Winemaker's Journal - December 2011

Holiday Food and Wine

Pairing Cinnabar Wines with Semi-Homemade Foods

Beginning in 2002, our annual holiday food and wine story has covered a variety of angles including tips for pairing wine with food, cooking with wine, navigating holiday food and wine mishaps, and even our own version of a winemaker dinner.

The holiday season seems to grow busier with each passing year, and many people have less time for preparing meals from scratch. Consequently, they rely on precooked or semi-homemade foods — some fresh, some frozen and some hot off the grill — from sources such as Costco and Trader Joe’s.

We have paired a selection of popular prepared foods with several of Cinnabar Winery’s current releases. Some of the wines are sold in out-of-state markets while others are only available at our Saratoga tasting room or via our online wine store. Food supplies may vary according to region.

Starters
Scoma’s Crab Cakes (Costco)
La Terra Fina Chunky Artichoke and Jalapeno Dip w/ Pita Chips (Costco)
Traditional Hummus Dip with Semifreddi’s Seeded Baguette (Trader Joe’s)
Crackers topped with Whipped Cream Cheese and Olive Tapenade (Trader Joe’s)
Pastry Bites w/ Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onions (Trader Joe’s)
Brie en Croûte topped with Apricot Jam (Trader Joe’s)
Chilled Shrimp Platter (Costco)

2010 Mercury Rising Blanc — This fresh and lively wine complements a spectrum of appetizers without overpowering them.
2010 Paso Robles Rosé — In contrast to the white-fruit persona of Mercury Rising Blanc, this off-dry blush wine offers red-fruit components, delicate aromas and a festive color. Also, high-quality rosés typically inspire friendly discussion.

1st Course
Blount Lobster Bisque (Costco)

2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay — Rich and lively sensations in conjunction with restrained, well-integrated oak qualities make it a tasty companion to the bisque.
2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir — For diehard red wine drinkers: complex, yet not overbearing, this pinot allows food flavors to come through without overshadowing them.

2nd Course
Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, Candied Pecans,
Dried Cranberries, and Miner’s Bleu Cheese (Trader Joe’s)

2010 Monterey Chardonnay — This lighter style chardonnay (as compared to its big sister from the Santa Cruz Mountains) has lots of fruit and pairs well with salad.

Main Courses
Cuisine Solutions Savory-Seasoned Lamb Shanks w/ Mint and Rosemary Sauce (Costco)

2009 Sorcerer’s Stone — A big rich wine with lots fruit offsets the gaminess of lamb, but it won’t oppress the otherwise understated qualities of the meat.

Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna (Trader Joe’s)
Salmon Filets Stuffed w/ Shrimp, Breadcrumbs and Provencal Herbs (Costco)

2008 Paso Robles Mourvedre  — This light-bodied red wine with complexity and herbs mingles with comparable traits in the lasagna or the subtle flavors of the salmon.

Desserts
Tiramisu (Trader Joe’s)

2009 Late Harvest Semillon — This twosome demonstrates an excellent marriage of yin and yang. Both have finesse and creamy textures, but serving the cake with the sweeter wine offers an inviting counterpoint.

Chocolate Lava Cake (Trader Joe’s)

2006 Cinabrio (a Port style wine) — The deep rich flavors of the wine (a barrel-aged tawny style with creamy, nutty qualities) demand equal billing with the chocoholic’s fantasia.

New York Deli Style Cheese Cake with Warm Raspberry Sauce* (Trader Joe’s)

2010 Late Harvest Petite Verdot — The vibrant fruit in the wine complements the rich, yet simpler flavors of the cheesecake while matching the concentration of the raspberry sauce.

* There are many recipes available online for preparing a quick raspberry sauce. Some entail heating fresh or frozen fruit with small amounts of water, lemon juice, powered sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan, and finishing with a tablespoon of raspberry jam. Strain to remove the seeds.