Provencal Pizza … Paired with a “Stump Jump” Australian GSM

Pairing: Provençal Pizza Paired with a 2012 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre)

Food:  Provençal Pizza is significantly different from the more traditional Neapolitan Pizza from Italy. Instead of a cooked tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil all typical ingredients of the familiar Italian pizza, our Provençal Pizza is made with fresh tomato slices, oil cured olives, feta cheese, tiny branches of fresh thyme, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. It should be noted that ours is not the traditional Provençal Pizza called Pissaladiere. We particularly enjoy our version of this pizza in late summer and early fall when the heirloom tomatoes start appearing in gardens and farmstands. The wonderfully flavorful heirlooms really shine on this pizza. Our crust is made from sourdough, one of our favorites.

Provencal Pizza with Stumo Jump GSMJPG


Wine:  d’Arenberg is probably our favorite Australian wine producer. They make an extraordinary range of different wines (mostly reds) … we’ve had many of them … and they have all been good. And who can resist the cleverly conceived names?!

Back to GSM’s … an abbreviated way of saying Grenache, Syrah (or Shiraz), and Mourvèdre. These are the three principal grapes that make up the red wines from the Southern Rhône wine region of France. These wines include such well known reds as Côtes du Rhône, Gigondas, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Outside of France, Australia has become one of the biggest producers of GSM blends, along with the United States where they are known as ‘Rhône Rangers’.


Stump Jump GSM

Tasting Notes:  A deep garnet red color. The nose speaks of fruit … blackberry and plum. The palate brings flavors of a dark fruit compote, notably blackberry, black raspberry and black currant … all underlaid by a deep earthiness (that’s the Mourvèdre). That robust earthiness continues on the long finish, and complements beautifully the salty/briny flavors of the olives, feta,and Parmesan in the pizza. An absolutely perfect pairing!!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Provençal Pizza:  Côtes du Rhône (France), Bandol (Provence), Rosé (Provence), Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France), Garnacha (Spain)

Other Food That Pairs Well with GSM:  Roast Chicken, Pork, Mushrooms, Charcuterie, Moussaka (among many others … a very versatile wine)

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=Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms … Paired with an Australian Grenache

Pairing:  Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms Paired with a 2008 Clarendon Hills Kangarilla Grenache

Food:  A simple dish made with whatever type or shape of pasta you like (we’re using gemelli here), whatever mushrooms you enjoy (we’ve got an assortment of sautéed wild mushrooms), cooked chicken meat, a béchamel sauce, and some grated parmesan cheese. We’ve served the dish with cool, sliced cucumber, and a handful of fresh cherries.

A word about wild mushrooms:  Many markets are now starting to sell cultivated “wild” mushrooms (seems like a contradiction of terms). They are quite delicious. If you are feeling adventuresome, you may have an inkling to go off into the wild and forage for wild, edible mushrooms. My advice … DON’T! Don’t unless you are going with a reliable, experienced, knowledgeable companion who knows what to look for and can distinguish between the delicious and the deadly.

Pasta With Chicken and Mushrooms

Wine:  This Clarendon Hills ‘Kangarilla’ Grenache hails from the beautiful McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia. Vineyards were first planted in the McLaren Vale in the early 1800’s. Today wine from this region is considered to be among the best in all of Australia.  Grenache (Garnacha in Spain) grapes are perhaps best known for being one of the three principal grapes used in the iconic French wine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Throughout southern France, Australia, and California, Grenache is used in the making of GSM’s (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre), a very popular blended wine. However, in Spain and more and more in Australia, Grenache is grown to make wonderful single varietal wines. And Clarendon Hills makes one of the best. By the way … What is a kangarilla? A cross between a kangaroo and a gorilla??? Hey, Siri …

