Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

If you love food, wine and travel, you must visit California’s Northern Coast for a tour of Wine Country. The world-class wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County, CA will satisfy the most discerning pallets and even if wine isn’t your thing, there is still plenty to do, see and experience during your visit.

Napa Valley:

The first Napa Valley vineyards were planted as far back as 1836 and since then the region’s wine growing popularity has steadily climbed, surviving the roughest of conditions, including prohibition, disease and vine killing pests. However, in 1976, Napa Valley became an overnight sensation when a Napa Valley Cabernet dominated a French Bordeaux in a blind tasting at an international wine competition on Paris, France. Today, there are over 300 wineries in the region, plenty to visit during your trip beyond city limits.

Although most known for full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, the award-winning wineries in the Napa Valley produce a range of grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, among others.

Sonoma County:

One of my personal favorites, Sonoma County is just north of Napa and far less commercialized. This region boasts over 370 wineries – from wine castles and the winery resort of Francis Ford Coppola, one of Hollywood’s most famed directors, to simple and rustic tasting rooms, according to Sonomacounty.com.

The region also offers incredible farm-to-table dining and more than 50 miles of stunning Pacific Coast, replete with world-renowned spas (compliments of its abundant natural mineral springs) and lots of open country air. Sonoma County is a bit more sprawling than Napa, so it is recommended that you map out your trip ahead of time to optimize your time.

With so many wineries and restaurants to choose from in both Napa and Sonoma, I sat down with local wine expert, Kevin Hart, part of WineCRAFT and on-site sommelier at Cork n’ Bottle, to get his list of personal favorites. Here is Kevin’s abbreviated insider’s guide to Wine Country.

Napa Valley Wineries:
(Note: the information below is sourced from each winery’s and restaurant’s website.)

FAILLA

“#1 Wine of the Year” – Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines for 2008. Tours and Tastings available by appointment. Phone: 707.963.0530, web: www.faillawines.com

DUNN VINEYARDS

Dunn Vineyards produces two labels, Howell Mountain and Napa Valley. Both wines are one hundred percent cabernet sauvignon. Phone- 707-965-3642, web: www.dunnvineyards.com

SCHRAMSBERG VINEYARDS (Sparkling)

Located in Calistoga, Calif., Schramsberg Vineyards offers five tours daily between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The tour, which usually takes about an hour and 15 minutes, costs $45 per adult (visitors younger than 21 and pets are not allowed). For more information, check out the vineyard’s website – www.schramsberg.com/

Napa Valley Wines, cont.

DOMAINE CARNEROS (Sparkling Wines)

The Art of Sparkling Wine Tour – $30* Offered Daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 & 3:00 p.m. On their signature experience, you’ll be guided through the process of creating fine sparkling wines in the traditional method. This journey begins in the vineyards and continues through the Chateau while you enjoy a tasting of our classic sparkling wines. At the completion of the tour, you will also enjoy a seated tasting of a red wine selection. Allow approximately 90 minutes for the tour and tasting.

For reservations within 24 hours, please contact the Tour Coordinator at (707) 257-0101, ext. 161.

PRIDE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS

Pride Mountain Vineyards sits high atop the Mayacamas Mountains straddling the Napa/Sonoma county line. Located at the site of historic Summit Ranch, where wine grapes have been grown since 1869, this beautiful setting includes wine caves dug deep into the mountains and the haunting ruins of an old stone winery dating to 1890.

Hours: by appointment, from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Closed Tuesdays.

4026 Spring Mountain Road, Saint Helena CA 94574.
Call: 707-963-4949

JARVIS

One of the Napa Valley’s Best Winery Tours. A visit to Jarvis Estate is an extraordinary journey like no other into the world of exceptional winemaking. The country’s first winery built entirely underground offers an intimate glimpse into the meticulous steps that go into producing lush Chardonnays, rich Cabernet Sauvignons and velvety Merlots among others.Tastings, daily by appointment. $60 per person. To book a tour, please contact the winery at 1-800-255-5280 ext. 150

CALDWELL

They host a very small number of tastings each month. Please email info@caldwellvineyard.com
call 707-255-1294 for availability.
www.caldwellvineyard.com

EMERSON BROWN

Best known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
4281 Dale Drive, Napa, CA 94558
Tel: 707-363-0693
info@emersonbrownwines.com
www.emersonbrownwines.com

CIMMAROSSA

Cimarossa ‘Red Hilltop’ is one of Howell Mountain’s most scenic estates, with terraced vineyards and olive groves climbing the hillsides.

