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Dessert wine paired with Harry & David’s Organic Pears + Giveaway

French Style Pear Tart using harry and david's organic pears

French Style Pear Tart

While any day is a good day for dessert, a holiday is the best excuse to enjoy it with a dessert wine. When Harry & David asked if I’d like to host a giveaway (end of this post) of one box of their organic Royal Riviera pears during the holidays, I knew it would be a great excuse to make an easy but delicious dessert, and pair it with some sweet wines. I asked friends for a pear tart recipe, something to remind me of the one I had when in Paris. My friend Linda gave me this easy, 5 ingredient recipe that came out perfectly. I then paired three different dessert wines, and euphoria ensued.

Harry and David's Organic Royal Riviera Pears are non-gmo fruit

Harry and David’s Organic Royal Riviera Pears

The most important ingredient for the tart, of course, is the pears. They need to be perfectly ripe, sweet, juicy, and healthy. Harry & David’s organic Royal Riviera pears were just the ticket. These pears are included in just about every Harry and David gift basket, and like most tree fruit, they’re not genetically modified (non-GMO). Harry & David’s 80th anniversary is next year, and they still use all natural grafting methods, instead of genetically modifying the seeds. Though Harry & David did provide the pears for this post and the below giveaway, I have been a loyal customer personally as well on a corporate level for years.

To make the pear tart, you just need five ingredients:

2 Harry & David’s Organic Royal Riviera Pears (substitute different quality pears if you MUST…)
1 sheet Frozen Puff Pastry Dough (a rectangle that is about 12 x 8 is ideal)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I improvised and did 3/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp all spice)

Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pasty was perfect

Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pasty was perfect

For the tart “crust”, I went with a frozen puff pastry dough from Pepperidge Farm. It was not the size and shape I wanted, but it worked just fine.

Before you start cutting and layering, mix up the sugar and spice ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Slice the stem and very top off of the pears and then slice the pears in half lengthwise. Then, use a paring knife and cut out the core. Next, place the pear flesh side down, and slice lengthwise about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Slice then core the Harry & David Organic pears

Slice then core the Harry & David Organic pears

 

Slice the harry & david organic pears in 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide pieces

Slice the pears in 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide pieces

Once the pears are cut, unfold the dough, placing it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

The Pepperidge Farm dough was about 9″ square, and I traced a border of about 1″ around it with a butter knife. Be sure not to go all the way through the dough. This 1″ border will cause the ends to puff up around the filling when cooking, and create edges around the pears. I would have preferred the dough’s width be about 8″, and then the 1″ border would have made for a much more narrow tart.

I was a little skeptical at first that tracing a thin border would create the puffed edges, but it really worked. WHO KNEW?!

cooking with harry and david non-gmo organic pears Trace a 1 inch border around the dough

Trace a 1 inch border around the dough

Next, begin layering your pear inside the center of the dough. Be sure the larger end of the pear is closer to the traced line, and have the pears overlap. Try to use the smaller outside pieces of pear first, as a bit of a base. That way, the longer pieces will line up nice and upright. Be sure you don’t leave too much space between the pieces.

Layer your Harry and David pears inside the center of the dough

Layer your pears inside the center of the dough

Once your pears are layered nicely, being sure not to leave too much open space in the middle, while not going over the border, sprinkle the sugar mixture on the top. Place the tart in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 400. It should stay refrigerated about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle your Harry and David pears with the sugar mixture

Sprinkle your Harry and David pears with the sugar mixture

After the 20 minute refrigeration, place your pear tart in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, reduce the oven temperature to 350, and set another timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, if the crust isn’t golden brown and crisp, give it a few more minutes. Once finished, remove from oven and let cool. Now, on to the dessert wine!

Dessert Wine Perfect for a Pear Tart!

Dessert Wine Perfect for a Pear Tart!

Pairing wine with sweets has one general rule: your wine must be as sweet or sweeter than your food. If not, the wine may taste muted or bland after tasting the dessert. That said, I’ve selected a trio of dessert wines to pair with the tart. They each come from a different region, and are made with different grapes. I will say that the Sauternes from the amazing Chateau Coutet pictured above was not opened for this tasting. It was a full sized bottle, as opposed to the typical 375ml half bottle you’ll find for white dessert wines. I therefore chose to open another, quite delicious bottle of Sauternes to avoid any waste of the Chateau Coutet, since I was the only taster.

