Holiday Entertaining: Beaujolais Wine and Cookie Decorating Party

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

This holiday season I’m taking a step back from all the hustle and bustle, all the commercials and “must buys”, and taking a moment to spend time with family and friends in the most fun, totally seasonal, best way possible to celebrate the holidays: a cookie decorating party. But this party is for adults only. Why? Because we’re cracking open a bottle of Beaujolais to celebrate our nearest and dearest all while having some holiday fun.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comIf the idea of hosting a holiday cookie decorating party makes your palms sweat (I need how many cookies?!?!), even with a glass of wine, just hold on, because I’ve got some tips and tricks that will make this party a breeze!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com1. First, let’s talk about the wine. While you might think Beaujolais wine is best served slightly chilled in the summertime, it’s actually a great wine to have around the cooler winter months too. That’s because it goes well with just about anything; including cookies. If you’re thinking ahead towards all your holiday meals this month, try picking up a case to have on hand. Serve it at meals and keep a bottle handy for the random relative who stops by unannounced! And if you can, try and get a mixed case. That’s right! Beaujolais comes in red, white and rosé.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com2. Cookies. You have a couple options here when it comes to the cookies.

  • Are you someone who can whip up 4 dozen batches of cookies without blinking an eye? Then baking them all from scratch shouldn’t be an issue. Go you!
  • Pressed for time? Make half the cookies from scratch and buy the rest. Most grocery stores with a bakery will have unfrosted cookies on hand like sugar cookies. Personally, I am terrible at making sugar cookies so I bought mine. But I have a fantastic gingerbread recipe that makes solid cookies every time (see below). So I made those for the party.
  • You can always ask people to bring undecorated cookies too! There is probably a friend or relative in your life who likes to bake. Reach out to them for some help making cookies, they probably would love to bake!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com3. Decorations. With endless possibilities for decorating, limit yourself to just a few ideas. You’ll end up with less waste and won’t have a pantry full of half used sprinkles and sanding sugar to deal with the rest of the year. For my cookie party, I made one batch of royal icing and put scoops into smaller piping bags and mixed a few colors right in the bag. Again, if you haven’t the time to make icing, guess what? You can buy it and it will work just fine! For decorative elements, I kept it simple with some colorful sprinkles, red and green sanding sugar, edible silver balls, and some tiny edible gold stars I had left over from another cocktail project. You could go even less than this if you wanted, or just use icing and nothing else. We also had some filled cookies so I put out a bowl of raspberry jam that was in the refrigerator. You probably already have some things at home you could use!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com4. Plan your stations. Short on space? No kitchen table? No problem. Set up a cookie decorating space where people will have access to cookies, plates, napkins, and bowls for putting decorations in. Don’t forget the wine glasses and wine tags too! A kitchen counter is a great setup. I have a long buffet at home that people could grab everything they needed. Not enough room at the kitchen table? Set up a cozy holiday blanket on the floor for everyone to spread out on. Remember to tell guests to bring slippers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com5. Packing it up. After all the fun your guests will have decorating cookies and celebrating the season with a glass of Beaujolais, remember to have containers ready for guests to bring their cookies home in. This could be as simple as a small paper bag, or pick up a bulk pack of gift boxes. Going this extra step shows your guests you’ve thought of everything and will save you the hassle of trying to find to-go containers at the end of the night for everyone.

I hope I’ve inspired you to create some new holiday memories in a fun and creative way! Cookie decorating should definitely be on your holiday party list this year. And don’t forget the Beaujolais! Cheers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comGingerbread Cookies and Icing Recipe
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch dried cloves
3/4 cup butter, room temp
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup blackstrap molasses
2 eggs, room temp
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Combine all the dry ingredients, except the brown sugar, into a bowl. Whisk ingredients together until they are evenly combined.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and dark brown sugar together on medium speed until fully combined. Once the dark brown sugar is evenly incorporated into the butter, add the molasses and continue to mix the ingredients scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing on medium speed until ingredients are fully combined.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the dry-ingredient mixture in three equal batches, mixing until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then mix on low speed for about one more minute, just to ensure that all the ingredients have come together.

Form the dough into a block and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until lightly chilled throughout.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out the desired shapes and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comRoyal Icing

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Food coloring, fruit powder, or yogurt powder (optional)

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add food coloring or powder if desired, mixing until your ideal shade is reached.

Pipe the frosting onto the cookies using a pastry bag. Allow the icing to harden and store the cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.

