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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

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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?

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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

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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! 


Wine & Food: French Après-Ski Recipes

This month, many of us will hit the slopes or otherwise frolic in the snow. And the crisp winter air definitely makes you hungry! These cheesy French après-ski recipes are easy to make and easy to love. For the best after-snow experience, we give you suggestions for wine pairings to pop open with each dish.

Here are the French après-ski recipes for:

Brie en Croûte Recipe

Brie en Croûte

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Recipe by Irene de Vette Course: AppetizersCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Baking Time

20

minutes
Resting Time

5

Minutes

Basically this is a wheel of brie in puff pastry with an ‘oh, la, la’ effect. Go ahead and use ready-made puff pastry (more time in the snow!).

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets puff pastry

  • 1 wheel brie

  • 1 egg slightly beaten

  • toppings to your liking

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 200 ºC (425 ºF).
  • Roll out the sheets of puff pastry so that they are twice the size of the cheese. Cut out the corners of the pastry so that you get two circles. Place one pastry circle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and the cheese on top.
  • Now comes the fun part: jazz up the brie any way you like. From savoury toppings like sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, tapenade, or even chili-flavoured oil, to sweet like a layer of jam or jelly and some chopped dried fruit or nuts.
  • Brush the exposed part of the dough with egg, then place the second dough circle on top. Make sure that the two layers are tightly sealed. Cut away excess dough (leave around 0.5 to 1 inch around the cheese) and brush the top with egg, too. You can use the remaining dough to make decorations on top.
  • Place the sheet in the oven and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Let it cool a little before serving.

Wine Pairings

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French Onion Soup

Serves 6

The soupe à l’oignon is ultra comforting and relatively easy to make – caramelising the onions might take some time, but it’s definitely worth it. Top it off with a slice of crusty baguette with some cheese, and let it melt under the broiler. Délicieux!

What You’ll Need

  • 750 g yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 45 g all-purpose flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
  • 2 litres beef, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
    For the topping:
  • 1 baguette
  • 120 g (1 cup) grated Gruyère
    Also needed: 6 oven safe soup bowls

What to do

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Crush the garlic cloves. 

Melt the butter into a heavy pan and cook the onion on low heat until soft and caramelised, about 25 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent sticking. 

Add the garlic and flour and cook for another 2 minutes. 

While stirring, add the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Now add the bay leaf, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 25 minutes on low heat. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 ºC (400 ºF). Cut the baguette into 1-inch slices and grill them for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle each slice with grated cheese.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme and divide the soup over oven-safe bowls. Place a slice of cheese-topped baguette in each bowl and grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Wine Pairing

White: Domaine de Castelnau Viognier
Red: Bottega Vinai Pinot Nero

Tartiflette

Serves 4 

A hearty dish from the Haute-Savoie in France, this comforting classic features Reblochon, a creamy cow’s milk cheese.

French après ski recipes: tartiflette

What You’ll Need

  • 2.6 lb firm potatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 g smoked bacon strips
  • Butter for greasing
  • 1 lb Reblochon cheese (or a full wheel), or a Canadian equivalent
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)

What to do

Heat the oven to 225 °C (425 °F). Peel the potatoes. Bring a large pot of water with some salt to the boil, and cook the potatoes until fork-tender. Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile, small dice the onion. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the onion. Add the bacon strips, and cook for a few more minutes.

Grease a baking dish with butter. Cut the potatoes in thin slices. Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish, then cover with half of the onions and bacon. Repeat once more. Season to taste with some salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the sour cream on top, and evenly spread it with the back of a spoon. 

Slice off the crust of the Reblochon cheese on one side. Then portion the cheese in 8 equal pieces. Place the cheese, remaining crust facing up, on top of the potatoes. Pour the wine over the cheese (optional).

Place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with a green salad. 

Wine Pairing

White: Adrian Vacher Jacquère
Red: Uva Non Grata

French Cheese Fondue

Commonly associated with Switzerland, France claims its own version of the cheese lover’s dream. For the Fondue Savoyarde, you would use a combination of Beaufort, Abondance, Emmental or Comté. 

