Category Archives: Wine Pairings

RECIPE: Pumpkin Ravioli

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli in my local grocery store’s wine and food free publication and it seemed like the perfect antidote to the frozen fresh pumpkin in my freezer. I’ve been going through a phase lately where I want to clean out and organize and use things up that have been lurking around for awhile and my frozen pumpkin is one of those things. I slaughtered the pumpkin with my own hands last Thanksgiving and used some then for pumpkin pies and the rest has been anxiously awaiting it’s turn in the culinary world known as ‘My Kitchen’. 🙂

The recipe intrigued me for a few reasons. One, it’s got pumpkin in it as stated above. Two, the ingredients are so simple but the result looked so decadent and special. Three, the use of wonton wrappers instead of traditional pasta was the great thing that sealed the deal because unlike some of my Italian friends who have it in their blood to make pasta I am not one bit Italian and have totally missed the gene that’s needed to make my own pasta. Any attempts to make pasta have always been met with a big blob of glue that got thrown out. I know when I’ve been beaten and pasta is thy name! 🙂

So here are the recipe ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup of canned (or fresh) pumpkin

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus additional for garnish

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste

20 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen

Directions:

ONE: In a medium skillet cook onion and garlic in 1 teaspoon hot butter over medium heat until onion is softened, about 3 minutes

TWO: In a food processor combine 1/4 cup of the almonds and the rosemary. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until nuts are finely ground. Add pumpkin, 1/4 cup of cheese, the onion mixture, salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and pulse until just combined.

THREE: Working with 2 wonton wrappers at a time, top wrappers with one tablespoon of filling. Brush edges of wrapper with water and bring one corner of wrapper to meet the opposite corner to form a triangle, pressing own around filling to force out any air and to seal edges well. Cover filled ravioli with a dry kitchen towel while you repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

FOUR: Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup of almonds. In a medium skillet heat remaining 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat; add chopped almonds and cook, stirring until butter begins to brown on bottom of skillet (do not allow to burn), about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.

FIVE: Bring water to a boil and cook ravioli for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, gently stirring occasionally. (Keep water at a low boil to prevent ravioli from breaking). Drain.

SIX: Drizzle ravioli with almond-browned butter and sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pepper to taste. Makes 4 Servings! (20 ravioli) 

Now as I usually do there was a change or two to the recipe. I didn’t like the way my rosemary looked so I didn’t use it. I used some parsley instead. I think that was the only thing I changed really…will miracles never cease!

Some tips on dealing with the wonton wrappers. They say to put a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the wonton but I would advise to put a little less than that because a tablespoon was a bit much and had the tendency to ooze out of the wrapper when I was trying to seal it. Once it does that the wrapper didn’t seem to really want to seal quite so well. So put a little less.

Secondly, keep a little bowl of water near you and dip your fingers in it to line the outside of the wrappers with. Don’t put too much water or it won’t seal well but don’t be afraid to wet the edges of the wrapper either. It’s a delicate balance and it takes some practice to get right. My first five or so raviolis were a bit of a challenge but once I got the method down it worked like a charm.

Just like any other pasta when the raviolis start to float in the boiling water they’re done.

I paired this meal with a nice green salad and a Austrian wine called Gruner Veltliner that my brother gifted to me. It really complimented the meal fantastically. You can read the review on this wine here.

WINE REVIEW: Gruner Veltliner 2010 – Niederosterreich, Austria

My brother and his wife sent me this bottle of wine as a thank you gift so when I made my Pumpkin Ravioli I decided that was the perfect meal to pair it with.

This nice, dry white wine was really nice and matched great with the meal I made. It smelled of citrus overtones and had a crisp, clean, citrusy taste. I detected a hint of peaches as well. It is a light bodied wine that wasn’t at all overbearing and complimented my meal perfectly.

I would give this wine a rating of 86.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!!

I’ve been informed that today is National Drink Wine Day. So the question is: what are you planning on drinking today? Leave your comments below and let us know what you’re planning on drinking today and whether it’s a red or white wine. Also, are you planning on eating something special with it too? Tell us all the exciting details….Enjoy!

Frei Brothers Reserve – Chardonnay 2008 – Sonoma, CA

From the back label: Russian River Valley, Sonoma’s premier Chardonnay appellation, is the source of our Chardonnay grapes. With a soft mouthfeel and long crisp finish, this medium-bodied wine has bright aromas and flavors of citrus, pear, peach, and a hint of vanilla and spice.’

Price: $16.99

This clear pale yellow Chardonnay may have just changed my opinion of myself. I have always considered myself a red wine drinker and I still do for the most part but this wine was a very nice surprise for me because I really enjoyed it.

In the past I would never buy a white wine for myself to drink. My past experiences have had me deem all white wines as heartburn makers. However in the interest of learning about wines I have been forcing myself to pick out white wines as well as reds. So when I saw this wine on sale at my local Publix grocery store with the words ‘Reserve’ on the bottle I felt it was worth a try and am I glad I took that leap of faith.

The bouquet of this wine is very lemony and citrusy and the taste was subtle, smooth and mellow. I would deem it a light to medium bodied wine although the label says it’s medium I would say it’s slightly lighter than that. It’s very fruity with a crisp, quick finish and very enjoyable.

I served this wine with a vegetarian chicken scallopini and I used a bit of this wine in the making of it as well. The chicken scallopini was accompanied by beautiful steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes. This wine perfectly complimented this meal and I would totally recommend this wine for light chicken, pasta, or risotto dishes especially if they have a lemony and light character to them.

My overall feeling on this wine was that I really liked it. I will definitely buy it again and have it as a regular wine in my wine rack. I am finding it really interesting that now that I am experimenting and learning about wines three of the wines that I gave a score of 90 and above are white wines. I never in a million years would have thought that that would happen.

