Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Which wines go with Peruvian food?

25 Mar

Chicas y Chicos,

Señorita  Vino is traveling to the mother country this week (that would be Peru). In the spirit of the journey, here’s a re-post of a piece on which wines to pair with Peruvian food. 

Happy eating and I’ll be back soon!

If Peruvian cuisine were a movie star, she’d be stalked by paparazzi, grace the covers of fashion magazines, and receive an audience with the Pope. Ah, but  if  wine were her consort, what lucky devil would have the privilege of escorting her on the red carpet?

Ever the match-maker, Señorita Vino recently had the privilege of selecting wines to go with various Peruvian-style dishes prepared by Peruvian chef Renzo Pinillos Luck. Here, for your pairing pleasure, is what we created:

1. Aperitif – Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Reserve. Alsace, France

Think of this sparkling wine as a palate cleanser. The elegant little bubbles in this fruity, dry wine from France’s Alsace region set the stage for a rich and varied menu.

2. Butifarra (Peruvian Chicken Breast Sandwich) and 2010 Phebus Torrontes. Salta, Argentina.

Butifarras are usually served with pork, but this genteel take on a street food classic went beautifully with with the citrusy Torrontes from one of Argentina’s famed wine growing regions. The crisp, stainless-steel fermented dry white complemented the creaminess of the chicken salad filling. ¡Delicioso!

3. Triple White Bread Sandwich with Avocado, Egg, and Tomato and 2009 Harbor Front Chardonnay. Monterey, Calif.

Tropical fruit aromas such as pineapple, with a splash of orange, brought the tanginess of the tomato and the butter of the avocado to life on this Latin-American twist on the club sandwich.

4. Cheese and Fruit Platter with Papa a la Huancaina and 2009 Bougrier ‘V’ Vouvray. Loire Valley, France.

A modern take on the Peruvian staple, papa a la huancaína.

A creamy white wine with a hint of sweetness, this Loire Valley classic displays some minerality, which is characteristic of the soil from this world-renowned grape growing region. The slight residual sugar in the wine balances the salty cheeses, and at the same time it complements the fruit. The Vouvray’s creamy flavor helps tame the slight kick of the ají amarillo in the huancaína sauce, which is poured over boiled potatoes.  

5. Pionono with Dulce de Leche, Strawberries, Almonds and Chocolate and Rivata Brachetto Piemonte. Piedmont, Italy.

Sí, chicas – they make piononos in various Latin American countries, but the Peruvian version features dulce de leche and good-for-you treats such as fresh strawberries and almonds, which are packed with ‘good’ fats. It’s a guilt-free dessert. Kind of. Because of the pionono’s high sugar content, I paired it with a sweet sparkling wine from Italia. Just enough sweetness to complement the dessert without making you feel like you’ve devoured the sugar bowl. And the bubbles help cleanse the richness of the dessert, leaving you with a fresh palate.

Ready for his close-up: Chef Renzo, a man outstanding in his Peruvian cocina.

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Is Moscato the new Chardonnay?

18 Jan

Those of you who were of drinking age in the 1970s (and–ahem–for the record, I was not) may recall the stratospheric rise in popularity of Chardonnay. Like the band ABBA, Chardonnay had its heyday in the 70s and still enjoys  a hard-core fan base.

Mamma mia! I admit that I'll still sing out loud when Dancing Queen plays on the radio. (credit: musicwallpapers.net)

Mamma mia! I admit I’ll still sing to “Dancing Queen.” (credit: musicwallpapers.net)

But musical tastes evolve, and so, my friends, does wine.

Moscato, worshipped by some and reviled by many for the same reason–its sweetness–is topping the charts these days. Not a gathering goes by where I don’t encounter a gaggle of groupies who rave about Moscato’s naturally sweet character, versatility and intoxicating floral and fruit aromas.

DSC_0525

Make a sweet day even sweeter with a pink Moscato toast.

Is Moscato the new Chardonnay, or to drag out my musical metaphor, is Moscato to Chardonnay what Air Supply was to ABBA?