1185 Friesen Road, Angwin CA 94508
For tastings, please call: 707-307-3130

NEYERS VINEYARDS

Tasting at Neyers Vineyards – Open by appointment for private tours and tastings seven days a week. $10 per person fee, waived with purchase. Maximum 6 people per party.
2153 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena, CA 94574
707.963.8840
info@neyersvineyards.com
www.neyersvineyards.com

Napa Valley Restaurants:

REDD WOOD

Redd Wood is a superbly stylish Italian-inspired eatery. Reddington, of Michelin-starred Redd, brings a new sensibility to this laid-back wine country destination: a polished, chic restaurant with a voguish vibe and hip playlist coupled with an osteria-styled menu and Napa/Sonoma favored wine list. 6755 Washington St. Yountville, CA, 94599, (707) 299 5030, web: www.redd-wood.com

KITCHEN DOOR

A one-of-a-kind social gathering place located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, serving ingredient driven menu of handmade multi-ethnic comfort food created with local and seasonal products selected to complement wine regions and meant for sharing. 610 1st Street, Napa, California. Call: (707) 226-1560, web: www.kitchendoornapa.com/

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY ($$$$)

The French Laundry is a perennial awardee in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in ’03 and ’04), and since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It has also been called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain. Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine-course tasting menus, none of which uses the same ingredient more than once. The most-current menu has priced their meals at $270 per person, including gratuity for the base meal. The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences. Yountville, CA 94599, phone:(707) 945-1050, web: www.frenchlaundry.com

MEADOWOOD

Fine dining at the Meadowood Resort. The Restaurant at Meadowood offers a casually elegant dining experience featuring a modern approach to Napa Valley cuisine by Chef Christopher Kostow. Approachable, dynamic, evocative and playful. *Michelin 3 star rating

900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574
Tel (877) 963-3646
www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com

GOTTS ROADSIDE (breakfast & burgers)

Great for breakfast and burgers.
Breakfast Menu: Served 7-11 a.m. Main Menu: Served 10:30-close
933 Main St., Saint Helena, CA 94574
707-963-3486

BOUCHON

French Bistro and Bakery near French Laundry
534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA, 94599
NO. 707.944.8037
http://bouchonbistro.com/

COOK

Cook specializes in simple but elegant Northern Italian cuisine made from local and seasonal ingredients.

1310 Main Street; Saint Helena, CA 94574
call: 707.963.7088

Sonoma County Wineries:

(Note: wineries in Sonoma are much more spread out, so plan your day accordingly for an optimum experience. – Also, Sonoma is known for having some of the best spas, compliments of its natural hot springs, so take advantage after a long day of sipping and swirling.)

HIRSCH

Hirsch Vineyards is recognized as one of the premier sites for pinot noir in the new world. David Hirsch planted his vineyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the extreme Sonoma Coast in 1980. By appointment only. Web: www.hirschvineyards.com<p>

PEAY

Wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Peay is the northernmost winery in Sonoma County. Using sustainable farming practices, they produce 8,000 gallons of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay each year, as well as small batches of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. 207A N. Cloverdale Blvd. #201 Cloverdale, CA 95425, email: andy@peayvineyards.com, web: http://peayvineyards.com

LIOCO

The focus is on vineyard-designate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as an old-vine blend of “under-dog” California varietals (including Carignan and Petite Sirah). To schedule your appointment, email Jim Kuhner at jim@liocowine.com with your desired tasting date, time and number of people in your party. www.liocowine.com


MEDLOCK AMES

What to Buy:
•’10 Chardonnay – $35
•’08 RED – $32
•’08 Cabernet Sauvignon – $52

3487 Alexander Valley Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Phone: 707.431.8845,
Email: info@medlockames.com
www.medlockames.com

REPRISVery private, tasting tours three times a day, Must have reservation, Wine cave tours.
1700 Moon Mountain Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
707.933.8514
www.repriswines.com/