French après-ski recipes: cheese fondue

What You’ll Need

  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 250 g Tomme d’Abondance, grated
  • 250 g Beaufort (French Gruyère), grated
  • 150 g Comté (or French Emmental), grated
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp Kirsch (optional)
  • 1 loaf crusty bread, cut into small pieces

What to do

Rub the inside of a heavy-bottomed pan with garlic, then discard garlic.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wine and cornstarch. Add it to the pan and slowly bring it to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the cheeses, followed by the spices. Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth, lower the heat if it sticks to the bottom. The cheese should steam, but never boil.

Once the cheese is thickened, add the Kirsch (optional!) and stir it in well. Transfer cheese to a fondue set. Serve with plenty of bread for dunking.

Tip: If during dinner the cheese becomes too thick, make it thinner by adding a splash of white wine.

Wine Pairing

White: Manar dos Seixas
Red: Uva Non Grata

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Pairing Wine With Thanksgiving Food

Serving Wine at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration and wine is a very celebratory beverage. Where do you start? Many of us serve the same dishes year after year, but choosing the wines can get confusing. With so many wine options, pairing wine with Thanksgiving food is a task all its own. But there is no need to worry! We’re going to cover some traditional and interesting pairing suggestions for your table this year. Maybe this is the year to branch out on some new dishes. Or better yet, combine the traditional and old family standbys with something different!

Best Wines to Serve With Turkey

A turkey for thanksgiving dinner.

It has long been said that, with white meat, you serve white wine. However, when pairing wine with food, it’s important to not only focus on one part of the meal. What are the side dishes? Are you serving strong flavoured dishes like brussels sprouts or cranberry sauce? With that in mind, here are some popular Thanksgiving wine pairing matches that will suit your turkey and many sides:

  1. Riesling – this white can range from bone dry to sweet. It has a food-friendly acidity and works well with many dishes.
  2. Pinot Grigio – this white holds its own with garlic, onions, herbs, stuffing, and higher-fat foods.
  3. Beaujolais – while Pinot Noir is the traditional red served for Thanksgiving, Beaujolais is a light and fruity red that matches nicely with almost anything on the table.

Best Wines to Serve With Potato Dishes

A bowl of mashed potatoes.

While turkey is easily associated with Thanksgiving, you’d be hard pressed to find a Thanksgiving table without potatoes. What makes potatoes extra special, is the seeming infinite ways they can be served. Largely influenced by the additional ingredients we add to our potato dishes, the wine pairing options are endless! We do have some suggestions for your favourite Thanksgiving potato dishes:

  1. Mashed Potatoes – serve with unoaked Chardonnay, especially alongside garlic-heavy, creamy mashed potatoes. This is a winning combo and will add an extra, rich layer to your entire meal.
  2. Cheesy Potatoes – whether you’re serving oven-baked scalloped potatoes or a cheese-crusted potato casserole, Riesling is going to be a great addition. Not to mention this white already goes great with your turkey!
  3. Root vegetables – both of the suggestions above would work really well with any root veggies like carrots and parsnips. If you’re looking for a red, we love Spanish Rioja with our root dishes.

Best Wines to Serve With Pumpkin Pie

A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Ah, pumpkin pie… the traditional Thanksgiving dessert. The rule for dessert, in general, is that the wine should be sweeter than the food. In that spirit, a sweet Chenin Blanc or Gewürztraminer would be an amazing option with the spicy flavours in this pie. Other great options would be a sparkling ice wine, or a vintage tawny Port. One thing to remember is that oak would not be a friendly match with pumpkin pie, so keep an eye on the labels before serving.

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

With food pairing, let your imagination take hold. There is no right or wrong way for pairing wine with Thanksgiving food, and personal preference is really key. But, with the suggestions made above, you’ll be a superstar at your Thanksgiving get-together this year! And if you’re looking for some special cocktails to serve at your Thanksgiving gathering, we have you covered. Check out our Holiday Cocktail Recipes below.


