An Autumnal Delight … Roast Pheasant Paired with a Red Bordeaux

Pairing:  Roast Pheasant Paired with 2009 Chateau Lyonnat Lussac-Saint Emilion

Food:  As summer begins to fade, we begin to look forward to autumn and its associated sights, smells,  textures, and … tastes. Roast pheasant is a dish we always think of as an autumnal meal. Our recipe for roast pheasant comes from the L.L Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, a favorite of source of ours for many years. It involves finely mincing (by hand or food processor) 2 shallots, 4 mushrooms, dried basil, dried tarragon, and fresh parsley and thoroughly combining them all with a little brandy and a few Tbs of butter forming a thick paste. With your fingers, carefully tuck the mixture under the skin of the breast and thigh meat. Rub any remaining paste over the outside of the bird. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the bird in a heavy skillet at 350F. Remove the bird and deglaze the pan using some of the wine and chicken stock. Boil down until the sauce is to the desired consistency. As a final touch, swirl in a Tbs of butter and/ or veal demi-glace. Serve the sauce over the meat and mashed potatoes. Yikes … is that good! You bet.

Roast Pheasant

Wine:  The vineyards that surround the town of Saint-Emilion are among the most prestigious in all of the Bordeaux wine region. Some might say in all of France.  Lussac-Saint-Emilion is considered to be one of four “satellites” of Saint-Emilion, all four of these sub-regions lying north of Saint-Emilion. Lussac-Saint-Emilion is located in the far northeastern corner of Bordeaux. Merlot is the dominant grape variety in all of Saint-Emilion and is often combined with a little Cabernet Franc in the making of these distinguished and distinctive wines. Many of the wines from fabled Saint-Emilion wineries are in high demand throughout the world and get top dollar on the market … sometimes hundreds of dollars per bottle. The Chateau Lyonnat from Lussac is far more reasonable … $25.  Click on the link for tips on finding inexpensive Bordeaux wines.

Lussac St Emilion with Pheasant

Tasting Notes:  Ruby red color. Rich aromas of black currant and leather. Big, round flavors of both black and red currant, leather and more subtle tastes of black pepper and spice. All tied together with mellow tannins. Glad we decanted the wine two hours before eating. As we progressed through the meal, the mushroom and herb flavors of the pheasant enhanced further the elements of the wine. And the finish carried on and on. This … is Bordeaux! And this … is a great pairing! (mmmm …)

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine: Roast Duck and Confit, Venison, Roast Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, or Beef

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food:  Barolo (Italy), Red Burgundy (France), Crozes-Hermitage (Northern Rhone), Pomerol (Bordeaux)

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Chardonnay … Versatility is Thy Name

Two Pairings:  Fish Timbales one night and Pizza the next night … Both Paired with a 2012 Dutcher Crossing Chardonnay Stuhlmuller Vineyard Alexander Valley

Food: We are creatures of habit. On Fridays we always seafood (perhaps a remnant of my Catholic upbringing). Saturday is always homemade pizza (the origin? … maybe because it was easy to eat on your lap while the family watched Star Trek – Next Generation … or some other long repressed memory). Anyway, we enjoy a gazillion different ways to prepare both seafood and pizza so the pattern is never boring. Back to the food …

Our fish timbales are made with mackerel and haddock, poached or sautéed or broiled first. A white sauce is made with shallots, cooked and chopped spinach cooked together in cream (and some mashed white beans). Season with salt and pepper. The cooked fish is flaked and added along with a small beaten egg to the sauce. Divide the fish mixture into two six-ounce buttered ramekins. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Unmold the ramekins onto warmed plates. We like to serve the timbales with chard that has been sliced into 1 inch pieces, cooked in a little olive oil and water, then seasoned with salt, nutmeg and garlic powder.  (Bonus:  our fish timbales are 290 calories each!).

The next night is pizza … Instead of tomato sauce, the unbaked pizza shell ( we continue to enjoy our sourdough pizza crust) is covered in pesto sauce with cooked chicken, chanterelles, red or orange bell pepper, bacon, red onion, and grated mozzarella cheese. The recipe we use is from Flavors of Prince Edward Island:  A Culinary Journey. The recipes in this cookbook were provided by the PEI Association of Chefs and Cooks. Wonderful cookbook … great pizza.