 



Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Loire Valley Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The day after Thanksgiving I’m usually at my all time laziest. My slippers might not come off all day, and forget about those holiday sales… I am not leaving the house. But what happens when there is a house full of people still…  at my house?! What will they eat?! The answer: leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m a good host though. I may have slippers on, but I am going to provide a few meal options that are fresh, light, or just the right size for people who just ate their weight the previous day in turkey and pies.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSo pop open a bottle of wine with me, a bottle of Rosé d’Anjou to be exact, and let’s whip up a few dishes to pair with this Loire Valley wine that use up some of our leftover T-Day food. While you might be thinking it’s hard enough to plan for the holiday meal without also having to plan for the day after (or a whole weekend full of family!!), these bites can be modified to what’s on hand for super flavorful dishes.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

First, and very importantly, here’s my wine tip for you holiday celebration. Buy your wine by the case! Lots of stores and wineries give you a case discount which means you don’t have to worry about running out during a meal, or even by Saturday. We’ve teamed up with Loire Valley Wines for our Thanksgiving meal as wines from this region are the most diverse, producing wines in every style to make sure you have the perfect one for your meal. If that makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Loire Valley Wines are ideal food wines with moderate alcohol levels, refreshing acidity and minerality so chances are most will work with your dinner. They’re also a great price point, so buying a case, mixing and matching styles, gives you even greater success at pairing for your holiday!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSince Loire Valley Wines are fresh and fun, we’re also going to be going that direction with our after Thanksgiving bites with these three options: Tart Turkey Lettuce Cups, Brie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes, and Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines. I’m going on the assumption that you’ll have some of the staple dishes at your meal like turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, a cheese plate, bread, green beans, pecans or walnuts, and various refrigerator condiments. If you’re feeling fancy, I’ve even got a few optional ingredients so you can win the day after Thanksgiving meal as well. But no pressure! Friday should be all about relaxing with family, not stressing over food preparation.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comOk, let’s pour ourselves a glass of wine and get cooking!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comTurkey Lettuce Cups

Dressing:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2/3 cup neutral oil, like avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cubed
2/3 cup chopped green beans
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped small

For serving:
one head of butter lettuce, washed, leaves separated
chopped herbs such as parsley, chives

First, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Or all combined in a jar and shaken 15 seconds (my preferred method!).

Next, combine the turkey, green beans, onion, bell pepper, cranberry sauce and nuts in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour desired amount of dressing over and let sit 15 minutes. Stir again and serve in lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of herbs on top.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comBrie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes

3 cups mashed potatoes
4 ounces brie
1-1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
high heat neutral oil for frying

First, cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Next, scoop potatoes into 1-1/2″ balls. Place a dime sized amount of brie in the center of the ball and seal potato around it. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. After chilling, pour about two inches of oil in a dutch oven. Heat to 350°F. Fry potato balls in the oil, gently turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per batch. Allow space between the balls when frying, do not crowd the oil. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before frying the next batch. Drain on paper towels.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines

2 cups leftover gravy (or make your own bechamel sauce, see note below)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
10 slices bread, toasted
dijon mustard
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated
cranberry sauce for dipping
quail eggs, optional

Turn on broiler. Place toasted bread on a foil covered baking sheet. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on bread slices (I used about a teaspoon per slice of bread). Sprinkle a handful of turkey next on the bread, followed by a dollop of gravy. Spread the gravy over the turkey and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce! If you’re feeling fancy, add a fried quail egg on top. They make these little bites even more adorable.

Note: to make a bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and mix for a few minutes until combine. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and whisk continually until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pinch of nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Use immediately.

For more information on all the Loire Valley Wines, please visit them at loirevalleywine.com


Pairing Rosé with Apples, 3 Ways With 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with 90+ Cellars. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Here is Southern California, September is a tricky month. While much of the country is starting to get cooler temps and fall into sweater weather, here we get scorching temperatures. Weirdly, if you journey into the mountains, barely an hour away, the apple farms are heavy with fruit ready to be picked; there’s a bit of a disconnect. But that means we can continue to savor summer just a little bit longer and make some cocktail and wine choices that transition between these two seasons nicely.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve partnered with 90+ Cellars to show you how you can meld a summery, sparkling rosé wine with fresh Autumn apples. It’s what to make when you’ve over-picked at the orchard and bought way too much cider.

The 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé is made from Pinot Noir grapes planted in vineyards throughout the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige in Northern Italy. It is vinified as a dry rosé prior to second fermentation using the Charmat method. What does that mean you ask? The second fermentation happens in a tank as opposed to the wine bottle. This method preserves the flavor and aroma and allows for quicker production, without sacrificing taste. (Throw that fact out at a dinner party!)