Fig and Burrata Salad Recipe and Wine Pairing

Try a New Salad

We have all felt burnout in the kitchen. It can get overwhelming having to come up with new ideas all the time for delicious dinners, brunch, and shareable appetizers. Not to mention the extra work that comes in when you want to pair wine with your meal! We want to help you create something new and tasty, so we’re sharing the recipe for a fig and burrata salad that will blow you away.

Fig and Burrata Salad Recipe

Burrata cheese on top of a garden salad.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 10 oz of Burrata
  • 8 to 10 figs (depending on size)
  • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Optional: 3 to 4 oz of prosciutto
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic reduction
  • ground pepper
  • flakey or coarse salt

Instructions:

  • Cut figs and tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on preference
  • Add arugula, figs, and tomatoes onto a platter or large dish
  • Gently pull apart the burrata into bite size pieces and place throughout the platter
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze and olive oil, before topping with a few pinches of flakey/coarse salt and ground pepper
  • For an extra element, add in chopped pieces of prosciutto

Pairing Wine with Fig and Burrata Salad

The cross-section of a fig.

Pairing wine with this fresh salad isn’t going to be a huge challenge. There are a number of options when you are serving fresh figs and a soft, mild cheese like burrata. Some wine choices include:

Pinot Gris

This wine’s zesty acidity and citrus notes pairs nicely with the fresh ingredients in the salad without distracting from the flavours.

Sauvignon Blanc

Another acidic white wine that won’t outshine your meal. Sauvignon Blanc is known for its herbal attributes, which complement this fresh salad nicely.

Sparkling Wine

Look for a drier bottle of bubbly and you’ll be in for an even more special dinner! The effervescence is a great addition to an already light dish.

The Best Summer Salad

As August comes to a close, we hope this fresh and fun salad is a fun, new way for you to spice up your dinner menu! We love sharing recipes that pair with all kinds of wine. One of the best ways to enjoy wine is alongside great food. Happy cooking!

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What Food Pairs with Chardonnay?

Chardonnay Food Pairing

There are two different taste profiles to be considered when selecting food that pairs with Chardonnay:

  • Refined unoaked Chardonnay
  • Fuller, oakier Chardonnay

These characteristics, and others, will determine which food pairs with this food-friendly wine. Choosing what food pairs with Chardonnay is a matter of identifying the traits of the wine you want to highlight. Here are some simple ways to pair your wine just like a wine expert.

Unoaked vs Oaked Chardonnay

Close-up of three glasses of Chardonnay clinking together.

Chardonnay can be made in a range of styles, depending on where they are produced. Things like climate, terroir, and growing techniques influence the final product and taste of the Chardonnay.

Unoaked Chardonnay Food Pairing

Unoaked Chardonnays, such as those from Chablis, (considered the benchmark for Chardonnay) are lighter and crisper. Keeping the food served alongside unoaked Chardonnay on the lighter side, allows both to shine without losing their flavours. There is the risk of the wine getting lost if paired with bold, strong foods.

Classic pairings for unoaked wines would include:

  • Sushi & sashimi
  • Shellfish – shrimp, clams, crab, and mussels
  • Salmon, halibut, and cod

Oaked Chardonnay Food Pairing

In oaked versions, usually from Australia or Napa Valley, you will find more oak influences (toast, vanilla, butter), resulting in different pairing choices. The richness of oaked Chardonnay is best complemented by foods that can handle its weightier attributes. This ensures neither the food or wine is overwhelmed by one another.

Oaked Chardonnays would pair well with:

  • White meats with in a creamy sauce
  • Eggs Benedict
  • A rich and creamy mushroom risotto

What not to Pair with Chardonnay

It’s important to note that Chardonnay does not pair well with spicy dishes. Cuisine like Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian, or acidic foods like tomatoes or tangy vinaigrettes aren’t great matches. Aggressively seasoned or spicy foods can make Chardonnay taste bitter and take over its lighter tones.

What Type of Cheese Goes With Chardonnay?

A selection of cheese appetizers that can be paired with a glass of Chardonnay.