Señorita Vino took this question to the experts. Read what they had to say–and learn some basic facts about Moscato–in my most recent article for Latina Magazine’s fab food and wine website, TheLatinKitchen.com.

And tell me, are you a Chardonnay kind of wine lover, or does Moscato rock your world?
¡Salud!

A winery that honors veterans

12 Nov

When Josh Laine returned to Livermore, California in 2007 after serving in the Marines in Iraq, he knew he wanted a job that required hands-on work. His girlfriend at the time worked for a winery and  introduced him to the agricultural side of the wine business. This is how Valor Winery was born.

“I didn’t know anything about wine,” Laine says. “I didn’t even really know how it was made,” he laughs. But this didn’t stop him from buying an acre of land and investing $15,000 into the business, all in one year. It didn’t take too long for him to figure out he needed help.

“Some of the Marines I served with weren’t doing too well with their lives,” Laine recalls. “I wanted to help them as a way to keep my own life from going down a bad path, so I asked them to help me plant vines and clean equipment.”

Soon, the wives and girlfriends of the veterans began telling Laine that their partners seemed less angry at home. Also, vineyard work proved to be so physically demanding that some of the men were able to sleep more restfully and experience fewer war-related nightmares.

Josh Laine works the vines at Valor Winery.

Today, Valor Winery employs more than 50 veterans who do anything from marketing and sales to mapping out new vineyards, maintaining the vines and providing IT support. “So  many veterans are coming back now [from overseas],” notes Laine. “For some of them, this is a pit-stop and they work here for a few months. We help them move on to something bigger and better. But others have been here the whole five years and love it.”

Valor Winery produced a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc,  Chardonnay,  Zinfandel and Sangiovese. The wines retail for $15 to $40. All of the proceeds go to the winery’s Vets & Vines Foundation, whose goal is to give veterans with physical and emotional limitations an opportunity to learn a trade in a supportive environment.

Besides producing “awesome wine,” Laine says that Valor Winery provides “stability and camaraderie. We’re helping veterans transition back into civilian life.”

Valor Winery is open to the public the first weekend of each month and by appointment. The wines are available in some Northern California stores and can be ordered directly from the winery by calling (925) 321-0373. Look for them on Facebook.

I dedicate this post to all of the women and men who have served our country, especially my husband, Señor Jim, who served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division from 1968-1969 in Vietnam.

A take-along wine cheat sheet

17 Sep

On a recent visit to Señor Jim’s family in Seattle, I accompanied my amazing step-daughter-in-law (a.k.a. Miss Jenny) on a quick grocery store trip to buy wine for dinner. Miss J and I were  navigating the super-sized aisles of a super-grande market, where the wine section seemed to go on for miles. Miss J turned to me and said, “You should make a cheat sheet so that I’ll know how each type of wine tastes.”

Miss J, from your lips to Señorita Vino’s ears.

Here for your shopping pleasure are general aroma and flavor profiles for the eight most common wines you’re likely to see at a restaurant or in the wine section at the grocery store.

——————————————CLIP ‘N SAVE!-———————————————

 SEÑORITA VINO’S OFFICIAL WINE FLAVOR CHEAT SHEET 

1. WHITE WINES

Chardonnay – If you like buttery, oaky wine, choose Chardonnay. The wood notes come from the oak barrels used for aging Chardonnay. Keep in mind that some Chards  are aged in stainless steel and will not have the oaky notes. If the grapes were grown in a warmer growing climate, you’ll notice tropical fruit aromas. Cooler climate Chardonnays will have pear, apple and melon aromas.

Sauvignon Blanc – Grapefruit, grass and green pepper are aromas commonly associated with Sauvignon Blanc. If you buy a Sauv Blanc from France, you may notice some mineral notes such as flint. If the label says that the wine is oak-aged, you’ll get some toasty, smoky notes as well. Sauvignon Blanc has a crisp, acidic flavor profile, whereas most Chardonnays will feel more creamy.

Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris) – Most Pinot Grigios are unoaked, so if you’re not a fan of  wood aromas, this is a good choice. You may notice hints of apple, peach, citrus and minerals. The acidity ranges from low to high. How to tell the difference? Pinot Grigios from cooler climates will be more acidic, while those from warmer climates less so.