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

With a light bubbliness, aromas of berries and rose, and a slight acidity, pairing with sweet, tart apples is a perfect pair. These three dishes we’ve picked out work as part of an appetizer spread, on their own, or even as part of a larger meal, and they all pair very well with this rosé.

“Holiday entertaining” might still be a few months away, but we think there’s always a reason to celebrate with a party and this transitional time between months, with a few extra hours of sunlight left in the day, is definitely reason enough for us! Now on to the pairings!

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comTo start: Apple Jelly with cured ham and Manchego

  • An easy and quick appetizer to assemble! On water crackers or bread, layer a piece of cured ham, Manchego cheese, and a dollop of apple jelly. The fattiness of the meat and cheese with the smooth, sweetness of the apple jelly pair are lovely with the small bubbles of the wine.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comPalate cleanser: Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita (full recipe below)

  • Enjoy this cool treat on its own, or between meals as a palate cleanser. Just don’t forget your wine! That acidity in the rosé pairs with the slight acidity found in the apple cider and lemon juice in the granita.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comWith the main meal: Spiced Apple Chutney (full recipe below)

  • While a rich, spiced chutney might seem like a heavy match for rosé, the 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé lightens the dish up and the spices work really well together. The chutney can be enjoyed on a slice of toasted bread, or alongside a main dish like pork.
Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita

3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all the ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Pour into a 9×12 baking pan and place in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, whisk mixture to break up any ice chunks. Wait one hour and with a fork, scrape through the mixture so that it is chunky. Wait an additional hour and scrape the fork through again, fluffing up the mixture. Freeze until ready to serve.

Spiced Apple Chutney

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 diced and peeled apples (I used Gala)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add apple; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins, mustard seeds, sugar, pepper, cloves, ginger and salt. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or let cool and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to one week.

 

If you’d like to find out more about 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Rosé and all their wines, please visit them at: ninetypluscellars.com/

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails with Wine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Vinho Verde Wines. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Labor Day will soon be here. The end of summer is in sight…sigh. But I’m going to stretch these last few weeks of warm days and cool nights the best way I know how! With a picnic!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comPicnics sure have changed a lot since I was little, obviously. There’s definitely wine now. However, the bugs are still there in droves. But I get to stay out a lot later so…win!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comToday I’ve partnered with Vinho Verde Wines from Portugal to help you find an easy, breezy way to celebrate summer’s last hoorah. The Vinho Verde wine region has been producing these young wines for over 2,000 years and is home to Portugal’s largest wine region. While 86% of their wines are white, they also produce some red, rosé and sparkling wine as well as brandy. These wines are also super affordable, and pair well with food. In other words, a great picnic wine! Don’t think of these Vinho Verde wines as a summer sipper only though; they transition from Summer right into Fall and are the versatile wine to keep around all year long.

For our Labor Day picnic I’m bringing along this Avesso wine from the Vinho Verde region. This refreshing wine has aromas of citrus, peach, and almond with a slight acidity and touch of minerality. You can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also wonderful in a spritz cocktail, which we’ll make and take along.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comYou can’t have a picnic without some great picnic food too. And if we’re drinking Portuguese wine, we are definitely eating Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts). These light, slightly sweetened tarts hold up well outdoors. I have a few bakeries here in Los Angeles that I like to buy mine from, although I’m linking to a solid recipe below if you’d like to bake yours. I do like to dress mine up a bit for the picnic with some wine-candied lemon peels which I DO have a recipe for below using the same wine we’ll make spritzes with.

I’m feeling so ready to spread out a blanket, have a few spritz cocktails, and snack on some yummy tarts. I can feel that warm, late summer breeze now. So let’s open that wine and start putting this picnic together!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comA picnic should not be a stressful affair. Here’s some tips to help make your day go off without a hitch!

  • Pre-batch the spritz mix! The night before, measure out all the ingredients minus the soda water. Refrigerate the mix, and the next day bring along some ice, portion out the drinks, and top with the soda water!
  • No time to bake egg tarts, but want this transportable, delicious picnic snack? Buy them! Both Portuguese and Chinese bakeries are home to wonderful egg tarts.
  • You don’t need a picnic basket! Sure, they’re cute, but if you don’t have the space, or the desire to buy one, some reusable bags, a cooler, or even an old Amazon box will do. If it holds stuff, use it!
  • A combination wine opener/pocket knife. I’m a big fan of Opinel knives and they have a beautiful combo one. Get that wine open, zest a lemon, and cut up some tarts. Maybe whittle some sticks for marshmallow roasting later. It’s a like a picnic swiss army knife, but with only the most important tools.
  • And speaking of gadgets to have outdoors, I really love a double insulated wine chiller. If I’m going to be hanging out in the sun for a few hours at a picnic, I want to keep my wine cool.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comVinho Verde Spritz (makes one Spritz)