Unoaked Chardonnays are crisp and light, making the contrast with mild, soft, and semi-soft cheeses a natural fit. These are some cheeses to try with unoaked Chardonnay:

  • Gouda
  • Mild blue cheese
  • Triple cream Brie

Oaked Chardonnays are richer, creamier, and more buttery, they stand up nicely with nuttier and bolder cheeses that are equally as rich as the wine. This includes:

  • Aged cheddars
  • Asiago
  • Pungent blue cheeses, like Shropshire

Chardonnay Dessert Food Pairings

A glass of chardonnay paired with strawberries and potato chips.

The general rule with dessert is that the wine should be sweeter than the food. But, some rules are meant to be broken! There are a few combinations that would work well with Chardonnay:

  • Crème brûlée
  • Vanilla pudding
  • Lemon cheesecake

As with anything when it comes to pairing wine, we always suggest you make choices based on what you like. There are no actual rules here.

Enjoying Chardonnay Year-round

We don’t always need to drink Chardonnay on a patio in the sunshine. Chardonnay should be enjoyed any time of the year. The key is to choose the best seasonal food options that work alongside this food-friendly wine. If you are doing a roast chicken dinner in the fall, serving a Chardonnay is a no-brainer. Follow your heart and your tastebuds!


Three Secrets to Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Party

The most magical time of the year is also often the most stressful. Luckily it’s also an amazing time full of joy and excitement. Finishing off 2021 on a high note with an intimate gathering of loved ones is sure to be a holiday highlight. We are here to help ease the stress of hosting and help you create easy, memorable moments this holiday season with simple recipes, wine pairings and cocktails. 

1. Serve Holiday Hors D’oeuvres Paired with Your Favourite Wines

A holiday appetizer spread featuring lamb pops and a charcuterie board.

There is nothing that makes a festive gathering more memorable than delicious food. We’ve created three holiday appetizer recipes to pair with your favourite wines. Pick one or serve all three – your guests will definitely be impressed with your wine-pairing know-how! 

Appetizer Recipes to Pair with Pinot Noir

Spicy-ish Honey Mustard Recipe

This honey mustard pairs great with Pinot Noir thanks in part to the sweetness from the honey. Its typical medium-body and medium-high acidity makes it an easy companion for food pairing, from duck to mushrooms. Adding our honey mustard to your favourite cut of meat will be a delicious partner to a glass (or two) of Pinot Noir.

Appetizer Recipes to Pair with Merlot

Pistachio Mustard Crusted Lamb Pops Recipe

Merlot is the ideal wine match for our mustard crusted lamb pops. The wine’s inherent sweetness works well with the umami of the lamb and the spiciness of the mustard. Merlot is a classic dinner wine that is typically universally enjoyed, so it is great to open up when having guests over. 

Appetizer Recipes to Pair with Sauvignon Blanc

Pomegranate & Pine Nut rolled Goat’s Cheese

Share this sweet and savoury Goat Cheese on your holiday charcuterie or as a light hors d’oeuvre, with a perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Both the cheese and the wine offer great acidity that don’t overpower one another. Sauvignon Blanc is appropriately citrusy and mineral-driven, which clears your palate for the next bite.

2. Serve Festive Wine Cocktails to Get Everyone in the Holiday Spirit

Two french 75 cocktails garnished with lemon peels, with a sparkling wine bottle in the background.

When it’s time to get people on their feet, dancing to the best holiday songs, it’s also time for cocktails! We created some incredibly delicious (and easy) wine-based cocktails for you to serve at your holiday party. They’re sure to put your guests in a festive mood.

Holiday Wine Cocktail Recipes: 

Sparkling Wine French 75 Recipe

Served best extra chilled and with your most favourite sparkling wine. This is your chance to break out the cocktail shaker and impress your guests!

Red Mulled Wine Recipe

A traditional drink for good reason. This is a holiday standby that deserves a spot on your party menu. Keep your guests warm and toasty

Cranberry and Rosemary White Sangria

Who doesn’t love a wintery spin on a summer classic? Sangria can be shared all year and is the perfect punch alternative to keep your holiday festive and merry.

