Blog

Wine & Food: Big and Bold Flavours

This month, we present you with four easy-to-make dishes with bold flavours. Comfort food that really packs a punch. We’re all naturally drawn to outspoken flavours because they satisfy our senses – it’s “feel good” fare. When pairing a wine with these dishes, dare to be bold too. Keep the elegant, delicate wines bottled up and crack open the more outspoken, fuller-bodied wines that are higher in alcohol.

What Are Big and Bold Flavours in Food and Wine (and Why Do We Love Them?)

Food-wise, “bold flavours” are a little hard to define, yet everybody knows what they mean. Big and boldly-flavoured food incorporates an abundance of different flavours and textures, all in one dish: sugar, salt, acid, spice, and of course, that wonderful umami, or “savoury” sensation. On top: richness from proteins and fat, or smokey, roasted flavours from the preparation method. Bold food is loud (if it could make noise) and exuberant. This type of food prompts the brain to release endorphins, our “feel-good hormones” – a highly rewarding experience. All in moderation, obviously. 

When pairing food with wine, one thing to always keep in mind is “balance” – rich, palate-coating, intense foods need an equally pronounced wine or the dish will completely overpower the wine. Bold foods need bold wines – complex, acidic, and relatively high in alcohol. For each of these bold dishes below, we give you a wine direction, and a specific bottle to try. Enjoy, and remember: often, more is definitely more.

Cajun Garlic Shrimp

Cajun-seasoned shrimp on a wooden board with a lime wedge

Deliciously garlicky, buttery, and slightly spicy shrimp: this is no delicate seafood dish. A fuller-bodied white blend would make for an exuberant pairing. This is a starter that comes together in minutes.

Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Thighs

Honey-soy glazed chicken thighs with fresh green onions and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Slightly sweet, and with a nice umami kick, these flavourful chicken thighs are hard to resist. As is finding a perfect wine pairing, despite being told that wine doesn’t go with soy sauce! Step outside of your comfort zone and try pairing a wine with this Asian-inspired dish featuring a glaze made with soy sauce and honey.

Mushroom Blue Cheese Burgers

Juicy hamburger with onion and mushroom topping with blue cheese crumbles.

Mushroom blue cheese is the boldest of burgers. Earthy, salty, slightly fatty: only a wine with serious moxie could be its companion. We recommend a big, bold, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vegan Baked Beans

A bold dish doesn’t need to include meat or fish – miso, maple syrup, garlic, smoked paprika, and other seasonings make this dish a real flavour bomb. It needs a fruit-forward wine with a bright acidity!


Vegan Baked Beans Recipe and Wine Pairing

A bold dish doesn’t need to include meat or fish – miso, maple syrup, garlic, smoked paprika, and other seasonings make these vegan baked beans a real flavour bomb. It needs a fruit-forward wine with a bright acidity!

These vegan baked beans require a little prep work: ten minutes tops, after which this dish essentially makes itself. Beans soaked overnight yield the best results, but we won’t judge you if you decide to use canned beans instead. Prepare a big batch – these baked beans are perfect for reheating, and even taste better the next day, or even the day after that!

Sweet, savoury, smoky: the dish is a summer barbecue classic, but go ahead and make it year-round!

Vegan Baked Beans Recipe and Wine Pairing

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: SidesCuisine: North-AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g navy beans

  • 1.5-2 l low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 5 tbsp white miso

  • 5 tbsp maple syrup

  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

  • Optional: 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced

  • 1 onion, small-diced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Directions

  • Rinse beans and let them soak overnight in a large pot of water.
  • Drain beans and add them to a large pot with 1.5 litre broth. Bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat for around 45-60 minutes until the beans are tender. Add more broth if beans start to look dry.
  • In a bowl, whisk the miso, maple syrup, vinegar, dry spices, and soy sauce (and optionally, if you like it a bit spicy, the chipotle pepper) together.
  • Preheat the oven to 175 ºC (350 ºF).
  • Heat olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan. Cook the onion over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the onion, garlic, and ginger to a casserole dish. Add the spice mixture and the beans and combine everything well.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Before serving, taste and further season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Wine Pairings

  • En La Parra Red
    There’s red fruit galore on the intense nose of this wine, led by cherry, plum, and strawberry. Bobal’s characteristic bright acidity is on full display in this wine, with plenty of youthful red fruit flavours and a surprising structure. It has grainy tannins, a firm texture, and a dry finish. Perfect for this dish with a real bite to it!

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Wine Pairing: En La Parra Red

There’s red fruit galore on the intense nose of this wine, led by cherry, plum, and strawberry. Bobal’s characteristic bright acidity is on full display in this wine, with plenty of youthful red fruit flavours and a surprising structure. It has grainy tannins, a firm texture, and a dry finish. Perfect for this dish with a real bite to it!

