Tag Archives: Chilean Wine

A little #wine for #NationalTacoDay

4 Oct

It’s not every day I sit around praying for the Taco Muse to visit me as I contemplate what to write about for National Taco Day. But like something straight outta Homer’s Odyssey, a taco recipe landed in my inbox from…wait for it…a Greek food company.

And I know I’ll catch el infierno from my Mexican friends, but I’m gonna pair it with–get ready–Chilean wine. Hey, what’s not to love about a little peace, love and global cuisine in Today’s Crazy World? Besides, I’ve been feeling all ornery-like since the candidates’ debate, so this is me stirring the palate pot.

Further down you’ll find the recipe for Grilled Chile-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa (say that 10 times fast), courtesy of the muy Greek Gaea. But in the meantime, here’s my pairing suggestion.


A bee-yoo-tee-ful glass of 2013 Montes Twins Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend is going to send your Taco Tuesday into maximum overdrive. Big, bold blackberries, a trace of red roses and sweet spices will play nicely with the seasonings in the taco recipe. And the saucy tannins are going to grip that flank steak like they mean it. [El Full Disclosure: I received this bottle of wine as a sample from a public relations company, but my opinions are my own. As always. Why can’t the FCC just be happy with me writing about stuff I like? But that’s a whole other story. El Heavy Sigh.]

Oh, and don’t wait until your tacos are ready. Heck, crack open the bottle while you’re cooking. Last but not least, this recipe’s a little on the long side (and no, that’s not me looking a gift Taco Muse in the mouth, but just sayin’), so I’ll sign off for now. ¡Salud!, my darlings, and wish me well on my International Entrepreneurship midterm tomorrow.

Taco recipe.jpg

Grilled Chile-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa


1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Charred Pineapple Salsa

1 small pineapple, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
1 small red onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper, scraped of seeds and minced
16 6-inch corn tortillas

For the Steak Marinade:

In a small bowl, mix all spices, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and blend well to make a paste. Place the meat in a shallow dish and rub the paste evenly over both sides. Cover the steak and let it marinate for 1 to 4 hours.

For the Charred Pineapple Salsa:

When the steak is done marinating, preheat the grill; you’ll cut and grill the pineapple first and then put the steaks on the grill when the salsa is ready.

To cut the pineapple, slice off the leafy top and just enough of the bottom of the fruit so it rests flat on a cutting board. Slice off all the skin with a sharp knife, cutting from top to bottom and taking off as little of the flesh as possible, rotating the pineapple as you go. Discard the skin. Cut out any “eyes” with a paring knife and discard. Slice the fruit away from the core in four or five grill-friendly slabs.

When the grill is hot, place the pineapple slabs on the hot grill and grill quickly until the fruit just begins to show some browning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. (If you want one side to be truly charred or blackened, let it go for 4 to 5 minutes on one side only.)

Take the fruit off the grill when it’s as browned as you like. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes and then dice the pineapple for the salsa. In a medium bowl, mix the diced charred pineapple, red onion, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt, and minced hot pepper and blend well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook the steak:

Place the steak on the grill and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side or slightly longer if you like it more well done. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. While the grill is hot, place the tortillas on the grill and grill for 10 seconds on each side then wrap in a linen napkin for serving.

Slice the steak into 1/2-inch slices, place on a platter, and spoon over the charred pineapple salsa. Place the tortillas on the table and serve family style.

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Sauvignon Blanc

20 Feb

Happy almost-weekend, chicas y chicos! You may recall last month’s debut edition of ¡Mucho Gusto!, where I introduce you to a particular type of wine. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, mucho gusto is what you say when you first meet someone. It’s like “nice to meet you,” but it would translate more directly as “with great pleasure.”

Gusto has many meanings, including “taste” and “flavor,” so consider ¡Mucho Gusto! a delectable play on words and a way to familiarize yourself with wine. So here we go…

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile, California and France.

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile, California and France.

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine.

MY ROOTS: Sauvignon Blanc was born in France’s Bordeaux region. A bit of trivia – the grape variety hooked up with Cabernet Franc sometime in the 1700s and the result was Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Sauvignon Blanc continues to thrive in Bordeaux. Because French wines are geographically labeled and not named for the actual grape, “Sancerre” and “Pouilly-Fumé” are 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc wines. Sauvignon Blanc was planted in other countries including New Zealand, the U.S. (California), Chile, Australia and Italy. Robert Mondavi coined the name Fumé Blanc, so if you see this on the grocery store shelf, it’s Sauvignon Blanc.

ALL ABOUT ME: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine made from an aromatic grape, hence its distinctive aroma. You may get nectarines, white peach, grapefruit, grass and herbs, gooseberries, and believe it or not, kitty pee. French Sauvignon Blanc may also display a flinty, gravelly minerality. Most Sauvignon Blanc is stainless-steel fermented, so you won’t get the woodsy, oaky notes you’d find in Chardonnay.  It’s also known for its refreshing, crisp acidity.

FOODS I LOVE: You can’t go wrong with Sauvignon Blanc and seafood. The wine’s crispness complements the buttery texture of white fish and scallops. I’ve had it with oysters and it’s to-die-for amazing. Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine for vegetarian dishes. This is a great wine for salads, since the herb notes of the wine will match the crisp greens in the salad and the acidity matches vinaigrette dressing. For some Latin flair, pair Sauvingon Blanc with guacamole (the acidity of the wine “cuts” the creaminess of the guac) and spicy dishes like enchiladas and chile relleno. I love Sauvignon Blanc with Peruvian arroz con pollo (chicken in a cilantro sauce).

