Independence Day Cookout …Burgers, Dogs … and a Napa Red Blend

Pairing:  Buffalo Burgers, Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, Green Salad and Deviled Eggs Paired with a 2013 Bootleg Proprietary Red Blend from Napa

Food:  One of the great traditions we follow on the U.S. Independence Day celebration is the outdoor cookout. Hamburgers and hot dogs grilled over a wood charcoal fire, Mother’s wonderful potato salad, perfect deviled eggs, and a green salad with fresh lettuce and herbs right out of the garden. Yum!! Bring on the fireworks!!

Independence Day Cookout


Wine:  We find delight in sampling different red blends from different locales in California. The Bootleg winery is located in and sources its grapes from vineyards in the Napa Valley wine region. Their 2013 Proprietary Red is an inspired blend of 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petite Sirah, 21% Zinfandel, 12% Merlot, and the remaining 18% made up of Malbec and Petit Verdot. I repeat … a truly inspired creation from winemaker, Gabe Valenzuela. This is “out of the box” winemaking at its Californian best.

Bootleg Red Bllend

Tasting Notes:  A deep, deep garnet color … almost black (likely from the Malbec). On the nose, the smell of blackberry and black cherry fruit leather (or how we might imagine such a thing!) along with sage, cinnamon, and newly turned over earth. The palate … Big! Delicious! Big “hedgerow” flavors (blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry, black currant) against a lovely background of soft tannins. Just a touch of sweetness. Coats your mouth with its luscious flavors. Perfectly balanced in every way. Makes every part of this wonderful cookout taste even better. Wow … a perfect pairing … an unforgettable wine!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Burgers and Dogs:  Zinfandel (California), Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Beaujolais (France), Shiraz (Australia)

Other Food That Pairs Well with a Napa Red Blend:  Grilled Sausages, Roast Beef, Rabbit (Spit Roasted wrapped in Bacon), Venison

Views of Beautiful California Vineyards:  California Vineyards

A Source:  www.






Grilled Vegetable & Sausage Pasta … Served with a French Syrah

Pairing: Grilled Vegetables and Sausage Paired with a 2012 Cornas “Les Chailles”

Food:  This is wonderful summertime fare. We make ours with dark green zucchini, yellow summer squash, yellow bell pepper, and red onion. Using multi-colored pasta adds even more color and fun. Season with salt and pepper and toss the vegetables with some olive oil before placing the mix into a grill pan over a hot fire. Keep an eye on it and stir or toss the vegetables frequently so you don’t accidentally blacken them (though we like a little woodsmoke and charcoal flavor … the operative words being “a little”).

Before hand you’ve grilled up some favorite sausage. We like the flavor of bratwurst sausage. After grilling them, slice them up and combine with the finished vegetables, the cooked pasta, some béchamel sauce, and grated parmesan cheese. What a treat to enjoy outdoors on a warm summer evening! And you can make as much as you want for friends, family … or leftovers.

Grilled Veg & Sausage

Wine:  When grilling is a focal point of a meal, we frequently reach for a Syrah, whether from Australia, California, France, or elsewhere. Cornas is an appellation and a village located in the northern Rhone Valley region in southern France. Les Chailles is the name given to the rich, flavorful Syrah grapes from combined named locales in Cornas.

Cornas Rhone Red

Tasting Notes: The nose: Imagine … walking into a leather shop in Florence, inhale deeply … catch that wonderful aroma of leather. Ahh … Then … sneak out the back door (no, you haven’t done anything illegal) and run into a bramble tangle of black fruits and blueberry. Inhale deeply … mmmm. The palate:  A positively beautiful integration of black fruit flavors and soft tannins. Interesting to note that one of us (my wife) tasted fresh fruit, while I tasted cooked fruit (like jam). The background hints of charcoal and parmesan cheese in the pasta play very well with this Syrah.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Grilled Vegetables and Sausage: GSM (Australia or California), Gigondas (France), Pinot Noir (New Zealand), Syrah (Washington)

Other Food That Pairs Well with French Syrah (Cornas): Roasted or Grilled Chicken, Duck, Beef, Lamb or Pork, Mushrooms, Grilled Tuna

View the Beautiful Cornas Wine Region:  Cornas Wine Region

A Source:  www.