Want to continue to enjoy outspoken food flavours and wines that make them shine? This recipe is one of four bold dishes that celebrate big and exciting flavours. Try out these Cajun Garlic Shrimp next!

If you are feeling bold, join WineCollective today. You’ll get a selection of curated wines that are only available to WineCollective members delivered to your door each month, accompanied by wine pairing suggestions so that you can continue to explore new and exciting flavour experiences.


Mushroom Blue Cheese Burgers Recipe & Pairing

Mushroom blue cheese burgers are seriously bold and seriously irresistible. It’s in the combination of flavours: the earthiness of the mushrooms, the slightly sweet, caramelized onions, the tang and creaminess of blue cheese and of course, the salty, slightly fatty beef. Add a little arugula for crunch, serve on slightly toasted burger patties and voilà: dinner is sorted.

For best results, grill these burgers on an outdoor or indoor barbecue or grill, but a hot skillet on a stovetop would work well, too. If you serve these at your next barbecue party, make sure to prepare generous quantities, as everybody will wolf them down within minutes.

Now, what wine could stand up to these mushroom blue cheese burgers? You need a wine with serious moxie: fuller-bodied and relatively high in alcohol. The salty, fatty meat will smoothen out the tannins in the wine, making the fruit shine. Go for a big, bold red, like a Californian red blend.

Mushroom Blue Cheese Burgers Recipe & Pairing

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: Main courseCuisine: North-AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes


To make these burgers, use high-quality ground beef with a high fat content. Heat up the outdoor grill if the weather allows, but an indoor grill (or a frying pan) works, too.

Ingredients

  • For the onion and mushroom topping
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 6 thyme sprigs, leaves

  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 tsp coarse mustard

  • For the burger:
  • 500 g ground beef

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 small onion, coarsely grated

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • optional: Worcestershire Sauce, to taste

  • To assemble:
  • 4 hamburger or brioche buns

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 2 handfuls arugula

  • 1/2 cup soft blue cheese

Directions

  • For the mushroom and onion topping, melt the butter in a medium frying pan. Cook the onion slices over low heat, around 8 minutes until they are tender and caramelized. Add the garlic and thyme leaves, sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add the mushroom slices, season to taste with mustard, salt and pepper and sauté for another 7-8 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.
  • In a large bowl, mix the beef, egg, onion, bread crumbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper (and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce). Form patties with your hands.
  • On a preheated, lightly greased grill, grill patties over medium heat, turning once, until cooked through (around 4 to 5 minutes per side).
  • Halve hamburger buns and spread some butter on both halves. Lightly toast them on a grill.
  • To assemble, add a bit of arugula to a bun half, followed by a hamburger patty and a few spoons of onion and mushroom topping. Generously crumble the blue cheese on top. Finish with the top half of the bun.

Wine Pairing

  • Brass Tacks Red Blend
    The rich fruit flavours in this approachable red blend are perfect for the bold hamburger, it’s a real crowd-pleaser with backbone. Plush and soft, with nicely ripened blue and red fruits.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Wine pairing: Brass Tacks Red Blend

The rich fruit flavours in this approachable red wine are perfect for the bold hamburger. A blend of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Merlot, it’s a real crowd-pleaser with backbone. Plush and soft, with nicely ripened blue and red fruits.

Want to continue to impress with bold food flavours and wines that make them bolder? This recipe is one of four bold dishes that celebrate big and exciting flavours. Try out these Vegan Baked Beans next!

If you are feeling bold, join WineCollective today. You’ll get a selection of curated wines that are only available to WineCollective members delivered to your door each month, accompanied by wine pairing suggestions so that you can continue to explore new and exciting flavour experiences.


Honey-Soy-Glazed Chicken Thighs Recipe & Pairing

You may have heard that you can’t pair wine with soy sauce, or likewise with Asian dishes like honey-soy-glazed chicken thighs. But with wine pairings, there are always exceptions! It’s possible to find a wine that perfectly complements the intensity of flavours.

Soy sauce has a lot of savoury umami, saltiness and a little bit of sourness. It can make some wines taste flabby. Saltiness in a dish can magnify the influence of tannins in red wines, and accentuate acidity in white wines. If you’re trying to find a matching wine for bold dishes like these honey-soy-glazed chicken thighs, go for unoaked whites that are medium-bodied (otherwise the dish will completely overpower them) or unoaked, lighter-bodied reds. A nice acidity will cleanse the palate in between bites.

Honey-Soy-Glazed Chicken Thighs

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: MainDifficulty: Easy
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Slightly sweet, and with a nice umami kick, these flavourful chicken thighs are hard to resist.

Make sure to properly mix the ingredients in the marinade. The longer you marinate the chicken thighs, the better. Make sure you cover the bowl with foil and place it in the fridge if you’re going to marinate the chicken overnight. 

