Friday, October 22, 2010

Comforting Weekend Wine and Food Pairings

So, it's the weekend again. Nearly. Almost. If you are biting your nails waiting for 5 pm today, you aren't alone. This time of year it's easy to feel a bit frazzled and in need of some major comfort.

I have three wine suggestions--sparkling, white, and red--and three recipe ideas for you. One menu is vegetarian, one is easy to prep and bakes in the oven (filling your house with yummy aromas and giving you some time to put your feet up), and one is a fun twist on a family favorite.

Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas with NV Presto! Prosecco Brut

(10.99, Whole Foods; available elsewhere for around $11)
You may have seen this recipe in the latest Cooking Light. It's delicious, fast, and as good for brunch or lunch as it is for dinner. Brimming with gooey cheese, crisp apple, and peppery arugula, what's not to like? Pair it with a softly citrus sparkling wine like this one, and it tastes even better. The wine is a shade past brut in my opinion, with a nice yeastiness to accompany the citrus elements. The fruit aromas and flavors are a lively counterpoint to the apples and the bubbles cut the richness of the Brie a bit. Very good QPR.

Meatloaf and 2008 Meridian Vineyards Merlot
(suggested retail, $9; available for $8)

Meatloaf has to be one of the all-time most comforting foods. I always use the same recipe from the revised Joy of Cooking that includes ketchup, lots of onions, three eggs, and a cup of quick oats instead of the usual breadcrumbs.
You can make meatloaf as light or as rich as you want by using lower-fat proteins like turkey or chicken, but we always go for good old ground beef. With it? Merlot. It's the perfect match. I was impressed by the very good QPR of this bottle of wine, with its rich blackberry and plum aromas. Expect flavors of cocoa, plum, and dark chocolate, with a rich, mocha aftertaste. This wine stands up to the meatloaf, with a nicely plush texture that complements the food.

Hot Dogs with Cheddar and Apples and 2009 Schloss Castell Silvaner Trocken
(available for around $12)

Hot Dogs are a guilty pleasure, one that I indulge in rarely. When I do, I want to enjoy them without any excuses. Finally, I found a recipe that elevates the simple hot dog to an even greater treat: hot dogs in pretzel rolls with sauteed apples and cheddar cheese. Kids will adore them, but grownups will gobble them up, too. The recipe provided an interesting pairing challenge, given the slight sweetness of the hot dogs which was accentuated by the apples. The answer was a dry Silvaner from Germany, with its pure apple aromas and flavors. This is a dry wine, but there is a slightly honeyed note in the finish which made it ideal for hot dogs and apples. Expect a fresh, stony, even slightly saline element in the wine, too--like smelling a beach after a rainstorm. Delicious, and excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure:
I received samples of the Silvaner and Merlot for review.


Shannon Hilson said...

Thank you for these! I've been in the mood for meatloaf lately, as it's been very rainy where I live as of late. I'll definitely be trying your Meridian suggestion. I've tried their wines in the past and was very happy with them Take care!

Tom Riley said...

Any chance you'll have a label category for "box wines?" My friends keep asking for suggestions and I'd love to piggyback on your own arduous research. Thanks!

Tom Riley
The Grape Belt