Category Archives: Wine Pairings

The Top 3 Wine & Chocolate Pairings

Drink wine with chocolate, we say. Not just because it’s Valentine’s Day. But because the two are great together – when you choose wisely – and they should be enjoyed in tandem whenever you’re in the mood. Not just on February 14th.

How to Pair: Though wine and chocolate are great on their own, it can be challenging to make them sing together. For a balanced pairing, select a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate (the percentage of chocolate will give you an idea of its sweetness: The higher the cacao, the lower the sugar/sweetness). When in doubt, pair milk chocolate (high sugar %) with lighter-bodied wines. Pair fuller-bodied, fruit-forward wines with darker chocolate (high cacao %).

And as always, toss all guidelines out the window if your palate tells you otherwise. The best pairing is the one you like.

To help you get your creative juices flowing, here are our top three chocolate and wine pairings:

chocolatecake_wineDark Chocolate Cake with Marenco “Pineto” Brachetto d’Acqui

A prime example that illustrates the beauty of choosing a wine that’s sweeter than the chocolate. This bright red sparkling wine from Piedmont is slightly sweet, with fine citrus blossom and stone fruit notes, all of which complement the cake’s dense, rich flavors and mouthfeel.

chocolatepieces_wineValrhona Chocolate with JL Chave “Mon Coeur” Cotes-du-Rhone

This is a fun one for all you serious dark chocolate lovers. It’s rooted in the trusted “What grows together goes together” wine pairing adage, as Valrhona chocolate is made just miles from where the wine in made, in France’s Rhone Valley. Use the chocolate in your favorite (not so sweet) homemade dessert, or simply let a minimum 70%-cacao square melt on your tongue while sipping this bone dry grenache/syrah blend.

chocstrawberries_wineChocolate Dipped Strawberries with Tintero Moscato d’Asti

Though this fizzy, slightly sweet wine can stand on its own as dessert, we love it when paired with fruit! The fresh, lively character of this white wine, again from Piedmont, is a natural partner to the light, tart strawberry fruit, and the creamy chocolate.

We hope you enjoy our pairings – and encourage you to share your thoughts or ideas on others!

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Comfort Wine for Comfort Food, Part II

Fact: More comfort foods are eaten per capita in January than in any other month. Post-Fact: OK, we have nothing official to back that stat up, but it certainly feels right, doesn’t it?

Because it does so to us, here are more Comfort Wine and Comfort Food pairings that get our team through trying times and blustery weather. They’re the equivalent of the down-filled couch you lose yourself in, the cozy sweater worn fireside, and the hug from a life-long friend.
meinkklang

Meinklang Frizzante Rosé ($19.99), with Chicken & Waffles 
It’s about balance, people. You’ll find me at my happiest when eating piping hot fried chicken with waffles smothered in maple syrup and butter while simultaneously sipping ice-cold, light-as-air, pink bubbles. The fizz cuts through the dish’s richness and the entire composition can make any bad day do a 180. By the way, your chicken & waffles aren’t complete if you’re not drizzling them up with Cholula’s just before consuming. Just sayin’. – Alex

pujol

Pujol Izard Minervois Vieille Vignes ($15.99), with Shepard’s Pie 
The herbal notes you get in every Languedoc wine, combined with the bright lively fruit in this particular bottle, make the Pujol Izard extremely food friendly. It’s particularly great for medium bodied casserole-type dishes, and my favorite, Shepard’s pie.  – Nick

pegoes

Pegoes Red Blend ($6.99), with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich 
I use a ton of butter (and sometimes mayo) on the outside of the bread when making my grilled cheese. To balance all of that rich, creamy and salty goodness, I drink this jammy red, which is bursting with juicy, ripe fruit. And that it is under $7 a bottle is a comfort to my post-holiday wallet, too. -Katie

ciacci

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Toscana Rosso ($14.99), with Chicken Parmesan 
Ciacci Piccolomini is in the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. The house is best known for their Pianrosso, which is one of the world’s most renowned brunellos. They can’t help but make great wine and this one, their most affordable option, is spectacular! It’s a blend, and has all the elegance of a brunello, but with a bit lighter and fruitier finish. It’s my go-to wine for my favorite comfort food: Chicken Parmesan. Be sure to load up the cheese! – Kate

borealis

Montinore Borealis White Blend ($14.99), with Sauerkraut with Roast Pork and Dumplings
A match made in my own perfect heaven!  Borealis is an organic wine made in Oregon from grapes more traditionally found in Alsace.  Brimming with both ripe fruit and savory flavors, this beautiful wine sings and dances around the rich sauerkraut, dumplings and pork.  This is where New World wine and Old World food collide!  Bam!  -Eric

Comfort Wines: Now, more than ever.