DREW

9000 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466
Tel: 707-877-1771
www.drewwines.com


Sonoma County Restaurants

THE GIRL & THE FIG

The girl & the fig features a wonderful antique bar with French aperitifs, unique and traditional cocktails, an award-winning Rhone-Alone wine list, a seasonal menu, cheese & charcuterie platters, and outdoor garden patio seating. 110 West Spain Street – Sonoma, CA, phone 707.938.3634, web:www.thegirlandthefig.com

MADRONA MANOR

A very romantic destination with inventive cuisine, a stunning backdrop and impeccable service. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are enveloped by the elegant, yet lively atmosphere. Attention to detail, superb wine and good cheer is woven throughout every culinary experience. Madrona Manor captures the rich culture of wine, food and nature inherent to the region. A stellar wine list expresses the varied bounty of the local vintners as well as global sources. Reservations: 800-258-4003, web: www.madronamanor.com
BARNDIVA

Barndiva is a celebration of all things local. Their food is sourced from farmers, ranchers and small batch purveyors who live and work in the area.
231 Center St., Healdsburg, CA 95448
707.431.0100
www.barndiva.com
CAMPO FINA

More casual than its sister restaurant Scopa, Campo Fina is serving up Italian staples such as pizzas and wood-fired meats. The focus of the menu is on simple Italian dishes.
330 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA
707.395.4640,
http://campo-fina.com/

BIG BOTTOM MARKET (for lunch)

Artisanal food, wine and micro brews to inspirational retail items. From jams, honey, coffee table books, vintage style picnic and camp gear and an amazing cup of pour over single origin coffee to locally sourced cheeses, breads, meats and prepared foods.

Guerneville, CA, 95446
(707) 604 7295 |
info@bigbottommarket.com

SCOPA

Italian tratorria, Favorites: Sauces, confits, and ragùs stand out, including the wild-boar Bolognese served with house-made tagliatelle.

109A Plaza St. Healdsburg, CA, 95448
TEL: (707) 433-5282
http://scopahealdsburg.com/

Share some of your favorite places to visit in Wine Country with our readers.

Salute, Terrah

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There is a new wine bar in town and the owners have done it so right! UNWIND, located at 3435 Michigan Ave., is directly behind the Hyde Park Fire Station. To enter the building, guests will walk past a large outdoor seating area, which will be perfect for sipping and swirling in warmer months. Indoors, a glass wall opens up to the grand lounge where a massive stone fireplace is a welcoming focal point. The bar is sleek and elegant and guests will find a more secluded area on the opposite side of the room, ideal for private parties and intimate gatherings. In addition to wines by the glass, or bottle, light bites are also available. UNWIND truly is the perfect place to relax and connect with friends, a date, co-workers, even strangers. check it out! you won’t be disappointed.

website: http://unwindhydepark.com

LOCATION: 3435 MICHIGAN AVENUE, CINCINNATI, OH 45208

Hours: 11AM – 1AM Daily

The concept of Unwind was based on creating a place to connect with others, meet with friends, plan date nights, schedule pre-dinner and late night drinks or just spoil your dinner with our amazing appetizers We wanted the experience to start when the guest enters the bar with intimate ambience, warm and welcoming staff, and a feeling of getting away from it all and entering the wine country of many vineyards blended together.

un·wind

/ˌənˈwīnd/

Verb
  1. Undo or be undone after winding or being wound: “Ella unwound the long woolen scarf from her neck”; “the net unwinds from the reel”.
  2. Relax after a period of work or tension: “the Grand Hotel is a superb place to unwind”.
Synonyms
uncoil – unreel – unroll – undo – unfold

Read Full Post »

Cork Stories was designed as a platform for friends, even strangers, to share their personal experiences (and love) of food, wine and travel.  So, I am excited to welcome our first guest blogger – Abby Cucci.  Abby and I are fellow Supper Clubbers (see “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” post), wine lovers and marketing pros.  She recently visited Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her boyfriend, Craig and shares their incredible journey, including favorite restaurants and three important facts about the Willamette Valley.  ~Enjoy (with a glass of wine), Terrah Kocher

Let’s get just a few things straight:

#1: Oregon is simply stunning.

