About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!
Website: http://agoodtimewithwine.com
Matt.mmwine has written 194 articles so far, you can find them below.

About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Toasting The New Year On A Budget

Instead of Champagne toast New Year's Eve with these budget friendly Sparkling Wines

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Sparkling Wine

Looking to toast to your family and friend’s good health and happiness this New Year’s Eve, but not spend a fortune? There are plenty of sparkling wine options available if you don’t want to splurge for Champagne. I visited CBS 12 and chatted with Eric Roby and Michele Wright to talk about three sparkling wines under $13 that are perfect for ringing in the New Year, or any time!

While the Gruet family started off making Champagne in France, in the 70s they migrated to New Mexico, and after meeting other European wine makers, started making sparkling wine. Over 4,000 feet above sea level, their vineyards are cool at night, prolonging the growing and ripening periods, offering great fruit for their various sparkling and non-sparkling wines. The Gruet NV Brut costs only $12.99 at Total Wine, and many other wine retailers, but doesn’t lack the flavors of more expensive bubblies. Made from 75% chardonnay and 25% pinot noir, this non-vintage sparkling wine offers great flavors of green and yellow apple, with slight toasty notes.

Gruet NV Brut Sparkling Wine For New Years

Gruet NV Brut Sparkling Wine For New Years

If you like more dry styles of sparkling wine, Cava is a great option. With less fruit and more tart flavors, the Conde de Caralt Brut is a good option at $7.99. Made by Freixenet, I like the dry, tart style of this sparkler. There are some notes of apples, and some citrus, but the fruit is very faint. This is a good sparkling wine to mix cocktails, especially if you like making mimosa as it doesn’t end up being too sweet! Cava generally has a budget focused price point, and I’ve recommended Rondel cava in the past.

Conde de Caralt Brut Cava

Conde de Caralt Brut Cava

Prosecco is a light, delicious sparkling wine style from northern Italy. From Treviso, located in the Veneto region of Italy, the Luna d’Or Prosecco is made of Glera grapes. For $12.99, this refreshing sparkling wine has fruit forward flavors of melon, apricots, and citrus, and is perfect for those who like a little more fruit in their sparkling wines. Prosecco is a great option for a toast on New Year’s Eve. I’ve recommended Lemberti’s Prosecco in previous New Year’s Eve segments!

Luna d'Or Prosecco for your New Year's party

Luna d’Or Prosecco for your New Year’s party

Check back later on, as I’ll be posting another CBS 12 segment on French sparkling wine and Champagne that won’t break the bank. I’ll also have some other options for bubbles that I’ve had in recent weeks that have been fantastic, such as the Barons de Rothschild Champagne that for $99 at Total Wine is a great classic Champagne from a prestigious producer.

Glasses for Champagne

Which Glass is Best For Champagne?

Which Glass is Best For Champagne?

Whether you are serving Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, or a sparkling wine from California, you have probably asked “What is the best glass to serve Champagne in?” While there is no “Perfect Glass for Champagne”, I’ll break down three different stemware options, and give you the pros and cons of each. You can then pick the right glass for Champagne, one that suits you!

Are flute glasses best for Champagne?

Are flute glasses best for Champagne?

The flute glass is perhaps the most popular glass for serving Champagne or sparkling wine. Tall, thin, and elegant, it fits in with any Champagne toast, whether New Year’s or New Baby! The flute glass will preserve your Champagne bubbles the longest of any glass, so if the bubbles in your bubbly are extremely important, then this is definitely the glass for you! While there are  pros of this glass, it’s timeless style and it’s ability to preserve the bubbles longest, there are still some cons. The first is that they don’t really allow you to smell the sparkling wine, which is a big component of taste. Additionally, some folks find that pouring bubbly into a glass like this causes them to pour a bit too quickly, and the glass bubbles over. Other than that, it’s a great glass for Champagne. This glass is what I prefer my sparkling wines in. Robin, however, prefers the coupe glass for her Champagne.

Are coupe glasses best for Champagne?

Are coupe glasses best for Champagne?

