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Behind the Wine: It’s Harvest Season in Oregon

vineyard

October is an exciting month in the agriculture world, as peaches and corn give way to apples and pumpkins, prime for the picking. And in certain vine-filled valleys, it’s a lush time, indeed: the grape harvest. On a recent visit to Willamette Valley — Oregon’s up-and-coming wine region known for its bold Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays — we learned that an unusually warm summer had sped up the growing and ripening process, resulting in an earlier harvest. Lucky for us, that meant we were able to get up close and personal with those big, juicy grapes.

To learn all about the harvest process — and see how varying microclimates within a 10-mile radius can yield entirely different grapes — we visited a few different wineries. We checked in with Winemaker Melissa Burr from Stoller Family Estate as she sampled some of the new juices coming off of the vines, and toured Sokol Blosser and Penner-Ash wineries to see how their harvests were progressing.

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Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos’ Favorite Wines

When you visit certain regions of Italy and get lost in the multitude of flavors that are so specific to the land, the simple thought of not bringing home some food is in general inadmissible. Parmigiano, lardo, salame, extra virgin olive oil, a couple bottles of wine you just need to have your friends try. How many times did I pack it all up in the dirty laundry secured in my luggage, then fly back home, hoping that the smell of a hot and humid summer on my tank tops would be enough to trick that brown beagle roaming the basement of JFK airport with a USDA agent on its leash?

As the world is shrinking, though, many of the ingredients you can savor while traveling through the bel paese are now somewhat available in the United States — and more so on the Internet. Once you have developed a taste for something Italian that you cannot live without, rest assured that with a little research, chances are you can relive your tasteful experience back home, wherever that might be.

Whenever we travel to Fiesole, Italy, one of our excuses for bouncing around villages like pinballs is to taste all the new batches of the wines we are fond of, make notes of new ones we discover along the way and occasionally buy a couple of cases.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Wine and Cheese Bridal Shower

When my aunt offered to throw me a bridal shower in New York City, I didn’t hesitate with my venue selection. I’ve taken classes at the Artisinal Cheese Center before and always thought it would be a great place to have a party. Having been to my fair share of showers over the years, I thought it would be nice to have an activity weaved into the event (that would also help me avoid embarrassing shower games).

We started with a cocktail reception of sparkling wine, fondue and a few mild cheeses. Then, when everyone entered the room, we sat at round tables with a plate of cheese and a wine selection at each place setting. Two whites and two reds were featured: Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Pinot Noir and Malbec. I have a few pregnant friends and I wanted to make sure they were able to enjoy the experience as well, so the venue selected a variety of juices that they thought best reflected the wines that the rest of us were tasting.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Cocktails, Wine and Beer

I am getting married in 81 days. Yes, the countdown is on. And while I’ve been slowly trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to phase alcohol out of my wedding diet, I’m certainly looking forward to all of the options on the big day.

First, the signature cocktail. As I’m not a fan of naming my drink after myself, my fiance or my marriage, we’ll just be serving Sangria. Since stone fruit will be in season around Sept. 7, I’m going to serve a modified version of a traditional White Sangria (pictured above), adding in peaches and plums, if they are available. I suppose I could call it Wedding White Sangria, but it would taste exactly the same.

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Hump Day Snack: The Silence of the Lambs Wine

What pairs perfectly with a nice Chianti? Why liver and fava beans, of course. Inspired by the infamous Chianti slurper, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema recently unveiled the second installment in its signature wine series—The Silence of the Lambs varietals. (The first “Bottle of Wits,” inspired by The Princess Bride, debuted last year.)

The “Cannibal Chianti” is medium-bodied and well balanced with savory plum and tomato leaf notes, while the “Suit Yourself Pinot Grigio” is flavored with tropical peach, Mexican limes and just a hint of honey. Both are available by the bottle, or together in Lecter’s Package: The limited edition package comes with both bottles, a bottle of lotion (can you think of a better way to pay creepy homage to Buffalo Bill?), fava beans and a recipe from Alamo Drafthouse chef, Trish Eichelberger.