The scenic beauty of Oregon rivals anything I’ve ever seen.  The drive into the Willamette Valley provides jaw-dropping views of lush rolling hills, rows of vineyards carefully tucked in, with sprawling snow-capped mountains set behind it.  Photographs don’t do it justice (especially not with our camera); it is something you’ll want to see for yourself.

We were told we were “lucky” to experience such amazing weather with 75 degrees and nothing but blue skies the day we toured the wineries.  Clearly, though, the rain has a major payoff—the thriving green landscape is breathtaking.  One local exclaimed, “THIS is what we wait for!  This is our reward for six months of rain.”

The views from our Bed & Breakfast, The Joseph Mattey House, were well worth the trip in itself.  Not to mention the fact that everyone here knows a great deal about wine and you can’t help but join in on the enthusiasm.  Jack and Denise, our lovely B&B owners, had several bottles available for their guests’ enjoyment.

View from our balcony at the Joseph Mattey House

#2: Oregon produces amazing wine.

Surprisingly, the modern history of Oregon wine dates back to the 1960’s—not very long at all considering the competition.  There are some 300 Oregon wineries today, almost all producing Pinot Noir, with 72 grape varietals and 16 approved wine growing regions known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), the largest of which is Willamette Valley.

There is so much to learn—but don’t let that intimidate you.  Craig and I are wine lovers, but we surely aren’t experts.  A familiar theme we heard throughout our visit was, “Start with knowing what you like.”  We all know what foods we like, why can’t we expand this notion to our wine palette?

Speaking of food, the culinary journey of Willamette Valley matches their pinot varietals. We were fortunate enough to dine in two award-winning restaurants: The Joel Palmer House and The Painted Lady.  These establishments—like most in town—tout organic, local seafood, produce, meat and wine.  While the backdrops of both places are beautifully restored Victorian homes, their menus are quite modern.

At the heart of The Joel Palmer House are mushrooms—and it’s no coincidence that their earthiness pairs perfectly well with the 500+ Pinot Noirs they have on their wine menu.  For dinner, I enjoyed the mushroom tart followed by the beef stroganoff.  The tart was unlike anything I’d ever had before—rich in color and taste, and complete with a perfectly flakey and tender crust (lard, perhaps?); it was a fungi-lover’s dream.

The Oregon Pinot Noir we ordered—The Joel Palmer House label—was strong enough to stand up to the stroganoff, yet it was low tannin, with a blend of red fruit and earthy notes, well-suited for Craig’s sturgeon, as well.  Caught the day before by the chef’s father (and founder of the restaurant), Chef Christopher Czarnecki served this dish with quinoa (a light, fluffy grain alternative to couscous, en vogue with cutting-edge chefs) with matsutake mushroom duxelle and cayenne aioli.  The solution to properly preparing this characteristically tough fish is to marinate it for more than 24 hours in olive oil, spices and herbs—and the outcome was worth trading plates with Craig halfway through dinner!  Chef Czarnecki was kind enough to speak with us at our table with as much care as if we were regulars, walking us through the wine selection, offering insight and expertise on the menu.

I must admit, it was with slight apprehension that I selected the stroganoff.  With all due respect to my mother, this was a dish I grew up with and had (foolishly) decided I didn’t like.   It turns out, I love it!  This was a perfectly rich and flawlessly balanced dish that incorporated Painted Hills Oregon Beef (served rare), wild mushrooms in a delectable cream sauce, and served over a bed of rice.

At The Painted Lady the following evening, they solely offer a tasting menu and you choose one dish from each of the four courses.  I ordered the vegetarian tasting menu, while Craig went with the main tasting menu; however, don’t consider for a second that my path was any less flavorful.  The elegant plating is worth noting, as well as the outstanding service, professional and friendly—and experts on wine.  Both Craig and I went with the suggested wine pairings per course, as well, which was absolutely delicious and added an element of surprise and fun as each bottle and pour was presented.  And, of course, it was amusing to see familiar wineries after a day spent wine tasting around Willamette Valley.  A few highlights from our culinary adventure at The Painted Lady: Craig’s Roasted Rabbit Roulade on Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Puree, and my Spinach and Artichoke Crepes with Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Soubise Sauce, both paired with the 2009 Aryes Pinot Noir of Willamette Valley.  The small plates made it perfect for sharing (if we were kind enough to do so).  Our evening ended with a gorgeous chocolate soufflé and port wine.  Scrumptious!

the author enjoying a gorgeous view of the Willamette Valley

#3: While painfully obvious, let me remind you – Oregon is in the United States.

