Swanson Merlot Burgers
(Recipe by Chris Phelps, Swanson Vineyards Winemaker)
Are you a go-getter or a procrastinator when it comes to filing your taxes?
April 15 is Tax Day (or April 17 for those of you really running late!) so you better get a move on it, and plan to give yourself a nice reward for all of your hard work when you finish. Whoever you are, make this weekend a fun one and throw a Tax Day party to celebrate being done with your taxes! If you want to make a bigger bash of it, plan ahead for making the party next week so your friends who will be forcing the post office to stay open on Tuesday will be able to join in the fun!
Not that anyone needs an excuse for a good get-together, but a festive theme can always be fun to celebrate.
Pick up these perfect red & white wines for those who need to relax after just filing at the last minute and while you're at it, grab a bottle of bubbly for those who are ready to party the night away! Our picks for the occasion:
Want a signature drink for the night? Try out this fun mix we found at YumSugar.com
Income Tax Day Cocktail
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, vigorously shake liquid ingredients. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange.
Decorate your place with fake monetary bills, chocolate coins and Americana décor of red, white and blue. For a little noise or something to do, keep a money-minded movie on in the background (we’re thinking either of the Wall Street movies or the sympathetic look into an IRS Auditors life in Stranger Than Fiction).
Need a Tax Day Party activity? We have a couple!
Guess Who: Not the board game, in this guessing game you should have each of your guests write down their perfect scenario of what they would spend a tax refund of $1M on!
Wall Street Movie Drinking Game: (Before we begin ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY this game is only for friends over 21 who are staying over!)
Drink every time…
Before you begin calling your friends, it’s probably best if your taxes are done before you start any games. Get to the post office soon and have a happy and safe weekend!
The big weekend is here, and what a delicious one it will be. Probably one of the best things about a holiday or celebration is that there is always a great meal as the centerpiece. I don’t mean “meal” as a single dish, but as an actual event where every piece plays an important part in making the meal work; Appetizers, sides, main course, desserts and of course, the drinks. For this eventful weekend, we have a few selections and dinner pairings that we think will go perfectly with whichever meal you chose to prepare.
The first three picks are from our limited Bordeaux Collection. The Chateau Laurensanne 2008 Bordeaux and the Château des Proms 2008 Red Bordeaux Blend are both fine reds, whose blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec possess a gorgeous floral bouquet of spring, fruity notes of blackberries, blueberries and the like; full bodied yet layered with light flavors. Both wines are the perfect pairing for any Easter dish, but you’ll get the most out of them with a prime meat like beef or lamb.
Our third Bordeaux is the Cuvee Clemence 2008 Grand Vin de Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers. It’s a white wine with more woody and floral aromas, dryish but with a citrus finish. This Bordeaux will pair great at Easter dinner with a side of potatoes, cheeses or green beans.
For those celebrating Passover, we pulled together a delightful collection of kosher wines sure to complete the merriments. We’ve picked three Cabernet Sauvignons that sport expressive aroma blends of fruity black cherry and blueberry with sweet chocolate, licorice and spices. The Covenant 2008 Red C Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon (in both 2007 and 2008) make for impressive selections. Our kosher wines are handled only by strictly Sabbath-observant Jews, who use natural, indigenous yeasts all within the parameters of kosher conventions.
Both collections from Easter and Passover are a perfect pairing for this delicious Lamb Chops with Eggplant Caponata recipe from the Food Network below:
What you need:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper and cook until the eggplant begins to soften, about 3 more minutes. Add the rosemary, tomato and vinegar and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the capers and pine nuts; set aside to cool slightly.
Place a large skillet over high heat. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper. Working in batches, place the lamb chops in the pan, fat-side down, and cook until the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the chops onto their sides and cook until crisp and brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Divide the eggplant caponata and lamb chops among plates and garnish with arugula.
To complete the dinner, try your hand at these simple and quick side recipes for Twice Baked Potatoes and Honey Glazed Carrots. The Potatoes will be great with the white Bordeaux and the carrots a sweet addition for the red wines.
