May 9, 2013

Don’t Let a bad Wine Ruin Your Wedding Day

While Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in America that’s best for hearty meats, Sauvignon Blanc, a super-versatile white that goes splendidly with seafood, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and salads, should not be overlooked. These two wines stand out for their exceptional value especially for wedding banquets.

But many of today’s brides and grooms seek more sophistication in the beverages they wish to serve at their reception, with wine playing an increasingly large role. If you’re not in a rush, you should have time to take a few of the recommended wines home, taste them, and, if they’re delicious, go back for more. Don’t let a bad wine ruin your wedding day.



How To Pair Wine with Food

People are sometimes worried that they will not be able to match the perfect bottle of wine with food. So, if you are planning a dinner for your friends or a loved one, and you want everything to be perfect, including the choice of wine, some good reads will help you make the best decision when it comes to wine.

Read the full article here:
How To Pair Wine with Food



April 8, 2013

Orange Roughy with Capers, Shallots and Wine Butter Sauce

Orange Roughly with Capers, Shallots and Wine Butter Sauce includes a new age mantra in home cooking – the use of wine. A half cup of white wine added unsalted butter will cook the shallots that’s flavored with lemon juice. Really nothing to it but a tangy orange colored shallots that ask for a piece of bread to enjoy with the sauce, and if you enjoy capers, those pea-size dark green things will add to the difference.

Read the full article here:
Orange Roughy with Capers, Shallots and Wine Butter Sauce



March 18, 2013

What Wine to Drink with Cheese – Time to Rethink

If you’ve been wondering why cheese and wine pairing seem always a hot topic, it’s because there is a strong affinity between the two. Both are fermented products and matching the two requires a little experience and thought that for experts, to be able to discover the perfect cheese and wine matches, you need to sample for yourself. With a good wine and cheese party, there is ample opportunity to wow your guests without much work on your part.

Cheese is food in other words, just as lighter wines tend to go better with lighter foods and heavier wines with heavier foods, lighter cheeses are better with lighter wines. So, when you’re feeling cheesy in the kitchen, which wines do the trick? Don’t you think it’s time to rethink your favorite wine and cheese pairing? Know some wines to drink with cheese dishes. Enjoy them here.



February 22, 2013

Special Viogniers to Pair Your Spicy Chicken Dish

If we are to follow rules to perfect pairing, then we must serve an unoaked white with a pan-glazed fish dish and low alcohol wines with pan-seared chicken.

The rule says to try low alcohol wines with spicy foods as alcohol accentuates the oils that make spicy food hot. When confused with dishes like a fiery curried chicken or Thai stir-fry, look for wines that are low in alcohol. So therefore, off-dry German Rieslings and Chenin Blancs could be perfect as they carry a subtle touch of sweetness that helps counter spiciness.

Chicken would have a list of wines that can go with it. For a simple preparation, one best wine to pair is Pinot Noir. It is high in acidity, but light and delicate in tannin with pleasant and highly aromatic nose. But a spicy chicken?… the recipe would create a whole different list. Spiciness involves rich and bold preparations of the chicken that might overpower delicate and light wines. Viogniers are perfect and fabulous alternatives you might want to try:

Zaca Mesa Viognier
zaca mesa

This Viognier from California has aromas of white peach hint and honeysuckle at the sweetness needed for a bit of spice. However, this wine is dry on the palate with notes of ripe apricot, lemon-lime and melon pairing nicely with the honey, lime and cilantro in the recipe. The lingering finish will enhance each bite of a spicy chicken meal. I think this is a new taste of wine we’ve been looking for our Roman-Style Chicken, remember?

Alexandria Nicole’s Estate Viognier

zaca mesa

For something richer, Alexandria is the more special Viognier; has a most impressive liquorous crisp that’s full of life. The Viognier grapes were hand-picked, gently whole-cluster pressed and barrel-fermented in neutral oak barrels, using a combination of three yeasts. The wine was then aged seven months sur-lees to create a wine full of character. It expresses layers of ripe pear and green apple with hints of citrus and tropical notes. The complexity of the blend lingers, making it to pair nicely with the complexity of the dish.