Pairing Harry and David Pear Tart with Anakena Late Harvest 2008 dessert wine

Anakena Late Harvest 2008 dessert wine

Hailing from Chile, the Anakena Late Harvest 2008 ($20) was the least sweet of the three wines. However, it was still a perfect pair with the pear tart. Made with 85% Viognier and 15% Muscat of Alexandria, the Anakena Late Harvest 2008 was not heavy on the palate, and still a bit crisp. The nose and palate were delicate white floral and dried apricot, with decent acidity. It’s not as  heavy or viscus as a Sauternes, and there are no honey notes that are found in the other two options. However, this is definitely the best dessert wine pairing if you are not typically a sweet wine drinker.

pairing harry and david pear dessert with Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois

Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois

From the South of France, I paired Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois ($15) with the pear tart. Made with muscat grapes, the Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois uses the noble Muscat a Petits Grains variety of grape, different than the Muscat of Alexandria in the Anakena Late Harvest wine, though from the same family. The commune of Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois was named after it’s famous muscat wines in 1936, and was originally Saint-Jean-de-Pardailhan.  The bouquet of the Les Petit Grains 2011 was unimpressive, and perhaps a little plastic. However, the palate is much different. A very viscous wine, there are delicious floral and honey flavors mixed with spiced orange rind, and laced with dried apricots that dance on the palate. This was an excellent option to pair with the Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear inspired dessert.

Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes with pear tart dessert

Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes

The coup de grâce of this delicious project was pairing of Sauternes with the tart. I selected the Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes ($20), which is part of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild family. The bouquet is amazing floral, sweet honey and ripe apricot. This wine is much more viscous than the previous two, providing a very rich experience. The palate is a sweet savory experience, and each sip makes your mouth water. There are amazing flavors of honey and dried apricot, mixed with hints of flowers. This was the best pairing in my opinion.

Now the exciting part. I’m happy to be giving away some of Harry & David’s Organic The Favorite® Royal Riviera® Pears. One lucky person will win 1 box of beautiful organic pears ($34.95 value)!  H&D invented the fruit of the month club. At least one shipment of these pears is sent to every member. You can savor these delectables yourself, simply enter the giveaway below. There are multiple ways to enter, so be sure to catch them all!
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This contest is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen Sunday 12/15/2013. I will need to forward a mailing address for the winner by Monday 12/16/2013 to Harry & David!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Exciting Delivery From Harry & David organic non-gmo pears

Exciting Delivery From Harry & David

Remember that Sharing is Caring. You should not only share this post with your friends, but share some wine and pears with them!

 

The Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes and the Les Petits Grains Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois 2011 were both media samples from Pasternak Wine Imports. The pears used to make this dessert, as well as for the giveaway, were provided by Harry & David. However, per my sample policy, I offer no assurances that I will use products that are samples, and that my opinion will always be honest about the products I use. I have nothing but my word and reputation, and no free wine or food will make me compromise that. 

Weekend Wine Recommendation – Chilensis Pinot Noir

TGIF Weekend Wine Recommendation

TGIF Weekend Wine Recommendation

As the weekend rolls in, many of you are looking for a nice bottle of wine to unwind with. There are many options of course, and almost every one of them is a good one.  If you are looking for something new to try, and are a fan of red wine, then I have a great recommendation to kick off the weekend. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of wines from Chile. They offer great value, have a wide range of options from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon to Carmenere and Pinot Noir.  Yes, Chile, a very hot and dry place, is producing cool weather Pinot Noir now. And they’re doing it well in many cases.  I was able to taste four Pinot Noir wines from Chile recently, and enjoyed them all.  Today’s recommendation is not one of those four, but I think it’s a great wine, especially for the price.  For under $10, you can get a nice Pinot Noir to sip and savor as you put your feet up and relax this weekend.

Chilensis 2009 Reserva Pinot Noir

Chilensis 2009 Reserva Pinot Noir

The Chilensis 2009 Reserva Pinot Noir can be found in most wine stores and grocery stores. It comes in at $9.99 locally, and that puts it within almost everyone’s wine budget. It’s a medium bodied red wine, which makes it a perfect summer wine. The palate has red fruit, from strawberry to dark berries, with a little smoke and earth that Pinot Noir is known for. The Chilensis Pinot Noir will go perfectly with most any food you want to pair it with, whether that’s cedar plank salmon on the grill, burgers, dogs, or salads for summer. However, this wine has become a staple at our house, and we just love to sip on it slowly and enjoy.

If you try the Chilensis Reserva Pinot Noir, let me know your thoughts. Cheers to a great weekend!

This Week at Total Wine – Sauvignon Blanc

Matthew Horbund talks Sauvignon Blanc at Total Wine

Matthew Horbund talks Sauvignon Blanc at Total Wine

A wine store like Total Wine and More can be intimidating for the uninitiated. With thousands of bottles staring you in the face, picking out the perfect wine for your meal or party may seem daunting. Though it’s really not that difficult, I kick off a new collaboration with Total Wine to help you navigate the aisles easily with a video about sauvignon blanc, a perfect summer wine.