Wine:  My wife and I typically drink a bottle of wine over two meals. So … here’s the dilemma … what wine will pair nicely with a seafood dish one night and with some recipe for pizza the following night? And, of course, what do we have on hand in the larder and cellar? The fish we have in the fridge really needs a white wine. Even a lighter weight red would likely overwhelm the fish. So … what white wine will also go well with what pizza?

Well, Chardonnay is not one of most widely planted grapes and one of the world’s most widely drunk wines for nothing. Many different style, grows in many different regions. France, Italy, California, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand … to name just a few. Being a guy who ‘marches to a different drummer”, “swims against the tide” (you get the picture), I would normally not be inclined to go along with the masses, many of them who only drink Chardonnay (you … hiding there in the back … you know who I’m talking about). But, come on … the Dutcher Chardonnay is really, really good … and I think ideal for these two meals. Go for it! Perfect!


Dutcher Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  Lovely yellow-golden color. The nose carries delicious scents of fresh orange slices and orange blossom. Flavors detected include honeysuckle, honeydew melon, and orange zest, with hints of spice (coriander and mace). The wine’s ability to both quietly refresh the delicate tastes of the fish timbales while at the same time assert itself to enhance the rich, complex flavors of the pizza is positively magical. An exceptional wine we have enjoyed time and time again.

Other White Wines That Pair Well with both Fish Timbales and Pizza with Pesto, Chanterelles and Chicken: Verdicchio (Italy), Soave (Italy), White Rhone-Style Blend (California), White Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhone Valley, France).

Other Food That Pairs Well with a New World Chardonnay:  Clam or Corn Chowder, Mushroom Risotto, Chicken in Cream and Morel Sauce, Smoked Salmon Omelette.

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Chili … with White Wine(?!!)

Pairing: Chili Paired with NV Otter Creek La Crescent

Food:  There are probably hundreds … or thousands … of recipes for Chili. Ours is a simple, meatless version made of tomatoes, kidney beans, chopped onions, cubed green peppers (or cucumbers), and chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Not only is this recipe yummy and easy to make, it is also ridiculously low in calories and high in protein. Would you believe that the bowl of chili shown in the photo below contains less than 300 calories, and that includes the melon cubes and grated cheddar! (but not the wine). For the recipe, you can go to my wife’s blog,

Chili and Otter Creek


Wine:  First of all … yes, white wine is usually the best pairing for  spicy dishes.

Our quest continues for wines from lesser known, out-of-the-way wine regions and wineries. That quest has brought us to the cold northern climes of upstate New York to Otter Creek Winery in the tiny town of Philadelphia, NY up near the Canadian border. New York is rightly famous for their wines from the Finger Lakes Region (notably Riesling) and Long Island. They can now boast of some excellent wines from the cold, snowy north. The La Crescent grapes grown by Otter Creek were developed at the University of Minnesota for its cold-hardiness and good flavor. My sister, who lives in that area of the state, brought us some wines to sample … delicious! Thanks, Sis!

Otter Creek La Crescent

Tasting Notes:  A pale gold color. Melon and apricot are present on the nose. Lovely ripe cantaloupe and apricot emerge on the palate and continue on the finish, along with a little touch of peach and honey. The residual sugars present a pleasant sweetness to the wine and bring wonderful balance to the spicy Chili as well as to other such flavorful dishes. This might best be described as a semi-sweet wine similar to a Riesling.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Chili:  German Riesling (Spätlese or Auslese), Gewürztraminer (Alsace), Grüner Veltliner (Austria), Zinfandel (Mexico or California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with  Otter Creek La Crescent:  Indian Curry, Chinese Cuisine, Mexican Dishes, Thai Food.

