Caribbean Jerk Pork … Splendid with a Spicy Zinfandel

Pairing:  Caribbean Jerk Pork Tenderloins Paired with a 2015 Dutcher Crossing Rockpile Zinfandel Pritchett Peaks Vineyards

Food: Jerk is a style of cooking with hot, spicy seasoning thought by many historians to have originated with the Maroons, communities of escaped African slaves living in the wilds of Jamaica in the early 1700’s.

A longtime favorite cookbook of ours is Molly O’Neill’s A Well-Seasoned Appetite. Here is her recipe for Caribbean Jerk Pork Tenderloins. What a knock-out version of this dish that she’s created for an authentic taste of Jamaican Jerk. It combines allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, scallion, garlic, a Scotch Bonnet chili (handle with rubber gloves!), and some dark rum into a thick paste. Rub the paste all over the pork, refrigerate overnight and cook it under a broiler for 12-15 minutes. Let rest for 5 more. Wow! What an unbelievable flavor! Despite the heat of a Scotch Bonnet chili, it is delicious when combined with the other seasonings. We served the pork with barley pilaf and sliced tomatoes from the garden. Perfect!

Pork Tenderloin Rubbed with Spices, Scotch Bonnet Chili and Dark Rum

Wine: Zinfandel was the first wine we ever really fell in love with, and many years later, it still holds a special place in our hearts. Dutcher Crossing, located in the Dry Creek Valley region of Sonoma was the first California winery we ever visited, and year after year we make sure to get a shipment of wine from them to enjoy and reminisce. Although they have a very nice portfolio of excellent wines, Zinfandel is their star. Rockpile is a renowned wine subregion producing some the finest Zins in all of California. And, it’s a positively gorgeous area to visit.

Please Note: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families in Napa and Sonoma counties who have so recently lost their homes and livelihoods to the ferocious Glass Fire. Even now, firefighters continue to battle the inferno as we post this note.

Tasting Notes: Color is a deep maroon with a pretty brown tint. Nothing subtle about the nose … aromas of black currant, blackberry, and cocoa powder. A wonderfully complex flavor profile … pepper, cocoa, clove, vanilla; black cherry and wild cherry in equal parts; another layer of wild black fruit … service berry and thimble berry. Soft tannins hold it all together. An exceptional wine … by itself or in great congruence with the jerk spices and heat.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Caribbean Jerk Pork: Gewürztraminer (Alsace, France), Sparkling Wine (e.g., Champagne, Cremant, Prosecco, Cava), Sauvignon Blanc (California or New Zealand)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Zinfandel: Barbecued Chicken or Pork, Pizza (especially with Pepperoni or Hot Sausage), Ham, Grilled Salmon

View the Breathtaking Rockpile Wine Region:  Rockpile

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Grilled Jerk Chicken and Summer Pasta … with Champagne (!?)

Pairing:  Grilled Jerk Chicken and Summertime Pasta Paired with NV Jean-Jaques Lamoureux “Réserve” Brut Champagne

Food:  “Jerk” is a cooking style originating in Jamaica, distinguished by the use of a spicy rub, either a dry rub or a wet marinade. For our Jerk, we combined 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T brown sugar, 1 tsp each of dried thyme, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, dried garlic, mixed Italian seasonings, black pepper, and salt. Mix together all the ingredients and let the chicken pieces marinate in the mixture for 5 hours, turning occasionally. Grill the chicken over a wood charcoal fire (always best, if available), basting with the marinade. We’ve accompanied the chicken with Jacques Pépin’s Summertime Pasta from his cookbook Fast Food My Way. It’s an easy warm pasta salad made with diced tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms Click on the link for the recipe.

Grilled Jerk Chicken and Champage

Wine:  Yet one more example that Champagne pairs well with many, many disparate cuisines from around the world, and … one doesn’t have to be celebrating some special occasion to enjoy a glass of bubbly. Perhaps just enjoying the company of good friends. Lamoureux is a well respected small estate located near the pretty commune of Les Riceys in the far eastern part of the Champagne wine region, not far from the northern border of the Burgundy region. Lamoureux is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, mostly from the 2011 vintage blended with grapes from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.  Champagne is best described as a cool-climate region. Indeed it is among the most northerly wine regions in the world. And Pinot Noir thrives in this climate and soil.

Champagne Lamoureux

Tasting Notes:  Fine, persistent strings of bubbles in this lovely, straw-colored wine. The nose is dominated by a wonderful sweet, fresh apricot aroma. The flavors of ripe peaches and cantaloupe linger in sip after sip of this nose-tingling sparkler. The biscuit-y, creamy taste of the wine reminds one of eating fresh peach scones. Absolutely delicious. And the long, lingering finish leaves one with, once again, the taste of apricots. These fruit flavors, along with the tactile sensations created by the bubbles, play off beautifully with the spiciness of the jerk chicken. You’ve got to try this combination!

Another Surprise:  To further emphasize the point that Champagne goes with many unexpected foods … we drank the leftover Champagne on Memorial Day with our traditional meal of hot dogs roasted over an open fire, baked beans, and cole slaw. A perfect pairing!

Other Wines that Pair Well with Jerked Chicken:  Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Gewürztraminer (Alsace), Chardonnay (California), Dry Rosé

Other Food that Pairs Well with Champagne:  Smoked Salmon, Raw Oysters, Sushi, Lobster, Egg Dishes

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