Somm Speak: Leslee’s Perfect Super Bowl Pairings

The Super Bowl. Isn’t it practically considered a ‘beer holiday’? I mean really, capsule stuff what goes better with football than beer? I’m admitting it…beer is unquestionably the perfect pairing to football, physician especially the Super Bowl. But, won’t you give wine a chance this weekend, too? (Smiley Face, Wink Wink)

Thought I’d throw out a few wine pairings for you football fans this weekend, knowing there’s gotta be someone coming over for the Super Bowl that loves wine more than beer, right? Plus, a really easy game day ‘Slow cooked Cola Wings’ recipe to boot!

Got chips and dip?Kila Cava

Chips LOVE anything sparkling! Again, I know beer does the trick here, but really, the sparkling wine section is your Hail Mary when pairing to über salty, crackly chips and dips. While I’m always a fan of Champagne, from its iconic region of France, sometimes the price points don’t exactly make it all that friendly to buy from. Need a quick & easy couple of bubbles that won’t break the bank? I love Cava for just this purpose. Try the Kila Cava from Spain; fresh & zippy, cut with sliced green apple—perfect for any game day salty chip and cheesy dip scenario. Plus at $10, it’s a bubbly you can’t refuse.

Fired up to get at all those finger lickin’ fried foods?

Jansz Brut RoséBubbles again! The bubbles in sparkling wines act as little scrubbing agents that lift excess fat or oil from your palate, keeping your mouth deliciously happy for your next round of fan food. When it comes to wings (the not so spicy variations) I generally grab for a sparkling rosé of sorts. Generally those fattened up with a touch of Pinot Noir do the trick here, giving your sparkly a little texture and earthy backbone, especially if you’re wings are sauced to the max! Next time you’re out shopping your favorite retail store, look for the Tasmanian Jansz Brut Rosé. This one sits a bit closer to the $23-$24 mark, but I will tell you that it’s well worth the money. Loaded with juicy bits of strawberry & raspberry, the palate is wrapped by little hints of blood orange and pear. A perfect pairing to the Slow Cooked Cola Wing recipe I’ll leave with you at the end of my post.

Okay, okay, now on to the ribs & burgers!

Renwood ZinfandelSome of my favorite foods for the big game. Ribs, especially when done super sticky demand a dense, rich red like Zinfandel, South American Malbec or Syrah. Zinfandel is my fave when it comes to this pairing as the grape delivers bits of black pepper that help to off-load the sticky bits of your barbeque. One of my ‘go-tos’ for this category is the Renwood Zinfandel from Amador County, California. It’s like opening a Smucker’s raspberry jar! I can never get enough of this Zin with a really gooey barbequed rib!

Last but not least – don’t forget about the two grapes Malbec & Syrah, when pairing to anything grilled. From brats to burgers, Malbec ends up working magically with a whole slew of smoky grill treats. And Syrah, an absolute gem when working with anything PIG. Pulled pork sammies, bacon, pork belly…oh wait, and more bacon, bacon and BACON! Catch my drift? Syrah & all things pork = perfect pairing! Here, South America has the Malbec category covered for the most part – I like the Crios Malbec, a real steal for just $10. Black fruit with bits of leather & spice, the wine delivers way more than the Alexander Hamilton you’re gonna pay for it. As for Syrah, check out Washington State for some of the best buys in the domestic category. Often times you can find some real deals in this section of the store!

There you have it! From sparkling whites and pinks to good ol’ fashioned burger wine, you’re now set to add grapes to your beer bucket for the Super Bowl. And, as promised, here’s that recipe for the Slow Cooked Cola Wings! Pair to the Jansz sparkling rosé I recommended above for the best pairing. Clink, Clink!

slow-cooked-cola-wings-recipe

Slow Cooked Cola Wings
Recipe by Brianna Beaudry for Cooking.com

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut at joint
1 cup cola
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Add wings to the prepared baking dish and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, whish together cola, vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha & garlic powder. Pour over the wings. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Somm Speak is a monthly feature on the Perfect Pint Blog that encourages you to think outside the sixpack. Certified Sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusée (my vinous other half) offers tips, tricks and topics to push your palate beyond beer to explore the wonderful world of wine.

photo-leslee

Somm Speak: A Season for Sharing – Thanksgiving Pairings

I’ve a confession to make. I like to drink wine.

Another confession is that I didn’t really know very much about wine until I met my wine buddy, unhealthy sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusée. (Leslee’s last name is now actually officially “ThewinesommthatIworkwith.”) We started teaching together in 2009 at Cooks of Crocus Hill. That relationship has grown over the years both professionally and personally. We do regular corporate and private events together as well as teaching, recipe writing, ailment and organizing classes and outings that bring beer and wine together under one umbrella. We also just like to hang out and drink. It has been said of us that we are more recognizable together than we are apart.

As part of this ever-expanding partnership, we have started exchanging blog posts. You can find my Monthly Pint column on Leslee’s Amusée blog. And she will start offering a monthly Somm Speak column on mine.