3. Be Prepared

A wine bottle with a branded WineCollective gift-wrap bow and tag

If you’re looking to keep things simple this year or maybe you’re hosting a few times throughout the year, keep your cellar stocked with a monthly wine subscription. WineCollective offers a number of subscription options – from 2, to 4, to 6 bottles per month – just choose all red or mixed.


Wine Pairings for Your Holiday party

To think we have made our way this far through 2021 already! How time flies. Many of us are well into holiday planning mode, now that we’ve long said our final goodbye to summer. It’s time to gather your dearest loved ones, and indulge in great food and even better wine. Follow along for some WineCollective holiday party wine pairings.

Pinot Noir Wine Pairing: Spicy-ish Honey Mustard

homemade spicy mustard wine pairings

(Yield: 3x 500mL jars)

Although this is not a main dish or focal point during a cocktail party, this is a must-make at the beginning of the holiday season. It is great to pull out for a sandwich bar for a midday get together, amazing as dip for savoury meats, or on a charcuterie board. 

This honey mustard pairs great with Pinot Noir thanks in part to the sweetness from the honey. Pinot Noir is also great with charcuterie and the many possible mustard-pairings you create.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Mustard Seed
  • 1 c. Beer (stout or a heavier wheat beer)
  • 1 c. Mustard powder
  • 1 ¾ c. water
  • ¾ c. White vinegar
  • ¾ c. Apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¾ c. Honey

Getting it done:

The night before you make the mustard, combine the mustard seeds and the beer in a bowl. Let them soak overnight. The next morning strain the seeds, use a mesh strainer as the seeds are quite fine, make sure to capture the excess beer into a measuring cup – you should have about 1/4 cup of excess beer.

Blend the seeds into a paste using a full size blender or hand blender, whatever is accessible or easiest for you.

Next is the easy part! Throw everything in a pot — except the honey. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and allow it to come to a boil while you whisk everything together. Turn it down to low and set a timer for between 7 and 10 minutes. If you like really spicy mustard, you can turn it off at 7 and if you like it a little milder turn it off at 10 minutes.

Once the stove is off, you can whisk in the honey. Allow the mustard to cool for about 30 minutes in the pot before transferring into jars. Make sure that your jars have been cleaned thoroughly prior to use. In the fridge, this mustard should keep for up to 6 months, but we’re sure you’ll eat it all before then!

Merlot Wine Pairing: Pistachio Mustard Crusted Lamb Pops

lamb pops recipe wine pairings

Lamb is lovely to serve over the holidays, as it has a unique flavour that pairs so nicely with holiday spices, nuts, and aromas. It is also a dish that warms you up and can be served both as a great main or in this case an awesome appetizer! In this recipe we use our homemade mustard. If you are not that adventurous, or just don’t have the time, any grainy or spicy mustard will do!

Merlot is a wonderful match for this mustard crusted lamb dish. Its inherent sweetness works well with the umami of the lamb and the spiciness of the mustard. A match made in dinner heaven!

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of lamb
  • ¼ c. Pistachio (finely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp Mustard (homemade mustard or any spicy mustard will do)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Putting it together:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare the rack of lamb by patting it dry with a piece of paper towel. Once it is dry it can be rubbed down with the olive oil and seasoned with the salt and pepper. 

In a bowl place the finely chopped pistachios with the mustard. Mix together to form a paste. This paste can be spooned and spread around the meaty end of the rack of lamb. Make sure to spread the paste across the whole rack evenly, but try not to make the layer too thick. A thick layer might fall off during the cooking process.

Place the rack in a shallow baking tray lined with parchment, leaving uncovered while in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes for a medium rare rack. Once the desired cook is reached, remove from the oven and cover with a foil top for about 5 minutes to naturally finish the cooking.

To serve, slice the rack between each rib and display on a plate as you see fit. Serve with a small bowl or ramiken of mustard!

Sauvignon Blanc Wine Pairing: Pomegranate & Pine Nut rolled Goat’s Cheese

holiday goat cheese recipe wine pairings

To round out your holiday party, offering a soft cheese with a crisp fruity kick is always a nice touch. This holiday season we have the fresh flavour of pomegranate with a little crunch from pine nuts to create this festive cocktail party pairing dish.