2 oz Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine
1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur
1 oz Bitter Bianco
1/4 oz Lemon syrup from candied lemon peels
3 oz Soda water
Lemon wheels

In a shaker filled with ice, pour in Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine, elderflower liqueur, Bitter Bianco, and lemon syrup. Shake 20 second and strain into a wine glass. Add fresh ice and pour in soda water. Stir gently to combine and garnish with lemon wheel.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comWine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata (Egg Tarts)

2 medium sized lemons
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2-1/3 cups water, divided
1/3 cup Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine

Using a wide vegetable peeler, zest the two lemons into wide strips making sure not to include of the white pith. Cut strips into quarter inch wide strips. Place strips in a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes uncovered. Drain. Rinse in cold water.

Return the lemon strips to the pan. Add in 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and wine. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until a syrup forms. About 8-10 minutes. Turn to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes until peels are translucent. Remove from heat. Pour remaining sugar onto a sheet pan and spread evenly around. Using a slotted spoon or fork, remove peels and place on sugar. Toss to coat peels in the sugar. Separate peels so none are sticking together. Move to a drying rack and let sit about one hour. Store in an airtight container. Will keep several months refrigerated.

Save syrup from pan into an airtight container. Refrigerate. Will keep up to one month.

Garnish tops of Pastéis de Nata with a few strands of the wine candied lemon peel and a few drops of their syrup.

**Feel like making your own tarts? Check out this recipe from Tasting Table for Pastéis de Nata.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.com

For more information on the Vinho Verde wine region, please visit them at winesofvinhoverde.com



Holiday Entertaining: What Type of Appetizer Am I The 30 Minute or Less Wine & Appetizer Pairing

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sonoma-Cutrer Wine. Recipe and ideas are my own.

No one wants to show up at a party this holiday season to find their host has given up on life and left just one type of appetizer out for everyone. But it happens. Don’t be that person.

Instead, cater to the 4 types of appetizer people. Yes folks, there are 4 types: classic appetizer person, fun appetizer person, bold appetizer person, and casual appetizer person.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Please don’t give me the side-eye when I say you should make 4 separate appetizers! See that bounty of food? Looks good doesn’t it? Looks like someone slaved away in a kitchen all day planning the perfect party bites to serve with their wine. But what if I told you all these dishes could be made in 30 minutes or less for YOUR Holiday Wine Pairing Party? Maybe you’d say, Elana, giiiiirrrrlll that couldn’t possibly be true. Or maybe, Elana, SIGN ME UP LET’S DO THIS.

I like your style friend. Let’s talk about a 30 minute or less Holiday Wine Pairing Party.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Today we’re in the kitchen with Sonoma-Cutrer pairing their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Les Pierres Chardonnay with these four different kinds of appetizers. Before you begin to pair some food with the wine, it’s helpful to know your wine. Have a few sips. What do you taste here?

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: blackberries, jam, vanilla and tobacco aromas with a silky, round flavor of spices and tart cherry fruit flavors.

Les Pierres Chardonnay: bright lemon aroma and subtle spicy aromas bursting with citrus flavors, spice and mineral notes.

Both of these wines are super food friendly, but for the perfect bites, I’m going to help you pair the right foods with them. However, let’s start with YOU first. What type of appetizer person are you?

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Classic (pairs with the Chardonnay): you’re wearing a sport coat or a LBD to this holiday party. And you like your appetizers to sound like an appetizer, but elevated. Smoked trout? Herbed cheese? It’s familiar yet different, and you’ll take 6.

Casual (pairs with the Pinot Noir): you’re not wearing a tie and 7pm start time is just a suggestion. A spoonful of marinated mushrooms to walk around and nibble on that only took 5 minutes to make? Sure, that’s cool.

Bold (pairs with the Chardonnay): so you went skydiving this morning and wore white after Labor Day. You need a savory twist with the world’s hottest pepper cheese to snack on and then tell your friends about.

Fun (pairs with the Pinot Noir): sparkly yoga pants are totally party pants and ugly holiday sweaters are the only appropriate sweater to wear this time of year. Just don’t double dip your Pigs in a Blanket in the cranberry mustard sauce or it’s a party foul for you.

Now you can help your guests choose which appetizer they are AND you’ll have a wine ready for them to drink it with. Ready to get cooking? Crack open some wine first and let’s go!

