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Best Wine to Pair With Lasagna

I’m usually a good speller, but was concerned when I saw a couple of my contributors recording a favorite comfort food as “lasagna”. I’ve been spelling the dish as “lasagne” for years. Then I was relieved to find that lasagne indicates more than one piece of the pasta ribbon. I promise to get a life.

However the dish is spelled, this beloved casserole really does hail from Italy, unlike some of the other so-called “foreign” favorites that have become completely Americanized. The early Italian version was typically layered with cheese, sauce and other ingredients. But the term originated in ancient Greece as “lasagnum”, referring to a dish or bowl. When eventually the region was acquired by the Romans, they used the same kind of dish, then developed the layered pasta meal to be baked and served in that dish. The early Italians ultimately changed the name of the container from “lasagnum” to “lasagna”, and later, the word began to represent the entrée baked in that dish.

Best Wine to Pair With New York Strip Steak

With summer upon us, grilled steak has natural appeal, especially irresistible when its alluring aromas waft over the neighbor’s fence. No one was happier than I to receive an assignment to pair wine with New York steak, my favorite cut, for it’s substantial texture, juicy potential and powerful flavor. Although I wouldn’t kick a filet mignon to the curb, its character is more subtle than the New York’s.

Found on the short loin of the cow, the New York cut actually comes from the same cut as the t-bone and porterhouse. Having fewer muscles than other parts of the animal, this section of the cow is therefore worked less and the meat is more tender. 

Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world.  Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare.  Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history.   Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good.  Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category.  A few caveats.  I have not tried every wine on this list.  Some I have and others I hope to.  Many of these wines are rare and hard to find.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list.  After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it. 

Best Wine to Pair with Vodka Sauce

Say “vodka sauce” and I instinctively think “sexy”. But truly, the relatively recent classic dish, normally consisting of a tomato-cream sauce with fresh parmesan blanketing thick, penne pasta, warms me like a comfort food.

Because vodka’s subtle flavor is drowned out by the other ingredients in a typical vodka sauce, cooks needn’t worry over what wine to pair with the vodka flavor. The necessary match is really between the wine and the tomato-cream found in most recipes. In fact, foodies often question why vodka sauce exists. Was this mid-eighties invention a fad, gimmick, or simply a vehicle for vodka pushers? Surprisingly, the vodka in the sauce serves a chemical role in creating complex flavors. The tomato is what is called alcohol soluble, meaning some of its flavor compounds are released to the palate only in the presence of alcohol. The best tomato sauces contain some kind of alcohol, whether wine or vodka; otherwise, the mixtures would be missing an appealing component. Vodka is the spirit of choice when wine would impart a more powerful note than desired.

Best Wine to Pair With Spinach Salad

Although the origin of spinach salad is unclear, Germans who settled in Pennsylvania are credited with bringing a similar concoction to the United States. Food expert and humorist Alton Brown claims the original mixture comprised dandelions, bacon drippings, vinegar and hard-cooked eggs. Because dandelions were not necessarily appreciated in this country, they were later replaced with spinach.

Best Wine to Pair With Macaroni and Cheese

My intent for dinner tonight was admirable by any standard: green tea, salad loaded with nutrients and tomato soup. However, upon sitting down to start this piece, I watched a video of Greg Ng from FreezerBurns.com eating and reviewing Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese. I immediately abandoned my plan and reached for my own stand-by Stouffer’s, then cracked a bottle of chardonnay. I pride myself on discipline, and have abstained from dish after dish even while editing mouth-watering, gourmet pairings described by the expert contributors to this column. Macaroni and cheese done me in.

Best Wine to Pair With Beef Ribs...with a Quote and Recipe from Award-Winning Chef, Michael Chiarello

Rumor has it that beef ribs are often overlooked, as pork ribs are what most people visualize when they hear “ribs”. French politician Jean Glavany claims: “Those restaurant chains that are withdrawing beef ribs are . . . participating in this psychosis and should try to avoid it, . . . There is no question of banning beef ribs in our country.” And posts can be seen on American forums begging for good beef rib restaurant recommendations. Evidently, pork prevails in the ribs race.

Cahors – The French Village Where Malbec Got Its Start

Cahors MapThe Village of Cahors is in the southwestern part of France.  The area is known for its red wines made predominantly from the Malbec grape, the same grape that is being used in Argentina to make some of the most popular wines being sold today.  For those fans of Malbec, it may prove interesting to go back and try some wines from its homeland.

Pétrus – An Unofficial First Growth of Bordeaux's Right Bank

When considering the unofficial lists of “First Growths of the Right Bank” in Bordeaux, Chateau Pétrus must be included.  Pétrus is located in the tiny commune of Pomerol on the right bank of the Gironde River.  The wines of Pomerol have never been classified, but there is no doubt that Pétrus is in the highest echelon of wines produced there.  It is also one of the most expensive wines sold anywhere in the world.  While the name of the estate is Chateau Pétrus, there is no grand Chateau on the premises.  There is a modest two story house on the property.  Perhaps because of that, or perhaps just due to its reputation, the wines are often just referred to as Pétrus.  The name is homage to St. Peter whose picture appears on the label.

Pétrus does not have the long history of many of the great Bordeaux wines.  Thomas Jefferson most likely never drank it.  The estate property was originally owned by the Arnaud family since the mid 1700s.  At that time, the estate was 17 acres.  The name Pétrus can be found in records dating back to 1837.  In 1868 Chateau Pétrus was ranked in quality behind two other Pomerol estates:  Vieux Chateau Certan and Chateau Trotanoy, as listed by Cocks and Fèret, one of the leading Bordeaux reference’s of its day.

Cheval Blanc: The “First Growth” of the Right Bank

When the wines of Bordeaux were classified in 1855 all of the wines were from the Left Bank of the Gironde River.  In fact, with the exception of Haut Brion, which is from Graves, all of the wines classified were from the Medoc.  Since that time, the winemaking areas of Bordeaux have greatly expanded.  Some of the best wines in Bordeaux are now made on the Right Bank including some of the most expensive wines in the entire world. 

While there is no official classification system for all of Bordeaux, there can be no doubt that if such a system was implemented today, at least a few Right Bank wineries would make the list.  Perhaps no winery deserves the mythical first growth of the Right Bank title more than Cheval Blanc.  In fact, the wines of Saint Émilion, a commune on the Right Bank, were ranked in 1955 and Cheval Blanc was one of two that received the highest rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé (A).  Those rankings were redone in 1969, 1986, and 1996 and most recently in 2006 (although that ranking is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute not relevant to Cheval Blanc) and Cheval Blanc has remained a First Growth in every subsequent ranking.

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