There are stories that the coupe was modeled after Marie Antionette’s breast. Since the glass was fashioned in 1663 for the English aristocrats, that is probably not true. However, the coupe is an elegant and classic way to enjoy sparkling wine. The glass has a low profile, and a wide bowl. While it does allow your nose to inhale the bouquet of the wine as you sip, there is a major downside to this glass. The coupe is notorious for allowing those precious bubbles to escape quickly. So, while it may show up in timeless movie classics as the glass to toast New Year’s Eve with, it may not allow your bubbles to stay at the party as long as you do. Something to keep in mind while you sip your Champagne.

Can a regular wine glass work for serving Champagne?

Can a regular wine glass work for serving Champagne?

A regular wine glass works! Champagne is a mixture of chardonnay,  pinot noir, and pinot Munier, so it’s perfect for a regular wine glass. While it won’t be the epitome of class and sophistication the coupe and flute are, it works nicely to sip Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, or any California Sparkling wine from! So-pop a cork, grab the glass that fits your style, and toast to an amazing New Year!

Chilling Champagne Quickly

Celebrate on New Year's Eve

Celebrate on New Year’s Eve

With New Year’s Eve just a few days away, everyone is planning holiday parties. And, everyone is planning to serve a lot of Champagne, as well as beer, wine and other cocktails. However, you may not be exactly sure how to get all of those adult beverages cold, or keep them cold throughout the party. Here’s a nifty trick that will get your Champagne chilled quickly, and keep your sparkling wine cold.

All you need is a bucket, some tap water, ice, and table salt. And the libations to chill! Here’s a step by step guide to making a super cooler for your next party.

First, Fill a bucket about 1/3 with tap water. Obviously, if you have a lot of bottles to chill or keep cold, you’re going to need a bigger bucket. Here we’re just using a small ice bucket as an example.

How To Chill Champagne Quickly -

Fill a bucket about one third with tap water

Next add ice! I added 1 tray of ice here, but obviously you may need more, especially if you have a big bucket to fill, and keep cool all night. I would say you probably want a 10 pound bag of ice for every 3 to 6 bottles of Champagne you’re going to super chill quickly. More throughout the evening to keep it cold if necessary.

Chilling Wine Beer or Champagne fast

Add Ice to your water

For one bottle and one tray of ice, I added about three tablespoons of regular table salt. For a bag of ice in a bucket big enough to hold three or six bottles of Champagne, I would use about three-quarters of a cup of salt. Adding more won’t ruin the mixture. We’re not cooking, were chilling!

Add Salt to your iced water to chill your Champagne Fast

Add Salt to your iced water to chill your Champagne Fast

I recommend you don’t use your hand to stir the iced water. Your Super Cool Quick Champagne Chiller will be around 40 degrees in less than 1 minute. You may need mittens if you are stirring a big tub of iced water for your party!

Add Salt to your iced water to chill your Champagne Fast

Stir your salted ice water

The next step needs no comment – add the bottles!

How to Chill Wine Beer Champagne Fast

Add your Bottle(s) to your super cooled water

Obviously, with some more ice and a little more salt, this would have been colder, faster. I just did this quick experiement to show you how to chill your Champagne quickly. If I were cooling wine or beer or Champagne fast for a party, I would have a bag or two of ice in a cooler, and another in a large bucket to cool the wine first. Then, I’d add half a bag every thirty minutes or so. It never hurts to have more ice on hand, though!

Get your Champagne Cold Fast

You’re on your water to super cool

I hope your party is hot, and your Champagne is cool! Let me know if you use this tip to keep your sparkling wine, beer or even sodas cold this Holiday season!

Cheers!

 

A Perfect Gift For Wine Lovers

The SkyBar One Wine System

The SkyBar One Wine System

Finding the perfect gift for wine lovers is just a click away. The SkyBar One Wine system will help round out a wine lovers accessory collection. Just like an wine aficionado wants the right glass for their favorite wine, they also delight in having the right way to serve their wine. I was skeptical when I was first asked to review this nifty contraption, but after a week of using it, I’m a believer.