During the baking time, flip the chicken thighs over a few times to make sure the meat is not drying out – basting is also an option!

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp honey

  • 6 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp sesame oil

  • 1.2 kg chicken thighs

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 lemon, in wedges

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix the honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, vinegar and sesame oil. Mix the marinade well.
  • Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the bowl, cover and marinade for at least 30 minutes or longer (or overnight in the fridge).
  • Preheat the oven to 200 ºC (425 ºF).
  • Add the chicken thighs and marinade to a large baking dish, cook for about 25 minutes until cooked through, flipping over the chicken twice during cooking to prevent the chicken from drying out.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds, green onion slices, and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Wine Pairings

  • Nelias Godello
    Godello’s signature aroma is lime, and it’s on full display in this vibrant white. It’s medium-bodied and fresh on the palate, with a focussed beam of acidity that runs through the wine. The finish is dry and mouth-wateringly bright, with a balancing creaminess and weight thanks to the time on lees.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Wine Pairing: Nelias Godello

Godello’s signature aroma is lime, and it’s on full display in this vibrant white. The wine is medium-bodied and fresh on the palate, with a focussed beam of acidity that runs through the wine. The finish is dry and mouth-wateringly bright, with a balancing creaminess and weight thanks to the time on lees.

Want to continue to push the envelope with bold food flavours and wines that make them bolder? This recipe is one of four bold dishes that celebrate loud and exuberant flavours and their ideal wine matches. Try out these Mushroom Blue Cheese Burgers next!

If you are feeling bold, join WineCollective today. You’ll get a selection of curated wines that are only available to WineCollective members delivered to your door each month, accompanied by wine pairing suggestions so that you can continue to explore new and exciting flavour experiences.


Cajun Garlic Shrimp Recipe & Pairing

Developed over centuries of adapting to different environments, living off of the land, and cooking what was available, Cajun cuisine has become one of the boldest (and yummiest) we can think of! These Cajun Garlic Shrimp are impossible to resist.

Canadian Origins to Cajun Cuisine

The Acadian people settled in the maritimes as early as the 1600s, and adapted French peasant-style recipes to work with anything they could catch or gather near their settlements. This meant hearty stews of meat and veg cooked in a single pot – and would have featured Atlantic cod, lobster, salmon, potatoes and carrots. 

In 1755, after refusing to pledge allegiance to the British, the Acadians were forced to leave Canada. Many made their way to the Southern United States and settled in Louisiana, where they again adapted their simple dishes to include anything that they could catch or gather in their new environment. This meant shrimp, crawfish, catfish and even alligator became their new seafood staples, and instead of potatoes and carrots, they started to use rice and bell peppers – and even cayenne!

But wait – thought we were talking about Cajun food, not Acadian food? Try saying ‘Acadian’ with a French accent – sounds kind of like ‘Cajun’, right? Now you know a little bit about our Maritime history in Canada, and where this delicious hearty and spicy Cajun dish comes from. Now you can try it for yourself!

Cajun Garlic Shrimp

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: StarterCuisine: CajunDifficulty: Easy
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

Deliciously garlicky, buttery, and slightly spicy shrimp: this is no delicate seafood dish. A fuller-bodied white blend would make for an exuberant wine pairing. This is a starter that comes together in minutes.

Make sure not to overcook the shrimp: they should be opaque but not chewy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 500 g shrimp, peeled

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 lime, in wedges

Directions

  • Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, garlic, and lemon juice.
  • Melt butter in a medium-sized frying pan. Over medium heat, add the sauce and whisk together until it thickens a bit.
  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add them to the pan and cook until they are no longer translucent. Don’t overcook!
  • Garnish with spring onion slices and serve with a wedge of lime.

Wine Pairings

  • Il Poggione Bianco di Toscana
    Vermentino is a fantastic complement to Chardonnay, lending refreshing acidity and minerality to Chardonnay’s fruit-driven weight. The absence of oak makes this bright and vibrant, with plenty of juicy fruit flavours and just a hint of citrusy zest.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Want to continue to tantalize your taste buds with bold food flavours and wines that make them bolder? This recipe is one of four bold dishes that celebrate loud and exuberant flavours. Try out these Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Thighs next!

If you are feeling bold, join WineCollective today. You’ll get a selection of curated wines that are only available to WineCollective members delivered to your door each month, accompanied by wine pairing suggestions so that you can continue to explore new and exciting flavour experiences.


Vegetable Lasagne Recipe

Traditionally, lasagne is made layering ragù, a rich tomato-based meat sauce, fresh pasta, and creamy Béchamel sauce. This vegetable lasagne recipe substitutes the traditional meat for tons of veggies. Make sure to cook the vegetables slowly and thoroughly – they’ll become nicely caramelized and very flavourful. Together with the creamy Béchamel and cheese, the result is ultra satisfying.