Sicilian Market Pasta … Excellent with a Soave Classico

Pairing:  Sicilian Market Pasta (Pasta alla Moda del Mercato di Siracusa) Paired with a 2017 Pra Otto Soave Classico

Food:  In her cookbook, The Italian Country Table, Lynne Rosetta Kasper describes this as “A pasta inspired by the black olives that farmwives marinate and sell in the morning market in the Sicilian port town of Siracusa.” Adapted from her recipe, ours calls for fresh basil, oregano, tomato, garlic, olives, fresh mozzarella, crushed red pepper, a little orange zest, and ditalini pasta. The addition of the hot pepper brings the dish to a whole new level of enjoyment and makes for a very special pairing with the Soave Classico.


Market Pasta

Wine:  Soave is a medieval town surrounded by vineyards located about 25 km east of Verona in the Veneto wine region. The Veneto wine region sits in northeastern Italy, north and west of Venice. The region has become one of the most important regions both in terms of volume of wine produced and the fine reputation of both its red and white wines. Soave is probably the most well-known white wine in all of Italy. All Soave wine is made primarily (70% or more) from the Garganega grape which, together with its DNA twin, Grecanico Dorato, grown extensively in Sicily, constitute one of the most widely planted grape varieties in all of Italy. The Soave Classico designation was created to distinguish wine made from vineyards planted in only the original lands surrounding Soave, believed to be a superior terroir from those vineyards planted in more recently developed and expanded properties.

Soave Classico Otto

Tasting Notes:  Color is a pale gold with a slight greenish tint. A delightful fragrance of fresh cantaloupe and muskmelon. The melons carry over into the palate, joined with ripe apple and peach. A light-bodied wine absolutely delicious by itself … like sipping from a clean mountain stream. And stellar when paired with the diversity of flavors in the pasta salad … especially complementing the “heat” from the red pepper flakes. Great pairing!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Sicilian Market Pasta: Albarino (Spain), Verdicchio (Italy), Etna Bianco Superiore (Sicily), Verdejo (Portugal)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Soave Classico: Chicken Salad, Pasta with Clam Sauce,  Shrimp, White Fish (Baked or Pan-fried)

Views of Veneto Wine Region: Veneto Region

A Source:  www.

Moules (Mussels) Gratinées … Companion for a California Chardonnay

Pairing: Moules Gratinées (Mussels au gratin) Paired with a 2017 Scheid Vineyards Chardonnay (Monterey)

Food:  My wife should be credited for this dish. She based it on a meal we enjoyed in Brittany a while back where it was made with scallops instead of mussels. Béchamel Sauce, Cheddar cheese, chopped scallion. (For recipe go to Utter simplicity … utterly delicious! Serving the mussels with side dishes of Camargue red rice and beautiful green broccoli elevates the meal to a truly memorable dining experience.

Moules Gratinees w: Chardonnay

Wine:  We’ve highlighted Scheid Vineyards elsewhere in this blog (May 4, 2020 entry, Pan Seared Halibut Cheeks — Mind-blowing Paired with Roussanne). They offer a galaxy of different wines from their extensive holdings in the Central Coast wine region of California. This Chardonnay is crafted from grapes grown in their Monterey County vineyards. The cool climate here is due to the winds blowing in off the cold water of Monterey Bay. This contributes to the creation of a light, crisp Chardonnay different from the fuller, richer versions of the wine that often results from warmer environments.

Scheid Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  Gold with a very slight greenish tint (pretty). On the nose you get a nice combination of different aromas … ripe honeydew melon, fragrant white flowers, and freshly baked vanilla wafers. The palate offers up a light vanilla, white peaches, and more honeydew melon. There is a lightness to this wine, yet it stands up surprisingly well to the cheddar cheese in the sauce. Indeed the wine actually helps bring out the cheddar taste in the dish. Very nice complementary flavors.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Moules Gratinèes:  Champagne (France), White Burgundy (France), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Other Food That Pairs Well with California Chardonnay:  Mushrooms, Pasta with Cream Sauce, Grilled Seafood, Roast Chicken

A Wine Lover’s Guide to Monterey County (Wine Enthusiast)

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Tapas Tuna Salad …Enjoyed with a White Rioja

Pairing: Tapas Tuna Salad Paired with a 2013 Laventura Rioja Blanco (Viura)

Food: Weather here in New Hampshire is finally warming up. It’s snowed three times in May, two to four inches each time. But now the apple trees and lilacs are in full bloom, and the mock orange are not far behind. The Monarch butterflies are poking around ready to feed on the abundant blossoming flora.