Finish the night with some dark chocolate and these selections for dessert wine pairings:
Easter is just around the corner and we’re putting together our menu for a fun and delicious holiday. Spring is the perfect time for light and refreshing wines paired with our favorite Sunday activity: Brunch. Having an excuse to make Sunday brunch a little more fun for Easter is just an added bonus.
Our first pick is Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut. With generous aromas of vanilla and spun sugar, followed by fruitful characters of citrus and layered with essences of honey and toasted almonds, Mirabelle Brut works well as an accompaniment to a wide range of foods. Serve it as is with an egg dish, or impress your guests with this simple mix recipe:
Makes 8 cocktails
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 cups water
• 1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice
• 1 bottle of Mirabelle Brut
• Thin lemon slices for garnish (optional)
Put sugar and 1 cup of water into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook for 1 minute until sugar has dissolved, turn off heat, and allow mixture to cool.
In a pitcher, combine the cooled mixture with lemon juice and remaining 2 cups of water and mix well. Fill a Champagne flute halfway with the lemonade and top with Mirabelle Brut. Garnish with lemon.
If you’re more of a Mimosa drinker, the Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut is the key ingredient to making this premium mimosa mixer:
Makes 6 cocktails
• 6 tablespoons orange liqueur
• 1 bottle of Mirabelle Brut
• ½ quart orange juice (no pulp)
In each Champagne flute, add 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur, add Mirabelle Brut to fill 2/3 of each flute. Top glasses off with orange juice and serve!
Our next picks Huru Sauvignon Blanc, Merryvale Careneros Chardonnay and Mira Luna Tough Day Chardonnay. All focus on crisp, vibrant fruits that pack a punch. Huru Sauvignon Blanc is very food friendly and pairs nicely with vegetables or creamy sauces. Chardonnay shows some aromas of apple butter, spice and honey, making it a great pairing for appetizers, cheese and pork. Both whites are incredible fresh, crisp and a perfect drink to accompany this appetizing Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod.
Our last two Easter Brunch picks are the Grass Tree Traminer Riesling, the Azur 2009 Rosé. Traminer Riesling offers floral aromas of rose and fresh citrus flavors, perfect for Spring and warm weather. It pairs with many appetizers, cheeses, pork, poultry and seafood. Similar is the Rosé, which is one of the world’s most versatile wines for food pairings. Desserts, cheeses, herbs, vegetables, anything goes. These two delicate wines would be great to serve with this very delicious (and very easy!) Spinach and Bacon Quiche recipe from The Food Network.
Learn more about our selections at the bottom and feel free to share with us your own Easter Brunch specialties!
Winetasting.com’s Easter Brunch Selection:
• Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut
• Huru Sauvignon Blanc
• Grass Tree Traminer Riesling
• Merryvale Careneros Chardonnay
• Azur 2009 Rose
• Mira Luna Tough Day Chardonnay
Back in the day, pairing steak and wine might have seemed easier given the simple edict of, “Red wine goes with red meat.” But these days, there are almost as many different ways to prepare steaks, as there are varietals of red wine. Rather than become overwhelmed, we turned to the steak experts at Stockyards.com. Known for providing USDA prime and choice beef since 1893, they proved to be an experienced resource when it comes to steaks. In general, their favorite wines for steaks include Cabernet, Bordeaux, Merlot, Shiraz and Zinfandel. But the experts at Stockyards.com are quick to point out that if you’d prefer a white wine with steak, it is perfectly acceptable to serve Chardonnay.
For starters, if serving Carpaccio as an appetizer, accompany it with a full-flavored Sparkling Rosé that will also serve to entice the palate for upcoming courses.
When considering wine for when steak is the main course, grilled steaks require a wine with heft, depth of fruit and smoky oak in order to appropriately balance the char and fat of the meat. Good choices for this include American Red Zinfandels, Cabernets, Spanish Rioha or Priorat. Chardonnay can also be a reliable choice when the steak is grilled and seasoned lightly with just salt and pepper. For pan-fried steaks, our experts suggest a fruitier selection, with more jam and spice in the nuances – such as California, Oregon or Washington Merlots.