The short video will go through where you’ll find sauvignon blanc, the different flavors this grape offers, and even a few food and wine pairing tips with sauvginon blanc. A delicious, dry, crisp white wine,  you’ll enjoy exploring the different areas producing sauvignon blanc.

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Matthew Horbund Talks Sauvignon Blanc at Total Wine

In coming weeks, we’ll talk about other delicious wines for your summer get together. In the mean time, I’d love to hear which sauvignon blanc is your favorite, and if you like sauvignon blanc alone, or with food!

Great Wines for your Grilling Times

The weather is perfect to fire up the grill, invite some friends over, and have your first backyard BBQ of the season.  As you saw in the short video above, I brought three wines into the CBS12 WPEC studios today to offer you suggestions to make your grilled food and wine pairing perfect this summer season.

Huber Hugo - Gruner Veltliner - 2008

Huber Hugo - Gruner Veltliner - 2008

Our first wine, a versatile white from Austria, comes from Weingut Huber. The 10th generation to work the winery, Markus took over the reigns in 2000, after a stint in South Africa where he really learned about wine making. Gruner Veltliner may not be a wine you’re familiar with, but you’ll thank me for introducing it to you.  Crisp and clean, it’s a wine that will range from citrus driven with great minerality and acidity (as this one is), to soft peach and apricot flavors and floral notes.

Gruner Veltliner, or GruVee, is a wine that will pair with nearly any food you put with it. Starting with the cheese plate, it’ll play wonderfully with any rich cheese, and even “Stinky” cheese! You dont stop there, however, and try it with grilled chicken, fish, lobster, pork, as well as spicy Thai or even sushi. The video has great descriptive tasting information, so be sure to watch. The Huber Hugo Gruner Veltliner is available for about $12.

Morande Reserva Pinot Noir 2008

Morande Reserva Pinot Noir 2008

The next wine that should be at any back yard BBQ this season is a Pinot Noir from Chile.  Yes, Chile. I know you have enjoyed Pinot Noir from France, California, and Oregon; now it’s time to try one from Chile. Morande, founded in 1996, makes some delicious wines, including a Carmenere in their Pionero line that has this fantastic eucalyptus note that rocks! The grapes come from the Casablanca Valley, and the maritime influence on the weather provides cool enough growing conditions to make a great Pinot at a great price. You can get the Morande Reserva Pinot Noir for under $12

Pinot Noir is a red wine that has a very wide sprectum of expressions. It can be light to medium bodied, and from fruit focused to earthy and smoky. It really picks up the characteristics of where it’s grown, the terroir, and that is what I think I enjoy about the Morande Reserva Pinot Noir the most. It’s light enough, and has enough great strawberry fruit on it, with showing the earthy, smoky notes that you not only see in Pinot, but that you may expect from a Chilean red wine like a Carmenere.  It’s light enough to pair with grilled salmon, but has enough body to stand up to burgers, grilled pork chops, and even steaks.  We grilled some portobello mushrooms, paired it with this wine, and had our guests in heaven!

Bennett Lane Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bennett Lane Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon

The last wine, which we didn’t get to talk about in the segment is Bennett Lane Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon. If you watched the video, I botched the name trying to get out something about the wine in those 5 last seconds! It’s a nice Napa Cab for only $20, made by a winery that has earned several high scores on it’s various wines over the past few years. The fruit is sourced from multiple vineyards, in Calistoga, Oakville and St Helena, is aged 10 months in French oak, and is just a nice wine.

The Turn 4 Cab is definitely a Napa cab all the way, with a heavy mouth feel, and a lot of dark cherry fruit up front. There’s a nice transition to a Christmas spice component, and a finish with some pepper. It’s perfect with grilled steaks, or throw a lamb chop that is brushed with olive oil and rosemary on the grill, and you’re going to enjoy the way the flavors work together with the wine.

What will you be grilling next? I’d love to hear how you prepare some of your favorite backyard BBQ foods, and we’ll talk about the wine pairings together!

New Grapes in the New Year – Carmenere and Albarino

Happy New Year!

Though I didn’t make many resolutions this year, one of my goals is to finish my journey into the Wine Century Club, as each member has drank 100 different wine varietals. I started logging the wines I drank, cataloging each different grape the wines were made from, back in October 2008. Sadly, I stopped recording names and just focused on reviewing, writing, and discussing them. I have 50 written down so far, so there’s only another 50 to go. While I won’t blog about each grape I try, I may mention them, such as the Greek wine made from the Assyrtiko grape I had at the Epcot Food & Wine festival. I hope you come with me on the journey, and discover new and fun wines with me.