Lasagne, the Italian classic that we all know and love was invented during the Middle Ages – without tomatoes, of course, because those didn’t show up until centuries later. It’s believed that tomatoes found their way to Italy by the 1550s, in gardens, but not yet on tables. Long considered a “poor people’s food”, tomatoes didn’t become a national pride until the after WW II.

A rosé would pair wonderfully with this vegetable lasagne – it has a good acidity to cut through the richness of the dish, but with enough body to match the dish’s flavours. Try the Giuliana Vicini Rosato. Juicy red-fruit notes are the star of the show for this fresh, vibrant rosé. There are flavours of wild strawberry and red cherry, candied watermelon, blood orange, and hints wet stone, with a dry and refreshing finish, balanced acidity and subtle creaminess. 

Vegetable Lasagne Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: MainCuisine: Italian
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the lasagne
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed under your knife

  • 4 tomatoes, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, minced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, minced

  • 1 eggplant, diced

  • 2 zucchini, diced

  • 1 handful fresh oregano, roughly chopped

  • 200 g Emmentaler, cubed

  • 60 g Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano)

  • For the Béchamel sauce
  • 1 l milk

  • 100 g all-purpose flour

  • 100 g butter

  • Extra needed
  • oven dish

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. After 2 minutes, add the tomato. Fry for another 2 minutes, then add the eggplant. After a couple of minutes more, add the bell pepper and the zucchini. Season with salt.
  • Remove the garlic, then turn down the heat and let the vegetables cook for 15 minutes. Try not to add water, but add a few spoons if the vegetables start to stick. Add fresh oregano towards the end.
  • In the meantime, prepare the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan and stir in the flour. Toast for a couple of minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. Add the milk while stirring and slowly bring to a boil. Keep stirring until you have a medium-thick sauce.
  • Start assembling. Add a spoon of béchamel to the bottom of an oven dish and spread it out. On top, a layer of pasta sheets, vegetables and cheese cubes, then another spoon of béchamel, followed by another layer of pasta, vegetables, cheese and béchamel. Repeat until you’ve used all ingredients. Finish with a layer of béchamel and sprinkle Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
  • Cook in a preheated oven at 180 ºC (350 ºF) for 25-30 minutes. Slide under the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese. 

Wine Pairings

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Want to explore more of what Italy has to offer? This recipe is one of four amazing dishes that highlight some of our favourite wines from the region. The eggplant parmigiana is the next recipe on our list, what about you?

If you want access to more amazing wine and food pairings and content like this, subscribe to our monthly wine subscription box. You’ll receive 2, 4, or 6 expertly curated wines delivered to your door every month. They even come with tasting notes, wine information and more amazing recipes just like this!


Sformato di Spinaci Recipe

A “sformato” is the Italian word for a savoury flan. It’s easy to make, but has a sophisticated look to it. You’ll find sformati all over Italy, often incorporating seasonal vegetables with ricotta and a type of local cheese. This sformato di spinaci has spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano.

The ramekins with the spinach filling are placed in a roasting tray with hot water (au bain marie). This ensures even cooking and prevents the sformati from drying out.

Served with a rich cheese cream, a sformato di spinaci is great as an easy, festive starter. Pair with an unoaked Italian white, such as the Vallena Soave. The wine, made from the indigenous grape Garganega, is dry and light-bodied on the palate, with energetic acidity and a long, mouthwatering finish. Orchard fruits dominate both on the nose and the palate: peach and apple, along with pear and nectarine. 

For the Parmigiano cream, slowly bring cream to a boil in a non-stick saucepan. Mix the Parmigiano Reggiano in until smooth.

Sformato di Spinaci Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: StarterCuisine: Italian
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the sformati
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 300 g spinach

  • 2 eggs

  • 200 g ricotta

  • 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated (or Grana Padano)

  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 1 pinch nutmeg

  • 20 g pine nuts, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp whole milk

  • 1 knob butter

  • breadcrumbs

  • For the Parmigiano cream topping:
  • 200 ml heavy cream

  • 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated (or Grana Padano)

  • Also needed:
  • 4 ramekins (7 cm in diameter)

  • roasting pan

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF).
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, and wilt the spinach over medium heat. In a sieve, squeeze as much liquid out as possible and chop it finely.
  • In a bowl, mix the eggs, ricotta, grated cheese, flour and spinach, and season with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the pine nuts, a tablespoon of milk and mix until you have a homogeneous mixture.
  • Grease 4 ramekins with butter and dust a fine layer of breadcrumbs over the butter. Fill them up with the spinach mixture and place them in a roasting pan that is filled with hot water until two thirds of the ramekins’ height. Place the roasting pan carefully in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
  • Take the roasting pan out of the oven (careful there’s hot steam!) and take the ramekins out of the water. Let the sformati cool before taking them out of the ramekins with a knife.
  • For the Parmigiano cream, slowly bring cream to a boil in a non-stick saucepan. Mix the Parmigiano Reggiano in until smooth.
  • Serve each sformato di spinaci with a spoonful of Parmigiano cream on top. Optional: to garnish, add a leaf of fresh herbs and dust with paprika powder.

