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Shiraz

Pairing Wine With A Crockpot Chili Recipe

slow cooker crockpot chili and wine pairing

Easy to make slow cooker chili

As the weather gets cooler, people are looking for easy, hearty meals for fall. I’ve seen a lot of people searching for chili recipes, and the wine to pair with them. Chili in our house is a very hot topic, no pun intended. Robin used to make this interesting “tomato soup” that she called chili. I didn’t love it. I was given an award winning chili recipe that I loved, but it made most people cry from the heat. So, when I found this slow cooker chili recipe, I had to make it. And, of course, pair wine.

During my trip to Oregon with Harry & David, I had the chance to meet 12 awesome bloggers. The 11 women and 1 other guy were all super talented at both writing and photography, and have inspired me to amp up my blog! I decided a fun way to do that would be to take their recipes, make them myself, and pair wines with them. This is the first of such projects, and I hope you enjoy it. Brenda’s crockpot (slow cooker) chili recipe on A Farmgirl’s Dabbles is fairly easy to follow and make. She found it in a magazine, played around to make it her own, and it’s been her “Ole Faithful” ever since.

When making her recipe, for the chili powder, I went with 3 Tablespoons from her 3-6 TBS range. I also went 2 chili powder and 1 chipotle powder, since I wanted some smoke and depth to the flavors. I’d probably use 3 TBS of chili powder and 1 TBS of chipotle powder next time. Other than that, the recipe is pretty easy to follow. So, lets talk wine and chili pairing!

clean slate 2009 riesling mosel germany

The Clean Slate 2009 riesling from Mosel, Germany

I know you’re saying “Matt, wine with chili? No way! It’s beer!” I assure you that while a nice craft beer goes well with chili, wine can go equally as well. There are a few wine option for chili pairing, and in general they are zinfandel, shiraz or syrah, riesling, malbec and tempranillo.

The first wine I paired with the chili was the 2009 Clean Slate riesling from Mosel, Germany. This wine was a sample I received over a year ago. It had a screw cap, and I was concerned that after a year, it would be “done.” However, many German rieslings can age for quite some time, and still taste fantastic. This $10 white wine is actually two vintages old now, and was crisp and fresh and full of flavor. The bouquet had feint petrol and river rock scents, and the palate shows nice stone fruit (apricot and nectarines), with really nice acidity. Acidity comes across sometimes as citrus flavors in white wines, and this German riesling had a hint of lime that turned immediatly into peach nectar. However, the finish was a flinty minerality that kept it from being too sweet or syrupy. Well done at $10, definitely a buy, and available in grocery stores (at least in Florida).

Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2010 Shiraz

Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2010 Shiraz

People often ask “How can I tell a wine is good just by looking at it?” This wine answers that question, “You can’t.” While you can form general ideas about a wine if you know the grape, the area, and the producer, there’s NEVER a guarantee that you’ll have a good wine in the bottle. Forget the fact that wine can be cooked, corked, or dead, it’s a fact that the same grape, from the same area, even in vineyards separated by only a road, can taste completely different. When I grabbed this $22 bottle of Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2010 Shiraz at the grocery store, I figured I’d be ok. Penfolds is a fairly big name, Shiraz is a grape that Australia does well, and I’m a sommelier. I know my stuff. Right? Well, sort of. I know my stuff because I taste a lot of wines, and this was one I hadn’t had before.

The Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2010 Shiraz nose was sweet spice from the oak, more than any fruit notes. What fruit was there was dark, blackberry and plum. The approach was just dry, sweet wood, without much else to it. Frankly, this wine is a disappointment. Too much oak, not enough fruit, and no spice to speak of. Definitely not what I expect from an Australian shiraz. I pressed on.

Gnarly Head 2010 Old Vine Zin

Gnarly Head 2010 Old Vine Zin

The third wine I had with my chili was the Gnarly Head 2010 Old Vine Zin. This is a grocery store wine I often have on hand. I was turned on to it in 2008 by a twitter friend, Duane, while I was doing an event of 5 other grocery store zinfandels. For the price, which is $10, it offers great fruit, nice spice, and has not disappointed me in four years. Sure enough, this red wine and chili pairing was perfect. The wine had plum, prunes and blackberries with a sweet spice element to it. The finish was a hearty burst of black pepper, and all in all it stood up very well to the chili.