When I read the SkyBar One product info, I was unsure about receiving one of these wine systems for review. The device is meant to chill, pour, preserve and display your wine for up to 10 days. Frankly, there’s rarely leftover wine in my home to preserve. And if there is, I simply use a hand pump to vacuum the air out, and throw the bottle in my fridge. Why do I need something that, on sale, is $350, to do what a $20 device does? I almost declined the sample to review. However, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if this is truly a device a wine lover needs or not, and share my honest opinion.  I can honestly say I would love to be given the SkyBar One Wine System as a gift.

My first impression of the SkyBar One Wine System was not exactly the best. The box is a bit big, and the device stands 18 inches high by 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep. I have a tiny 1940s wood home, and extra space is at a premium. However, Robin said to set it on the side of my desk – as it looked quite handsome there. While setting up the SkyBar One Wine System, I felt some of the parts were a bit light, and hoped I wouldn’t break them. They weren’t flimsy, just not very hefty. I set up the system in about 10 minutes, and was ready to give it a run for it’s money.

Set The SkyBar One Wine System temperature by wine type

Set The SkyBar One Wine System temperature by wine type

The on-board computer and digital display are awesome on the SkyBar One Wine System. I love how easy it was to set the perfect temperature for my wine. It allowed me to select by wine type, or I could have set it to my preferred serving temperaturate manually. I did not wait around to see how long it took for my 75 degree bottle of wine from the grocery store took to get to the recommended 65 degrees for Cabernet Sauvignon. I ran some errands, and when I was back home a few hours later, the wine was ready to pour.

Setting my Cabernet Sauvignon to 65 degrees

Setting my Cabernet Sauvignon to 65 degrees

Testing the preservation of wine with a hand pump versus SkyBar One Wine System

Testing the preservation of wine with a hand pump versus SkyBar One Wine System

I decided to test the SkyBar One Wine System side by side with my $12 pump, and see how the wine stood up after a week. I bought two bottles of St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon, to taste them side by side for 5 days and see if one bottle was better preserved than the other. There were some very interesting results.

Typically, we never allow a bottle of wine to sit open, pumped or not, for more than 24 hours. I find the taste of the wine degrades rather significantly, except in a few instances. To keep tasting a bottle pumped for a week was indeed going to be a challenge. On day one, the wines taste exactly the same, though the SkyBar One had the wine at a perfect 65 degrees, while my control bottle was much warmer. I pumped the control bottle and placed it in the fridge. Keeping it cool should stop the aging and oxidation process, holding the taste consistent for the test. Day two, however, had different results.

When the wine comes out of the fridge to test on the next day, it’s about 42 degrees, way too cold for red or white wine to drink. I let it sit out in the glass for about 20 minutes to warm, while I tested the SkyBar One wine. It was perfect, tasting exactly as it should and did on day one. Once the control glass warmed, I tasted it and while it was fine, there was definitely a little less oomph to the glass. On to day three, four and five.

The SkyBar One Wine System on my desk

The SkyBar One Wine System on my desk

I will spare you the process, and get down to the nitty gritty results of the SkyBar One Wine System versus the hand pump for preservation. Hands down, the SkyBar One rocked. The flavor of the control bottle was strained by day three, and by day four, I poured out the remaining half of the $26 bottle of wine. It was just done. However, on day five, the wine in the SkyBar One Wine System was still absolutely perfect to drink. I’m actually sipping on some now. I’ve gone through about half the bottle, as the pour system is very precise, allowing me to pour just a little bit each time. Aside from perfect serving temperature and longer preservation of wine, there are some great features of the wine system, as well as some drawbacks.

The Skybar One Wine System chills and preserves your wine, making it a perfect gift

The Skybar One Wine System chills and preserves your wine, making it a perfect gift

The SkyBar One Wine System not only can store your wine at the perfect temperature for serving, it makes it very easy to serve. Simply unlock the vacuum seal, press the pour button and you have a steady stream of wine to pour a taste, or a glass. The same on board computer that sets the temperature also ensures that your wine is vacuum sealed, even if you forget to click the PRESERVE button after serving. I know, because I forgot! There is also a filter on the end of the tube that draws the wine, meant to keep sediment out of your glass, and in the bottle. All great features for this fantastic device.