Clarendon Hills Grenache

Tasting Notes:  Wow … a very special wine. The color is garnet red like the color of bing cherries. Aroma of cherry pie with a shortbread crust, warm and fresh out of the oven. Absolutely amazing! On the palate one gets a hint of earthiness and leather combined with the cherry flavor resulting in a cherry fruit leather taste. Some raspberry overtones play out in the latter stages of the tasting experience with cherry and raspberry lingering through the long finish. The mushrooms help bring out the earthiness in the wine and the fresh cherries served with the pasta … well, you can guess that they help advance the already cherry presence in the Grenache. A great wine … a great pairing!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pasta, Chicken and Mushrooms:  Pinot Noir (New Zealand), Red or White Burgundy (France), Cote du Rhone (France), Chardonnay (California)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Grenache:  Grilled Lamb or Chicken, Sausage, Turkey, Eggplant

See Photos:  mclaren vale

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Caesar Salad (+) … Paired with a Sparkling Fruit Wine

Pairing: Caesar Salad (with some additions) Paired with NV Luckett Vineyards Helena Sparkling Apple and Blackcurrant Wine

Food:  The original recipe for the famous Caesar Salad was created by restauranteur Caesar Cardini  in his Tijuana establishment in the 1920’s. It is composed of romaine lettuce and croutons, with a dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic, and Worcestershire Sauce. A raw egg yolk was then beaten into the dressing. There are dozens of variations that have been developed over the years, and there remains some controversy around the actual creator of the dish. Regardless, it is a fabulous  salad. Our version usually eliminates the egg (though not always) from the dressing, and adds tomato, ham and chicken slices for a more complete meal while retaining much of the delicious flavors of the original recipe.

Cesar Salad with Helena

Wine:  Returning to Nova Scotia, we enjoy another different wine, this time a sparkler from Luckett Vineyards in the bucolic Gaspereau Valley. Luckett’s Helena is a sparkling wine made from sparkling apple wine with blackcurrant added to it. For those who have yet to sample wine made from fruits other than grapes, I say you are a missing a whole other universe of delicious wine, both for pairing with food or drinking by itself. And don’t assume that all fruit wines are sweet. Many are demi-sec or dry.

Luckett Vineyards Helena

Tasting Notes: A lovely bronze color with streams of tiny bubbles. On the nose … one can                        imagine strolling through an apple orchard with the fragrance of fully ripe red apples permeating the air. The palate is a palette (get it?) of ripe strawberries, apples and raspberries. The blackcurrant is finally revealed in the finish. Delicious … one could sip this as an aperitif, a thirst quencher, or as a nice companion to the complex flavors in the salad. Bravo, Luckett … we’re headed down your way to get more!

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Type of Salad:  Ruilly (Burgundy), Champagne or Crémant (France), Chardonnay (Oregon), Rosé (Bordeaux), Soave (Italy).

Other Foods That Pair Well with Sparkling Fruit Wine:  Goat Cheese, Brie, Camembert (as well as other soft cheeses), Indian dishes, Asian cuisine.

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Mussels O’Neill … with a Nova Scotia Tidal Bay White

Pairing:  Mussels and Pasta Paired with 2016 Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay White

Food:  Confession time … we love mussels … REALLY love mussels! Our favorite food to eat when we’re on Prince Edward Island is mussels. We pig out on potfuls of mussels steamed in a little water and some wine, maybe a leek and some herbs for added flavor. Back to the confessional …our eyes are often bigger than our stomach resulting in … are you ready …leftover cooked mussels! What to do? Our favorite thing is make what we call Mussels O’Neill, our adaptation of a recipe found in the wonderful cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite by Molly O’Neill. Simply boil down about 2 cups of the mussel stock left from steaming the mussels to about a cup. Add about 1/2 cup of wine, reduce again. Add 1/2 cup  half and half or cream to make creamy texture to the sauce. Add the cooked mussels and some pepper to taste. Mix the cooked linguini into the sauce. Serve then sprinkle with chopped, fresh parsley. Amazing.

Note: Prince Edward Island mussels are, in our humble opinion, the best mussels on the planet! Oysters, too!