It’s not just the steak one has to consider – there’s also the sauce or marinade that’s being used to accompany the steak. If the steak is being served with a barbecue or tomato-based sauce, a Chianti offers nuances that complement both. If a piquant or spicier sauce is being served with the steak, choose a strong Zinfandel or a full-bodied European Red. And a hearty Chardonnay makes a fine choice for Steak au poivre or a steak being served with rich, creamy sauces. For a steak served with a Béarnaise sauce, choose an American Cabernet. And for a sauce that leans more toward blue cheese and/or butter as its main ingredients, our experts suggest Southern Italian Reds.
Steaks braised with wine should be served with a selection that’s similar in flavor to what you’re cooking with – at least in regard to region and grape. Steaks that are stock-braised require wines with a higher acidity to cut the richness.
Finally, Stockyards.com reminds us that, of course, what tastes good together is good together. In other words, it’s okay to make up your own rules as you go along!
Napa Valley Gourmet Experience - Save over 20% on this memorable pairing of aged Cabernet Sauvignon & Top Sirloin steaks.
Treat yourself or a loved one to the truly memorable pairing of a legendary, top rated aged, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with the finest USDA Prime Top Sirloin. Our Napa Valley Gourmet Experience is truly a memorable gift.
Already have the steaks? For an easy wine-steak pairing solution, try Wine That Loves Grilled Steak. Don't let the whimsical label fool you. Wine That Loves is a serious wine. Try this wine with your next steak meal!
Basil steals the show in this lovely recipe highlighting the sweet, tender herb which is so bountiful this time of year. The combination of the refreshing, crisp lemon and cool, sweet basil make this an excellent match with Sauvignon Blanc.
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to basil mixture, turning to coat.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 8 minutes on each side or until done.
While chicken cooks, prepare aioli. Combine 1/4 cup basil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Serve with chicken.
Wine Pairing Recommendation: Vina Sutil Sauvignon Blanc (Chile)
Noticeably less acidic than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this Chilean shines a yellow gold color with hints of green. An expressive nose of citrus and tropical fruit leads you to a palate replete with herbs, grapefruit and ripe pineapple, along with notes of fresh grass. Well-balanced and lively in the mouth, it has a good acidity and a long finish.
Only $15.99 Bottle
My daughter and I first experienced this dish at a wonderful cafe in Benicia, California, and I fell in love. I've looked at a lot of other recipes for artichoke tapenade trying to match it, and none were quite up to snuff. I was able to finagle this recipe straight from the cafe on our second visit.
Since warm weather is here, I thought I'd send it around. It's a little expensive to make, but a little goes a long way. Share!
Place all ingredients except chevre cheese and bread in a food processor ("S" blade). Pulse all ingredients to coarse consistency. Drizzle in olive oil while continuing to pulse. Place in container, date and store. Refrigerated, it lasts many weeks.
To present, toast 3/8-1/2" slices of good quality artisan bread (walnut bread is great), or you can prepare crostini in advance. Spread the toasted warm bread slices or crostini with a thin layer of chevre cheese, and then a thin, complete layer of the tapenade on top.
Serve with salad and Sauvignon Blanc or a Rhone white for a great light meal anytime.
Recipe courtesy First Street Cafe (Benicia, CA) via Mary Pisor.
An elegant wine with bright aromatics that tease the nose with tropical scents. An entry on the palate that is crisp and refreshing, offering vibrant honeydew and zest of citrus. The wine lingers in the mouth with a stony minerality and pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc with a refined finish.
Boasts the classic herbaceous aromas of this varietal, as well as the characteristic crisp grapefuit and melon flavors. But unlike most southern hemisphere winemakers of Sauvignon Blanc, the South Africans are not afraid to use oak. A crisp, dry acidity sparks the palate.
Artichokes are notoriously difficult to match with wine because they contain a compound called cynarin, which makes everything taste sweet after eating it. However, scientists have also discovered that there are health benefits to cynarin. It reduces cholesterol, supports digestion and protects your liver.