The drawbacks are few, but there. First, it only fits standard, 750ml wine bottles. This would be absolutely AMAZING if it fit the 1.5L magnum bottles. I would LOVE to be able to buy a few high end magnums and pour sips over the next 10 days for friends and family. Additionally, the device is meant to house standard, cork sealed bottles. While they offer an attachment for wine bottles that are screw-cap, they do not guarantee it will work with all bottles. However, there are few screw cap bottles of wine I want to keep around for 10 days, so I don’t see that as an issue.

You can find the Skybar One Wine System online, and at select retailers. Any wine loving recipient would be happy to receive this great device as a gift! Happy Holidays!

Harry and David Fruit and Cheese of The Month Gifts For You

Anticipating a Harry & David Gift

Anticipating a Harry & David Gift

“What’s in the box?” No, it wasn’t Brad Pitt’s scene from Seven, but the scene unfolding in my living room. A gift had arrived from Harry & David, and Robin was dying to know what we got. Ever since I partnered with gift great Harry & David to review their Fruit and Cheese of the Month club, and pair it with wine of course, we’ve been on pins and needles to see what was coming. We couldn’t wait to try everything out, as well as offer one of their fantastic gifts of fruit and cheese to you as a giveaway.  I’ve always been a fan and customer of their delicious fruits and goodies, but after visiting Harry & David’s orchards and operations in October, I feel even more strongly about the company.

Indulge in Harry & David Pears

Indulge in Harry & David Pears

It’s no secret that Harry & David offer some of the most delicious pears you’ll ever sink your teeth into. They are not only the sweetest and juiciest I’ve ever tasted, but their color and texture is amazing. Their other fruit gifts are equally as delicious, and they’ve partnered with great cheese companies to give you amazing wine pairing options. Couple that with the new line of wine from Harry & David and you’ve got amazing gift options, or a perfect picnic or party delivered right to your door.

Harry & David Fruit and Cheese of The Month Club

Harry & David Fruit and Cheese of The Month Club

The gift I received was a sample of what you can expect when you order a gift of Harry & David’s Fruit and Cheese of the Month. The giveaway, details are below, will be three months of their fantastic fruit, paired with an artisan cheese delivered to your door. It’s an amazing gift idea, something new and exciting each month it arrives. From their Royal Riviera Pears to their Honeycrisp Apples, my favorite apples ever, you will savor each and every bite. The cheeses are amazing options like Rogue Creamery Touvelle Smokey cheese or their own Cheddar cheese which is creamy and delicious.

While this is a sponsored post, I’ve always been a put your money where your mouth is kind of person. I couldn’t in good conscious recommend and write about something I wouldn’t pay my own money for. I’ve been a long time customer of Harry & David, sending their pears and other gifts to people all the time. The nurses who’ve been helping my sister recover for the last year have been delighted to recieve a gift of Harry & David’s fresh fruit, and of course go wild over the MooseMunch. I even sent a bunch of goodies to Robin’s mom this past Thanksgiving, including two boxes of Harry & David’s Royal Riviera Pears.

Pair Cheddar Cheese with Chardonnay Wine

Pair Cheddar Cheese with Chardonnay Wine

I first paired the Harry & David Honeycrisp apple, topped with a slice of their delicious aged cheddar with the 2011 Rogue Valley Chardonnay, also from Harry & David. Chardonnay pairs so nicely with cheddar cheese, and of course the apples topped with the delicious creamy cheddar is a perfect pairing too. However, the apple was a tad too sweet for the chardonnay! So, I ate the apple, then the cheese separately and finished with the delicious, crisp white wine and was very happy. The Harry & David chardonnay is bursting with fresh crisp flavors of pear and apple, has a nice body and enough acidity to make it food friendly. You can order three white wines from Harry and David, and I think the Gewurztraminer would work perfectly with the sweet apples as well as the cheddar.

Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears and Rogue Creamey Touvelle Smokey Cheese

Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears and Rogue Creamey Touvelle Smokey Cheese

The Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears were super sweet and super juicy. I put a slice of the Rogue Creamery Touvelle Smokey cheese on top, and it was an interesting mix of sweet and savory. The pears were WAY too sweet for the chardonnay, and would have gone much better with their viognier, or even the gewurztraminer. The fruit needs a sweeter, more fruit forward wine. The cheese was very smokey, even the tip of it was a dark smoked color. It was very unique, and it paired nicely with the Chardonnay as well.