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Smoked Trout with Dill and Chive Cream Cheese on Crackers

Yields about 25 crackers
1 8 ounce packet cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp minced dill
1 8 ounce package smoked trout, shredded
crackers to serve, I prefer some with a little heft for this like oat crackers
Chives and Black Salt for garnish

Mix together softened cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives and dill. Set aside. Build your appetizer by spreading about 1-1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto the cracker. Top with shredded trout. Garnish with chopped chives and a big flake of black salt.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Pigs in a Blanket with Cranberry Mustard Sauce

1 pack little sausages
1 container crescent rolls
1 tsp dried thyme
1 10 ounce package cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp water
Pinch salt
½ cup dijon mustard

To make the Pigs in a Blanket: Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out crescent rolls and sprinkle thyme over dough, lightly pressing thyme into the dough. Cut crescent rolls in thirds. Wrap around sausages, gently pinching the dough ends together. Lay Pigs in a Blanket seam side down on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While Pigs are cooking, make the cranberry mustard.

To make the Cranberry Mustard Sauce: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium-high saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until cranberries release water and pop open, about 6-8 minutes, continue to stir until sauce has thickened slightly, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in dijon mustard. Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated up to one month.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Cheese Twists

Adapted from The Kitchn

2 sheets store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups spicy cheese like ghost pepper, finely grated

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Dust your counter or cutting board with 1/4 cup of cheese. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry over top of cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Fold the pastry in half. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Roll out again to 1/8-inch thick. I roll mine out about the size of a sheet pan.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into long strips roughly 1-inch wide. Twist strips and gently stick ends onto parchment to prevent un-twisting. Repeat with next sheet.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour (if you have time!).
  • Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Begin checking shorter straws after about 15 minutes, and longer straws after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once they are puffed and crispy, feel dry to the touch, and are deep golden.
  • Cool briefly on the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack or serving plate.
  • Serve warm or room temperature. Puff pastry straws are best served the same day they are made.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Simple Marinated Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces small button mushrooms (if you want to make it fancier, use mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms when oil is warm and sauté 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight, nonreactive container (I like Pyrex bowls for this), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, dill and kosher salt. Add warm mushrooms into the bowl and toss with the marinade, covering the mushrooms. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. Mushrooms will develop more flavor the longer they sit and are even better the next day if you have the time!

For more information on Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, please visit them at: www.sonomacutrer.com


Wine Scavenger Hunt with Sheep Thrills Wine

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.comSheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sheep Thrills Wine.

This year I’m trying to bring simple, spontaneous pleasures into a year that’s been… draining, to say the least. While I am thankful to spend this week with family, I wanted to switch things up a bit after the meal. So, what can you do to entertain a house full of guests this thanksgiving? Send them on a wine scavenger hunt!

If you’re looking to have some adventures with out-of-town guests while being told to stay out of the kitchen, or if you need an activity to do the day after the big meal instead of sitting around arguing politics with your curmudgeonly uncle, or you’re having a few (or 20) pals over for Friendsgiving and it’s going to be in the high 80’s and you don’t have air conditioning (hello, Los Angeles!), this is a fun one!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

We’ve teamed up with Sheep Thrills Wine this week to get you out of the house and on this wine adventure! I was always a huge fan of scavenger hunts as a kid and the other day, thinking of what to do with a house full of guests, I thought—adults like this game too! I mean, it’s going to be even better with wine involved.

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills wine, made in the Abruzzo region of Italy, is available in both a red blend and a Pinot Grigio so you’ve got your guests covered. And, with a price point that won’t break the bank (under $15 a bottle!!), you can afford to stock up and even give out a few bottles as prizes for winning the scavenger hunt. (Free wine is a big motivator to win a game. Trust me on this.)

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

Check out the printable below to play your own Sheep Thrills scavenger hunt. Or use it as a starting point to make your own game—just get outdoors and have fun!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Sheep Thrills Wine, please visit their website at www.sheepthrills.com

Late Summer Entertaining: Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad and a Picnic Giveaway!

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines, Regnié, Franck Cinquin, Domaine des Braves, 2014. Recipes and ideas are my own.

As we’re wrapping up Summer and starting to think about Fall, this is the time of year I start to stockpile my end of season summer fruits and veggies. And per usual, I overdo it with the produce.

