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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!


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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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

0 from 0 votes
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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