Wine Pairings

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Want to explore more of what Italy has to offer? This recipe is one of four amazing dishes that highlight some of our favourite wines from the region. The vegetable lasagne is the next recipe on our list, what about you?

If you want access to more amazing wine and food pairings and content like this, subscribe to our monthly wine subscription box. You’ll receive 2, 4, or 6 expertly curated wines delivered to your door every month. They even come with tasting notes, wine information and more amazing recipes just like this!


Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

Looking for a wine-derous eggplant parmigiana recipe? This one will delight your taste buds and accompany that amazing bottle that you’ve been waiting to crack open. If you aren’t sure what wine to pair your eggplant parmigiana with, we suggest a southern Italian red wine.

This recipe is inspired by tradition, and is part of a series of recipes that we have put together this month celebrating the theme: “what grows together, goes together”. When we think of a wine region where food and wine both grow together and pair amazingly well with one another, Italy comes to mind instantly. A land of vineyards, olive groves, and fields of grain – can anyone say ‘Pasta!’? – Italy is home to some amazing traditional dishes that pair with some of our favourite wines.

Let’s start with the classic eggplant parmigiana.

Eggplant Parmigiana

0 from 0 votes
Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

45

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes

Claimed by both Campania and Sicily, this is a Southern Italian classic. Sliced and pan-fried silky eggplant, layered in a rich tomato sauce, generously topped with cheese and baked in the oven. It’s pure decadence!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg peeled tomatoes (canned or fresh)

  • 1 kg eggplant

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 300 g mozzarella, cubed

  • 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves

  • All-purpose flour

  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan and add the peeled tomatoes. Break them up with a spoon, add balsamic vinegar and season to taste. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, slice eggplant lengthwise into 2 to 3 mm thick slices. Coat the slices in a thin layer of flour. Fry them in an abundant amount of vegetable oil. Add them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil.
  • Add a thin layer of tomato sauce to a rectangular baking dish. Continue with a layer of fried eggplant, grated Parmigiano, a few basil leaves and cubed mozzarella. Add another layer of eggplant, Parmigiano, basil leaves and mozzarella and continue layering like this until you’ve used all ingredients. Finish with a layer of sauce and Parmigiano.
  • Cook in a preheated oven at 200 ºC (400 ºF) for about 20 minutes. Slide under the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

Wine Pairings

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Want to explore more of what Italy has to offer? This recipe is one of four amazing dishes that highlight some of our favourite wines from the region. The asparagus arancini is the next recipe on our list, what about you?

If you want access to more amazing wine and food pairings and content like this, subscribe to our monthly wine subscription box. You’ll receive 2, 4, or 6 expertly curated wines delivered to your door every month. They even come with tasting notes, wine information and more amazing recipes just like this!


Asparagus Arancini Recipe

Sicily is the birthplace of a wonderful invention called the arancino (or plural: arancini). Deep-fried carby finger food, what’s not to love? These rice balls are traditionally stuffed with meat, but in this version they have a mixture of asparagus, ham and cheese in their core.

Deep fry them (in a frying pan or air fryer) in batches of 4 or 5 balls at a time. Toss them gently over while frying. This will ensure even cooking and a nice, golden brown hue. Let the asparagus arancini drain on paper towel and cool off a little bit before you let your guests dig in (we know they can’t wait).

Serve this delicious starter as an aperitivo with a Sicilian white wine, such as the Scio Bianco. Its refreshing acidity will cleanse the palate in between sips.

Asparagus Arancini Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by WineCollective Course: AppetizersCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Difficult
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4-6

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes

Sicily is the birthplace of a wonderful invention called the arancino (or plural: arancini). Deep-fried carby finger food, what’s not to love? These rice balls are traditionally stuffed with meat, but in this version they have a mixture of asparagus, ham and cheese in their core.

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 60 g butter

  • 400 g Arborio rice

  • 1 l chicken or vegetable stock

  • 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

  • 2 eggs

  • 100 g breadcrumbs

  • 150 g fresh asparagus, cleaned and finely sliced

  • 1 thick slice of cooked ham, small diced (leave out for a vegetarian version)

  • 100 g firm mozzarella, small-diced

Directions

  • Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan and brown the onion for a few minutes. Mix in the rice and stir until all grains are glistening and the rice is slightly toasted. Add the wine and the broth in small pours: Stir until all liquid is absorbed before adding a new pour, until the rice is creamy, but still ‘al dente’ (you might have to add less broth). Add the Parmigiano and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out the rice on a plate and let it cool fully.
  • In the meantime, fry the asparagus in a little olive oil for around 10 minutes. Let it cool and add the ham and cheese cubes. This is your filling!
  • Wet your hands, and form rice balls the size of peaches. With your index finger, poke a hole to the core, add a spoonful of filling and close the ball tightly again.
  • Crack the eggs in a bowl and lightly beat them. Fill another bowl with breadcrumbs. Dip each ball in the egg, then roll it in breadcrumbs to form an equal coating.
  • Heat a good amount of vegetable oil in a deep-fryer (or air-fryer) or frying pan (the balls need to be submerged). Deep fry the arancini for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown (don’t overcrowd the frying pan, but fry in batches of 4 or 5 arancini at a time). Add them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain off excess oil. Serve the arancini while hot.