Therefore, although they are more challenging to partner, here with ground beef and a thick sauce, they marry beautifully with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The velvety sauce, along with the thickness of the meat, contrasts nicely with the bold bite of the wine. The vegetal qualities of the strong-flavored artichoke mirror similar grassy qualities in the wine.
1. Rinse artichokes. Cut about 1.5 inches from top (point). Cut off stem and reserve. Artichokes should sit flat by removing stem. With kitchen shears, clip the end from each leaf to remove thorn. Rinse. With point down on a hard surface (counter top) press down to spread leaves. Place artichokes in bowl of lemon water to keep from turning brown.
2. Mix all stuffing ingredients together in large bowl with hands.
3. Tip: Sit down while you stuff artichokes. With forefinger, take a scoop of stuffing and push down into each leaf. Pack it in and press against leaf.
4. After all are stuffed, place in large pot with about 2 inches of water, olive oil, garlic and parsley. The reserved stems should be peeled down to the center core (which you can see on end) and placed in the liquid.
5. Sprinkle artichokes with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. As artichokes cooks, baste often and don’t let liquid evaporate. As liquid steams away, add more water. This liquid turns into a delicious sauce. Artichokes are done when you can pull a leaf off easily. Cook for at least an hour or until leaf pulls off and stuffing tastes done.
Recipe courtesy of Peter Frank, a Winetasting.com customer.
Crisp and refreshing. Delicious stone fruit characteristics and explosive tropical aromas and flavors distinctively reflect Napa Valley fruit. Grassier characteristics blended with bright tropical notes and flavors. Silver, 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Made with fruit from top-notch vineyards in New Zealand's Marlborough region and displays the distinctive character for which the region is renowned: a striking intensity of kiwi and passion fruit aromas coupled with bright tropical fruit and citrus flavors.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! While this holiday is frequently celebrated with green beer, wine lovers can join the fun with these easy recipes for green Champagne and Champagne-based cocktails.
Waiters served green Champagne at the White House
for St. Patrick's Day 2009.
Pour champagne into glass. Add one drop of green food coloring. Drink! (Yes, it's just that simple.)
If you're allergic to synthetic food coloring or just prefer a "greener" lifestyle, check your local health food store for a natural green food dye, like spirulina powder (pictured). You can also boil spinach leaves, then simmer and reduce the remaining water until it's concentrated. Use sparingly to avoid changing the taste of the Champagne.
If you're not opposed to a little creative mixology, try adding a shot of green liqueur to your Champagne. Common choices are melon liqueur, creme de menthe and sour apple schnapps. If you're feeling adventurous, check your local liquor store for a bottle of Chartreuse herbal green liqueur or Agwa de Bolivi, which is made from coca leaves.
Gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas, followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a sweet hint of angel food cake. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering, warm pear and lush finish.
Pale with golden reflections, this wine boasts the trademark fragrance of mandarin orange along with extremely fruity aromas and flavors of guava and lychee. Perfect for the wine lover who prefers a gentler fizz than is offered with Champagne, and a sweeter flavor.
The philosophy at J Vineyards is that wine and food enhance each other beautifully, and have always been meant to be enjoyed together. They carefully craft their wines to complement food and offer these pairings with their tasting experiences at the winery. This original recipe was created by J Vineyards' executive chef, Mark E. Caldwell.
An oak-aged California Chardonnay beautifully matches this soup's creamy-sweet flavor. Rich chicken broth creates a textural balance between the soup and the rich wine. The thick consistency of potatoes is cut by the acidity of the Chardonnay with its citrus, muscat and apple-pear qualities.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, potato and onion, sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until potatoes are tender enough to puree, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer in batches to a blender. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan. Add caraway, lemon and dill. Bring just to a simmer, then lower heat. Adjust seasonings and keep soup warm until ready to serve.
A sublime combination of Old World minimalist technique and New World fruit expression. Notes of Meyer lemon, peach, vanilla, toasted almond and honey tickle the nose and mouth. The weighty, seamless palate has a creamy texture reminiscent of crème brûlée. A long, luxurious finish exhibits hints of caramel, nutmeg and cinnamon.