If it’s the mystique of another country you’re after, then a trip west won’t fit the bill.  For us, it felt amazing to, in essence, claim Oregon: This is our country.  How extraordinary!  And the people of Oregon do an outstanding job welcoming each and every visitor.  In fact, we are already daydreaming of our return.  In the meantime, we have many bottles of wine to savor our memories.  When I asked Fred Gunton, our wonderful tour guide of A Nose for Wine, how to choose a favorite, I believe he put it best: “Experiences make great wine.  That certainly weighs into your choice and enjoyment.”

Cheers!

Abby Cucci

Abby and Craig - enjoying life in the Valley

A few wineries we visited (and loved!):

What is your Cork Story?  Email Terrah Kocher – Terrahk@gmail.com to be our next guest blogger.

Read Full Post »

Our Supper Club hosts for the month of April, newlyweds Katie and Jason Willis,  called on the expertise of Richard Goering from Cork’n Bottle to be our Sommelier for the evening, featuring six different French Country wines.  Our job – bring a complimentary pairing dish and enjoy. I’m truly beaming for this theme.  Here is the lineup and pairing recommendations from dear friend, Kathy Merchant, DWS

Jason & Katie Willis

FRENCH WHITE WINES:

Gruet Sauvage – sparkling, crisp acidity on the palate with a light yet long finish

Pairings: Sparkling: any thing with egg and cheese, for example mini quiches that could also have mushrooms. Gruyere cheese is best.

Muscadet Dorices – bright acidity and citrus notes-classic seafood match

Pairings: Muscadet: definitely seafood and lemon; oysters best, shrimp is fine. Keep it simple.

St. Gayan Sablet–  a beautiful example of white wine from the southern Rhone. Frosty acidity and sweet notes

Pairings: It almost requires something spicy like Asian food.   Explanation – White Rhone:  perfumed and floral, this one could be tricky. Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne are the grapes, maybe some Bourbolanc or Grenache Blanc.

FRENCH RED WINES:

La Pierre Raisins Gaulet – bright cherry and refreshing acidity, made from Gamay

Brunier Pigeoulet – racy blend of grencahe and syrah from the southern Rhone

St. Gayan Rasteau – rich, fruit forward red from the village of Rasteau, famous for its red wines

Pairings: Kathy recommends a spring vegetable ratatouille. These wines are both earthy (gamay and syrah) and spicy (vanilla and brown baking spices, etc.). The combination in the glass is wonderful and the wine can support tomatoes. I love the recipe in the Tra Vigne cookbook.

La Tra Vigne Cookbook

Read Full Post »

I’ve never made glaze from scratch, or ribs for that matter, so I’m excited to try this new recipe that came from Tasting Table’s Sous Chef Series presented by Williams Sonoma.  It will certainly be a step toward diversifying my culinary portfolio.  If you create this recipe, let me know how it turns out or if you have a secret glaze of your own to share.
Some great wines to pair with barbecue ribs include: Riesling or Zinfandel.  This week at the Cincinnati Wine Festival, I sampled some incredible Zinfandel from Terra d’ Oro Vineyards.  The Amador County Zinfandel and 2007, and Terra d’ Oro Home Vineyard Zinfandel.
Kevin Hart, sommelier at Boca Restaurant, recommends Marietta Old Vine red Lot #53 from Geyserville, Sonoma.
Lot 53 is the latest release of Old Vine Red, our trademark blend that was first released almost 30 years ago in the early days of Marietta. Due to Dad’s remarkable ability to maintain such high levels of both consistency and quality, the demand for Old Vine Red has steadily grown since Lot 1. Lot 53 carries on the tradition in stride with loads of rich and deep berry and plum and peppery spice as well as hints of mild spicy and toasty oak, dusty earth, and a light gamey quality that add to the complexity. The color is deep ruby and purple, and the mouthfeel is forward, dense, and pleasantly rustic and ripe in a Zin-like style.