Wine Pairings

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @winecollective on Instagram and hashtag it #CookWithWineCollective

Like this recipe?

Follow us @winecollective on Pinterest

Want more great recipes?

Like us on Facebook

Want to explore more of what Italy has to offer? This recipe is one of four amazing dishes that highlight some of our favourite dishes and wines from the region. The sformato di spinaci is the next recipe on our list, what about you?

If you want access to more amazing wine and food pairings and content like this, subscribe to our monthly wine subscription box. You’ll receive 2, 4, or 6 expertly curated wines delivered to your door every month. They even come with tasting notes, wine information and more amazing recipes just like this!


Wine & Food: Italian Regional Recipes and Pairings

No country embodies the saying “What grows together, goes together” more than Italy. Throughout history, its regional cuisines have been able to develop alongside its local wines. It’s hard to go wrong with Italian regional recipes and their regional wines. So, pick a regional dish, a local wine, and have a feast!

What Grows Together, Goes Together

First, let’s go into the meaning of the famous saying. What does “If it grows together, goes together” mean? And does this rule of thumb really apply when it comes to food and wine pairings? The short answer is: Yes, it does. Think about some regional Italian classics: a Nebbiolo with an Ossobuco (braised veal shanks) or a Chianti with wild boar pappardelle. Just like wine, many foods have a sense of place – they are expressions of soil, climate and topography of a region. Regional dishes developed from whatever ingredients were available, and wine styles evolved in sync with culinary traditions.

Four Italian Regional Recipes to Try

We picked four Italian regional dishes: two starters and two main courses – and give a wine suggestion for each dish.

asparagus arancini

Asparagus Arancini

Sicily is the birthplace of a wonderful invention called the arancino (or plural: arancini). Deep-fried carby finger food, what’s not to love? These rice balls are stuffed with asparagus, ham and cheese.

Deep fry them (in a frying pan or air fryer) in batches of 4 or 5 balls at a time. This will ensure even cooking and a nice, golden brown hue. Let them cool off a little bit before digging in.

Serve this delicious starter as an aperitivo with a Sicilian white wine, such as the Scio Bianco. Its refreshing acidity will cleanse the palate in between sips.

sformato di spinaci with cheese cream on a blue plate

Sformato di Spinaci

A “sformato” is the Italian word for a savoury flan. It’s easy to make, but has a sophisticated look to it. You’ll find sformati all over Italy, often incorporating seasonal vegetables with ricotta and a type of local cheese. This one has spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano.

The ramekins with the spinach filling are placed in a roasting tray with hot water (au bain marie). This ensures even cooking and prevents the sformati from drying out.

Served with a rich cheese cream, these sformati are great as an easy, festive starter. Pair with an unoaked Italian white, such as the Vallena Soave.

Vegetable Lasagne

The Italian classic that we all know and love was invented during the Middle Ages – without tomatoes, of course, because those didn’t show up until centuries later. This recipe substitutes the traditional meat for tons of veggies.

Make sure to cook the vegetables slowly and thoroughly – they’ll become nicely caramelised and very flavourful. Together with the creamy Béchamel and cheese, the result is ultra satisfying.

A rosé would pair wonderfully with the vegetable flavours – a good acidity to cut through the richness of the dish, but with enough body to match the dish’s flavours. Try the Giuliana Vicini Rosato.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Claimed by both Campania and Sicily, this is a Southern Italian classic. Sliced and pan-fried silky eggplant, layered in a rich tomato sauce, generously topped with cheese and baked in the oven. It’s pure decadence!

Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce and a green salad. A wine that would be great to pop open with this dish? Try the Cirò Classico Superiore from Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot).


Wine & Food: Celebrate Spring Recipes

Lighter textures and delicate, green flavours: these spring recipes embody the season! Keep the bold reds in the cellar and accompany the food with refreshing white wines.

Spring Recipes to Pair with Fresh Whites:

Vignarola

White Bean Vegetable Stew

Poached Halibut in a Lemon-Herb Broth

Pasta Primavera

Vignarola 

Vignarola is a vegetable dish from Rome that screams ‘It’s spring! It’s spring!’ Use the freshest, greenest vegetables you can find for the brightest result.