Share this delicious Goat Cheese on your charcuterie or as a light hors d’oeuvre, with a nicely chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity from both the cheese and wine are a wonderful match and Sauvignon Blanc is an adaptable wine that will suit the added pomegranate and pine nuts.  

Ingredients:

  • ¼ c. Frozen pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ c. Pine Nuts
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • Goat’s Cheese Log (long)

Putting it together:

Remove the goat’s cheese log from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before working with it. It should be soft and malleable.

In a food processor using the stainless steel blade, pulse together the frozen pomegranate seeds and pine nuts until they are almost a powder. Add the pepper and cinnamon, pulsing a few more times to mix in.

Lay a piece of saran wrap flat on the counter, then pour the pomegranate and pine nut mixture on it. Spread it out (try and keep the edges of the saran clean of mixture, at least 1”), about the width of the goat’s cheese log and as far up the saran as you have mixture for.

Lay the goat’s cheese along the edge of mixture on the saran, width wise, as you have spread it out to fit. Pull the saran up over the goat’s cheese and start to roll it along the mixture. Since the goat’s cheese has been sitting at room temperature it will be malleable, so feel free to gently push along the saran as you are rolling to ensure the mixture attaches to the cheese. Display the cheese on any serving tray and serve with a cracker of your choice.

Share the Pair(ings)

Holiday Recipes

Continue to explore the world of wine throughout the year with WineCollective. You can subscribe yourself, or gift a subscription to a loved one. Packages are delivered to your door every month and come with a new selection of delicious wines to taste, an interactive tasting guide, recipes and more!


What Wines Pair Best With BBQ?

While there is no ‘wrong’ answer to which wines you should pair with your next BBQ, we’d recommend red wine. Red wine pairs well with most grilled foods like steak, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.

Learning to Grill with Wine

Steak and mushroom on a grill to pair with wine

Pairing wine with food is something most people struggle with. It can be a daunting task, since no one wants to serve the wrong thing. Don’t worry – we’re here to help!

There is no better time than the summer to be out grilling. This leads to the inevitable question: what wines pair best with BBQ? At WineCollective we are always encouraging you to sip your wine in whatever way makes you happy. So if that includes BBQ ribs or veggies or anything in between, there is a wine to go with it.

Why Pair Red Wine With BBQ?

Hand holding glass of red wine for what to pair with bbq

If you’ve ever looked up ‘pairing wine and bbq’ before, chances are you’ve seen lots of red wine recommendations. Why is that? Typically when we’re firing up the grill, we’re going to be cooking meat. Of course this isn’t always the case, but the meat eaters out there will attest to the greatness of a grilled steak. As a result, red wine is a go-to recommendation when it comes to BBQ food pairings.

As we learn from our trusted friends at Wine Folly, red wine works so well here “because the umami and high fat in the meat will balance out the tannin in red wine.” That being said, red wine doesn’t only work with grilled meat. Anything you’re cooking on the BBQ that has great umami, like mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, garlic, and caramelized onions, will work really well with red wine.

Wine to Pair with Grilled Ribs or Pork Tenderloin

Pair this Las Niñas Inocencia Wine with grilled ribs or pork tenderloin

Las Niñas Inocencia 2017 Carmenère. This Chilean Carmenère is best served with grilled ribs or pork tenderloin marinated in a tangy, homemade Chimichurri. The savoury qualities will help enhance the flavours in the wine and make it taste even more fruity.

Wine to Pair with Grilled Lamb Chops

Krasno Red Blend Wine to pair with grilled lamb chops

Krasno 2017 Red Blend. If you haven’t tried wine from Slovenia, you’ve been missing out! This blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot is a great match for grilled lamb chops. The light gaminess of lamb lets the red wine flavours shine. This is a great time to experiment with red wine marinades, too.

Wine to Pair with Cedar-Plank Salmon

Chalkboard Red Blend wine bottle - pairs perfectly with cedar-plank salmon

Chalkboard 2018 Red Blend. A perfect blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc. Sound familiar? This blend is also seen in the previously mentioned Krasno Red, but this time, we’re saying it’s time for some cedar-plank salmon. This particular blend is light enough to complement the fattier cut of fish, while cooking with cedar makes this pairing even more appealing.

