to bring as a thank you to your host? Wine makes the perfect host gift. Here are some tips to help you avoid disappointment or embarrassment.

A host gift is just that. It belongs to the host no matter how much you want to drink that bottle. It’s very likely that your host may have specifically paired wines with the meal. If you are set on drinking something you brought, arrive with a chilled Prosecco or Champagne which might signal the host you’d like a little pre-dinner bubbly, though it could also be saved to go with the dessert course. No, you don’t get to take it home if it doesn’t get opened.

There is no reason to break the bank when buying a host bottle. Even if your hosts are connoisseurs who collect $50-plus wines, there are plenty of wines in the $15 to $30 range that won’t embarrass you. There are many Pinot Noirs (always a safe bet for a red wine) along with heavier Bordeaux wines in the medium price range. Just remember that it’s tacky to brag about the price.

If your host asks you to bring wine, the more the merrier. Consider bringing two or even three bottles. By having several bottles open at the same time, you can educate yourself on wine/food pairing to see what works and what doesn’t. The fun of being asked to bring wine is that you know you’ll get to try what you brought.

Not sure what wine to bring? In addition to the wines mentioned above, a Pinot Grigio (dry, crisp white) or an un-oaked Chardonnay are good choices. Or think about dessert with a Late Bottled Vintage Port or ice wine. When in doubt, ask your wine merchant for help, that’s what we are here for.

The true test of a host gift is a bottle (or two) that you would be happy to drink yourself.

Whatever you decide to bring, it’s always nice to put a little effort into presentation with a simple (or fancy) wine bag. Follow this advice and the dinner invitations will flow.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Celebration Planning?

How Much Wine To Buy.

With Spring in the air, it’s time to start thinking weddings, celebrations, and parties. One the questions we often get asked is how much wine will I need for X number of people.

The answer is a little more complicated that just how many glasses of wine per bottle. That answer is approximately six 4oz. pours per standard 750ml bottle. This number works great for the champagne toast where people will only be having one glass. For a hundred guests you would need 17 bottles – and to be safe, 18 (a case and a half).

Another variable in planning is what else is being served in addition to wine. If beer is also being served, figure a 60% wine, 40% beer. Add hard liquor and the numbers change to 50% wine, 30% spirits, 20% beer.

Now you’ve figured out the first drink, then how many drinks per person. Studies show that people generally have two drinks the first hour and one per hour beyond that. At a 2-hour party, that would be 3 drinks per person, but at a four-hour wedding reception that figure moves to 5 drinks per person.

“Math is hard!” to quote the rogue Barbie doll from years ago – but to help you out, here are a couple of quick charts:

How Much Champagne Will I Need For A Toast

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

5

10

14

18

28

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Just Wine For A Two-Hour Party/Reception

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

15

30

42

54

84

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Just Wine For A Four-Hour Party/Reception

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

25

50

70

90

140

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Two-Hour Party/Reception With Beer Available

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

9

18

25

32

50

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Four-Hour Party/Reception With Beer Available

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

15

30

42

54

84

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Two-Hour Party/Reception With Beer & Cocktails

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

7.5

15

21

27

42

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

Four-Hour Party/Reception With Beer & Cocktails

People

25

50

75

100

150

Bottles

12.5

25

35

45

70

(includes a little safety margin for overpours)

That said – remember to buy wine and bubbles that you won’t mind drinking if you happen to buy too much. Stop in the shop for our recommendations on tasty, affordable bottles for your event.

Leftover Dessert Wine?

Think Cocktails.

Got some left over port or other sweet dessert wine from a diner party? Think cocktails for the next night.

Recently, when in Boston this was served – a Ruby Manhattan at the top of the Prudential Building with a stunning view of the Charles River:

  • 2 parts Barrel Select Bourbon
  • 1 part Ruby Port
  • Shake over ice
  • Pour into frosted martini glass and garnish with a lemon rind twist

Which got me thinking at the end of today’s tasting and we had some Muscat left over – would this work in a cocktail as well? Yes. Try this:

  • 2 parts Bourbon or Rye (Market Price)
  • 1 part 2009 Chateau Saint Sauveur Cuvée des Moines Muscat de Beaumes de Venise    (Was $28, Now $18 for 750ml)
  • Three shakes Regan’s Bitters ($8 and lasts a long time)
  • Shake over ice
  • Pour into frosted martini glass and garnish with an orange rind twist – run it around the rim for good measure

As we head into fall, we switch from our whites and rosés to our reds and ports. Such is the season.

See you on Saturday for our South African wine tasting from 2-4pm, and on Sunday for our Italians By Way Of France tasting from 11-5 with an artist reception for Genevieve Tremblay from 3-5pm. Her art will be hanging in the shop until the end of the month.

Champagne Cocktails Anyone?

Here are some of our favorite champagne cocktails, from the old and easy to updated.

Champagne Cocktail

Yes, there is a Champagne cocktail called “Champagne Cocktail,” and it’s as beguilingly simple as its name. Adding the sugar cube after the Champagne helps prevent the bubbly from bubbling over.

6½ ounces Champagne (or other bubbles)
1 sugar cube soaked with Angostura bitters

Spiral lemon twist

Pour Champagne into flute. Add sugar cube. Garnish with lemon twist. —Adapted from Jerry Thomas’s “Bar-Tender’s Guide,” 1862, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Try it with the sugar cube soaked in Orange Bitters for a slightly different take on the traditional.

Wild Goose Chase

Armagnac, a woodsy French brandy, adds a warming, winterizing touch to this cocktail. The drink was created to pair with foie gras—hence the name.

1½ ounces Armagnac

¾ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce honey syrup (see recipe below)

2-3 dashes orange bitters

2 ounces Champagne
(or other bubbles)
Armangac-soaked prune (optional)

Shake first four ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe. Top with Champagne and add garnish. Honey syrup: In a small pan over medium heat, stir one part honey with one part water until combined. Let cool. Keep refrigerated and use within two weeks. —From Brian Means of the Fifth Floor, San Francisco

Too bad that foie gras in now banned in California (as of July 2012).

Red Baron

My family’s traditional Christmas season drink. Traditionally served at home with smoked oysters (preferably from Portlock Seafood)

1 part Cranberry Juice
3 parts Champagne (or other bubbles)

This drink also known as a Poinsettia if you add Triple Sec and reduce the percentage of Cranberry Juice

 

 

Gates BBQ Sauce Is Back!

The Gates and Sons BBQ is back in stock at Madrona Wine Merchants – yes, BBQ sauce at a wine shop. In fact, October 18th (Thursday) from 5:30-7:30pm we are hosting a BBQ Taste Off featuring the three Midwest BBQ Sauces that we feature:

Gates & Sons (Kansas City, Missouri) – The Original Choice

Arthur Bryants (Kansas City, Missouri) – The President’s Choice (Truman, Carter)

Biggs (Lawrence, Kansas) – Voted Best In Lawrence

All three sauces are in stock and priced at $6 per bottle (no sales tax).

An Unconventional Pairing: Wine and ‘Sliders’ at the Castle.

A very amusing article in today’s Wall Street Journal. Click on the picture for the full article.

And my favorite quote: “I find that people who know wine will choose the Moscato,” said the counterman, Ryan Parrott.

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