Riesling – Floral aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, with fruit notes of apricot and nectarine, characterize this wine. If you can detect a ‘petrol’ aroma, don’t worry – it’s normal! HEADS-UP: It’s a myth that all Rieslings are sweet. Sweetness depends on how the wine was fermented, when the grapes were picked, and other factors. If the bottle says ‘late harvest,’ it will taste sweet. Sometimes you’ll see ‘dry Riesling’ on the label. Remember that ‘dry’ is the word used to describe wines that are not sweet.

2. RED WINES

Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is high in tannin, which means you’ll get an astringent, puckering sensation in the mouth. Some people are sensitive to tannins and can get headaches or symptoms similar to hay fever. Cabernet Sauvignon has black cherry aromas, black currant and blackberry. You’ll also detect dark chocolate and tobacco. Cabernets aged in new oak may display coffee and caramel notes.

Merlot – Less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot has plum, blueberry and minty aromas. You may also get some coffee and chocolate notes. Merlot sales took a hit after the movie Sideways, but it remains one of the more popular red wines. Often you’ll see a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, which will be less tannic than a Cabernet Sauvignon and have a broader range of flavors.

Pinot Noir – Naturally low in tannins, this is a good choice for people who don’t care for the puckering effect of tannic wines. Pinot Noir is known for its raspberry and strawberry aromas, as well as red flowers such as rose and carnation. Older Pinots will develop what are known as barnyard aromas. And yes, it smells like what you’d smell in the stall or on the floor of a barnyard. It’s nowhere near as asqueroso as it sounds. But if you’d rather avoid it, go for a younger Pinot.

Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) – Another highly tannic wine, but with aromas that are much different from Cabernet Sauvignon. Choose Syrah if you like hints of violets, black pepper, lavender, blackberry, anise and smoked meat.

Which wines go with Peruvian food?

23 Aug

Señorita Vino is taking a much-needed vacation this week, so for your pairing pleasure, here’s a past post on two of my favorite subjects, wine and Peruvian food. There’s a new bonus pairing not featured in the first version, so read on!

If Peruvian cuisine were a movie star, she’d be stalked by paparazzi, grace the covers of fashion magazines, and receive an audience with the Pope. Ah, but  if  wine were her consort, what lucky devil would have the privilege of escorting her on the red carpet?

Ever the match-maker, Señorita Vino proudly presents some wine selections to go with popular Peruvian lunch dishes and street food. Stay tuned for a future post on what to pair with more elaborate Peruvian fare:

1. Aperitif – Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Reserve. Alsace, France

Think of this sparkling wine as a palate cleanser. The elegant little bubbles in this fruity, dry wine from France’s Alsace region set the stage for a rich and varied menu.

2. Butifarra (Peruvian Chicken Breast Sandwich) and 2010 Phebus Torrontes. Salta, Argentina.

Butifarras are usually served with pork, but this genteel take on a street food classic went beautifully with with the citrusy Torrontes from one of Argentina’s famed wine growing regions. The crisp, stainless-steel fermented dry white complemented the creaminess of the chicken salad filling. ¡Delicioso!

3. Triple White Bread Sandwich with Avocado, Egg, and Tomato and 2009 Harbor Front Chardonnay. Monterey, Calif.

Tropical fruit aromas such as pineapple, with a splash of orange, brought the tanginess of the tomato and the butter of the avocado to life on this Latin-American twist on the club sandwich.

4. Cheese and Fruit Platter with Papa a la Huancaina and 2009 Bougrier ‘V’ Vouvray. Loire Valley, France.

A modern take on the Peruvian staple, papa a la huancaína.

A creamy white wine with a hint of sweetness, this Loire Valley classic displays some minerality, which is characteristic of the soil from this world-renowned grape growing region. The slight residual sugar in the wine balances the salty cheeses, and at the same time it complements the fruit. The Vouvray’s creamy flavor helps tame the slight kick of the ají amarillo in the huancaína sauce, which is poured over boiled potatoes.  