For our end of summer entertaining post I thought I’d crack open a bottle of Beaujolais and show you this simple but flavorful dish you could serve up while we squeeze in the last few summer parties of the season (check the end of the post for our giveaway if you’re in need of some picnic swag!). Sometimes the perfect late summer get togethers can be as simple that: wine and a beautiful salad that showcases the bounty of the transitioning seasons.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comBut this is a spirits site, why are we talking salads?? Well, because we’ll be using that wine you’ll be serving your guests as an ingredient too! The star of the salad is the pickled stone fruit: nectarines, plums and cherries. These pickled stone fruit take a 3 day dip in a sweet and sour bath laced with wine and come out the other end transformed into some crazy delicious bites. I love it when I can incorporate elements from both the drinks and the food together for dishes.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comIn addition to this yummy salad, we’re also taking wine today. If we want to keep our get togethers simple and laid back, we also need a laid back wine. Enter Beaujolais; more specifically Régnié.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comRégnié (pronounced like rein-yay) is the ultimate outdoor entertaining wine. It’s food friendly and pretty much pairs with all those foods you’d want to eat at your outdoor fête. Charcuterie plate? Yes. Spinach salad? Yes. All the cheeses?!?!? Yes yes yes! That’s why we’re pairing this medium-bodied red Beaujolais (did you know Beaujolais comes in red, white AND rosé?) with our salad; the slightly spicy berry, tart and dry wine compliments the pungent, sweet and sour flavors of the pickled stone fruits as well as the salty goodness of the charcuterie and cheese perfectly.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comThe idea of this salad came about because, well…I’m not really a cracker person. Shocker, what?! Is that a thing?? I’m usually the odd one just eating cheese and meat slices off a fork; I just don’t want all the filler. My husband however is a water cracker connoisseur and is baffled by this approach to eating a cheese and charcuterie board. I thought that if I want to eat my meat and cheese and all the components of a well-dressed spread in a more substantial manner, I can put them all in a salad. The added bonus is the wine in the pickled stone fruits which punches their taste way up, and the resulting brine is an amazing substitute to plain old vinegar in the dressing for the salad.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comAre you guys ready to throw one last summer party now?

Here are some tips for serving your wine, party style:
  • Beaujolais is a pocket friendly wine, so stock up for the party
  • serve Régnié at slightly cooler than room temp but never totally chilled (and it’s fine if you forget and leave it at room temp too!)
  • don’t be afraid to pair this wine with “picnic” foods: fried chicken, crab dip, pâtés…
  • serve it all day long: Beaujolais is easy to drink from apps to dessert and everything in between

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comWine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad

1-1/2 cup of pickled stone fruits plus 2 tablespoons of brine, reserved (recipes follow)
4 ounces sliced prosciutto and salami
1/4 cup sliced cornichons
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 cups mixed greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper
basil, chives, parsley, basil flowers for garnish
toasted baguette slices, optional

Start by mixing together brine, olive oil and salt and pepper to make a dressing. Build your salad by placing greens on a large plate and top with stone fruits, charcuterie, cornichons, olives, and cheese. Toss to combine and top with fresh herbs. Optionally serve toasted baguette slices to mop up any juices left over on your plate.

Pickled stone fruit

4 large stone fruits (mix of nectarine, plums and/or peaches), sliced into 1/2″ slices
1-1/2 cups white vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper, whole
1 teaspoon coriander, whole
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, pour in white vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved. Stir in chili flakes, black pepper, coriander, star anise and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Place the stone fruit slices in a large glass container and pour the hot liquid over the fruit and stir in wine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. Let the mixture sit for three days for best taste. Keeps up to two weeks.

*Sweet and pungent with a nice lingering heat from the small addition of chili flakes.

Pickled cherries

adapted from Whole Foods

1-1/2 cups cherries, pitted
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, add in water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, coriander, cardamom pods, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and wine. In a medium sized glass container, place cherries at the bottom and pour hot mixture over them. Let cherry mixture cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for three days for best flavor. Keeps up to two weeks.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

*Sweet, sour and spicy!

Up Your Beaujolais Game! from Honest Cooking on Vimeo.

You’ve got your wine, you’ve got a tasty salad, and now you guys need some picnic swag! Enter below for a chance to win a Wine Picnic Bag for 4 valued at $119! (Giveaway ends 10/15/17)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information on Régnié and all theBeaujolais wines, please visit DiscoverBeaujolais.com today!



Stir and Strain X LAWine Fest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comThis weekend we’re sending our wine-man-on-the-town Robin Watts to check out the 11th annual LAWine Fest here in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on what’s haute in the wine world. Robin will be posting on our Instagram with his must pours and give you guys a little behind the scenes action. If you’re not in Los Angeles this will be a great way to check out what’s up and coming in the wine world, and if you ARE in Los Angeles: JOIN US!! LAWine fest has a special code for Stir and Strain readers. Using the code FEST2016 on lawinefest.com, tickets can be purchases for the special rate of $45.00, instead of the $90.00 door price. Guys, that’s 50% off!