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Comfort Wine for Comfort Food

There are no two ways about it. 2016 was a doozy. Which is why we’re easing into the new year with the cozy-wool-blanket bottles we call Comfort Wines. They’re the uncomplicated, easy drinking wines we crave when we just want to tune out, sit back, and feed our souls.  Herewith, a few of our team’s favorite Comfort Wine and Comfort Food pairings that do just that.

curator
The Curator Red Blend ($10.99) with Mom’s Beef Stew
“Mom’s hearty beef stew is my favorite dish. The Curator, with its juicy fruit flavors, is my favorite everyday red. I put the two together and get a smile on my face. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. Unless you get the bay leaf in your mouth by accident.” – Mia

hugel

Hugel Pinot Blanc ‘Cuvee Les Amours’ ($17.99) with Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
“Asparagus has always been a tricky vegetable to pair wine with, but the creaminess of this dish (coupled with mushrooms’ earthiness) really lets the individual components shine. Don’t forget to start your rice off with a splash of this outstanding Pinot Gris – it will help spotlight the wine when it comes time to eat!” – Liam

prima

Primaterra Primitivo ($11.99) with Polenta with Rabe Sausage 
“The rabe sausage is available at Anthony’s Sangwich shop on Admiral street,  across from Lasalle Bakery. It is the best. I pair it with the full-bodied Primaterra Primitivo. You can’t go wrong with this one.” – Don

pouilly

Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse  ($27.99) with Pa Ralph’s Ultimate Chicken Soup
“When the weather turns wet, icy and raw, I need a healthy dose of my father’s chicken soup to warm me up!  And with its great blend of roasted chicken, orzo, cheese and spices, I reach for a white Burgundy.  More specifically a great Pouilly-Fuisse like Latour’s. Its slight touch of oak doesn’t dominate the chardonnay, but instead adds a note of creaminess that is the perfect marriage for the world’s best chicken soup.” – Josh

Stay tuned next week for another batch of our favorite Comfort Wines.

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Local Wine that Pairs with Winter Vegetable Soup

soup_2017

It’s hot soup season here on the east coast. Time to put up a big batch each week to nourish, warm, comfort and sustain your family throughout the upcoming cold New England winter. This version, from Bacaro’s Chef/Owner Brian Kingsford, relies on a homemade vegetable stock fortified with Parmigiano Reggiano rinds which lend the soup a rich, complex flavor that only the king of cheeses can bring.

To match the soup’s deep flavors, our Eric Taylor chose a local gem from Johnston’s Verde Vineyards. It’s made from St. Croix, an American grape bred for flavor and to withstand harsh New England winters. The resulting wine has soft tannins, silky texture and lively but dry red berry flavors that play beautifully with the earthiness of the root vegetables, and the nutty, complex flavors of the cheesy broth.

Winter Root Vegetable & Farro Soup
from Chef/owner Brian Kingsford, Bacaro, Providence

A note from the chef: “While you could use store-bought vegetable broth for this soup, it just can’t compete with the good flavor of homemade broth, enhanced by the Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds. And it will contain far less sodium too. Simply make the stock in advance, refrigerate (or freeze) and then make soup at your leisure. At the restaurant we drizzle the soup with a quality extra-virgin olive oil: Zisola, a robust oil from Sicily.”

Ingredients
1 small sweet potato
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 medium white (Macomber) turnip
1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches kale
1 cup farro
Kosher salt
2½ quarts (10 cups) Vegetable-Parm Stock*
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
Quality extra-virgin olive oil for serving

Method
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, turnip and onion and sauté on high heat for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly caramelized. Rinse kale under cool running water. Trim the tough stalks from the leaves and slice leaves into ribbons. (Use stalks for Vegetable-Parm Stock.)

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the farro. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add kale and simmer for 15 more minutes, or until both the kale and the farro are tender. Add salt to taste. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 8.