Serves 4

What You’ll Need

  • 2 large or 4 small artichokes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 160 gr pancetta, cubed
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 100 gr green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 300 gr fresh garden peas
  • 300 gr fresh fava beans
  • handful of chopped fresh green herbs such as mint, marjoram, parsley

What to do

  1. Clean the artichokes: cut the stem short, remove the outer, harder leaves and remove the hairy ‘beard’ in the core. Cut off a good part of the spikes as well, about 1.5 centimeters, leaving only the soft, edible flower. Cut the artichoke vertically into strips, keeping the leaves at the heart intact.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the pancetta over low heat. After a few minutes, add the spring onions. Add the artichoke strips, the green beans, the wine and broth and let it all simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the peas, fava beans and fresh herbs and braise for another 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but not overcooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

What to Pair

Pair Vignarola with Barba Pecorino

White Bean Vegetable Stew

The second of our featured spring recipes, this vegan dish is hearty without being heavy. Prepare it in advance and add the last touches of brightness just before dinner. 

Serves 4

What you’ll need

  • 750 gr (3 cups) dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained OR 3 cans beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, small-diced
  • 1 large carrot, small-diced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 l vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 sage leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • ½ pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lemon, other half cut into wedges
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced

What to do

  1. In a large thick-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion with the carrot and celery until they begin to soften. 
  2. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the beans. 
  3. Add the broth, 1 litre water, herbs and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cover. Simmer for around 30 minutes, then add the mushrooms. 
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes more, until the beans are tender and soft. At this point, check often to see if the beans need more water. 
  5. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley, and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Serving tip: This stew is delicious with toasted garlic bread.

What to Pair

Pair White Bean Vegetable Stew with Nelias Godello

 

Poached Halibut in a Lemon-Herb Broth

One of our favourite spring recipes is easy too! Poaching is a simple way to prepare white fish, with a broth that imparts a delicate flavour. Serve this with fresh green beans and crusty bread to mop up the tasty liquid. 

What you’ll need

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 l broth (vegetable or fish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 10 black peppercorns (whole)
  • 4 halibut filets
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

What to do

  1. Zest 2 of the lemons and juice them. Add zest and juice to a frying pan with a lid. Add stock, broth, garlic, thyme and peppercorns to the skillet and bring to a boil. 
  2. Season fish filets with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Cover with the lid and turn the heat off. Let the fish sit in the broth until it is cooked through (9-12 minutes) – the flesh should be firm and no longer translucent. Transfer the filets to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. 
  3. Sieve the poaching broth and transfer the liquid back to the frying pan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat off. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the broth over 4 bowls, then place a filet in each bowl. Cut 1 lemon into wedges and garnish each bowl with a wedge, some capers and fresh parsley. 

What to Pair

Pair Poached Halibut with Lemon-Herb Broth with Stafford Lodge Sauvignon Blanc

Pasta Primavera

pasta primavera

Despite its Italian-sounding name, this retro spring recipe was presumably conceived in Canada in the late 1970s – a mix of butter, cream and cheese with lightly cooked vegetables and pasta. 

What You’ll Need

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, hard parts removed
  • 150 gr (1 cup) green peas
  • 400 g fusilli (or other pasta)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 gr (2 cups) mushrooms 
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 100 ml chicken broth
  • 15-20 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Handful flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 150 ml (around ½ cup) heavy cream
  • 100 gr grated parmigiano reggiano/pecorino

What to do

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the asparagus for 1-2 minutes, then take the spears out with a slotted spoon or tongs. Cut them into bite-sized pieces. In the same water, boil the broccoli florets for 3 minutes, then remove them and let them cool. If you’re using fresh peas, cook these for 2-3 minutes as well. 
  2. Dump the water, then bring another large pot of generously salted water to a boil (using the vegetable water will impart an off-flavour). Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions. 
  3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sear the mushrooms over high heat. Add butter, garlic and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the green vegetables, the chicken broth and bring to a boil. 
  4. Add the fresh herbs, pasta, cheese and ⅔ of the cream. Stir to combine, add the rest of the cream if the sauce seems too dry. Finish off with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Note: you can also use diced zucchini or green beans. Remember to cook them separately for a few minutes in the boiling water, just like the other green vegetables.

What to Pair

Pair Pasta Primavera with Château du Vieux Parc Cuvée l’Héritage Blanc

Love These Spring Recipes?

Members get access to recipes, wine pairings and exclusive pricing in our online store, not to mention the amazing selection of wine they receive direct to their door each month!


Three Easy Dinner Recipes for Two: A Date Night In!

Trying to come up with original dinner recipes for two can be hard. Especially when you’re cooking for your special someone. Even the most seasoned chefs will sometimes find them asking themselves what to quickly whip up for dinner.