Chinese barbecue ribs

Make This Recipe From Sara Johannes
WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

The third installment of our Sous Chef Series visits Asia by way of Los Angeles, where Sara Johannes runs the kitchen at WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s glamorous modern-Chinese restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles. There, her spice-rich baby back ribs–which are seasoned with a combo of classic Chinese flavors (ginger, garlic and soy sauce) and the sweet, saucy appeal of American barbecue–are a menu staple. Her hoisin-spiked sauce has the makings of an essential; keep this one on hand for grilling season. Register for a free demo of this recipe at your local Williams-Sonoma store. Click here!

Chinese barbecue ribs

WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients

For the ribs
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • One 6-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs, about 4 pounds total (racks cut in half if using a Dutch oven)
For the glaze
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1½ teaspoons sambal oelek chile paste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, carrot, onion and celery and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and nestle the ribs in the braising liquid.

2. Cover the Dutch oven (or cover the roasting pan tightly with foil) and bake until the meaty part of the ribs are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 90 minutes.

3. While the ribs cook, prepare the glaze: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, hoisin, corn syrup, ketchup, five-spice powder and chile paste; increase the heat the high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.

4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on the baking sheet. Remove the ribs from the braising liquid and place them, meaty side up, on the rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Brush a thick coating of glaze on the top of the ribs. Bake for 45 minutes, brushing the ribs with additional glaze every 15 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into one- or two-rib portions and serve immediately.

Download This Recipe

Read Full Post »

At their very core, champagne and wine are simply grape juice, and meant to be enjoyed in celebration, versus fussed over.  Most champagnes are a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, from across several vintages. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you are pairing champagne, or sparkling wine, with food. Note: Only Sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne.

1)  Pre-Party! Champagne makes the perfect start to an evening of dining and will pair well with light bites such as shrimp, vegetables or cheese. The best cheese are aged, hard cheeses such as parmesan, gouda or cheddar. Goat cheese goes very well with blanc de blancs.

2) RED Alert! Avoid heavy tomato sauces, as they tend to clash with the high acidity of champagne.  lean more toward the creamy, buttery and mushroom sauces.

3) Seafood Hearts Champagne! Champagne pairs extremely well with fish and seafood, especially lobster.

4) A Pink Pair – Rose’ goes well with pinkish meats such as poultry, and game birds like duck.  Also with veal, pork, ham and lamb that is slightly pink in the middle.

5) Explore! – How do you know if the champagne you’re drinking will pair well with a particular food unless you try it?! Be open minded; play around with your pallet, and the food around you.  If it doesn’t taste right, then you’ll know not to pair these items together in the future.  On the other hand, if you bite into a piece of hard, dark chocolate, then sip your prosseco, and suddenly – magic happens in your mouth, then you’ll know you’ve found a match!

Other food and champagne pairings:

  • Sushi is best for direct brutes or blanc de blancs
  • Mexican with fruity extra dry champagne
  • nuts especially almonds
  • any mushroom dish,
  • Fried foods, popcorn and potato chips (same reason beer goes well with these foods)
  • scrambled eggs (mmm mimosas)
  • Pair with desserts that are low in sugar or tart such as berries, shortbread, pound cake, angel food, tart or lemony with demi sec.  dark, hard Chocolate with extra-dry or demi sec.

Several of my girlfriends are Champagne Chic, so I turned to them for their expert opinions. One girlfriend, in particular (Ashley McGuire), has a wine cellar stocked with an inventory of Vueve clicquot, so I promise you can trust her pallet!