And now, you have the chance to win three months of Harry & David’s Fruit and Cheese of the Month club! A $130 value, you will receive their Royal Riviera Pears and Mascarpone cheese for the December shipment. Then the January Shipment will be Cushman’s HoneyBells and Mt. Townsend Seastack cheese. Finally, your great gift wraps up with Royal Oranges and Beechers Flagship Cheese.  The Pears and Mascarpone will pair perfectly with a Moscato d’Asti, or even a sweeter, Oregon Riesling. The Honeybell Oranges will also pair well with sweeter wines, riesling, moscato or even Sauternes, while the Seastack cheese should match nicely with pinot noir or chardonnay. Finally, your Royal Oranges pair with the same wines the Honeybell will, and the Beechers Flagship should be nice with Syrah or Chardonnay.

Harry & David Wine, Fruit and Cheese!

Harry & David Wine, Fruit and Cheese!

Entering the giveaway is simple. You have from Thursday December 13th through Sunday December 16th 11:59 pm EST  to enter. Each person can enter up to three times, one for Facebook, one for Twitter, and one for Pinterest. For each entry, you must leave a SEPARATE COMMENT below. Make sure I have your email address, as the winner will be selected at random based on the comments below, and notified by email only.

How To Win This Delicious Fruit and Cheese Gift from Harry & David

1 – Tweet the following then comment below: Winning a @HarryandDavid Fruit & Cheese Gift would make my holiday delicious @mmwine http://budurl.com/hadgift

2- Post the following on Facebook and comment: Winning this Harry & David Fruit and Cheese Gift would make my holiday delicious  http://budurl.com/hadgift

3- Repin your favorite Harry and David item from http://pinterest.com/harryanddavid/ and comment below where we can see your pin

This contest is open to US residents only, and if you live in a state where Harry & David can not ship wine, an alternate gift will be made available as necessary.

You can see more of what Harry & David offer, just

Follow Harry & David on Twitter
Like Harry & David on Facebook
Follow Harry & David on Pinterest

Disclaimer – I was provided a Fruit and Cheese gift to review and a stipend for my time and any materials invested in writing this sponsored post.  I was not asked for a positive review, but for an honest one.  All opinions are my own

Enjoying Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears and Honeycrisp Apples

Enjoying Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears and Honeycrisp Apples

In the mean time, I have some delicious fruit to enjoy. Cheers!

 

Don’t Race To The Finish Of Jeff Gordon’s Joie de Vivre

Four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon

Four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon

When you hear the name Jeff Gordon, you probably think of going around in circles while being assaulted by the smell of burning rubber mixed with gasoline. The thought of wine, no less good wine, probably never comes into your mind. I’m about to change that, and talk about not only Jeff Gordon’s passion for good wine, but tell you why this delicious red wine is a perfect choice around the holidays.

After winning his first championship in his sport’s premier series in 1995, Jeff Gordon went to London and wanted to celebrate. Jeff ordered a Joseph Drouhin Batard-Montrachet, and says it was then that his passion for fine wine began. He had never seen a white wine decanted, and upon tasting it, declared the white Burgundy wine “liquid gold.” Jeff went on to launch the Jeff Gordon Collection of wines in the fall of 2005 with a 2004 Carneros Chardonnay, working with winemaking legend August “Joe” Briggs, owner of Briggs & Sons Winemaking Co. Jeff said when he decided to start a wine line, he asked around for a great winemaker, and Briggs name came up over and over. The two met and starting working together, releasing a Napa Valley Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and their flagship wine Joie de Vivre, a red wine blend.

Review of Jeff Gordon's Joie de Vivre Red Wine

Jeff Gordon’s Joie de Vivre Red Wine

I was skeptical when asked to join the virtual wine tasting with Jeff Gordon Wine on Twitter. I had just written a post about celebrity endorsed wine, and many of you shared my views; it’s more gimmick than good. And, I knew nothing about Gordon or his wine line, other than they were asking me to sip on what I figured would be $61 worth of gasoline to power his NASCAR ride. Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Jeff Gordon Joie de Vivre 2008 red wine delivered amazing flavors that made every sip worth the price.