DO TRY THIS AT HOME:  The beauty of Sauvignon Blanc is that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it. You can get a good bottle for $10 – $20. Of course, you can pay upwards of $150 for a classified Bordeaux blend. Some well-regarded labels include: Cloudy Bay, Kim Crawford and Matua Valley from New Zealand; Laville Haut-Brion, Alphonse Mellot and Pascal Jolivet from France; St. Supéry, Kunde and Matanzas Creek from California; Montes, Concha y Toro and Viña Leyda from Chile.

So here’s wishing you ¡Mucho Gusto! as you get to know Sauvignon Blanc. Until next time…



Chilean wine – poetry in a bottle

13 Jul

Chicas y chicos, did you know that Chile’s national treasure, the great poet Pablo Neruda, waxed rhapsodic about Chile’s other great national treasure, wine?  To set the mood for today’s post on Chilean vino, here’s an excerpt from his aptly named poem, Ode to Wine:


Amo sobre una mesa,
cuando se habla,
la luz de una botella
de inteligente vino.
Que lo beban,
que recuerden en cada
gota de oro
o copa de topacio
o cuchara de púrpura
que trabajó el otoño
hasta llenar de vino las vasijas
y aprenda el hombre oscuro,
en el ceremonial de su negocio,
a recordar la tierra y sus deberes,
a propagar el cántico del fruto.

-Pablo Neruda

Don’t speak español? Ningún problema! Here’s the English translation:

I like on the table,
when we’re speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.

– Pablo Neruda

Señorita Vino had the recent honor of dining at Boa in West Hollywood with one of Chile’s premier winemakers, Aurelio Montes, who was in Los Angeles to promote Montes Wine’s newest project, Outer Limits, featuring wines made in vineyards on the more remote boundaries of some of Chile’s most renowned wine growing regions.

Señor Aurelio Montes, the legendary winemaker behind Chile’s Montes Wines.

Outer Limits is designed to appeal to a new generation of wine drinkers who are open to new expressions of classic grape blends. Case in point: Wines made from the Montes vineyard located in Zapallar, a beach resort about 112 miles north of Santiago on the Pacific coast. Montes was the first to plant vines here, and one of the resulting wines is made from a classic blend of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre, but with an intensity and a slight salinity that hint at the vines’ seaside soil and climate.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere are among Chile’s signature red wine grapes.

In last week’s post, we talked about terroir, or how climate, geography and soil affect the aromas and flavors of a wine. Another significant influence are winemaking techniques. We could spend half a year talking about the various decisions a vintner makes that will impact the flavor, texture and aroma of a  finished wine. For now, I want to mention one of Montes’ more esoteric techniques. Gregorian chant music is piped into the barrel room of his winery, because, as he puts it, “Happy people make good wine.” Amen to that!

Twin angels grace the label of Montes Twins wine, a 50-50 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Hallelujah!

Music by monks is not the only divine element playing into Montes Wines. Angels are ever present on nearly all Montes wine labels and in quite a few of the names. Montes tells the story of a recently deceased winemaking partner whose love of motorcycles and penchant for risk-taking resulted in some close calls. He believed his guardian angel saved him from near-lethal scrapes, and the two decided to incorporate angels into their fledgling winery back in 1989. The company has since enjoyed stratospheric success, and Montes is a firm believer in paying it forward. In September, the company will launch its “Angels in Action” campaign, through which 5 percent of total sales will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Montes Alpha M wines have consistently received ratings in the 90s from renowned wine critics.

And speaking of things celestial and sublime, a post about Montes Wines would not be complete without mentioning the Montes Alpha M wines. I tasted the 2009 vintage and was impressed by the silky tannins and bold fruit aromas. This is an elegant wine that can be aged about 20 years and is a harmonious blend of 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent Merlot, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 5 percent Petit Verdot. Though definitely not a bargain wine at about $90 a bottle, it’s worth the investment if you’re starting a wine collection and are looking for some bottles you can hold onto for a special occasion.

Filet mignon and herbed butter pairs divinely with Chilean red wines.

Food and wine together are edible poetry, in my book. Chile makes some refreshing white wines that pair well with poultry, seafood or veggie dishes.  I was able to taste some Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp, refreshing and ripe with aromas of gooseberry and grapefruit, this is a perfect complement to a fish dish or, as part of our tasting menu at Boa, a Caesar salad.

One of the appealing features of Chilean wines is the value, and Montes Wines are no exception. Many of the wines I tasted at the Montes luncheon retail for $15 or less. Some of the Outer Limits wines are in this general price point, and can be found at Whole Foods, but I suggest searching online if you don’t have a Whole Foods store near you.

Neruda’s epic poem, Canto General, is an homage to nature and the Americas. At nearly 500 pages, it’s an undertaking to read it, especially if you have a crazy-busy life. If you should stumble across a copy and have time to read only a few lines, may I suggest the brief section entitled, El Vino. I leave you with an  excerpt:

“Sing with me until the glasses spill over, leaving purple spread out over the table. This nectar comes to your mouth from the earth, from its dark roots.”

– Pablo Neruda, Canto General

[El full disclosure: The luncheon I attended was a press event sponsored by Montes Wines. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. ¡Salud!]

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