A Farmgirl's Dabbles crockpot chili hit the spot

A Farmgirl’s Dabbles crockpot chili hit the spot

Happily, this chili and wine pairing was a success. Even though one wine disappointed, two of the wines absolutely rocked, especially at $10. Brenda’s slow cooker chili is a cool weather meal we can make fairly easily, and enjoy for a few days. And, of course, pair wine with.

What is your favorite beverage to drink with chili? Let me know below!

Grilled Buffalo Burgers and Shiraz Food and Wine Pairing


The video has all the information about making the grilled buffalo burger, as well as the tasting notes on the wine. Let me know what you think of it, by leaving a comment below, or rating it on YouTube!

What are we drinking?

I’ve made a lot of great friends on Twitter, and quite a few have asked for food and wine pairing advice. I recently started collaborating with Robyn Medlin from Grill Grrrl, a website all about grilling some fantastic meals. We’ve discussed quite a few projects, which we’ll be rolling them out to you in the next few weeks. Robyn and I got on the topic of her grilled buffalo burgers, and I decided to make them for lunch and pair with a nice shiraz, the 2007 Vinaceous Snake Charmer.

Where does the wine come from?

McLaren Vale Australia

McLaren Vale Australia

McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s renowned wine regions, is located in Southern Australia. It’s famous for Shiraz, which accounts for 50% or more of it’s production annually. Vinaceous does not have it’s own vineyards, but rather sources it’s fruit from various vineyards in the area.

What does the wine taste like?

The video has all of the tasting notes you’ll need, but there’s definitely some nice berry fruit coupled with a great peppery finish. It’s a wine that changed from the time I opened it, until we finished the meal. I preferred it after 20 to 30 minutes of air, as you’ll see in the video.

What to pair it with?

If you saw my short writeup about the Syrah/Shiraz grape, you’ve seen some of the things that can pair with the Vinaceous Snake Charmer Shiraz. Grilled meats, whether lamb, beef, sausage, or obviously buffalo, are a natural food and Shiraz wine pairing. It does well with aged and hard cheeses such as Gouda and Parmesan.

Recap

Coming in at around $20, the Vinaceous Snake Charmer 2007 Shiraz is everything you’d expect from a McLaren Vale wine. Big fruit flavors with an aggressive pepper finish out of the bottle, it mellows nicely with air, and compliments almost anything you throw on the grill. However, don’t take my word for it! Grab a bottle of the Snake Charmer, pop the .. screw top .. and come back and comment on it below! And as always, Cheers!

Some information about the Syrah grape

Shiraz Grapes

Shiraz Grapes

You may have read some of my recent articles and thought they were amazingly interesting, save one little thing. I have gone into great detail on what the wine taste like, where it came from, and how it was fermented, but I didn’t explain the grape itself. For all you knew I was talking about pickles from Mongolia turned into wine. Therefore, I’ll give you some basic information about the grapes in the wines I talk about, starting with Syrah.

A dark, almost black grape, with a thick skin, Syrah creates a wine that offers many expressions. It’s a grape that takes on the characteristics of the terroir, the earth that the grapes come from, and will be different depending on where it is grown. While more than half of the world’s Syrah vineyards are in France, the grape can be found in “new world” areas such as California, Washington, South Africa, and Australia.

Called Shiraz in Australia, the wine will typically have dark fruit flavors with an intense, peppery component when grown there. In contrast, Syrah you’ll find in California often can be round and fruit focused to jammy. French Syrah, used to make many Rhone wines from appellations such as Cote Rotie (pronounced Coat Row-tee) , Hermitage , and Chateauneuf de Pape, is often considered intense or strong when young, with great potential to age. These are of course generalizations, and the wine can have a very “old world” style while made in California, for example.

