Your Complete Guide to Holiday Food and Wine Pairing and Gifts

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Perhaps you are entertaining this season, or maybe you entertain all year.  A glass of wine at dinner is better when paired appropriately.  A glass of wine with friends is even better.  Maybe you want to give a bottle of something as a gift.  Or perhaps you are curious about great wine.  Great wine doesn’t mean expensive.  The terroir and nuances and enjoyment of wine and the way it plays with food pairings can be found in a bottle of twelve dollar wine.  You just have to know what to look for.

There are five glasses of wine in each bottle.  A standard pour is five to six ounces.  This will help you plan how much to provide at a party.  Serve whites at 55 degrees.  Reds at 65-75 degrees.  Look for wine between ten and twenty dollars.

For appetizers– a sweeter wine that holds up on its own and is quite delightful is RieslingPinot Noir can be paired with anything.  It is the most versatile.  Look for the cherries and chocolate flavors in this milder wine.

If you are serving something with butter or cream- Mushrooms with butter sauce and Parmesan or Linguine Alfredo, let’s say, or a nice salmon with a creamy herb sauce will pair perfect with Chardonnay.  Chardonnay carries the crisp tropical and fresh fruit flavors of white grapes with the toasty cream finish thanks to the oak it matures in.

If you are serving seafood or salad– Shrimp Cocktail, a beautiful main-dish salad with chicken, or pork roast with apples and cabbage.  Anything that has crisp flavors-apples, lettuce, briny seafood- goes best with a Sauvignon Blanc.  It has crisp fruit and mineral flavors, is dry, and is made in stainless steel.  It goes really nicely with food.  If you want to go a tad sweeter with this type of menu, choose a Pinot Grigio.

If you are serving tomato based dishes or beans- Rich chili, thick pastas and savory sauces, olives, or bean soups all go beautifully with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Anything Italian naturally pairs with Sangiovese, Chianti, or Barbera.

If you are serving red meat or barbeque- You just can’t go wrong with a Merlot or a Malbec with a smoky steak or buffalo burgers.

If you are serving dessert- a thick Port with fudge is divine, a glass of Moscato or Ice wine is a sweet way to end the meal.

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A gift to a wine club is a great present to the wine lover on your list.  Some of the smaller wineries offer wine clubs which gives the oenophile on your list some new and exciting small batch wines to enjoy.  Some of the larger wine clubs offer treats from around the world.

Enjoy your festivities this season, my friends.  Cheers!

 

 

The Forest Feast and the Underground Supper Club

the forest feast

I have found the most beautiful cookbook.  It is called “The Forest Feast” by Erin Gleeson.  You can taste the food and smell the forest and celebrate with friends as you flip the pages.  Cool cocktails and interesting takes on vegetables wooed me into the check out line with it.  I have spent hours lost in its pages.

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I bought it to challenge me.  Sometimes I make the same vegetables in many of the same ways as I always have.  Corn with butter and salt.  Broccoli with  uh…butter and salt.  How about broccoli roasted then tossed with blue cheese and pine nuts?  I served this dish with curried salmon and salad when friends came to dinner and the dish positively melts in your mouth and screams for great red wine.  Cauliflower steaks with cheddar and chives.  Cucumber and strawberry salad.  Paprika and cinnamon crispy carrot slices.  Sangria.

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It inspires me, as so many things out there do.  Shyanne and I have long dreamed of a supper club.  Wildflower and Fawn, after our respective Native names, would be its moniker.  Supper clubs are frowned upon when serving wines and food in a non-commercial kitchen and charging.  But, yet we dreamed.  Four courses, from scratch, organic, local ingredients, wine pairings, my creative take on main and side dishes, and Shyanne’s extraordinary flair for desserts.  A multi-star experience of fresh flowers, laughter, fine china, and delicious food and drinks.  A quarterly event.  A way to express our inner chef/sommelier/baker/entertainer without the restaurant.

The first one filled up in a matter of days.  The next is Memorial Weekend.  The ideas and inspiration keeps gathering force like stardust, and enchantment is all around.

 

Farmgirl Dinner Party (with homemade pasta)

I am looking forward to more alfresco meals.  To show you pictures of meals taken next to the lilac bushes in bloom, with votives in canning jars, and flowers gracing the table but until then, we are still indoors!  It is cozy indoors and the cold is certainly keeping us in.  Nothing warms the soul quite like laughter, wine, and friends around the table.

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The china shown was Doug’s Great-grandma’s.  Probably over a hundred years old.  I ought to be seeing what it is worth instead of setting the table with it but isn’t that the point of nice things, to use them?  If they break, then they are but a memory but a better testament to their use than placed in the attic.  Great Grandma would be pleased that we are using her china and it would be interesting to see what she had to say if she were at the table today.

Before guests arrive I always light every candle in the house and every oil lamp.  No overhead lighting.  Sure, it’s dim, but luxuriously calming and beautiful.  A bit of jazz or classical music will be put on and guests will arrive to an open bottle of wine and instant serenity.  I will have out and ready a plate of cheese and crackers and an assortment of olives.  I particularly like the ones stuffed with garlic! I don’t wait too long to serve dinner, maybe only twenty minutes but a snack and a drink calm the senses and make one feel welcome.

I raided the root cellar for ingredients for this meal. It takes awhile but it is very easy to prepare.  You could just stop at the pasta and add homemade sauce instead of the squash/apple one that I made up.  But if you have produce or veggies in the freezer or root cellar that need using up, this is a great recipe, both savory and sweet in each bite.

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Homemade Pasta

First make the pasta so that it can sit in the fridge for an hour or so.

1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of white flour

5 eggs

1 T of olive oil

1/2 t salt

Combine all ingredients making a nice dough.  Wrap and place in fridge.

When you are ready for it, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch and use a pizza cutter to slice into 1/4 inch x 5 inch pieces

Boil for about 6 minutes.

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Sweet and Savory Squash and Apple Pasta Sauce

2 1/2 cups of peeled, diced butternut squash

2 small apples, diced

4 T of pesto (I had walnut and basil pesto in the freezer but you could whip some up in the food processor. Just throw in a cup of basil, 1/4 cup of walnuts, and enough olive oil drizzled in to make a chunky paste)

1 1/2 cups of diced mushrooms (mine were frozen)

3 T of mushroom and sage infused olive oil or regular olive oil (there are stores that only sell olive oils. I get mine at the Olive Tap)

Saute squash and mushrooms in olive oil covered for 8 minutes

Add apples, pesto, plus 1 T maple syrup, 2 t of sage or 4 leaves chopped, 1 T porcini oil and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Add 3/4 t salt, 1/2 t each pepper and garlic powder, 1 t onion powder, and a pinch of cayenne

Blend well and drizzle with maple syrup and salt to taste.  Pour over pasta

Pasta Topper

Spread 2 cups of walnuts on cookie sheet

Drizzle with olive oil, ancho or cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, and salt and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Also serve with shredded cheese.  I used Drunken Goat wine infused cheese.

Wine

A California grown Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to this meal.  It’s richness and earthy complexity will shine with the sweet and savory sauce and thick, hearty noodles.

Enjoy your dinner party!  A good board game is always a fun way to end the evening.  See you around the Scrabble board!