*Vegetable-Parm Stock:

Ingredients
1 pound sweet onion, peeled and chopped in ½-inch dice
5 carrots, peeled and chopped in ½-inch dice
½ pound fennel, trimmed and chopped in ½-inch dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces (1 cup) crimini mushroom, cleaned and roughly chopped, including stems
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped 1–2 medium (½ pound) turnips, such as Macomber
Kale stalks from soup prep, roughly chopped (optional)
1 tomato, cored and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
7 whole black peppercorns
3 pieces Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
6 quarts (24 cups) water
Kosher salt

Method
Preheat oven to 400°. Toss the onion, carrots and fennel in olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the vegetables start to caramelize, approximately 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and place vegetables in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot.

Meanwhile prep the mushrooms, celery, turnip, kale stalks, tomato and garlic and add to the pot with the bay leaf, black peppercorns and Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds with the water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cooking uncovered until liquid is reduced by half. Strain out solids from the stock. Season with salt to taste. This recipe should yield roughly 2½ quarts (10 cups) of vegetable stock.

Bon Appetit, and Cheers!

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Top Hanukkah Wines for 2016

In selecting the wines we feature each Hanukkah, the first thing I consider is the same thing I think about when selecting any of the wines we sell at Bottles: taste. Does the wine taste good, will it fit my customers’ tastes. The second is how it will pair with a traditional Hanukkah menu. Will it enhance the flavor and textures of fried latkes and donuts, will it stand up to a rich brisket. Will it add to festivities and celebration at the table. Once a wine has hit those benchmarks, then and only then do I check to see if the wine is kosher.

Here are my picks for wines that will be great for Hanukkah this year.  It’s my hope that they’ll bring much joy and happiness to your Hanukkah table.

eric_instaNotte Italiana Prosecco, Italy – Perfect bubbly for the holidays and great with brunch, or just standing around the kitchen and talking. But this extra dry bubbly really shines when it’s paired with latke!  $17.99

Dalton Rosé, Israel – Who says that rosé is just for warmer weather?  This is a perfect party wine – dry and light and a good way to start a celebration or to pair with lighter first courses. $19.99 (on sale from $22.99!)

Chateau La Colonne, Lalande de Pomerol, France – A big, powerful wine from one of the best areas of Bordeaux.  This full rich wine calls for big hearty mid-winter celebratory meals and can be enjoyed by everyone at the table, connoisseur and novice alike.  $39.99

Happy Hanukkah!

-Eric

The Top White Wines For Thanksgiving

Our entire team gathered one Sunday night after closing to taste through the Thanksgiving wines that our Wine Director, Nick, selected this year. The consensus? They’re all winners. There wasn’t a loser among them (and we have a really opinionated staff. Really. Opinionated.) That said, there are marked differences among each bottle. We encourage you to grab a staff member for help in selecting the style that will match your palate.

Last week we shared our red wine picks. Herewith, the whites:

terre
Corvezzo Terre di Marca Prosecco, Italy
Delicious, organic sparkling wine, new to the store, which has just a whisper of the fruitiness
you want to enhance Thanksgiving flavors. Perfect for toasts, pairing, and cocktails. $13.99


Domaine Bernier Chardonnay, The Loire, France
A tasty, un-oaked chardonnay that’s loved even by those who don’t typically like chards. (Believe us.) It’s perfect for when you want an all-around great white with value. $11.99

godeval_white
Godeval Godello, Galicia, Spain
A versatile dry Spanish white that will go with everything on the table and stands on its own as an aperitif. Great minerality! $17.99

eden_white
Mount Eden “Wolff” Chardonnay, California
A great barrel aged chardonnay that has a bit more structure for the oak-loving ‘Cali-Chard’ drinker at the table. $21.99

Cheers!

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The Top Red Wines for Your Thanksgiving Table

Everyone has opinions about which wines pair best with Thanksgiving dinner.

Some say only drink Beaujolais, some dictate pinot noir. Some suggest drinking bubbly wine throughout the entire meal (let’s have dinner at their house!), some suggest pairing a different wine with each course.

None of the above are wrong, of course. The only wrong wine to serve with the most written about meal of all time is the one you don’t like.

The tack we take for you, our loyal, trusting friends, is not to demand that you drink one style, but rather to suggest a variety of turkey-and-fixins’-friendly wines to meet all palates. Want to serve Italian wine? We have one for you. Rather show your love of the USA? We got that, too. Any of the wines below will be do what a good Thanksgiving wine is supposed to do: taste good and support the glorious flavors on the table.

