Tourtiere, a Quebecois Tradition … Served with a Red Blend from Washington State

Pairing: Tourtiere (French Canadian Meat Pie) Paired with a 2012 Pendulum Red Blend (from the Columbia Valley in Washington State)

Food: Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meat pie dating back centuries and originating in the province of Quebec, likely in the townships of eastern Quebec. Farmers typically slaughtered their animals in late Fall as cold weather began to set in. One of several ways to utilize the fresh meat was in the making of meat pies using the surplus of pork, beef and game. The pies were then frozen before being baked. It is traditional to serve Tourtiere during the Christmas season and at New Year’s. The Tourtiere are deemed best after being frozen for at least a few days, the wonderful flavors of the spices (cloves and cinnamon) used along with some herbs, savory and bay, are enhanced by what we call the “cold cure”.

Our ancient, thoroughly dog-eared, decoratively stained copy of Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times International Cookbook is the source of our recipe for Tourtiere. Ground pork mixed with the aforementioned herbs and spices, along with onion, garlic, and a crust made with lard creates a delicious and authentic meat pie that any Quebecois would be proud to serve.

Recipe at

Tourtiere Served with Carrots and Parsnips

Wine: “A kitchen-sink blend of varieties”, says Wine Enthusiast, describing the 2012 Pendulum Red Wine. The winery itself does tell us that their 2012 is made from mostly Merlot (44%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (26%). And the remaining 30% ? That seems to be a secret! It can be great fun trying to figure out the ‘mystery grapes” in a blend like this Pendulum. My wife and I were thinking that maybe Syrah is one of the component varieties. After all, it is a very successfully and widely grown grape in the Columbia Valley wine region of Washington. Or maybe something a little more exotic for the region … perhaps some Sangiovese or Barbera or Malbec was added to the mix. There are dozens of grape varieties grown in this region so Wine Enthusiast seems to be suggesting that likely a lot of different grape varieties go into this delicious blend.

Pendulum Red Blend – 44% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest … who knows?!

Tasting Notes: A dark garnet red (very pretty in candlelight!). A delightful fragrance of cassis (black currant liquor) tickles the nose. Aromas of freshly tilled earth and black cherry are also present. On the palate one gets the taste of black currant and a pleasant mix of spices: nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. A little hint of cedar and, maybe a tiny whiff of cigar smoke. Black currant persists on the long finish. The pairing of the wine with the tourtiere couldn’t be better. The spices in the tourtiere mirror nicely the taste of the spices in the wine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Tourtiere (Pork Meat Pie): Gewürztraminer (Alsace), Zinfandel (California), Pinot Noir (Tasmania), Beaujolais (France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with a Merlot/ Cab Blend: Roast Lamb and Chicken, Cold Roast Beef Sandwich, Cheese (Brie, Camembert, Blue)

View the Columbia Valley Wine Region:  Columbia Valley

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Tourtiere paired with a Rhone-style South African Red Blend

Pairing:  Pork Tourtière paired with 2011 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Red Blend

Food:  Tourtière is a pork pie traditionally eaten in French Canada in winter, often on Christmas  Eve. It’s origins can be traced back to 14th Century France. Our recipe is from Craig Claiborne’s 1971 classic New York Times International Cookbook. A wonderful explanation of the dish can be found here. It calls for ground pork, pork or chicken stock, onion, garlic, cloves, cinnamon. savory, and a bay leaf. All wrapped up in a flakey, savory pastry. We’ve served it here with roasted vegetables (carrots, parsnips, and squash), pickled beets, and assorted relishes (maritime chow and mustard pickle). Hint: Make the Tourtière ahead of time, freeze it for a few days or weeks, then thaw it and bake it. It’s even better that way!


Wine: This Rhône-styled red blend is from the Boekenhoutskloof Winery located in the stunningly beautiful Franschhoek Valley near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. For those readers unfamiliar with South African vineyards, there is some fabulous wine coming from there … most notably Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, and several excellent red blends. The Wolftrap is a blend of Syrah (65%), Mourvedre (32%) and Viognier (3%). Viognier is actually a white wine. The folks at this winery are borrowing a technique from the northern Rhône in France where vintners there  combine a little dollop of Viognier with their Syrah to make their world-renowned Hermitage and Côte Rôtie wines. And the addition of the Mourvedre creates a dynamite blend.


Tasting:  The strong presence of Mourvedre in this wine brings out a real earthiness that complements very well the spices in the Tourtière. On the nose, one gets leather and blackberry, along with a plethora of earth smells. The tastes of forest floor, earth and tobacco vie with the flavors of blackberry, allspice, and cinnamon. What a great tasting wine … and less than $15.

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food: Beaujolais, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Tempranillo

Other Foods That Pair with This Wine:  Sausage, Grilled Meats, Venison, Mushrooms

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