The 2008 Joie de Vivre is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 10% Syrah. Most of the fruit is sourced from Napa, with Cabernet Sauvignon coming from Corbett Vineyards (Spring Mountain), the Merlot from Solari Vineyard (Calistoga) and the Syrah from Page Nord Vineyard (Yountville). There is 15% Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Monte Rosso in the blend. The wine is aged 20 months in a mixture of French and American oak, of which about 30% is new, the rest 2 to 3 year old barrels. It’s 14.5% ABV, alcohol by volume, not a “small” wine, but not big by California standards. The alcohol may be approaching the high side, but that doesn’t show up in the palate, at all.

Like most big, tannic red wines, this wine needs to breathe. I decanted it for about an hour, but honestly think it could sit for two hours and open up even more. The bouquet of the Joie de Vivre is sweet red fruit, reminiscent of chocolate covered cherries. My initial tasting notes were a BIG big palate, dark cherry with big spices on the finish, and it being very dry (tannic). However, with just thirty minutes more air, decanting for an hour and a half, the palate smoothed out considerably, with warm Christmas spice well integrated with the round dark cherry fruit. The complexity continued to unfold, with notes of leather being intertwined with the fruit and spice. I was sad that the wine was gone before the wine sat in the decanter for 2 hours. I think it evolved quite  nicely.

Pair Jeff Gordon's Joie de Vivre red wine with cured meats and more

Pair Jeff Gordon’s Joie de Vivre red wine with cured meats and more

While I paired this red wine with dried salami and cheddar cheese, I think it’s a perfect holiday or Christmas wine. Though there is no rule you can’t have white wine in December, I tend to prefer heavier red wines, especially with the foods that are typically on a holiday table. Our family celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas, and red meat seems to be served for both holidays. With Hanukkah, we often serve a brisket of beef, usually in a tomato based gravy, while with Christmas we often have a delicious Prime Rib, usually coated with herbs and garlic. The Jeff Gordon Wines Joie de Vivre would pair nicely with either dish, as well as lamb or even goose.

Sip some wine with Nascar great Jeff Gordon

Sip some wine with Nascar great Jeff Gordon

There are only 254 cases of this great red wine produced, and the distribution is quite limited, mainly in restaurants. You can of course order Joie de Vivre direct from Jeff Gordon Wine online.I was fortunate enough to receive this wine as a sample, but my opinions are based on the high quality of the product, not the fact that it was free.

A few other wine bloggers were invited to the virtual tasting. During the Twitter tasting, not only did we share tasting notes, but also thoughts about the wine in terms of aging potential, food pairings, etc. Many of us agreed this wine would age nicely. While it’s drinking very well now, I would like to look at it in 3-5 years. Some thought it had 10 years of cellar potential. I’m just not that patient!  As for the other wine blogger’s thoughts, you can see what some say here: Wine JuliaTraveling Wine ChickFabocwinechickNow and ZinFood and Wine Chickie

Now that I’ve told you this celeb wine will rock your socks off, how likely are you to try it, or other celeb endorsed wines? Let me know below!

 

Crockpot Carnitas And Red Wine

Robin Travels to Isla Mujeres Mexico

Robin Travels to Isla Mujeres Mexico

Robin loves Mexico. Before we met in 2005, she traveled to a small island off Cancun called Isla Mujeres for 10+ years in a row. She loves everything about traveling to Mexico, the sun, the beaches, the margaritas and definitely the food. Robin loves Mexican food so much, that she’ll want to book a trip just to have delicious tacos or guacamole. So, when I found a crockpot carnitas recipe on Eat, Live Run, I figured I could bring Mexico to Robin.

Jenna really put together a super easy recipe. Since the full ingredient list is on her site, I’ll just run through the preparation, so we can get to the wine. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

prepare the dry rub for the crockpot carnitas

prepare the dry rub for the crockpot carnitas

Mix the rub well, and coat both sides of the 2 pound flank steak with it. While the steak sits in the bottom of the crockpot, chop up the red pepper, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, and onion.