If you live near the Alamo Drafthouse location, don’t miss the Silence of the Lambs Feast featuring both varietals, fava beans served as a puree with fried chicken liver, plus Buffalo Bill’s skinless chicken wings in bacon fat and sriracha “lotion.” Check drafthouse.com for details.

How to Pair Wines With Sweets

The holiday season affords many opportunities for drinking — from seasonal cocktails and mulled cider to spiked cocoa and, of course, wine. With so many sweets-focused events, like cookie swaps and apps-and-dessert cocktail parties, it’s equally as important to pair wines correctly with dessert as it is with your Christmas ham.

First off: The rule of thumb when you’re pairing wine with sweets is that the wine should be sweeter than the food. (Ever been to a wedding where the Champagne was perfectly delicious until the cake was served? Now you know why.)

So that begs the questions: How sweet are we talking? Which wines are appropriate for your dessert soiree?

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Summer Wine and Food Pairings

Summer wine Pairings

It’s summer, which means it’s picnic season – and picnic season means it’s drinking-wine-outside season. Below, a couple classic summer dishes, along with our wine picks for each.

Corn Dog Wine Pairing

Pair corn dogs with Champagne because, well, why not?

The hot dog/bratwurst/sausage family presents a pairing conundrum. You can either pair wine with the meat itself – in which case, go with Merlot and call it a day – but it’s much more fun to pair with the toppings. Classic hot dog with ketchup? Merlot’s sweetness works nicely here. Bratwurst with onions and mustard? A buttery Chardonnay might work well with the sharp mustard and tangy onions. Italian sausage with peppers and onions? Cabernet or a higher-acid Italian red like Sangiovese would be great. Corn dog? Champagne. Just because.

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Thirsty Thursday: Pairing Wine With Summer Recipes

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Finally, a weekend without rain. It’s the perfect excuse to put together a food and wine party with friends. Serve nosh-friendly cheeses and charcuterie with a refreshing salad and an entree from the grill, all paired with wine. Cheers to online wine marketplace Lot18 for sharing refreshing ideas for the perfect pairings.

The Food: Friendly Cheeses (think chevre, pecorino and brie)
The Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Also Pairs Well With: Young goat cheese pairs well with Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc. An aged goat cheese is better paired with a more robust wine like Cabernet or Zinfandel.

Serve a friendly aged goat cheese or a young, creamy Comté (a nutty cow’s milk cheese) to start off dinner as these cheese won’t overwhelm your guests. Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with most varieties of goat cheese as well as with oysters and other seafood.

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Join Emeril at the Carnivale du Vin

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports the next generation of New Orleans chefs.

When Emeril isn’t in the kitchen, he’s busy helping his native New Orleans. From after-school and summer programs to innovative partnerships and events, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation has been striving to improve the quality of young people’s lives with grants for funding to children’s charities that assist in improving education, life skills development, hospitality and culinary training since 2002. 

The Foundation’s flagship event, Carnivale du Vin, an all-out celebration of the finest wines the world has to offer, has raised $10 million for the foundation since 2005. Emeril hosts the 6th annual Carnivale du Vin at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Grand Ballroom on Saturday, November 13, and it promises to be nothing short of amazing.

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Crushing: Orange Wines

Orange Wines -- A great get for your Halloween Party? Photograph by: Tom Censani

“That’s right: red, pink and white have company,” exclaimed a recent newsletter from the Chelsea Wine Vault. Laden with cartoony images of a wine glass filled with bright orange liquid and a grape vine dangling bright orange grapes, the newsletter featured an infamous, under-the-radar vino known as orange wine.  Save all judgment! Unlike gimmicky green beer sold on St. Pat’s Day, orange wine has a legitimate backstory…

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