Even though many says that strict rules around wine and spicy food have relaxed with today’s innovative flavors, wine experts and connoisseurs of good taste like “Food and Wine” magazine are still suggesting on certain wines for certain foods to make a wonderful dining experience. That’s because there are several strategies for figuring out what wine to drink with spicy food and which types of wines should be avoided if you’re having a spicy meal.

I’m thinking of Zaca Mesa Viognier to try with our old Beggar Chicken recipe with five Asian spices.


February 18, 2013

American Presidents Favorite Food and Drink

From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, what our presidents eat is a matter of tradition, personal preference, family heritage, physical condition, and social obligation. I was intrigued with what I read somewhere that a president’s favorite meal is NOT always what’s served in the White House. Why? Because, the White House is a public place and meals are required to meet certain standards.

Many Americans may not have known or put high regard to the personal tidbits of the most influential man in the United States. But like the rest of us and regardless of how we put our Presidents to a high pedestal, they also enjoy their favorite foods privately. Being family men, most often they enjoy these treats during breakfast, Sundays, or with the family. Often a president’s favorite food is a simple dish enjoyed in childhood.


President Bill Clinton reacts as former President Ronald presents him with a jar of red, white, and blue Anchorjelly Anchorbeans at Reagan’s office in the Century City section of Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 27, 1992. -Source: Daily News

Did you know that President Obama is a salty-sweet-dessert lover, and one of his favorite indulgences is Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels—buttery caramels coated in milk chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt? What about how President Bush became so fond of fried pork rinds with Tabasco sauce? and cottage cheese and ketchup is the famously favorite dish of the only US President to resign from office, Richard Nixon? There’s so much simplicity of heart America’s Commander in Chiefs have so loved and would be interesting to know about.


This President’s Day, we can honor our presidents by also taking a look at what they were drinking while in the White House. It’s always a good thing to get even a little background of how the White House, being one of the seats of government here in the U.S., has a policy of serving domestic wines which dates back to the Kennedy days. At least that’s when they began to serve domestic wine in addition to the usual suspects from France. You’ll love to know everything at the Presidential Wine Cellar, mostly on Madeira.I think much of our first great general’s strategerizing was done over bottles of Madeira!


One of the famous presidential wine quotes is from Thomas Jefferson: No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone.”

There are other interesting things worth reading about in honor of our American Presidents:

American Presidents Food Obssessions.

Little History of the Wine Holiday

American President Food Favorites with Photos


A Silver Rum Worth Sipping Slowly

There are many varieties of rum, and those varieties vary greatly. However, Plantation rum, one dark rum, is renowned by many. The uncommon double-aging process that goes into making this rum gives the unique taste that many enjoy very much. Plantation has recently introduced a light rum called Plantation 3 Stars that is a very high quality beverage. It is extremely versatile; it can be taken neat or mixed in traditional rum cocktails. Plantation 3 Stars costs $25.

Read the full article here:
A Silver Rum Worth Sipping Slowly



Today is Drink Wine Day – Top Wine Varietals to Consider and Why

Like always, wine is an interesting topic to write about, but it is not typically a topic we include often. Every time I come across them, I post a description on our chefwannabee blog. We keep a look out for these at several magazines including Food and Wine, Gourmet Insider and others and we browse blogs from Wine Spectator, Vinography and more. For good everyday wines, I think the price should be $20 or less. For special occasions or guests, you should still be able to find outstanding selections for double that.


Since today is a “Drink Wine Day”, there’s a good reason to drink wine. If you are planning on hosting a party tonight, you may want to serve just the top wines one could ever consider. Having wonderful options for red and white wines will give you the flexibility to navigate a wide variety of plates and palates. The top five wine varietals are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling and a Sauvignon Blanc. Familiar?

Cabernet Sauvignon
Consider pairing your Cab with blue cheese, deviled egg appetizers, heavy duty red meats, smoked meats, and dark chocolate. You want dishes overflowing in protein and fat to mesh with all of rich flavours of the wine. Popular meats are steak, ostrich, buffalo, squab, wild pheasant, and duck.