Here’s a little more info on the event:

  • L.A.’s largest and longest-running consumer wine tasting event, LAWineFest aims to make the world of wine fun and accessible for Angelenos. Founded in 2005 by renowned wine personality Dr. Joel M. Fisher, LAWineFest became a family business when daughter Sara Fisher Chapin began running the company in 2012. LAWineFest proudly supports local organizations while serving as the Southland’s signature celebration of wine.
  • Participants you will also have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a wide variety of reasonably-priced artisan boutiques, gourmet foods, wine-related accessories and local lifestyle ‘must have’ products.
  • Wineries will be doing online sales and wine-club sign-ups, and non- wine exhibitors will be selling their wares directly at the event.
  • Offers a rare opportunity for true wine lovers to taste select small-batch pours from hard-to-find boutique wineries at a small, additional fee. This private area will include 25 winery gems and tickets for this will be limited to 400 people per day to provide a more personal experience for this exclusive tasting.
  • Not only does it balance fun, exploration and education, but with a portion of the event’s proceeds, LAWineFest proudly supports The Sunshine Kids for pediatric cancer. You can find more information about the history at LAWineFest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comLocation: Sunset Bronson Studios, 5901 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028. The cross streets are Sunset Blvd and N. Bronson Avenue.
Dates and times: Saturday June 25th from 2pm-7pm and Sunday June 26th from 2pm-6pm.
Cost of Admission and Ticketing: Tickets are $90 per day (single, general admission), $120 per day (single, universal admission and includes boutique wine tasting), and $15 (designated drivers—no drinking).
What is included with ticket: General Admission covers tastings, commemorative glass, event program, main stage shows, bottled water and vendor samples.
Website | Ticketing site

 

The Not-Your-Ordinary Valentine’s Day Wine (Report) with Robin Watts!

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comYou’ve got options for Valentine’s Day folks. Sexy, sexy wine options.

Robin Watts is back this month and he’s gone and picked an impressive line up of wines for your weekend. Pop open a few of these for a loved one, or do what I did: get thirsty reading these descriptions and finish them yourself. It’s going to be hard to pick just one…

-Elana



When I set out to pick a few wines for the impending Valentine’s Day weekend I thought I would end up going a possibly cliche route and selecting only French or Italian wines. So “romantic” and European! Truth be told, I was seduced by some domestic stuff as well and I think you, and maybe someone else in your life, might be too.

 

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Broc Cellars Love White
California
Retails apx. $20

This is a California white that I would recommend to any white drinker who doesn’t usually, or won’t, drink California white wine. This blend of Marsanne (85%), Roussanne (12%), and Viogner (3%) has some very distinctly European sensibilities about it. Aromatic and floral with overtones of pear and bit of honey I think that this wine works well as a starter or even accompanying an entree of lighter fair. And lets be honest, this holiday places a lot on aesthetics and this is nice looking bottle with a couple hearts on it. It’s called Love White!!! This wine will help you fit in with the cliche and trite parts of the holiday while its corked but surprise you and spoil you once it’s uncorked.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Gragnano from Poggio delle Bacanti
Italy
Retails apx. $15

There is not a lot of information to be found on this wine but for around $15, and sometimes less, you’ll be drinking this so fast you probably won’t care. Mildly effervescent, it pours and froths like a lambrusco but drinks relatively still (and dry!). I prefer it with a decent chill on it and think its versatility lend it to any day part but, if pairing it with food, go heartier. Being from Napoli, and for some reason very mysterious, I have to assume this is Aglianico and Piedirosso which explains the earthy, leathery quality. There is something satisfyingly vegetal about this, almost as if an olive and a cranberry had a baby but it was raised by a beet and an eggplant. I recommend finishing this savory dry surprise the day you open it but I doubt that should be a difficult task.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comL’Unique Gaz de Schiste
France
Retails apx. $24

Just go buy this. I should just say that and tell you to trust me. Pink? Check. Bubbly? Check. Delicious? Check. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. I think its perfect for any time, any place, and probably any person. 50% Grenache/50% Mourvedre and six month of bottle maturation make for one elegant bottle of bubbly. A little bit sweet, this sparkler is a tart, minerally, grapefruit-y, creamy treat. At first, it smells like you’ve opened the most exquisite bag of gummy worms (I mean that in the best, most respectful way) and the first sip conjures up images of the most impressive fruit trifle and leaves you with a macadamia kiss. Yeah. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed to say any of that. This stuff is that good and functions perfectly as an aperitif or dessert. Get a bottle for someone you love, especially if that person is yourself.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Bow & Arrow Gamay
Oregon
Retails apx. $24