Wines that work for your holiday party and budget

Talking Wine on CBS 12 WPEC

Talking Wine on CBS 12 WPEC

I love sharing great wine information with anyone who’s interested. Today I was on CBS 12, WPEC, in West Palm Beach, and spoke about four wines that I think work for almost any holiday party.  While we only covered two of the four wines on the segment, I’ll tell you about all four right now.

First up was Gougenheim Chardonnay, from Mendoza, Argentina. This delicious white wine costs less than $9, and is versatile enough to go with a range of appetizers, as well as a holiday ham, seafood or chicken. It’s light, fruit driven flavor will go well with most anything you serve. A lightly oaked white wine, the pear and apple fruit flavors show nicely, and are balanced with just a hint of toast and spice from the oak aging.

Video wine review of Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere – a red wine from Chile

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

If you’ve read any of my wine blog posts, you’ll know that Camenere was one of the first red wines I had ever had. Therefore, it’s always a pleasure to try a Camenere from a producer I haven’t had in the past. During the Wines of Chile blogger event, we had the pleasure of trying 8 wines from Chile while video conferenced in with the wine makers to get their insights on their wines, Chile, and wine in general. I have reviewed several of those wines already, and have a few more coming. You’ll find my thoughts and tasting notes on the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere in the video review below. Please be kind when watching it, I was in a hotel room after a full day of Oracle training, and pretty wiped out.

Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007 hails from the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, right around San Felipe, north of Santiago. The Aconcagua river flows through the valley, which provides “melt water” for much needed irrigation in the area.  While wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere have grown in the valley since the mid 19th Century, there has been renewed interest in the area since the 1990s. Experiements have proven that Aconcagua valley vineyards located closer to the Pacific can provide great grapes, and great wines. Personally, I’m on the look out for some of these wines, especially Syrah which is pointed out in the Wines of Chile brochure that was sent to the bloggers for reference.

Now, it’s no secret that I think wines from Chile offer great value, bringing to us nice, or even fantastic wines, at a great price. I’ve probably written about more Chilean wine on this blog than any other country. At $26 retail, the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere is not an everyday budget wine for many people. However, I think it’s definitely a wine to give a try, if for no other reason than to see what Carmenere is about, and have a nice frame of reference for other producers.

As the video notes, the first night this wine was definitely a lot more fruit driven and didn’t have some of the characteristics I love about Carmenere. I felt it was lacking the earthy flavors with a black pepper and spice driven backbone that screams STEAK! I found it very “new worldy”. However, I actually REALLY liked it the first night, finding the wine fun and enjoyable. The second night I think it was “done”, with too much oxygen breaking down the wine, as notes of cherry cough syrup were dominant, which were not what I found the first night. I would like very much to get another bottle and see how it opens over time, because I believe I didn’t really experience the full potential of this wine in the situation I had to taste it.

Check out the video, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Chilean Red Wine Review – Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere video wine review

Santa Carolina 2007 Reserva de Familia Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

As you may have read in earlier posts like the Los Vascos Reserva review, I was given the pleasure to participate a blogger event put on by the PR folks from the Wines of Chile back in May. Several bloggers participated in a video conference between eight wine makers in Chile and the PR folks, moderated by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. In this fourth installment of my Wines of Chile video conference writeup, we talk about a great red wine made with the Carmenere grape.

While originally from the Medoc region of Bordeaux, the grape is rarely found there any longer. Instead, most Carmenere comes from Chile, and it’s their 3rd most planted red grape, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love carmenere, a typically earthy and peppery red wine that when done right, is great alone or with food. I pair Carmenere with a nice grilled steak, but it’ll go well with a variety of roasted and grilled meats.

I’ve mentioned the value wines I see coming from Chile many times, and believe the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere is worth every bit of its $15 SRP. Made with 100% carmenere, the wine, considered in their “Gran Reserva” range, is aged at least 10 months in oak barrels, mostly new. Additionally, the wines age in the bottle at least 4 months, which the wine maker believes helps “ensure the evolution of the complex aromas and flavours”.  Adding some punch to this $15 wine is the 91 point rating it received from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the May 2009 issue. The one thing I was not able to verify is that while they are “Carbon Neutral” with their delivery, I can not confirm if Santa Carolina makes organic wines or not. Unlike the Cono Sur wines, it did not list Organically Farmed on the bottle.

Now, I’ve had Santa Carolina wines before, and my first impression was they were overly oaked and not to my palate. You’ll see in the video that while I may have thought this when I originally tasted the wine, the second tasting the next night completely changed my opinion.  Watch the video, and let me know what you think. Not just of the video, but of Carmenere, wines from Chile, or Santa Carolina Wines.