Season the Flank Steak for the Crockpot Carnitas

Season the Flank Steak for the Crockpot Carnitas

Chop the peppers to cook with the carnitas

Chop the peppers to cook with the carnitas

The rest of the preparation is pretty simple. The meat is already on the bottom of the crockpot. Take the chopped peppers and onion, and then cover the meat with them. There’s no liquid going into the crockpot, so I tried to keep the peppers on top of the steak, that way they wouldn’t burn on the sides.

Peppers and Onions on the Flank Steak

Peppers and Onions on the Flank Steak

Set the slow-cooker for 8 hours on a low setting, and go relax. That’s all it takes to make this pretty easy dish. For the last 45 minutes or so, I took the wine for dinner out of the cellar, and pulled the cork. I decided on a Grenache blend, something that had red berries and spice. While my twitter friend Elizabeth DeHoff suggested gewurztraminer to pair with this dish, I wanted something that would keep the spices going, rather than balance them out. Elizabeth’s idea was a good one, and if you want a nice refreshing white, then gewurztraminer will do nicely.

Hecht & Bannier 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages

Hecht & Bannier 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages

Hecht & Bannier 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages is a blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and carignan grapes. At $25, this is a French wine to have on hand, as it works well with or without food. Think dark cherries and dark raspberries, doused with a nice firm shaking of pepper. The wine has a nice, silky palate, and the fruit is fresh and prominent. This wine works well with beef, roasted or grilled. And it did fairly well with crockpot carnitas. Though provided as a sample, it’s a wine I wholeheartedly recommend.

Slow-cooker Carnitas and French Red Wine

Slow-cooker Carnitas and French Red Wine

Once the meat is done, take it out of the slow-cooker using two spatulas under each side of the meat. It’ll fall apart easily, but we used two forks to shred the meat. We put it back in the slow-cooker to soak up the juices, and prepared the fixings. We heated the flour tortillas on a warm skillet, then topped each with a little of the meat, some sour cream, some cheddar and some avocado. Jenna has the exact recipe on her site, and recommends a slightly different finish for the taco.

Robin and I in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Robin and I in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

While the scenery was nothing like Mexico, the food was pretty darned close. These slow-cooker carnitas tacos will definitely be made again! The preparation was simple, and the flavor was fantastic. The wine, of course, was perfect. The beef carnitas were not that spicy, and I’d probably add a little chipotle powder in with the rub, to give the peppers some depth and smoke. That said, it was a great taco dinner.

Sunset on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Sunset on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

What’s your favorite Mexican meal? Let me know, leave a comment below!

Lambrusco .. Seriously

The last time someone gave me a bottle of Lambrusco, she was 82, it was a 1.5 liter jug, and it cost about a nickle. I thanked her kindly, and promised her I’d let her know how it as. Secretly, I hoped to leave the state before I saw her again, never having to admit it went right down the drain. So when my friend, and newly Certified Sommelier Kirk told me to throw this bottle in the fridge and try it one night, I was a bit taken aback. This is someone who a year ago helped me pick three killer wines for my CBS 12 Thanksgiving segment. Surely, he’s lost his marbles.

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dell'Emilia

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dell’Emilia

I’m happy to report Kirk still has his marbles, and the wine wasn’t half bad. The Cavicchioli family has been making this wine since 1928, hence the label, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It’s made with three grapes, sorbara, grasparossa and salamino.  You have to go in knowing this is a simple wine.

The $8  Cavicchioli Family Lambrusco Dolce won’t stand up to bold pasta or grilled meat dishes. It’s not meant for that. Think of this as a perfect backyard sipper. It’s meant to be served chilled, and it’s semi-sweet palate of black cherry and cola will pair well with an antipasta dish, some appetizers, and some desserts. This may actually be the red wine for your chocolate pairing needs. The wine is frizzante, which means it has a light effervescence quality, and though the palate is fresh fruit and cola, there is an earthy, rustic component to the flavors that says old world.

This budget focused red wine ties in perfectly with my CBS 12 television segment with Suzanne Boyd. It’s pretty short, and gives you some other wines under $10 to try.

You can check out the article Suzanne mentioned in the clip that has more budget focused wines. Then, let me know when the last time you had Lambrusco was. And if you haven’t tried it, I’d love for you to grab a bottle and let me know what you think. Just leave a comment below.