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Chicken Parmigiana … Paired with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Pairing: Chicken Parmigiana Paired with a 2008 Farnese Opi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane Riserva 

Food:  Chicken Parmigiana (also called Chicken Parmesan) is a well known Italian-American dish. Very simple to make. Slice a chicken breast in half to produce two thin filets. Dip each filet in some milk then dredge into some fresh breadcrumbs (mixed with salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese). Spray a shallow pan with some cooking oil and lay the breaded filets into it. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until almost done. Spoon some tomato sauce on the top of each filet, top with a mixture of ricotta cheese and grated mozzarella. Then sprinkle each filet with more parmesan cheese. Place the assembled filets under a broiler until brown on the top (about five minutes). Voila!

Note: The brown color of the penne in the photo below is from cooking the pasta in water that had previously been used to poach mushrooms. It adds yet another subtle flavor dimension to the dish that gets picked up by the wine.

Chicken Parmegiana & Multipulciano


Wine:  The Montepulciano grape is grown throughout central Italy, particularly in the Marche, Molise, and Abruzzo wine regions. The Abruzzo region is situated on the Adriatic coast of Italy. It is the Abruzzo region that many believe produces the finest expression of the Montepulciano grape. A confusing aspect of this grape/ wine, however, is that despite being named for the parish of Montepulciano in Tuscany, the Montepulciano grape is not grown or used in the famed Vino di Nobile Montepulciano which is made mostly from the Sangiovese grape. Weird.


Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Tasting Notes:  A deep purple color, almost black (like Malbec). Aromas of blueberry, blackberry, and leather practically burst from the glass … wow! On the palate, one gets blueberry leather (if fruit leather comes in such a flavor), black currant, and a rich earthiness. Goes exceptionally well with the Chicken Parmigiana … the three cheeses seem to tease out the earthy elements of the wine. Decanting the wine for a full hour before dining really softened up the tannins and turned it into both a nice sipping wine and a perfect complement to the meal.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Chicken Parmigiana:  Chianti  Classico, Super Tuscan, Barbera d”Asti, Bardolino

Other Food That Pairs Well with  Montepulciano:  Pizza, Pasta with Meat Sauce, Salami, Baked Ham, Beef Stew

View Maps and Photos:  abruzzo wine region

A Source:  Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission



Pasta with Chanterelles and Artichokes … Paired with an Okanagan Pinot Noir

Pairing: Linguini with Chanterelles and Artichokes Paired with a 2014 Quails’ Gate Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir

Food:  A few years back, I was doing some work with schools in Southern California. I found myself with a free Sunday and decided to take a drive into the hilly wine country east of Santa Barbara. I took a leisurely lunch at a charming little bistro set in a landscape of rolling vineyards stretching out in all directions. Their Special of the Day was this simple Linguini with Chanterelles and Artichokes served with a glass of locally sourced Pinot Noir. Mmmmm … delicious. Enjoyed it so much that I came up with my own version of it. Frozen artichokes (not canned) work best as preparing fresh ones is a bit time-consuming. Sauté the artichokes and mushrooms in some butter while the pasta cooks. Deglaze pan with some of the wine and a stock reduction. Toss in the almost cooked pasta with a little bit of the pasta water. And, a Pinot Noir is excellent with it.

Linguini with Chanterelles & ArtichokesJPG

Wine:  A first for me … first opportunity to sample a wine from the Okanagan Valley wine region of British Columbia. Wines from this region are becoming more and more available in the U.S. and elsewhere in Canada.The Okanagan Valley has become a significant wine producer in Canada, second only to the long-established Niagara wine region in Ontario. The Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir that we are drinking with today’s selected pasta meal is produced in the Kelowna sub-region of the Valley.

Quails' Gate Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes:  A pretty, medium garnet red. Aromas of cherry and black currant on the nose. A satiny tannin core draped with fresh bing cherry flavors … a classically light and elegant Pinot Noir. Nicely balances the delicate taste of the chanterelles and artichokes.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Chanterelles/ Artichoke Pasta:  Côte du Rhône (France), Rully (Burgundy), Saumur-Champigny (Loire), Pinot Noir (California), Pinotage (South Africa)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Pinot Noir: Salmon, Baked Ham, Dishes made with Bacon, Roast Chicken or Duck (among many other dishes)

Take in the Beautiful Viewsokanagan valley

A Source:  Prince Edward Island Liquor Agency Stores