Syrah is a great food wine, and is definitely at home around a backyard BBQ. Paired with grilled meats, whether steaks, hamburger, sausage, or lamb, a nice Syrah from Washington will work well. Syrah (or Shiraz) can work well with other foods, such as pizza, game such as venison, boar, or pheasant, cheeses such as cheddar, aged Gouda, or Roquefort, and even duck or chicken if it’s grilled or barbecued.

Please feel free to add some comments below about Syrah or Shiraz!

Tweetup at Himmarshee – Food and Wine Pairing

Hanging with Miguel, Pam, Arianne & Enzo

Hanging with Miguel, Pam, Arianne & Enzo

It seems like only yesterday that Chef Dolce Debbie & I were planning our first Food & Wine Tweetup. From that amazing event, we planned several successful followups, serving delicious meals, pairing them with fantastic wines, and having some of the most interesting friends at our table. All of this came to life because of the social networking tool Twitter, where Debbie and I “met”, virtually, exchanged ideas, and created opportunities. However, my East Coast Florida friends quickly became jealous of our events being exclusively in Tampa.  Twitter played a hand in solving that issue, introducing me to PR expert Jan Idelman at a Ft Lauderdale “Pizza Tweetup”, and #Twineup was born.

One of Jan’s clients is a downtown Ft Lauderdale hot spot with a 12 year history of serving great food, and pairing it with your choice of dozens of wines. When Jan and I met, we discussed some of the wine events and television segments I’ve done, and she saw a great opportunity to introduce new people to her client, Himmarshee Bar & Grille. We quickly planned our first Himmarshee Twineup for September 12th, and it was a tremendous success. Forty friends from twitter, as well as viewers of South Florida Today who saw me talking about the event on the show, joined us for an evening of food, wine, and networking with great people. People clamored for a repeat, and we couldn’t let them down. We planned our second event, let everyone know about it, and before you could blink, October 17th was here and the fun started all over again.

The Crowd At Himmarshee

The Crowd At Himmarshee

Over forty people packed into Himmarshee Saturday night for the second event. Shortly after 8:30 we began the event and poured our first wine, Murphy-Goode The Fume 2008.  This Sauvignon Blanc was chosen for it’s light and crisp citrus flavors. Chef Chris created two dishes to pair with this wine, petite lump crab cakes with a pickled habanero tartar, and island spiced shrimp & yucca croquettes with a drunken mango salsa. The guests absolutely loved the first tasting, many of them ordering glasses of the wine throughout the night. Some even had it with their dinner after the event.

Hope Estate 2005 Shiraz

Hope Estate 2005 Shiraz

The second tasting was a Shiraz from Hope Estate in Hunter Valley, Australia. This 2005 Shiraz was fermented in 30% American oak, then aged in 60% French and 40% American. While I felt the palate was very jammy, with tons of blackberry and plum flavors, Rick Garcia, Mr Miamism and the King of Mojitos, was actually a bit overwhelmed by the wood on the finish. His wife, Ines, one of my first twitter friends, was NOT a fan of the wine. However, after tasting Chef’s duck confit and sweet potato empanada with a vanilla-Shiraz macerated cherry topping, she changed her mind. The flavors meshed beautifully, toning down the woody finish, bringing out the fruit flavors of the wine and providing a delicious experience.

Duck Confit and Sweet Potato Empanada

Duck Confit and Sweet Potato Empanada

I felt this wine lacked the pepper backbone of a Shiraz, which would have not only helped get past the oak influence, but would have also paired wonderfully with Chef Chris’ dish. Gia B Freer, and her husband Grant, two great people I met on Twitter the same time I met Ines, were taking photos of most of the food as it came out. It was awesome finally meeting this fantastic foursome, after over 19 months of “virtual friendship”. They’re great people, and really know how to have a good time. I look forward to trekking down to Miami for a Mojito-Tweetup soon, just to see them again.