Pinot Noir
Give Pinot Noir a go with Brie, goat or Swiss cheese and crackers, veggie trays, stuffed mushrooms, baked ham, turkey meat, pork loin, roasted duck, salmon, chicken, beef, and even foods that are heavy on the cinnamon and cloves. This wine pairs with anything not too spicy, so roast meats, cold cuts, grilled veggies, and pasta simply works. Why not try anything?

Grab the Shiraz for the smoked or grilled sausage platters, peppercorn crusted tuna, and consider pairing with a roast, ham, salmon filet, and pizza. In fact, the peppery nature of Shiraz makes it a great companion with anything barbecued or charred foods as long as you don’t douse your food in hot sauce.

Pair Riesling with a wide variety of appetizers, fruit trays would be more compatible with Riesling than any of the other varietals mentioned here. They are great with chicken, duck, goose, turkey, and pretty much any rich and gamy bird. As they pair well with salty foods, they are fantastic with treated meats like ham, sausage, charcuterie and cold cuts. Also a delight with honeyed ham, roasted veggies, seafood and spicy fare.

Sauvignon Blanc
You will love this herby, earthy refreshing varietal with turkey and stuffing, dishes that are heavier on the garlic, quiche, soups, seafood, and many ethnic entrees. There’s little to no oak, making this a crisp wine that’s perfect pair to with green salads with goat cheese, chicken, shellfish and pork, or even veal. These wines are also great at cutting through rich buttery dishes, especially ones that contain seafood.

The wonder with these varietals is in the fact that while it can be an alcoholic beverage, wine is generally made of fermented grape juice making it the world’s most sociable drink. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol.

A Toast for the Day!



February 12, 2013

Wines to Drink with Cheesy Dishes

Cheese and wine go hand in hand, it’s no wonder why people pair these two lovely items. When there’s a nip in the air, mac ‘n’ cheese is probably the number-one cheese-centric dish for most home cooks. Most people however don’t consider blue cheese as a nice pairing with wine. There are wines that pair well with soft cheeses. Together, the two comestibles can create a lasting relationship, but when it comes to individual matches, the rules of classic romantic comedy apply.

Read the full article here:
Wines to Drink with Cheesy Dishes



January 30, 2013

Can I Use Red Wine Instead of Red Wine Vinegar in Salad Dressing

While vinegars make salad dressings exciting, using wine to enhance flavor can be a big challenge. Red wine vinaigrette is probably the simplest dressing for any salad; or a splash of a little vinegar to enhance food without adding an overbearing taste of its own. But can I substitute red wine to red wine vinegar in making vinaigrette?

Of course, you can. Wine also contains acid. However, since the acid is weaker than vinegar you will want to adjust your oil-acid ratio. Use less oil; though it depends on the type of oil and the type of vinegar. I use 3 parts olive oil, and one part red wine vinegar; combine them with my other ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend thoroughly to emulsify. Watch this short video on how to make red wine vinaigrette.

Let’s Differentiate Red Wine and Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is a fermented product of red wine, making it best alternative for vinegar in vinaigrette and marinade recipes. The acidic properties of red wine vinegar are due to the work of bacteria called acitobacter.  Using plain red wine may add zest in the food. However, some salad dressings may not emulsify as well and might “break” if no vinegar is used. In that case, a small amount of whisked mustard is usually added to prevent the salad dressing from breaking.

You cannot substitute red wine for recipes that demand acidic properties of vinegar for denaturing proteins. Also, the substitution would not work if the recipe relies on the higher acidity of the vinegar for a chemical process required in the recipe. If a little more acidity is needed for flavor and you are out of red wine vinegar, you can also substitute a mixture of red wine and white vinegar for the red wine vinegar in the recipe. If you try this, add the vinegar a little at a time, tasting as you go.

More tip:

For a creamy and thick salad dressing, add the oil slowly while continuously whisking until the dressing whips into a creamy beige color.  The more you make vinaigrette from scratch, the more your chances of mastering it.