So … we’re ready for dinner salads. Tapas Tuna Salad is a simple, delicious, Spanish-inspired dish we found in the cookbook, Everyday Tapas. It can be made with either canned or fresh tuna (if using fresh tuna, grilling it adds just more complementary flavors). Chopped hard-boiled eggs, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, tiny boiled potatoes, and baby greens all tossed with a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, white wine vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper. Brighten it up further with a few colorful edible flower blossoms (e.g., pansies). It’s almost too pretty to eat … almost.

Tapas Tuna Salad w: White Rioja

Wine: The Rioja wine region located in northern Spain is perhaps the county’s best known wine region and focused mostly on red wine production. Tempranillo and Garnacha are the reds that people around the world frequently  associate with Spanish wine and Rioja is where these grapes are most widely planted.

Far lesser known are the white wines produced in Rioja, (Rioja Blanco), accounting for less than 10% of the total wines made in this region. Viura (Macabeo) is the grape most commonly used in the production of Rioja Blanco. Viura is used to make age-worthy single varietal wines, as well as blended wines that may be created by combining with Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca. MacRobert and Canals, located in Lagroño, the capital of La Rioja, are the makers of Laventura Viura, along with other artisanal wines unique to the Rioja region.

White Rioja Laventurajpg

Tasting Notes: A pretty gold color. On the nose one gets a touch of citrus (lime) and maybe some pineapple, along with some herbs. The palate reveals some nice lemon and lime flavors, green melon and green apple. A little acidity brightens it all up. Nice complement to the diversity of tastes in the Tuna Tapas Salad.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Tapas Tuna Salad: Rosé (Provence), Vernaccia (Tuscany), Verdicchio (Marche, Italy), Sauvignon Blanc (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with White Rioja: Steamed Mussels or Clams, Serrano Ham, Paella, Grilled Shrimp, Fish or Chicken

Maps and Views of the Rioja Wine Region:  Rioja Wine Region

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Lamb Gozleme …served with a Red Bordeaux from Graves

Pairing: Lamb Gozleme Paired with a 2014 Chateau de Landiras Rouge Graves 

Food: Gozleme is a delicious, easy to make, Turkish flatbread, griddle-fried to a golden brown and stuffed, in our version, with a combination of spiced ground lamb, feta, spinach, and tomato. The lamb is seasoned with some onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Fresh mint leaves are a nice addition. Lemon and olives are common accompaniments, along with fresh fruits.

Lamb Gozleme

Wine:  The de Landiras vineyards, located in the southern part of the Graves wine sub-region of Bordeaux is one of the region’s oldest properties, dating back to the 14th Century. What was once 14,000 acres of vineyards in the 1500’s is now but 2 acres with about 40 more acres planned for future expansion. The current owner, Peter Vinding-Diers, has run the operation since 1988, yet his is only the third family to own the property in its 600 year history. The Graves region distinguishes itself in Bordeaux by being well regarded for both its red wines and white wines. This wine is 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and cries out to be paired with the lamb in this dish … a classic combination. And a very affordable Bordeaux at about $20.

Red Graves

Tasting Notes:  A dark maroon, almost black color. The nose reminds one of walking along an old hedgerow with many  types of berries ripening in the sunshine … black current, blackberry, blueberry, and black raspberry. Yes, I know these berries don’t all ripen at the same time. Just use your imagination! On the palate, one gets to taste the flavors of these same berries with the addition of a bit of leather, well-smoothed tannins and just a touch of acidity. And there is a surprising gentleness to this wine that one does not often associate with Bordeaux wines. Yet the complexity and assertiveness of the wine balances nicely with the complexity of the Gozleme.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Lamb Gozleme: Petite Sirah (California), Syrah (Washington), Rioja (Spain), Zinfandel (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Red Bordeaux (Graves): Roast Duck or Chicken, Grilled Mackerel or Salmon

Maps and Views of the Bordeaux/ Graves Wine Region:  Bordeaux – Graves Region

A Source:  www.









Chicken a la Goudaliere … Paired with a California “Wild Horse” Pinot Noir

Pairing: Chicken Breasts with Pine Nuts, Cèpes and Ham Goudalière Paired with a 2013 Wild Horse Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley) 

Food:  Boletus edulis is widely viewed as one of the best tasting wild mushrooms anywhere, and can be found throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In Italy it is known as porcini, while in France and elsewhere, they are called cèpes. Dried versions of these mushrooms are available in most supermarkets these days, and reconstituted can work beautifully in most recipes. But having them fresh … well, they are truly amazing. Come September, we can stroll out our front door and pick an abundance of cèpes (or King Boletes as they are known here in New England) growing under an old oak tree. Caution: some wild mushrooms are very toxic, so it’s really important to work with experienced mushroom hunters to learn how to identify safe, edible fungi.