5. Pionono with Dulce de Leche, Strawberries, Almonds and Chocolate and Rivata Brachetto Piemonte. Piedmont, Italy.

Sí, chicas y chicos – they make piononos in various Latin American countries, but the Peruvian version features dulce de leche and good-for-you treats such as fresh strawberries and almonds, which are packed with ‘good’ fats. It’s a guilt-free dessert. Kind of. Because of the pionono’s high sugar content, I paired it with a sweet sparkling wine from Italia. Just enough sweetness to complement the dessert without making you feel like you’ve devoured the sugar bowl. And the bubbles help cleanse the richness of the dessert, leaving you with a fresh palate.

*SPECIAL BONUS PAIRING not featured in my previous post! (EL FULL DISCLOSURE: This next Peruvian specialty is not for the faint of heart. If you’ve got a soft spot for cute, fuzzy little critters, Señorita Vino advises that you look away. Now.) Cuy chactado (guinea pig) with 2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand.

Cuy, or guinea pig, is a Peruvian dish that could trigger nightmares for small children (and some adults).

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, gente. This, my friends, is a guinea pig who sacrificed his life so that I could have lunch while traveling in Arequipa, Perú three years ago. If you can get past the ick factor, guinea pig meat is lean and is said to be nutrient-rich. And–spoiler alert–it tastes like chicken. Colonel Sanders has nothing on the line cooks in the roadside restaurant where I sampled my first (and admittedly last) deep-fried little lab buddy. Why Sauvignon Blanc? The acidity in the wine ‘cuts’ the grease from the deep-fried batter. If you have the stomach for it, it’s a winning, albeit macabre, combo. ¡Salud, y que viva el Perú!

Love story–wines and foods of Latin America

16 Feb

 “Where love is concerned, too much is not even enough.”

–  Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799)

In my world, too much Valentine’s Day is not enough. Maybe I’m a sucker for love, or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to eat chocolate all day long. Regardless, I thought I’d spread the amor by sharing my experience providing wine pairings for a pre-Valentine’s fiesta this past Sunday.  The passionate affair between Latin American foods and the wines that adore them is like a sweeping romantic drama I never get sick of watching. So dim the lights, grab a box of bonbons, and find out what happens when a spicy dish meets a suave Latin American.

The Prologue

It all started with those randy Spanish conquistadores, who had the insight to bring the grapevine to the Americas. The Spaniards had a winemaking tradition dating back to the Roman Empire, circa 210 B.C. Fast forward to modern times, circa four days ago. A macho Spanish Rioja falls in lust with a picante Latin version of an American classic: beef sliders with potatoes in a creamy jalapeño cilantro sauce. The result is nothing short of explosive.

 A splash of 2009 Aspaldi Rioja Cosecha with jalapeño beef sliders. ¡Caliente!

Scene 1: Peru and Uruguay – a mouthwatering match

So this saucy Peruvian dish walks into a bar and collides with a crisp Uruguayan. Her name: Tallarín Verde. Chicas y chicos, this is the stuff telenovelas are made of. In case you’re wondering, the Uruguayan is none other than a 2010 Pisano Torrontes Rio de los Pájaros from Progreso, Uruguay. The reason these two are such a good match: The crisp acidity of the wine harmonizes with the rich, cheesy sauce of tallarín verde, or ‘green spaghetti.’ This classic Peruvian pasta dish features a creamy basil sauce that’s heavy on the garlic and cheese. Two words: Qué sexy.

Scene 2: It takes two to tango

The plot thickens: Red wine and chocolate become Latin lovers in the form of chicken mole tacos and an Argentine Malbec. Call them Latin America’s sweethearts. The reason they work well is that the spice of the mole sauce matches the spicy notes in the Malbec. Tango Trivia Time: The smoldering dance was born in the poorer neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Fittingly, you don’t have to marry a millionaire to be able to afford this 2008 Flichman Malbec Tupungato, a steal at $15.99.

If this tall, dark and handsome Malbec asks you to tango, say ¡Sí!