If you haven’t noticed, this wine tasting is a bit of a world tour. We started with California, and a light, citrus Sauvignon Blanc. We then moved across the world to Australia, having a fruit forward, jammy Shiraz. Now, it’s time to go back to South America, and travel to Mendoza, Argentina. This last stop brings to us a very dry Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ernesto Catena Tahuan Cabernet Sauvignon

Ernesto Catena Tahuan Cabernet Sauvignon

Awarded a 90 point rating from Wine & Spirits magazine, and included in Food & Wines “Best Argentinian Reds” in February 2009, the Ernesto Catena Tahuan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 was the famous wine of the night. The current, 2006, vintage was just given 88 points in this month’s Wine Spectator magazine, so there was definitely a pedigree expectation with this wine. This was a very dry cab, firm tannins with dark fruits, mostly cherries on the palate. I felt the oak influence on this wine was very strong, as did some of the guests. However, when paired with the Mushroom and Cambazola toasts with oil cured campari tomato topping, this wine showed nicely. The “stinky” blue cheese quality of the cambazola really brought out the fruit, and helped coat the palate so that the oak didnt overwhelm the experience.

The night ended with several prizes given away to our friends. Two lucky people won Pokens, graciously donated from PokenGirl. Pokens are digital contact cards, and when two pokens are touched together, they instantly transfer contact information between them. It’s a great gadget to have at a tweetup, and they’re definitely becoming more popular.

Handsome Gift Wrapping from Zsazsa and Company

Handsome Gift Wrapping from Zsazsa and Company

Greg Tuttle, the twitter voice for Total Wine, graciously donated five $20 gift cards to Total Wine, and those five lucky winners need to invite me over when they open their purchases. Two bottles of wine were also prizes for the night, a Murphy-Goode from Himmarshee, and a Fuedo de San Nicola that was part of Pikchur.com’s Hashtag contest. The Fuedo de San Nicola is a wine sold in Florida by Zsazsa And Company, Inc, and both wines were handsomely gift wrapped by Zsazsa and Company.

The November twineup is already being planned. The date will be announced soon. The next event promises to bring even more fun, with exciting new wines, paired with Himmarshee’s fantastic food. However, none of this would be any fun without you coming. So clear your calendar, and get ready to circle the date. You won’t want to miss #Twineup3

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Thanks to Rick Boggs, 2nd photo, for his writeup of the event

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Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 – Syrah Showdown

Bridgeman Syrah 2005

Bridgeman Syrah 2005

Let me start off today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday post by saying no winemaker sets out to make a bad wine.  These men and women put their hearts and souls into each glass of their wine that gets poured. They create something they truly love and believe in, and put it out for the entire world to enjoy. Therefore, I have no right, ever, to say a wine is bad, or sucks, or undrinkable. I may utter those words, or worse, type them, but I have no right to. The “most” I am entitled to say is that I don’t enjoy the wine, whether it’s not my style or perhaps I prefer a similar wine for a better price.  So, whenever ou catch me saying “Wow, this is horrible”, translate that into “I really don’t enjoy this wine, it wasn’t for me.”

Thorn-Clarke 2006 Terra Barossa Shiraz

Thorn-Clark 2006 Terra Barossa Shiraz

Thorn-Clarke 2006 Terra Barossa Shiraz

I am so glad you stopped by to see my review of Thorn-Clarke’s Terra Barossa 2006 Shiraz. It’s been an interesting video to shoot, complete with technical glitches, multiple tastings, and some fun discoveries. That is what I love about wine, not only are there differences from grape to grape, but within the same grape varietal there are differences, and further within the same bottle there are differences depending on the situation.  This interesting red from Australia sure brings that point home.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Cabernet video review

Hi there, and thanks for stopping by. I’ve decided to take all of the wine related content from my other blog, and post it in a place it belongs. I’ll start with this post, which is new, and slowly migrate the older ones here as well.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Cabernet

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Cabernet

Today I’m showcasing a video review of Jip Jip Rocks, and their outstanding Australian Shiraz/Cabernet blend. Produced by the Bryson family, it comes from what I understand to be one of the three remaining privately owned vineyards in the area, as the rest are owned by big producers. The is rated a 90 point Wine Advocate wine, and I can see why.