Wine to Pair with BBQ Burgers

Teusner The Riebke wine pairs with barbequed burgers

Teusner 2016 ‘The Riebke’. We love an Aussie Shiraz. This Barossa Valley classic is calling for a juicy burger, dressed with applewood cheddar, pepper jack bacon, and sweet onion chutney. The structure of the wine with its dark fruit notes, are able to take on the flavours in any perfectly grilled burger.

Now You Have the Perfect Pairings!

Glass of red wine, basil leaf, timer, and bowl of spices ready to bbq

As we’re getting into BBQ season, there will be a ton of great meals being served amongst family and friends. And as your trusted source for curated wine selections, we’re here to get your grill season going! Just in time for the season, we have created a Grilling Grab Bag. It’s an awesome 4-bottle pack of some of our favourite red wines (all mentioned above), to pair with your next BBQ meal.


TV and Wine: What to Pair

The Perfect Match for an Evening In

Staying in and enjoying a glass or two is not anything new. This is the Saturday night reality for many people and is a reliable way to unwind after a long week. TV and wine are a perfect match and the reality is even more of us are spending much more time at home these days. With social distancing guidelines being in place for the foreseeable future, we thought why not share some staff picks! We are lucky to live in a time when there are many options for movie watching, TV and wine.

The options can be overwhelming, so here are some WineCollective staff viewing picks, along with a great wine to go with it! Sit back and try something new in your glass and on your screen.

WineCollective Staff Picks

TV and Wine pairing together at home with WineCollective
  • “Anytime I needs a pick me up, I watch Easy A on Netflix. The clever banter and witty retorts get me laughing every time. With spring here now, I’m loving a glass (or two) of the delicious Finca Martha Chardonnay. Oh and don’t forget the popcorn!” – Kerri, Procurement Manager
  • Shameless? How about Shame-more! If you haven’t seen this boisterous, gasp-worthy series, now is the time. With 10 seasons currently out on Netflix and one more in the works, it always has me ready for more. When I sit down to watch an episode (or eight) I like to enjoy a nice, spicy red. My go-to at the moment is a bottle of False Bay Old School.” – Shannon, DTC Manager
  • “If you are looking for a couple laughs, like I’m sure we all are at the moment, look no further than Schitt’s Creek, streaming on Netflix and CBC Gem. A Canadian comedy created by father son team Eugene Levy and Dan Levy, this binge worthy comedy pairs well with one of our favourite Canadian wines, the Creekside Pinot Gris. This wine is definitely Alexis approved too.” – Annie, Supply Chain Coordinator
  • “Feeling cooped up with cabin fever and wishing you were out exploring the world? Me too! I’ve been diving deep into nature docu series to still feel connected to nature and am currently hooked on Netflix’s Night on Earth.  Low-light photography, stunning landscapes, and cute seal pups pair best with adventurous wines – like the Krasno Red Blend from Slovenia.” – Amber, Director of DTC Operations 

Wine Was Made for TV Time

TV and Wine pairing together at home WineCollective
  • “How can you not be hooked on a show that starts every episode with an expletive bleep? Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist… on CTV combines comedy, drama, and musical theatre. Is there anything funnier and more terrifying than the thought of singing your deepest emotions OUT LOUD?! This TV show pairs perfectly with the unoaked, fruit filled, no-thought-required Gerbera Garnacha.” – Kelly, Customer Experience Coordinator
  • “For dry, cynical British humour, you can’t get much better than the short-lived BBC show Black Books on Amazon Prime! It’s a favourite re-watch of mine, who likes to drink like the show’s Bernard Black and enjoy ice-cold Aussie Rosé (try Oakridge ‘Over-the-Shoulder’ Rosé) or Spanish reds like the Nucli Tinto from Bodegas Neleman. – James, Procurement Coordinator

We hope these suggestions help you get through the days and nights at home. TV and wine are a great way to help pass the time, so pop a bottle, and catch up on something new. Cheers!