Scene 3: Chile verde and Chilean Chardonnay meet cute

Chile verde. Wine from Chile. Irresistible, especially when you add a sweet cream corn sauce. The smooth, buttery flavor of the 2010 Chateau Los Boldos Cuvée Tradition Chardonnay complements the creaminess of the sauce. ¡Qué romántico!

Happy Ending: Red Velvet Cake falls for an Italian 

How could anyone not fall in love with Brachetto, a salmon-pink, sweet Italian sparkling wine? Rumor has it that this was the beverage of choice among Italian high school students back in the 80s, which makes my own youthful dalliances with strawberry daiquiris sound muy cheesy by comparison. Brachetto is a hit at all the pairings Señorita Vino has recently created, so hurry on over to your local wine shop for a bottle of Sant Orsola Brachetto d’Acqui. That’s amore!

Stay for the Credits:

All of the wines featured in this post were purchased by Señorita Vino at Total Wine and Spirits in Redondo Beach, Calif. Total Wine is a national retailer with an extensive selection of wines from all over the world. Look them up online to find the nearest location.

The delectable dishes mentioned were the creative genius of Art Rodriguez, who with his partner Stephen Chavez are co-founders of LatinoFoodie.com. They graciously invited Señorita Vino to select wines for the food tasting menu at their first-ever My Foodie Valentine party. ¡Besos, muchachos!

Which wines go with Peruvian food?

3 Feb

If Peruvian cuisine were a movie star, she’d be stalked by paparazzi, grace the covers of fashion magazines, and receive an audience with the Pope. Ah, but  if  wine were her consort, what lucky devil would have the privilege of escorting her on the red carpet?

Ever the match-maker, Señorita Vino recently had the privilege of selecting wines to go with various Peruvian-style dishes prepared by Peruvian chef Renzo Pinillos Luck. Here, for your pairing pleasure, is what we created:

1. Aperitif – Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Reserve. Alsace, France

Think of this sparkling wine as a palate cleanser. The elegant little bubbles in this fruity, dry wine from France’s Alsace region set the stage for a rich and varied menu.

2. Butifarra (Peruvian Chicken Breast Sandwich) and 2010 Phebus Torrontes. Salta, Argentina.

Butifarras are usually served with pork, but this genteel take on a street food classic went beautifully with with the citrusy Torrontes from one of Argentina’s famed wine growing regions. The crisp, stainless-steel fermented dry white complemented the creaminess of the chicken salad filling. ¡Delicioso!

3. Triple White Bread Sandwich with Avocado, Egg, and Tomato and 2009 Harbor Front Chardonnay. Monterey, Calif.

Tropical fruit aromas such as pineapple, with a splash of orange, brought the tanginess of the tomato and the butter of the avocado to life on this Latin-American twist on the club sandwich.

4. Cheese and Fruit Platter with Papa a la Huancaina and 2009 Bougrier ‘V’ Vouvray. Loire Valley, France.

A modern take on the Peruvian staple, papa a la huancaína.

A creamy white wine with a hint of sweetness, this Loire Valley classic displays some minerality, which is characteristic of the soil from this world-renowned grape growing region. The slight residual sugar in the wine balances the salty cheeses, and at the same time it complements the fruit. The Vouvray’s creamy flavor helps tame the slight kick of the ají amarillo in the huancaína sauce, which is poured over boiled potatoes.  

5. Pionono with Dulce de Leche, Strawberries, Almonds and Chocolate and Rivata Brachetto Piemonte. Piedmont, Italy.

Sí, chicas – they make piononos in various Latin American countries, but the Peruvian version features dulce de leche and good-for-you treats such as fresh strawberries and almonds, which are packed with ‘good’ fats. It’s a guilt-free dessert. Kind of. Because of the pionono’s high sugar content, I paired it with a sweet sparkling wine from Italia. Just enough sweetness to complement the dessert without making you feel like you’ve devoured the sugar bowl. And the bubbles help cleanse the richness of the dessert, leaving you with a fresh palate.

Ready for his close-up: Chef Renzo, a man outstanding in his Peruvian cocina.

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