Whether you’re looking for a quick and simple recipe to put together, or an easy three-course meal for you and your boo, look no further! We’ve put together a simple appetizer, entreé and dessert that you can whip up for dinner in no time at all. We’ve also included wine pairings that you can order through the WineCollective store to be delivered in time for your romantic evening at home. 

Appetizer Recipe: Burrata Cheese Platter

A photo of a shared burrata cheese platter. Surrounding the ball of cheese is tomatoes and spring greens drizzled in a balsamic glaze. A quick appetizer recipe

What’s a great and easy dinner recipe that you can throw together a couple of hours in advance, and have it ready when you are? This one of course! The best part is that you can prepare this platter in under 10 minutes!

That means more time for your special date! Burrata cheese is an Italian cow’s milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. While the outer layer is solid, break into it and you’ll receive a creamy, spreadable surprise. Yum! 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ball fresh burrata
  • Spring mix greens
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic glaze
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers
  • Mix of olives
  • Pickled beets
  • Flakey salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

What to do:

  • Place the ball of burrata in the centre of the serving platter. Surround the ball with the spring mix greens, and cover the platter as well. 
  • Add and arrange the roasted red peppers, olives, beets, and tomatoes.
  • Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic glaze over the platter. Sprinkle flaky salt + ground black pepper, to taste.
  • Serve with your favourite sliced artisan bread or pre-made crisps.

Looking for the perfect bottle of wine?

Pair it with a Pinot Blanc like this one.

Entree Recipe: Steak and Chimichurri 

A platter of seared steak that is cut against the grain and served with chimichurri sauce. A classic dinner recipe

A quick and easy dinner for two but one that is decadent and full of flavour! A cast-iron seared steak with a flavourful chimichurri sauce that packs a punch of flavour in a bite. You can make the sauce ahead of time so it can develop in flavour, then sear the steak when ready to serve!

Made with parsley, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar, and oil, it is so simple and quick – but arguably one of the best sauces for steak. Try it and you’ll want a side of chimichurri every time you have steak.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of tightly packed parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup (65 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Steak (flank, hanger or skirt)
  • Oil to sear steak (preferably with a high smoke point)
  • You might also need: A meat thermometer

What to do:

  • Start by making the sauce. Add all of the ingredients except for the oil into a food processor and pulse until it looks finely chopped, but not a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this with a hand/immersion blender too.
  • Add the oil and mix. 
  • Allow to rest for at least an hour before serving. 
  • When ready to serve, heat your oil until it is almost smoking, then pan-sear the steak in a cast-iron skillet for two minutes on each side or until the centre of the steak reads a temperature of 125 ºF (around 50 ºC).
  • Rest your steak for 5-7 minutes before slicing against the grain into strips and serve on a platter. 
  • Enjoy with the chimichurri sauce.

Looking for the perfect bottle of wine?

Pair it with a Monastrell or Syrah like this one

Dessert Recipe: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

A board of chocolate-covered strawberries with white chocolate drizzle on them. A dessert recipe to enjoy after dinner.

Chocolate-covered strawberries look elegant and are simply irresistible. Yet they’re one of the easiest and cheapest desserts to make. They’re also customisable, and you can add your favourite toppings to them while the chocolate is still wet. Prepare these in advance and store them in the fridge uncovered for a day, or, if you are serving on the same day, feel free to set them outside away from heat and sunlight until you’re ready to dive in!

What you’ll need:

  • 5 ounces (140 g) of baking chocolate chips (you can use bittersweet, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate)
  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries with the stems attached
  • Toppings of your choice (sprinkles, graham crackers, chopped nuts)

You might also need: 

  • Baking sheet 
  • Wax paper or parchment paper

What to do:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside. 
  • Wash the strawberries and dry them very well. You’ll want to ensure the strawberries are completely dry because any remaining water will cause the chocolate to seize and harden up. 
  • Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Prepare any additional toppings in advance if you will be using them, and set aside. Feel free to experiment with shredded coconut, chopped nuts, and even crushed pretzels!
  • Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, removing and stirring at each interval until it is melted and smooth. Stir often to avoid burning the chocolate. 
  • Holding each strawberry by the stem, dip into the chocolate, then lift and twist to let any excess chocolate drip off. If you will be using toppings, now is the time to dip into them. Place the strawberry on the sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.
  • Chill the strawberries until the chocolate sets, usually 10-15 minutes.
  • Store until ready to serve! 

Looking for the perfect bottle of wine?

Pair it with a sweet Semillon like this one.

A Simple, yet Special Night In

There you go! With less than an hour in preparation, you can make these easy recipes in advance to store and serve when ready, leaving you with more than enough time to enjoy with your loved one. 

Looking for more recipe ideas? Check out our Après Ski Recipes and if you’re looking to explore more wines and great pairing ideas, be sure to head over to the WineCollective store!