The recipe for this chicken dish comes from Paula Wolfret in her outstanding cookbook, The Cooking of South West France. It is made with such signature regional ingredients as pine nuts, duck fat, Bayonne ham, and Cognac. The recipe is here.

Chicken with Cepes and Ham

Wine:  Wild Horse Winery is located in the Central Coast wine growing region of California. The vineyards that produce their Pinot Noir wines are found in the Santa Maria Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area). The cool, maritime conditions that heavily influence this valley, plus the east-west orientation of the valley, create one of the longest growing seasons anywhere. These climatic conditions are ideal for growing Pinot Noir grapes, a finicky grape to say the least. The results are world-class wines.

Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes: Pinot Noir is a well-considered companion for this dish being an excellent pairing for each the key ingredients to the meal … chicken, mushrooms, duck, and ham.

The color is a pale garnet with a nice brownish tinge. Black cherry, leather and earth all combine in a delightful aroma. The cherry flavor that dominates the palate reminds one of the smells (yes, I know we’re talking about flavor here) in the kitchen while in the process of making cherry jam. While cooking down the fruit with its juice and sugar, the taste is more like fresh fruit before it cooks down to the final jelly stage. This wine captures that moment of flavor while still in the fresh fruit state just before it moves into that cooked state. Transformative.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Chicken with Cèpes And Ham:  Red Burgundy (France), Chardonnay (California), Red Bordeaux (France), Barolo (Italy)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Pinot Noir:  Roast Duck, Grilled Salmon, Soft Cheeses (Brie, Camembert, etc.), Pork

Maps and Views of Santa Maria Valley Wine Region:  Santa Maria Valley

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Pan Seared Halibut Cheeks — Mind-blowing Paired with Roussanne

Pairing: Pan-seared Halibut Cheeks with Mustard Cream Sauce Paired with 2017 Sheid Vineyards Roussanne 

Food:  OK … full disclosure … halibut cheeks are not that easy to come by (the halibut fishery is appropriately a very tightly managed fishery due to the limited stocks). So, if you can find cheeks in a fish market, they can be a bit pricy. We are fortunate to have an acquaintance who is a fisherman on Prince Edward Island, from whom we can purchase a whole fish (30+ lbs per fish). The prized parts of this delicious fish are the fleshy sides of the mouth … i.e., the cheeks. Note: A fine substitute for the halibut cheeks in this recipe, and more readily available, is sea scallops. But if you can score some halibut cheeks (or cod cheeks) … well, it’s quite a treat!

Halibut cheeks can range in size from about an inch and a half to a three to four inch oval. If you are fortunate to live near a good market, you may want to inquire as to their ability to make a special order.

To make two servings, warm 2 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Put about 2/3 lb of fish cheeks in a single layer and cook for one minute on one side. Turn them over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove fish to a warm plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1/4 cup white wine and a clove of garlic, minced, to the pan. As soon as the wine has mostly evaporated, add 2 Tbs of heavy cream, some chives, and 1 Tbs dijon mustard, stirring all the while. The cream will start to thicken so put the fish back into the sauce to warm. Serve with rice pilaf and baby beets and their greens.

Halibut Cheeks

Wine:  A couple of years back, my wife and I spent a delightful weekend in the charming coastal village of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. For wine geeks like us, we couldn’t have found a more perfect locale to sample an amazing array of wines from the Central Coast wine region. The best of the best was the Roussanne made by Scheid Vineyards.

Roussanne is most often associated with the wine regions of southern France, Cotes du Roussillon and the Rhone. In these locales, Roussanne is frequently blended with Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and/or Marsanne to make the signature white wines of these regions. California winemakers have gained worldwide respect for creating New World versions of these cherished French white wines. They also make splendid single varietal wines from each of the aforementioned grapes.

