Rumbledethumps (?!)… with White Hungarian Wine

Pairing:  Rumbledethumps Paired with 2011 Patricius Tokaj Hárslevelü

Food:  Rumbledethumps … sounds like something used on roads to slow cars down! But, no … it’s an old Scottish dish similar to Irish “Colcannon” or English “Bubble and Squeak”.  Indeed there are many, many variations of this dish that originated among the peasantry of northern Europe. The potato is the star here … mashed … with steamed cabbage, broccoli, and leeks mixed into the potatoes in a casserole dish, topped with melted cheddar cheese. Our recipe is from the cookbook, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, a renowned  vegetarian eatery in Ithaca, New York. The recipe can be found here. According to legend, after taking your first bite together as a family, everyone shouts “Death to the Red Hag!” driving away the specter of starvation.


Wine:  This wine is made up of 100%  Hárslevelü, the grape used in making the famed Hungarian sweet wine, Tokaj. It is been grown in this part of the world for many hundreds of years. This dry white wine is made by the Patricius Winery located in the wine region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in northeastern Hungary and parts of Slovakia. Tokaj was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002 because it is the locale where the first botrytized wine (Noble Rot) was ever made in the early 1700’s. The dry version of this wine made by Patricius is a most enjoyable sipping and pairing wine.


Tasting:  A pale greenish yellow color. A gentle, delicate wine with a light fragrance of lemon and melon. On the palate one gets green melon, diluted lemon, and hints of green apple. The cabbage and broccoli in this dish make it a somewhat difficult food to pair with wine. But this relatively unknown wine (at least to those of us who live outside the countries of Eastern Europe) does a very nice job as an accompaniment to the Rumbledethumps.

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine:  Assorted Soft Cheeses, White Fish, Grilled Trout, Assorted Vegetables

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food:  Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Dry Riesling

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Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) Paired with a Tuscan Red

Pairing:  Shepherd’s Pie/ Cottage Pie Paired with 2011 Brancaia Tre

Food:  A traditional English dish that dates back to the late 18th century when the potato started becoming a more widely planted staple food. Farm families would stretch their meat diet by taking leftover roast lamb or beef, mincing or grinding it, and putting into a casserole with a topping made of mashed potatoes. It’s usually called Shepherd’s Pie when made with lamb and Cottage Pie when made with beef. Most people just call it Shepherd’s Pie  whether it is done with lamb or beef. For this dish, we used leftover roast beef from Christmas combined with leftover brown or mushroom gravy, and topped with leftover mashed potatoes. Doesn’t get any simpler than that!


Wine:  A blended red wine made of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although the La Brancaia winery is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region just outside of Florence, the presence of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend does not conform to the requirements to be called Chianti. Hence its classification as a IGT (Indicazione Geographica Tipica) instead of DOC. See for an explanation of these designations.


Tasting:  A deep dark red with a nose dominated by a clean, earthy smell, along with some plum and cedar. Leather, earth, cedar, and black fruits are all identifiable on the palate. If they made fruit leather out of the berries found in a hedge row, it would taste like this wine. Some dusty tannins and light acidity round out the flavor profile. Very nice and pairs very well with the rustic flavors of the Shepherd’s Pie.

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Beaujolais

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine: Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Pizza, Hamburgers

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Halibut and Chickpea Ragout with a Spanish White Verdejo

Pairing: Halibut and Chickpea Ragout paired with 2013 Finca Las Caraballas Verdejo White Wine

Food:  Full disclosure … halibut is a very stressed fishery and we are very careful from whom we get it. We buy a whole fish (30-40 lbs) directly from a fisherman just down the road from us on Prince Edward Island. This lasts us a full year in the freezer, after sharing some of it with neighbors. PEI manages the halibut fishery very tightly allowing fishermen only a couple of days a year to fish for halibut, and for a very limited catch by weight. With that said, this dish would work fine with other more available white fish. The ragout is simply made with stock, canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), onion, shallot, garlic, tomato, and herbs. The fish is poached directly in the ragout for an easy one-pot meal. Oh … and did I mention it’s really low in calories?


Wine: Verdejo is widely regarded as Spain’s finest white wine, and is grown extensively in the Rueda region of the high altitude country northeast of Madrid. It has been grown there for over a thousand years and is believed to have been brought from North Africa by the Moors.  A very drinkable wine that pairs well with many different foods, especially seafood.  And … very affordable at less than $15. Enjoy!


Tasting:  Medium yellow in color. Green apple on the nose. A bracing, clean acidity with flavors of green apple and white flowers. Just a hint of grapefruit to make it even more interesting. Does a nice job complementing the flavors of the ragout.

Other Foods That Pair Well with This Wine: Pasta with Pesto, Crab Cakes, Salad, White Fish, Spicy Dishes (e.g., Jambalaya)

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food: Albarino (Spain), White Bordeaux (France), Sauvignon Blanc (US), Verdicchio (Italy), Vinho Verde (Portugal)

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Croatian Wine with Fish Cakes

Pairing:  Homemade Fish Cakes with 2009 Coronica Gran Malvasia Istria Croatia

Food: These fish cakes are from a recipe in The Legal Sea Foods Cookbook. Here is a link to the recipe. For those readers who may not know, Legal Seafoods is a highly regarded Boston institution that started as a fish market in the early 1050’s, then a restaurant in the mid 60’s. There are now dozens of branches all over the Boston area and elsewhere. We encourage you to eat there if you are in the area. They also have a terrific wine list. One of our favorite things to have with the fish cakes (or indeed with any white fish) is pickled beets. My wife puts up several jars of them every summer. Relishes of most any sort are also wonderful with the fish cakes.


Wine: The Istrian Peninsula is located due east across the Mediterranean Sea from Venice. The peninsula is actually part of three countries — Italy (just south of the city of Trieste), Slovenia, and Croatia. The Coronica winery is located in the sparsely populated, beautiful hilly countryside of the Croatian part of Istria near Umag. Many different varieties of the Malvasia grape are grown throughout the Mediterranean from Greece to Portugal. The local clone of Malvasia grown by Coronica is Malvazija Istarska.


Tasting: This is a very special wine. A lovely golden color. Apple blossoms and honeysuckle on the nose. A very delicate sweetness is present, but is still very much a dry white wine. Tastes on the palate are mostly ripe melon notably cantaloupe, with blended tropical fruits on the flavor landscape. And, a touch of pepper and allspice on the finish. A delightful wine from a beautiful part of the world.

Other Wines that Pair Well with This Food: Albarino (Spain), Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner (Austria), Vouvray (Loire, France), Soave (Italy)

Other Food that Pairs Well with this Wine: White Fish, Shellfish, Pasta with Light Cream Sauce

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