Winter Salad and something “really nice” from Cousin Eddie

Winter Salad? What the...

Winter Salad? What the…

Here’s an easy winter salad to throw together! I’m guessing the absence of greens is what makes it a “winter salad,” but it does have lots of crunch and that natural pepperiness found in cauliflower.

I came across the recipe on Foodista as taken from an interesting book titled, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.

They make it look a whole lot better than my pic, but it’d be hard to improve on the spicy taste of onions, peppers, cauliflower and the salty, savory influence of the olives. Uniquely enough, this is a rare salad that can match up with both a red or white wine. A semi-dry Riesling from the Pacific Northwest or Germany matches the slight heat in the mix without burying its herbaceous element.

My second choice is a simple, everyman’s red from France, called Les Hérétiques. Made from forty year old Carignan vines, Les Hérétiques is a soft red with cherry fruit flavors meant for mass consumption. It’s under ten bucks a bottle, and a half case would look REALLY NICE under my tree next week.

It may be heresy, but you CAN drink red wine with your salad.

It may be heresy, but you CAN drink red wine with your salad.

Les Hérétiques is imported by Louis Dressner.

Soul satiating Southern fried chicken and Riesling ala Alsace

Beauty lies in the tongue of the eater; it's not pretty but it is oh so good!

Beauty lies in the tongue of the eater; it’s not pretty but it is oh so good!

Earlier this week, I wrote up a quick review on pairing Mahi-Mahi with an Alsatian Riesling sample. Towards the end of that blog post, the Meyer-Fonné Riesling that I was waxing about got me thinking about how I’ve almost always enjoyed and paired such Rieslings (both from Germany and Alsace) with the conventional Thanksgiving cornucopia of flavors. There’s so much going on between the dark and white turkey meat, the sweet potato casserole, the cranberry sauce, et cetera, that you truly need a wine such as an Alsatian Riesling to meander through the totality of the meal.

The next day, one of my favorite chefs was at the house cooking up an annual soul satiating Southern style dinner. Besides getting to enjoy buttermilk battered fried chicken thighs, skillet cornbread, cheesy macaroni, sliced beefsteak tomatoes and fresh-cut fried okra, my only assignment was to pair and provide a wine to enjoy with it.

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Théo

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Théo

If you’ve ever read Dr. Vino’s wine blog by Tyler Coleman, then you probably came across one of his “impossible food-wine pairings.” His latest had to do with what pairs with anchovies. Good luck with that! And after first thinking that a fried plate of Southern love might be impossible to match a wine with, I soon remembered the Meyer-Fonné, the Thanksgiving foreshadowing and the way a great Riesling magnificently traverses over varying flavors. Likewise I was now speculating that when it came to this quintessential Southern stable, a solid Riesling from Alsace would be the ticket to ride. My premise became palate positive.

So let me introduce you to one of Domaine Weinbach’s Riesling, the amicably dubbed Cuvée Théo. Another great representation of what the wines of Alsace have to offer, the 2011 Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Théo exhibits an apple joy aroma with a silky rendition of cider that is both delicate and indulging. A picnic basket of Southern fare with some fresh fruits has no greater friend.

Harissa and Riesling

Harissa

New red potatoes, spinachy greens with garlic and a bright orange sauce called Harissa longingly await your creation this evening. Not only is it colorful and tasty but pretty damn easy to throw together.

Harissa is an African chili sauce make of roasted red peppers, cumin, cayenne, olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. Half and bake the new potatoes for about 40 minutes and sauté the spinach with some garlic and oil until rightly withered. All that’s left is finding a fresh fish that suits your taste and spooning some of the savory, slightly spicy African sauce onto the gently baked fillet.
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Choosing a wine that holds its own with a spicy sauce while not burying the greens or being outweighed by the starchy potatoes in this dish can be tricky. You need a wine that understands both the politics of the palate and the benefits of balance. Enter – a German Riesling, preferably one from the Mosel. The stone fruit flavors and racy texture mean it can handle the spiciness and still compliment your vegetables.

Holiday wines to be thankful for

Followers of this wine column know that I’m not a fan of Beaujolais Nouveau. Suffice to say, I truly believe it’s just a gimmick to sell a bunch of overpriced, jug-like French wine that in all actuality is really quite, well, bad. Some may argue that it’s traditional to buy and drink Nouveau for Thanksgiving. To them we should remind that mud-slinging has become a political tradition that benefits no one.

This column is dedicated to the pursuit of introducing alternative wines for Thanksgiving dinner that are not only better compliments to the meal but also a lot better tasting than bathwater.

One of the preeminent new German Rieslings to reach the Knoxville market this year is by a producer named Geil. Although not as well known as other German wineries, Geil makes up for its lack of notoriety with an astonishingly vibrant Riesling that has all the right stuff for pairing quite properly with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. From Germany’s Rhein River region, the 2009 Geil Riesling Kabinett exhibits exotic fruit notes of guava and a clean petrol bouquet. A tropical delight, the Geil Riesling is just what the turkey gobbled for.

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Rieslings for a thirsty Thanksgiving

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? With all those savory side dishes, a great big turkey and a load of sweet desserts, there’s a whole lot to fall in love with. All that’s missing is the right wine to partner with that smorgasbord of flavors. Over the years, Riesling has become a tried-and-true pairing for Thanksgiving, and the following selections offer something for everyone’s Turkey Day table.

2008 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling ($16)

It’s been a few years since Leitz Rieslings have shown a presence in the market, but now their Dragonstone Riesling is puffing its proud pedigree. From the German Rheingau, Leitz Riesling doesn’t lean too strongly to either sweet or dry. It’s an excellent food wine that deliciously offers up light cider notes and a crisp apple finish.

2008 Leitz Eins Zwei Dry “3″ Riesling ($15)

Dry white wine lovers have no better friend than the Leitz Zwei Dry “3″ Riesling. And what better way to complement the salty goodness of those turkey legs than with a straight-laced, pointedly dry-style German wine. With aromas of citrus and sea salt, this rocking Riesling follows up with a fresh lemon zing that will have your taste buds dancing.

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