Herewith, our top red wine picks for Thanksgiving 2016.

domain_red
Durban Beaumes de Venise, Rhone Valley, France

A crowd-pleasing red blend of grenache and syrah that’s not too light nor too heavy. Its ‘old world’ finish (i.e., dry, subtle and earthy) won’t dominate the meal you’ve slaved over, either. $19.99

primarious_red
Primarius Pinot Noir, Oregon
This is the wine that will be so popular on the 24th that you’ll chide yourself for not purchasing more. It’s a velvety, well-crafted pinot noir from a great producer that everyone will enjoy – the classic turkey pairing that never disappoints. $16.99

tami_nero_red
Tami Nero d’Avola, Sicily

Looking for an off-the-beaten path wine with great pedigree? The Tami has that distinctive Italian feel without a crazy price tag. And it’s made by Arianna Occhipinti – the current darling of the wine world. $19.99

yon_red
2012 Chateau Yon, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France

A classic style, this merlot / cabernet blend is everything you would expect from a Right Bank Bordeaux (balanced fruit, smooth) that is ready to drink now, at a phenomenal price. $21.99

anitgal_red2
Antigal Uno Malbec, Argentina

A smooth and supple red that perfectly compliments the more bold dishes on your table. Malbec is a Thanksgiving best seller for us year after year. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!  $19.99

Tune in next week for our top picks for the white wine drinkers at your table

Cheers!

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Wine to Pair with Roasted Cauliflower Soup

riegel_160729_0251-2016-07-29-at-00-00-00

photo credit: Edible Rhody

With cooler, fall nights upon us, the soul starts to crave rich, creamy, nourishing soups. Ben Lloyd, Chef-Owner of The Salted Slate (just a hop and a skip from Bottles) has a satisfying roasted cauliflower situation that fits the bill. He’s shared his recipe in the current issue of Edible Rhody, and we’re happy to re-post it here, along with our wine pick, the Palagetto Vernaccia “Santa Chiara” DOCG.

santa
Made from 100% Vernaccia grapes grown in the town of San Gimignano in Tuscany, this beautiful white is crisp enough to cut through the soup’s rich creaminess, and steely enough to match the cauliflower flavor. Its touch-of-fruitiness on the finish plays nicely with the hazelnut, too.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Says Chef-Owner Ben Lloyd, The Salted Slate, Providence: “Roasting the vegetables for this recipe converts starches to sugars more thoroughly than boiling them, creating a deeper and richer soup with more cauliflower flavor.”

Ingredients
1 large Spanish onion, peeled, halved and sliced
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, halved and roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped
6 cloves peeled garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Ground white pepper
4 tablespoons (half stick) unsalted butter
2 fresh bay leaves (or substitute dried)
5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
¼ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons finely minced chives
3–4 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Hazelnut oil (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and season with 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of white pepper. Place them on a large baking sheet in the oven. When vegetables are roasted but not too browned (about 15 minutes), remove from oven.

In a medium sauce pot melt butter and add roasted vegetables along with 2 bay leaves. Add stock to cover the vegetables and add 1 tablespoon salt.

Bring to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves.

Purée soup in a blender, then add yogurt and cream. Quickly pulse soup to distribute the cream and yogurt. Optionally, strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve for a more refined velvety-textured soup.Return to pot and season with salt to taste.

Serve in warm bowls topped with minced chives, a sprinkle of the hazelnuts and a few drops of hazelnut oil.

Yields approximately 2½ quarts  of soup.

Bon Appetit, and Cheers!

Eric’s Top Kosher Wines

The 2016 High Holidays are almost upon us, which means Eric’s been tasting his heart out in selecting the newest and best kosher wines for your table this year.

We’ll be opening several of them at a special Kosher Wine event in store on Wednesday, September 28th from 5-7.  We hope you can join us so that you can judge which will work best for your holiday feasts.

