Tag Archives: White Rioja

Fast wine pairings for quick meals

If your home life is anything like ours, you can relate to the recurring scene that plays out each night in our kitchens as we try to come up with dinner ideas that don’t require hours spent slaving over the stove.

The stack of “15 minute meals” cookbooks continues to grow as we try to keep our taste buds happy with meals that can be prepared quickly.

When it comes time to serve the gourmet meals, we don’t want to slow things down by weighing our wine pairing options.

To meet your quick preparation schedule we’re suggesting various wine selections for Ann Vogel’s “one dish wonders”.

Her Red Pepper Spiced Chicken Rigatoni recipe was tricky to find a perfect wine match in part because of the red pepper flakes, which add a kick to the dish, and also because it combines marinara and alfredo sauces.

But after reviewing our trusty “What to Drink With What You Eat” book by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, we think we’ve got a couple options that could work.

If you opt to lay on thick the red pepper flakes, we recommend selecting a dry Riesling or gewürztraminer, both white wines. The slight sweetness of these wines will balance the heat of the red pepper flakes, while complimenting the rich creaminess of the alfredo sauce.

There are a number of affordable options available at the grocery store for each of these varietals, thanks largely to Riesling being a widely planted grape in Washington.

Look to Pacific Rim, a Washington winery focused on making various styles of Riesling, or Chateau Ste. Michelle for affordable gewürztraminer options. And remember to buy dry, not sweet.

If you’re not into heat and you’d rather drink a red wine with the marinara dominated sauce, consider a barbera. This Italian wine has low tannins, making it a great pair for tomato-based sauces, and high acidity, which again will compliment the richness of the alfredo sauce.

For Vogel’s Quick Couscous Paella, because the ingredients are shellfish and chicken based, we recommend a white Rioja.

This Spanish wine is a perfect summer sipper, and seeing it’s from Spain — where Paella is served regularly — it’s only natural that it would be the perfect accompaniment. Look for Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco at the grocery store. It’s usually priced between $8 and $10, making it a great deal.

Rosé, a perfect match to summer grilling

Brynn and Mary write:

Last week’s brief bit of sunshine was a good reminder for all of us that, yes, it is technically spring. And with spring comes one of our favorite ways to prepare food: On the grill.

Not only do we like grilling because of the flavor it adds, but also because when you’re done enjoying your meal there’s minimal clean up required.

As Ann Vogel points out in her column, we in the Pacific Northwest have the luxury of choosing from land or sea what we want to throw on our grill. The variations of these dishes give the appearance of needing different wines, but we think we’ve got one varietal that can match them all.

When we hear shellfish, we gravitate to a lighter wine. However the Memorial Day Shellfish Boil, with its Old Bay seasoning, potatoes, kielbasa sausage, corn, crab and shrimp, calls for a wine that can stand up to the mélange of ingredients.

It is for this reason we recommend a Rosé. Don’t freak out, we’re not asking you to drink a White Zinfandel like your grandma. We’re talking about a real Rosé — one that embodies the subtle flavors of the red wine it could have been.

For those unfamiliar with Rosés (or should we say, unfamiliar with well-made Rosés?) it’s a pink wine that varies in color from light to ruby. The color depends on the grape and how long the juice is allowed to mingle with the skins — the longer they sit together in the fermentation vat, the darker the color.

The wine varies in style from bone dry to syrupy sweet, so look to the alcohol content for direction. (Remember: the higher the percentage, the dryer the wine.)

Rosés are fruitier upfront — think strawberry, cherry, raspberry and watermelon — with negligible tannins. They are food-friendly wines, which is why we suggest them as the perfect pairing for Vogel’s seafood medley. If you’re grilling for a large party and including a mix of seafood, chicken and beef, Rosé is the wine to chill and serve.

A few of our favorites include:

  • Barnard Griffin 2010 Reserve Rosé of Sangiovese: Dry, but with gorgeous watermelon fruit flavors and full-bodied.
  • Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois Rosé: Another dry full-bodied Rosé, fruit-laden with raspberries, strawberries and a silky finish.

These wines are around $12.

Rosé should be served chilled — as in very, very chilled — and makes a nice compromise for those trying to decide between white or red.

If you’re looking to stick strictly in the shellfish department and have visions of enjoying grilled oysters with Vogel’s Cilantro-Lime dipping sauce, we’d recommend a white Rioja or white Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These wines will bring an acidity and crispness to the dish that will go well with the dipping sauce.

We recommend the Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco, which retails for about $10 or less.