I guess the lesson in this is to never say you’re a ‘red wine drinker’ or a ‘white wine drinker’. You need to experience many different types, brands, and vintages in order to really find out what suits you. All these years I thought I didn’t like white wine all that much and now I am realizing that when it comes to whites I just need to find the ones that I do like.

So the bottom line is I highly recommend this wine. I give this wine a score of 95 and will definitely have it again especially when my menu calls for a nice white to compliment it.

Here’s a nice recipe for chicken scallopini from AllRecipes.com if you’re a vegetarian like I am you can easily substitute the chicken in the recipe with any vegetarian chicken alternative. I used Gardein brand ‘Lightly Seasoned Chick’n Scallopini’ and then used the recipe on the back of the bag which is very close to this one from AllRecipes.com. It came out fantastic!

Louis Bouillot Grand Reserve Sparkling Wine – St. Georges, France & My First Ever Cheese Souffle!

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate

For those of you who know me personally you know that I have several really strong loves in my life: Matt, Wine (obviously), The Beatles/Paul McCartney, and chocolate. Any time that I can mix any and of all those together, in my book, it’s heaven!

Now I have always liked to eat chocolate with wine. To me it’s natural to do that but I am constantly intrigued when friends look at me in horror as I am doing it. I usually get that bewildered look and they’ll say something like ‘Chocolate and wine? Really?’ My blissful reply to them is usually something that sounds somewhat like ‘Oh my God, yes!’

I say ‘sounds somewhat like’ because my mouth is usually stuffed with chocolate and wine and I am doing the yummy moan. You know that moan. It’s the one that comes out of your mouth involuntarily when you’re eating something that’s sooooo good that you can’t reply fully with words. Yes, that’s the one.

Now when it comes to matching wines and chocolates I’ve never really given it much thought really. I mean if I am drinking a really nice wine and there’s really nice chocolate nearby what’s there to think about? But apparently there is a skill to it that if mastered can make your wine/chocolate pairing even better than nature intended. Sounds awesome, right? So here I will attempt to share with you what I’ve learned about this skill.

Now the first thing to know is, in my opinion, there is no right or wrong when it comes to doing this. The simple fact is that if you like the combination then it’s right and if you don’t, it’s not right…for YOU. Someone else might think it’s absolutely wonderful. So there is no judgment here.

As a general rule though you should match lighter-flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines and more intense-flavored chocolates with more full-bodied wines. By the way, ‘lighter-flavored chocolates’ is not referring to whether it’s milk, white, or dark chocolate. It is referring to the intensity of flavors in the chocolate. For example, most people think of dark chocolate as intense but many dark chocolates are light compared with a milk chocolate with intense caramel or nut fillings.

When pairing wines and chocolates there are no rights and wrongs as I’ve said before. You can pair chocolates and wines that share the same flavors like spicy, cherry, minty, etcetera or you can look for wines and chocolates that contrast each other. Whatever floats your boat really. 🙂

Here’s a list of what wines match up well with the different chocolates (remember this is not a definitive list and let your taste be your guide):

Bittersweet Chocolate (Dark chocolate with 70% to 100% cacao): These chocolates match up really well with a Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvigon, Cognac, Grenache, Malbec, Marsala, Merlot, Shiraz, Zinfandel, or a Tawny Port.

I find it really interesting to find that my favorite chocolate is Bittersweet Dark Chocolate with at least 70% cacao and my favorite wine at the moment is Merlot. Perfect matches and I didn’t even know anything about pairing the two before doing my research for this post. That’s why it’s important more than anything else to go with what you like and what works for you. You will innately know what matches up for you even if you don’t know how to justify it or describe it to someone else.

Semisweet Chocolate (Dark chocolate with 50% to 69% cacao): These chocolates match up with all the same wines as the Bittersweet chocolates above and the aftertaste will be balanced and not too sweet either.

Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate has a higher percentage of sugar and a smaller percentage of chocolate liquor than the dark chocolates so the pairings are going to be a bit different.

Good pairings for milk chocolate are Muscat/Moscato, Tawny Port, as well as something called Mas Amiel Rouge & Vintage Blanc (I don’t know what those are so don’t ask 🙂 ). The best match for milk chocolate is said to be the Tawny Port but again try different wines and see what you like.

White Chocolate: White chocolate is my least favorite chocolate unless it’s from Switzerland because they know how to make it in my opinion. White chocolate is not really chocolate. It has no chocolate liquor. It is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk and in my opinion is just way too sweet to enjoy usually.

But if you like white chocolate good wine matches would be Champagne, Gerwurtztraminer, Mas Amiel Vintage Blanc, Muscat/Moscato, and a nice Riesling.

Chocolate with Coffee in it pairs well with Sherry.

Chocolate with fruit in it like chocolate covered cherries or dipped or glazed fruit goes really well with a nice Cabernet Sauvigon, a Mediera, a Merlot, or a Ruby Port.

Also any chocolate that has liqueur in it will pair really nice with its corresponding liqueur. Kind of the like attracts like concept though in my opinion that might be too much of the same thing but I’ll have to try it and let you know. Oh the things I do for you all. 🙂

So that’s the basics of it all. I hope it’s opened your eyes to the wonderful marriage of chocolate and wine and has given you the inspiration to get out there and find out what your favorite pairings are. When you do find some please feel free to comment below and let us know what great pairings you’ve found. You might just discover a combination that no one has thought of and I for one would love to try it too.

Also here’s a great short video, called appropriately enough “How to Pair Wine and Chocolate’ from About.com, to walk you through the whole wine and chocolate pairing journey.

Until next time enjoy yourself and experiment!