Mussels O'Neil

Wine:  Nova Scotia wines are becoming a hot item among oenophiles in Canada and elsewhere. Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia, and Benjamin Bridge is one of twelve wineries across the province making a Tidal Bay wine. It is made from L’Acadie Blanc, Oretega, and Geisenhiem grapes, all cold-weather varieties developed for their flavor and hardiness. L’Acadie Blanc is perhaps the most widely grown white wine grape in Nova Scotia.

Tidal Bay Benjamin Bridge

Tasting Notes:  A pale straw color, almost colorless. The nose hinges on the delicate aromas of green melon and green apple, with a background smell of fresh ocean breezes (appropriate for a wine called Tidal Bay!). Green melon and Granny Smith apple persist on the palate, with a real tang of the green apple … but definitely not citrusy. One can almost detect some pleasant, light salinity in the taste that carries over to the finish. The tanginess of the wine acts as a nice foil to the creamy taste of this mussel dish. Some wines have intangibles that make them great pairings with certain dishes. Tidal Bay has these traits that make it a great pairing for locally sourced, maritime seafood.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mussel Dishes:  Chablis (France), Muscadet (Loire Valley), Verdicchio (Italy), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Chasselas (Switzerland)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Tidal Bay:  Stuffed Bar Clams, Raw Oysters, Grilled Shrimp, Pan-Seared Scallops, Smoked Salmon

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A Source:  Prince Edward Island Liquor Agency

Strawberry and Chicken Salad … with a Basque Country Rose

Pairing:  Strawberry and Chicken Salad Paired with 2015 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis Rosé

Food:  This salad is almost too pretty to eat. It’s strawberry season here in the northeast part of the U.S.. The season lasts only a few short weeks so we look to serve them with just about everything … breakfast, lunch and dinner.  These sweet, flavorful, fresh berries are absolutely perfect added to a salad of spinach greens, chicken, kiwi fruit, and slivered almonds … all drizzled with a lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette. Summertime … and the livin’ is easy!

Strawberry and Chicken Salad

Wine: Txakolina Rubentis is the rosé version of Txakolina, the lightly fizzy wine made in the Getariako Txakolina region of northern Spain … Basque country. It is made from 90% hondarrabi zuni white grapes and 10% hondarrabi belts, a red grape. These grapes are grown virtually nowhere else but in Basque country, and are descended from ancient wild grapes indigenous to this small corner of the world. The Basque people themselves consume the vast proportion of Txakolina wine, with the U.S. being a distant second largest consumer. Indeed, one rarely finds this wine for sale anywhere else, including Spain itself. For me, sampling wines with that heritage and origin is a thrill.

Spanish Rose

Tasting Notes:  A beautiful pale shade of pink. Imagine yourself out by the clothesline where the dry sheets are billowing over your head while you breathe in the clean fresh smells of the laundry along with the fragrance emanating from the nearby strawberry patch. That’s what you get when you smell this lovely wine. Strawberries and honeysuckle nectar are the gentle flavors, mingling nicely with the slight effervescence tickling your palate. Needless to say, this simple, clean tasting wine pairs wonderfully with the strawberries in the salad. Wine complementing food … food complementing wine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Strawberry/ Chicken Salad:  Sancerre (Loire Valley), Vinho Verde (Portugal), Chardonnay (Chile), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Other Foods That Pair Well with a Rosé:  Salad Nicoise, Cold Meat Plate (Salami, Ham, etc), Potato Salad, Paella, Lamb Kebabs

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Celebrating the Fourth … Buffalo Burgers (Version 2.0) Paired with a Red Blend

Pairing:  Buffalo Burgers Paired with a 2011 Montes Twins Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend

Food:  A year ago, we featured Buffalo Burgers, along with potato salad and coleslaw as our traditional Fourth of July picnic. This year we are repeating that meal, but with different variations for each of the components of the meal. The buffalo (or, perhaps more accurately, bison) burgers are made from a mixture of ground buffalo meat, wild blueberries (really!), Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Version 2.0 of the potato salad has added green peppers, celery, and onion. And we used red cabbage (instead of green) in the coleslaw, giving it the look of a fireworks display! It is the Fourth of July after all!

