Some things just go really well together. Today’s recipe comes from a wine and food tasting that explored international wines and confirms my first sentence. I think you're really going to enjoy Carol’s Beef Shish Kabobs and Montes Twins Red Wine. I've also given you a few more food and wine pairings as a bonus.
I think it’s good to stretch the limits of your imagination and taste buds. I also think it’s easy to stay put in your comfort zone of the wines you like. That’s why it’s a pleasure to be part of a wine council that reviews wines from anywhere and everywhere. In any given month I can be tasting wines from my comfort zone – California, or from a region I know less about – Chile and The Czech Republic for example.
This tasting starts with four wines from Chile and Argentina: A Torrontes, a Malbec, a blend and a Cabernet. Three of those four wines were exceptional. I like deep rich flavorful fruit- forward wines, so these wines were right in my wheel house.
Chile’s geographic borders—the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west—make Chile an authentic agricultural island. Together they help maintain healthy conditions and protect vineyards against pests and disease. The combination of beneficial natural barriers and a munificent Mediterranean climate make sustainability and organics a natural phenomenon in Chilean winegrowing. In fact, did you know that Chile has some of the largest organic vineyards in the world? Yup, and just for that little fact, we should all be fans.
Wines from Argentina already have a good reputation, and it was present and accounted for at this tasting. Argentina is one of the world’s loveliest nature reserves. Blessed with outstanding natural riches and surprisingly diverse landscapes, Argentina boasts high mountains and plains, lush vegetation and extreme deserts, forests and steppes, glaciers and waterfalls. The wealth of their natural ecosystems includes vast, highly productive grape growing regions stretching from the foot of the Andean strip, to the West of the country, from latitude 22° south to latitude 42° south. The cultivated area covers more than 538,071 acres.
They produce exceptional red wines. Over the course of five centuries Argentina has developed an extraordinary wine industry. The altitude, the wide range of temperatures, the local know-how, the new technologies and a popular wine culture lend their wines a unique identity and quality. The last two wines we tasted came from the Czech Republic and the Croatia. If you didn’t know, these two countries are putting time talent and energy into making some very good wines.
Czech wines have fruity overtones with a touch of sassy spiciness. Many showcase a rich spectrum of aromatic noses and a fully integrated taste. This could be the reason why Moravian and Bohemian wines are so popular among lovers of quality European wines. I was a convert three years ago. How about you?
Croatian wines are less known, but have enough merit for your attention. Grape vines have been cultivated for centuries there through wars and now in peace. A new generation of winemakers have an eye towards tradition and a taste for modern demand creating many wines of unique character. Like many of the best wines of the world, Croatian wines show a distinct expression of terroir. The whites at this point are better than the reds, but be patient, I have a feeling they have a plan to improve. Here are the results of our international wine tasting, including some food pairings and a delicious recipe you will find interesting and helpful.
1. Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes 2012/ $16: This wine pairs with anything and everything. It was the favorite wine of the night. It paired with everything from black bean chili soup to Medjool Dates, to chicken salad. Torrontes is considered the most distinctive of all white Argentine wines, showing delicate aromas and flavors. It arrives with an attractive golden color and a slight green hue. The wine has a very elegant nose with a medium aromatic intensity of Muscat, fresh flowers and tropical fruits aromas. On the mouth it’s a fresh wine with smooth texture and balanced acidity with a very long and pleasant finish. This was the first time a white wine has won when tasted against red wines. Winner!
2. 2012 Vinarija Zdjelarević (winery) Graševina from Slavonia, Croatia. (White) - $15: Try pairing with a chicken salad made with Medjool Dates. Graševina aka Welsch Riesling, is known locally as the “Slavonian Wine Queen.” This Zdjelarević Classic Graševina 2012 from Brodski Stupnik, is amongst the best in Croatia. It has a honey apple crisp distinctive taste, expressing the aromatically varietal characteristics. Its fresh, lively and easy-to-drink quality. Some pleasant but mild bitterness is characteristic of the variety. Its taste is a reflection of controlled on fine lees for between six months to a year.
3. 2011 Vino z Czech Zweigeltrebe $15: Pair with Bison Sliders or one of the best Gluten free pizza's on earth from So Good Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe in Temecula, CA: The Zweigeltrebe (Zweigelt) is fresh and easy drinking with a hint of cranberry. Pair with lighter roast meats and steak. Zweigelt is a crossing of St. Laurent and BlaufrÃ¤nkisch and is the 3rd most popular red planting in the Czech Republic
4. Kaiken Corte Malbec (80%) –Bonarda (12%) -Petit Verdot (8%) $9 - Volumetrics Chili con Carne was a good match for this wine. The number two wine of the tasting has intense red color with violet hues. Ripe black fruit on the nose, such as blueberries and blackberries go hand in hand with Malbec’s traditional floral aromas. In the mouth it brings out all the silkiness of the Malbec backed by the structure and freshness of Petit Verdot, ending with a mineral finish provided by the Bonarda. It has a long and lingering finish. A unique combination is achieved, where Bonarda and Petit Verdot contribute freshness and structure to the basic characteristics of our renowned Malbec from the Uco Valley which is a viticulture region southwest of Mendoza, in Argentina situated along the Tunuyán River.
5. Montes Twins Red Wine 2011/ $18: This pairs well with Beef Shish Kabobs, pork belly, chocolate truffles and coconut covered dates. Meet the twins: a masterstroke of varietal blending from Chile's winemaking legend, Aurelio Montes. On their own, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon shine, but when paired up, these two classic varieties complement each other perfectly.
It's a sensational double bill: wonderful richness, structure and fruit from the Cabernet, with smooth, velvety texture from the Malbec. These varieties add up to a wine that's greater than the sum of its parts, while the oak aging contributes with subtle notes of vanilla and liqueur, and its soft tannins provide an especially elegant finish. Critical Acclaim: "This 50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon (hence, the "twins") is a magnificent blackberry, licorice and spiced specimen of tightly wound Cab and velvet-gloved Malbec. The bodies are textured and in motion, empowered by grace and elegance.” The groups voted this as the number three best wine of the night.
6. Montes Alpha Cabernet 2010/ $25: Linda: Notes -A ruby red, deep-colored wine made in Chile. On the nose it presents as an elegant, complex and intense wine with violets and red fruits suggesting blackberry, chocolate, black pepper and cigar box aromas. An oaky characteristic lends vanilla and coffee notes. Sauvignon Blend: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. Cocoa dusted truffles and coconut thin cookies from Trader Joes paired very nicely with this wine.
Carol’s Beef Shish Kabob Recipe
Suggested Pairing: Montes Twins Red Wine 2011/ $18
Courtesy of the worst BBQ chef ever – Carol Malin, "The idea to broil it in the oven is totally mine because I am one of the world's worst outdoor BBQ chefs, so I don't even mess with it (figuring that one day I will set myself or the house aflame). I have had success putting it in the oven, so I continue to do so. Emoji- Carol”
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into large squares
After preparing veggies and meat place on skewers and pour marinade over all. Let kabobs sit overnight in frig. Remove from frig 15 min before cooking. Place on grill OR cook in oven at 350 degrees turning kabobs every 10 min for 30 min. Let kabobs rest for 5 or 10 min before serving.