St. Nicholas Day … Hungarian Goulash with Petite Sirah

Pairing:  Hungarian Beef Goulash with 2005 Michael David Winery Petite Petit

Food:  December 6 is St. Nicholas Day, a really big deal throughout Europe. The custom of hanging one’s stocking for St. Nicholas to fill with gifts began with the “Legend of St. Nicholas.” The first time we ever heard of the celebration of St. Nicholas Day was in the Kate Seredy’s children’s book, The Good Master. As in the book, we started putting out our boots on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. Because this book takes place in Hungary, we began making Hungarian Goulash as our traditional meal for that day. Our recipe is adapted from Craig Claiborne’s 1971 classic New York Times International Cookbook. Generously season 2 lbs of chuck beef with salt, pepper and paprika. In a heavy skillet, brown the beef in some oil and or butter. Add 2 onions, chopped, until lightly browned. Add one or two Tbs of floor to the beef and onions and cook for a few minutes. Add to the pot 1 and 1/2 cups of beef stock and 2 Tbs tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for about two hours. Check periodically to make sure there is sufficient liquid in the pot. Add more stock if needed. Serve over noodles. Note:  this stew freezes very well, and keeps for a few years in the freezer in case you want to save some for the following year (as we do!).


Wine:  OK … this is a little complicated. The Petite Sirah grape (spelled with an i, and also called Durif) is the offspring two varieties, Syrah and Ploursin. Petite Syrah (spelled with a y )  is a clone of the Syrah grape called Petite Syrah because it is smaller in size and yield. Now, to more thoroughly confuse you, this wine from the Michael David Winery in Lodi, California is actually a blend of mostly Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. Hence, the name Petite Petit. Petit Verdot is often found in small amounts in French Bordeaux and Champagne. Petite Sirah is a relatively rare grape grown primarily in California, but also to a much smaller extent in Australia, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.


Tasting:  This Petite Sirah is a deep red (almost black), lush, full-bodied wine that complements the beef goulash particularly well. Blackberry, black currant, and blueberry are all present on the nose. On the palate, these dark fruits come together into a “hedgerow jam” flavor. Add to that some leather, earth, nutmeg and cinnamon and you arrive at an extraordinarily flavorful wine. The paprika notes in the goulash seem to really bring out the spice flavors of the wine.

Other Foods That Pair Well with This Wine:  Steak, Game, Cheese (strong flavored), Mexican Cuisine.

Other Wine That Pairs Well with This Food:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Côte du Rhóne, Zinfandel, Rioja, Shiraz

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