Buffalo Burgers Version 2.0

Wine:  For this year’s picnic, we drank a Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon 50/ 50 blend from the Colchagua Valley wine region in central Chile. The region is particularly well known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, considered by some as the best Cab made in all of South America. Both Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are splendid single varietal wines. Blended together by a skilled winemaker, they become a wine of extraordinary complexity, depth and polish. This is a special (but inexpensive) red wine that goes well with many different foods (read on).

Montes Twins

Tasting Notes:  A deeply colored reddish black (thanks to the Malbec in the blend). The aroma is reminiscent of blackberry jam cooking on the stove. The palate is hedgerow jam … a composite of dark berries (blueberry, black raspberry, blackberry, black cherry). Smooth and velvety … the soft tannins feel like gently padded elbows (does that make sense?). A real nice pairing for these buffalo burgers … goes down real easy … and very inexpensive ($11).

Other Wines That Pair Well with Buffalo Burgers: Zinfandel (Sonoma), Shiraz (Australia), Merlot (Italy), Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Cahors (France)

Other Foods That Pair Well with a Malbec/ Cab Blend:  Grilled Steak, Meat Loaf, Roast Beef or Lamb, Pizza with Sausage, Mushroom, and/ or Pepperoni

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Pan-Fried Trout and Hazelnuts … with a Savennieres

Pairing:  Pan-Fried Trout Paired with a 2006 Baumard Savenniéres

Food:  Close your eyes … you can just smell the woodsmoke and hear the crackle of the open campfire as you fry up your fresh catch of trout from nearby in the famed waters of the Yellow Breeches. I can dream, can’t I? Alas, the trout for this meal was bought at the local fish market (sigh). But this is a favorite meal of ours, and ridiculously easy and fast. Pan fry some trout filets with some butter slowly in a heavy skillet. When the trout is just about cooked through, throw in a handful of toasted hazelnuts with a little more butter, if needed roll the hazelnuts around in the butter, and serve the trout with pearl couscous (also called Israeli Couscous) cooked in fish stock (perhaps made with the heads and bones of the trout). Lovely fresh green broccoli provides the final piece for this perfect meal. Enjoy!

Trout with Sauvenier

Wine:  Speaking of perfection … the wine we’ve chosen to pair with the trout, a Baumard Savennières, is absolutely out of this world. Savennières is a tiny village in the western part of the  Loire Valley, an extensive wine region south and southwest of Paris. It is made from the Chenin Blanc grape, which is also the grape of another Loire Valley wine, Vouvray.  The grape is believed to have originated in the Anjou area of Loire dating as far back as the 9th Century (though the name Chenin Blanc was first documented in the 16th Century). The point is that it is a very old variety and first appeared in this part of the world. And for our purposes Savennières is the perfect accompaniment for the trout.


Tasting Notes:  A lovely color of straw with some greenish tints. Aromas of ripe melon and fragrant apple blossoms tickle your nose. On the palate, a medley of tropical fruits provide a delightful consortium of flavors. Its like a delicate bowl of fruits with just a hint of sweetness. The depth of the wine … this 2006 has aged over eleven years …  yields an extraordinary complexity and ripeness. And the wine complements and brings out the buttery flavors of the trout and hazelnuts. This is without a doubt the best wine from the Loire Valley we have ever tasted. I hope our readers will get a chance to enjoy it.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pan-Fried Trout: Riesling (Alsace), Chenin Blanc (South Africa), Pouilly-Fumé (Loire Valley), Prosecco (Italy), Chardonnay (Western Australia)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Savennieres:  Shellfish (Mussels, Clams, Scallops, etc). Crab, Lobster, White Fish, Apple Dishes

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