Herewith, Eric’s picks!

dalton

Dalton ‘Yuvalim’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee, Israel – Velvety smooth texture with light tannins and lots of nice ripe berry flavors make this a great party wine. It’s equally as comfortable by itself as it is with chicken, steak or pasta. Yuvalim in Hebrew means “little stream”; the idea represents the little streams and tributaries that meander throughout the Galilee. Wander in and pick up a bottle. $21.99
blancLouis Blanc Cotes du Rhone, France – This is the bottle for those looking for a dry wine this season. It’s everything that you would expect in a savory, full packed Mediterranean Grenache/Syrah blend: fruit driven aromas and flavors of black fruits, cherries and black pepper. What’s more, it’s soft and round enough to have with your favorite egg dish like an Arugula and Fontina Frittata.  $15.99

collage
Hacormim Collage Red, Judean Hills, Israel
– If you’re looking for something a bit sweeter for the holidays, I’d recommend this semi-dry beauty. It’s jammed with blackberry and raspberry flavors, and pronounced, dark chocolate undertones.This wine is great for those looking for something sweet this holiday season; it’s superb with brisket that has been cooked with raisins or plums. $13.99

hai
Hai ‘Patriots’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Judean Hills, Israel
– A rich, bold red for heavier dishes like roast beef and lamb. It has dark, well extracted black currant and cherry flavor, and a velvety smooth texture with none of the bite that one can get from big wines like Cabernet. $15.99

…and the following are so new to Bottles, they didn’t make it in store in time for our photo shoot. We’ll surely have them on our shelves by the time you read this post!

Butcher’s Daughter Muscat
 – A sweet(er) wine for a sweet year!  We know that sweet wine doesn’t normally float most people’s boats, but this one is truly lovely. What makes it so good is not only the flavors of super ripe red apples, but also the amount of zippy liveliness that balances out the sweetness.  Great for washing down apples dipped in honey!  $16.99

Butcher’s Daughter Chardonnay – Sweet wine not your thing? This is the perfect white to go with Holiday fare. It’s rich and full of ripe apple and pear flavors. It isn’t a oak and butter bomb like many Cali chardonnays can be.  A great value at $12.99!

Butcher’s Daughter Merlot – This very well made wine from the south of France has broad appeal and can stand up to nearly any food pairing that you throw at it.  Soft and lovely with dark berry flavors and hints of mocha.  $12.99

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year. L’shana Tova!”

-Eric & the rest of the Bottles team

A Summer Corn and Tomato Pairing

RHODY_AUG

I can’t get enough of this super simple spin on the classic summer corn and tomato salad from our friends Brian and Katie O’Donnell of Warren’s really fantastic bywater restaurant. With such a wonderfully complex dish that has fat, oil, and garlic, I could think of only one other element to complete the picture: acid. Which is why I chose a beautiful, unoaked French Chardonnay. Gautheron’s Chablis is that perfect steely-sharp wine that has the edge to cut through the bacon and aioli while bringing out the fruit flavors and acids in the tomatoes, leaving you with a nice crisp and clean fruit finish, good minerality, and looking forward to the next bite!
chablis

Check out the jam-packed summer issue of Edible Rhody for more on bywater, including a recipe for Katie’s Basil Ice Cream. It’s a perfect dish to follow this summer salad.

Bon Appetit … and Cheers!
-Josh

WARM CORN & TOMATO SALAD
Note from Chef/Co-Owner of bywater, Brian O’Donnell: This recipe is our rendition of traditional Mexican street corn (one of our favorite snacks). Grilling the corn gives the dish a wonderful flavor. In the height of summer, we can’t get enough of it—we think you’ll feel the same way.

INGREDIENTS
4 ears grilled fresh sweet corn
4 slices smoked bacon
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut into halves
2 large ripe beefsteak or other large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into half moons
Garlic aioli*
4 tablespoons crumbled dry cotija cheese (or any other hard, salty cheese, like ricotta salata or Parmesan)
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Piment d’Espelette or paprika
Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Flakey sea salt for finishing

First, remove corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. In a medium sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Drain bacon grease from the pan and roughly chop the cooked bacon. Return the bacon to the pan, add cherry tomatoes and corn and heat, tossing until warmed through. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, divide beefsteak tomato slices among 4 plates (or place on one large platter), arranging them in a circle. Place warm corn and bacon mixture in the middle. Top each serving with a dollop of aioli, then sprinkle with cotija cheese, a sprinkle of chives and, finally, a pinch of Piment d’Espelette. Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste.

Serves 4

*Garlic Aioli
1 cup Hellmann’s or your favorite mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Banyuls or sherry wine vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together and set aside, or refrigerate until serving. (Or double the recipe and have more for later—it’s great as a dip for fries, veggies or as a sandwich spread.)

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