Scheid Roussanne

Tasting Notes: A pale greenish-gold color. Both the nose and the palate show cantaloupe melon, white clover, and a garden of mixed flowers. Some tangy minerality completes the picture. Wonderful! One could sip this all evening all by itself. But as a pairing wine, it is absolutely perfect served with the halibut cheeks. Can’t give too many accolades to this marriage made in heaven!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Halibut Cheeks:  Chablis (Burgundy, France), Viognier (Languedoc, France), Sancerre (Loire Valley, France), Chardonnay (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Roussanne:  Smoked Fish, Scallops, Chicken, Risotto

View Maps and Views of Monterey Wine Region:  Monterey County Wine Regions

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Turkey Piccata … Beautifully Matched with a White Tuscan Vernaccia

Pairing: Turkey Piccata … Paired with a 2014 Teruzzi & Puthod Terre di Tufi Bianco Toscana IGT 

Food:  This meal is more commonly known as Veal Piccata, but we like to substitute thinly sliced and pounded turkey tenderloin for the veal. We use the recipe right out of The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook (1994). It’s fast, easy and absolutely delicious made with the turkey cutlets sautéed in butter, lemon, wine, garlic and capers. Served with barley pilaf and asparagus … it’s a big hit at our dinner table.

Turkey Picata

Wine:  The Terre di Tufi is produced by the Teruzzi & Puthod winery in the San Gimignano region of Tuscany. This lovely white wine is a blend of 80% vernaccia, 10% chardonnay, and 10% sauvignon blanc … and a rarity in Tuscany, a non-red wine! It’s a full-bodied, dry, crisp wine with a lovely floral bouquet and a pronounced flintiness derived from the stoney soils found in this region. Teruzzi and Puthod is widely recognized as the winery that developed vernaccia as a premier wine in Tuscany.

Teruzzi & Puthod White Tuscan

Tasting Notes:  Color can be described as 18 carat gold. Aroma of white clover with some light fragrance of violet flowers. The flavor profile is a nice tapestry of toasted almonds, mango and honeysuckle. There is a delicate flintiness in the finish. The wine also picks up some citrus notes from the lemon used in the piccata sauce. A good complementary flavor pairing.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Turkey Piccata: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), White Bordeaux (France), Unoaked Chardonnay (California), Verdiccio (Italy)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Vernaccia di San Gimignano:  White Fish (Sole, Haddock, Cod), Carpaccio, Pasta with Clams in White Sauce, Chicken dishes

Views of the San Gimignano Region:  San Gimignano

A Source:  www.









Crab Cakes … Utter Perfection with Condrieu

Pairing: Crab Cakes … Paired with a 2015 E. Guigal Condrieu 

Food: The crab cakes of Northern New England are not like those of the Gulf Coast or the Chesapeake.  Our’s are made from Atlantic Rock Crab or Jonah Crab — two cold water species. Maryland crab cakes are made from blue crabs harvested from Chesapeake Bay while Gulf Coast crab cakes are made from blue crabs harvested (guess where) in the Gulf of Mexico. In Florida one might use Stone Crabs, while crab dishes served on the Pacific Coast might use Red Rock Crabs or Dungeness Crab. They all have their unique flavor and ingredients and flavorings indigenous to the particular region.

The tasty meat from these rock crabs from cold northern waters are not, as is too often done, to be smothered in mayonnaise and cracker crumbs and butter.  Rather, the picked over crab meat here should be handled gently and lightly combined with a little plain yogurt, Dijon mustard, minced onion, and fresh bread crumbs, formed into patties that just hold their shape. Done this way, the delicate flavor of the crab is retained.  Todd English’s book The Olives Table is the source of this and many other fine recipes from his Boston area restaurant. His crab cake recipe is by far our favorite.


Crab Cakes with Condrieu

Wine:  The northern part of the Rhone Wine Region in France is home to one of the most highly regarded red wines in the world, Syrah. Hermitage and Côte Rôtie are considered the finest expression of this grape. But we are here to talk about a white wine made in the northern Rhone region that could be, among the many wonderful whites from around the world we have tasted, our very favorite … Condrieu. Condrieu is made exclusively from viognier grapes ripened along a tiny stretch of the northern Rhone River. Many believe Condrieu to be the standard by which all viognier wines should be measured. Count us among those faithful.


Tasting Notes:  Beautiful straw-gold color. Fragrance (like a fine perfume) of mango and honey-suckle. There’s some lovely white flowers there, too. The rich flavor of mango joins vanilla cream and peach on the palate. My lord, this wine is absolutely amazing (!!), and a perfect complement to the crab cakes that have been graced with a dollop of aioli. This is a marvelous wine for a very special occasion.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Crab Cakes:  Riesling (Alsace), Chardonnay (California), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Cava (Spain)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Condrieu:  Lobster, Scallops (dredged in curry powder, seared quickly, then lightly covered in brown butter), Mushroom Risotto

Maps and Views of the Northern Rhone Wine Region:  northern rhone region

A Source:  www.