Ashley’s Favs:

  1. Veuve clicquot
  2. St. Hilaire
  3. Emeri Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (Ashley’s note: The Cremant region of France has so many gems at a reasonable price and the same type soil as the Champange region of France.)  Find this at the Dilly Deli
  4. Tissot Cremant du juraJean Robert’s Table in Cincinnati features this as their house sparkling. (*a fantastic bottle at an incredible price point, between $30-$40.)
  5. GRAPE: Liore Valley Chenin Blanc grape is a great, subtle easy drinking grape
  6. GRAPE: Pinot blanc grape is good too. xo Ashley, Fetish Boutique


Like any wine, champagnes range from sweet to dry.
Here are the labels to look for:

  • Demi-sec: The sweetest of champagnes, but not as sweet as a dessert wine. It means “half sweet.”
  • Dry: A shade drier than demi-sec.
  • Extra Dry: one step drier.
  • Brut: the driest form and the most popular. There are some special categories, which tend to be more expensive than the traditional champagne blend:
  • Blanc de Blancs — made only with Chardonnay grapes. It generally goes well with lighter foods, such as seafood and vegetables. Also good as a pre-dinner aperitif.
  • Blanc de Noirs — made solely from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, with a deeper golden color than the blanc de blancs. It makes a great pairing with full-flavored foods, such as meat and cheese. These champagnes tend to be rare … and expensive.
  • Rose: The color comes from the addition of Pinot Noir wine at the second fermentation, the point at which still wine becomes champagne. This type is one of the best to have with dinner, according to Ed McCarthy, author of “Champagne for Dummies.”

(Source: “Champagne for Dummies,” by Ed McCarthy, John Wiley & Sons, $16.99)

Read Full Post »

My girlfriend, super-mom and super-woman, Elizabeth Barber, made delicious homemade burrito bowls and was nice enough to share the recipe with CorkStories! She made up most of the recipe as she went along (like a true chef),  and says it’s amazingly good. Note from the chef: “I didn’t have chipotle seasoning, which obviously means it wasn’t as spicy as the real Chipotle, but we hardly noticed. The recipe is for my typical order: rice, chicken, black beans, mild tomato salsa, lettuce, and a little cheese. Hope you enjoy!”

Wine recommendations for this dish from A Bottle or Two’s David Pustinger, are: *click the links to place your order on A Bottle or Two’s website.

  • Laxas Albarino – a Spanish white wine. Its grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks, thus creating a light, citrusy wine that pairs nicely with lime flavors in this dish.
  • Abad Dom Bueno Mencia – $17 Presentation of butterscotch, seasoned spices, black cherry and tobacco. A dry Mencia with a full body. You may notice tastes of cinnamon, black mulberry and blackberry preserves. We suggest having this wine with risotto, port wine and glace reductions or pot roasted half racks. *notes from A Bottle or Two
  • Louro do Bolo GodelloAnother Spanish white grape, round and aromatic with flavors of lees, pineapple and lemon in the nose, as well as a bit of smokiness and oak spice.
  • Gazela RosePortuguese wine, $7 (winediva.ca describes this wine as having “a prickle of vivace bubble on the tongue…aromas of juicy cherry, red berries, vanilla and hints of peach pit…juicy, lively acidity to balance the sweetness. The bright peachy/berry flavours return on the palate with a zesty finish.”  Sounds yummy!

You can read more about A Bottle or Two’s online wine services in my column, “Vine + Table” featured in Cincy Chic

From Snooth.com

Chianti Wines
The Sommelier Says: These light red wines are bright and earthy, making them excellent choices for pairing with this recipe

Viognier Wines from California

The Sommelier Says: These medium bodied white wines are aromatic and fruity, which allows them to work well with this dish

Arneis Wines
The Sommelier Says: These white wines are aromatic and dry, allowing them to work well with this meal
Read more: http://www.snooth.com/wine-pairings/better-bean-burrito/#ixzz1F6eLfAth

HOMEMADE BURRITO BOWL RECIPE (by Elizabeth Barber – blog)
Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 box white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
3-5 dashes of lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Cook rice according to package directions using chicken stock instead of water. Add butter, lime juice, and cilantro before serving.

Seasoned Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 clove chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Combine ingredients and simmer on low 30 minutes to one hour, stirring frequently.

Grilled Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Add olive oil to grill pan and cook chicken on high until no longer pink and slightly charred.

Homemade Salsa (Recipe courtesy of Ashley Barden)
4 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lime; squeezed
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 onion; chopped
1 small green pepper; chopped
Sugar to taste
Blend ingredients in food processor. Pulse about 15 times.

Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
Chopped Romaine Lettuce

Read Full Post »