It’s good to expand your horizons.

A Season for Sharing

Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or a wine fanatic, there’s one thing we can all agree upon this Thanksgiving season, you’re gonna need one or the other for this season of sharing. Knowing that half your holiday gatherings will want beer and the other wine, Michael and I thought it a good point to introduce a brand new exchange of blogs from A Perfect Pint to Amusée – showcasing both libations, so you’re set to go with just one click!

On Amusée, Michael now writes a monthly column called A Monthly Pint and I now pen a monthly piece for all you beer enthusiasts called Somm Speak on A Perfect Pint’s blog.

This month I bring you a few of my favorite wines paired to a variety of Thanksgiving dishes!

Grateful Grapes

Thanksgiving brings a whole variety of food. From traditional family recipes to a slew of fun new finds, we know for most of us that turkey will act as our main dish. From roasted, deep fried, smoked or grilled – the almighty bird needs a few tips for pairing from the wine side.

In for a roasty bird with a gorgeously oven-browned, buttery skin? You know, the kind where you shove several pounds of ‘Paula Dean’ under the skin and roast your birdie for a few long hours, leaving it juicy with bits of melted butter and ‘just right’ browned skin for enjoying?

Generally, the rule of thumb in this situation – and certainly one where you most likely can’t go wrong – is to go with a Pinot Noir. If you head this route, splurge on something nice. I’m a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir, yet sometimes a nice Russian River Pinot with bits of minty eucalyptus and dark raspberry fruit does the trick. Want a few Pinot picks for your table? Head here to my Pinterest board – Yes, I’m a Pinotphile – for a list of suggestions.

St. Urbans-Hof ‘Ockfener Bockstein’ Kabinett RieslingLove smoking your bird? Try the second most traditional grape for the season, Riesling! Remember, not all Riesling are sweet! Want fresh, inviting and dry – head to Germany. One of my favorites for pairing to smoked poultry is St. Urbans-Hof ‘Ockfener Bockstein’ Kabinett Riesling from the Mosel. Notes of peach, apricot, creamy apple pulp, and spice cake envelope gorgeous aromas of freshly picked blue and white flowers – violet!

Quinta do Crasto Douro Valley Grilled bird? Smoke and char call for one thing – something dark, medium bodied and delicious when it comes to turkey on the grill. I’m a huge fan of Portuguese reds for this category. Go with a winery that I’ve most recently visited, Quinta do Crasto, for the best value! Quinta do Crasto Douro Valley red, Portugal. For just over $22, the dark juicy jammy fruits combined to the black pepper back of the wine’s body snuggle in perfectly with a charred, crunchy skin of a grilled turkey, yet they don’t over power the juicy delicious meat of the bird.

Lastly, deep fried! To all you crazy Minnesotans who are into deep-frying your birds – I’m finally game for this technique. Tender and rich, and when cooked just right, frying will give you a skin that you’ll never trade for again any other Thanksgiving. Try a wine like a light bodied Zinfandel from CA or even a darker, more structured (older vined) Gamay from the Loire Valley of France. Like Gamay but not a Beaujolais Nouveau fan? Try these two ‘sister’ wines from the Loire Valley of France for a bit of a change when it comes to this grape.

Now that you’ve got your main bird covered, you won’t want to forget the opening appetizer wine and your closer. First things first… No one enters my house any time of year without a glass of bubbles. Of course ‘bubbles’ can refer to beer as well, but in my domain, sparkling wines rule!

François Chidaine MontlouisHere’s a fun little winery from the Loire region of France (again) that will keep everyone happy, not to mention, will pair beautifully with anything squash on your table. Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, try the François Chidaine Montlouis, yum! Creamy pear, apple & bright stone fruit make this a great opener for all things – cheese, creamy dips, to chips and sweet pickle plates.

Alright, alright – the pie! From pumpkin pie to pecan, I’m telling ya – fortifieds are your answer. Yes, Port will absolutely do the trick, but if you want the ultimate pairing to pumpkin pie, go with a sweet sherry from Jerez, Spain – like Moscatel, with its honeyed, orangey bits, will make any pumpkin pie pairing perfect. Need a recipe and pairing for your table, check out Amusée’s latest ‘Drunkin Punkin’ Pie recipe and pairing blog.

And if you’re just south of the Mason Dixon line (or happen to love a little southern something for Thanksgiving dessert), Pecan Pie and Madeira could be the match for you. Michael, I’m sure, has a gorgeous line up of beers for all these sweets, but when it comes to truly being in doubt when it comes to sweet, go Madeira. Try a sweeter version, like Malmsey, for a perfect pairing to pecan pie!

From top to bottom, we’ve got you covered. Looks like no one should go thirsty this holiday season if you’re keeping up with A Perfect Pint and Amusée! For more monthly wine tips, check in often for my guest posts along A Perfect Pint’s blog line labeled “Somm Speak.”

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving y’all!