Bow & Arrow knows what they’re doing. This Willamette Valley Gamay is soft, luscious, velvety, and just the slightest bit dirty, but in a good way. A very good way. Valentine’s Day appropriate for multiple reasons, the label, covered in tiny arrows, will help you play up holiday Cupid motifs while impressing your sweetheart with a wine that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate bar filled with cherries and almonds. Perfect for someone who thinks they’re afraid of tannins, though be warned, they are there, this wine just gets better as it opens up. Halfway through your first bottle I’d suggest opening a second if for no other reason than to smell that luscious mulberry aroma one more time. Great acidity makes this a lovely food wine but its just as satisfying by itself. This is a wine you can proudly pour with confidence in hopes to impress a special someone new or remind a longtime partner that you can still enjoy the good stuff without breaking the bank.

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts and find all his wine picks here at Wine Wine Wine

Follow Stir and Strain on Delectable too!

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts!

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com

This time of year there is a golden quality to the light that I just love. I always associate it with the end of Fall, even if winter is still a few weeks away. It reminds me of gilded tables and pies and the anticipation of family gatherings. Thanksgiving is this week and as you plan your final meal details, let’s help you check off which wines to get.

Robin Watts is back with your wine picks for this week’s feast of feasts. If you’re looking for not only some tasty wines, but some BOLD graphic bottles to grace your table… here you go.

-Elana


Thanksgiving is coming and that means another opportunity for drinking! Y’know, among other things. My favorite holiday, and meal, of the year can bring as much excitement as it can anxiety. One thing I’ve always found at large group meal functions is that finding a wine everyone can agree on is near impossible. There is always the one person who ONLY drinks this or the other guy who NEVER drinks that. This is why I’ve tried to pick four wines that at least offer something unique enough that they will appeal to someone and maybe even convert a few skeptics.

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts- Populis // stirandstrain.com2014 POPULIS WHITE
California
Retails apx. $20-24

Coming from just outside Napa this fuller bodied white is great for Chardonnay drinkers and non Chardonnay drinkers alike. Roughly 75% Chardonnay to 25% Colombard this wine stays big but with a brighter more crisp and refreshing acidity than just your average California Chardonnay. Done in neutral oak it isn’t big and oaky but rather heavier on the melon notes and honey notes that are quickly followed by something much more interesting. This is why I love it. Its kind of funky. Those bright notes are quickly followed by more savory flavors. Artichoke, Brussels sprouts, damp hay, hint of pear, and in all honesty, fried chicken. I was initially caught off guard by this wine and couldn’t stop drinking it because each sip revealed something unexpected. It was like having a savory sorbet. Any “sweetness” that you get is like that from caramelized onions rather than juicy fruit. This wine is great with food but can easily be enjoyed before anything substantial is finished cooking.

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts - Clarine // stirandstrain.com2014 LA CLARINE “JAMBALAIA ROUGE”
California
Retails apx. $20-24

This is another great versatile wine that I think acts as a great transition from white to red. While predominately Mourvedre and Grenache this wine is 14% Marsanne with a smidge of Fiano and Arneis thrown in. Red AND white. This wine drinks like a rose’s juicy baritone cousin. Think berries but smokey berries. This isn’t to say that the 48% Mourvedre doesn’t provide fantastic structure and soft tannins. You’ll find that out on the finish which is why I think this wine could appeal to people who say they like only reds and people who say they don’t like tannic wine. It is a softer tannic finish than, say, a Cabernet Sauvignon, think more like that of a Nebiolo. (Note: this doesn’t taste like a Nebbiolo!) If you find yourself enjoying Rhone blends maybe have a glass of this first. This is great wine to serve to people who may not know what they want. A versatile crowd pleaser that drinks well chilled or at room temperature this wine could be a great red for those afraid to leave the easy drinking safety of their whites.

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts - Perra // stirandstrain.com2014 SAN ESTEBAN “LA PERRA GORDA”
Spain
Retails apx. $15

Just so we aren’t exclusively drinking domestic wines I think Spain is a great consideration for this fall. Less prestige than that associated with French, and to a certain extent Italian wines, with Spanish wine there are some real bargains to be had. This is a great example. At $15 this wine drinks like a much more expensive and impressive wine. While this is the biggest wine of the group, this inky curious blend of grapes gives you all the leather, black currant, and white pepper you’d want from a bigger wine but does it with a lighter softer touch. Incredibly dry finishing these grippy tannins are preceded by a soft round mouthfeel. A great red for your “I only drink red wine” guests on Thanksgiving that won’t overshadow or overpower any dish on the table. As an added bonus on the conversation starter front, the name of this wine has at least one translation that, given the working knowledge of Spanish many Americans have, can seem a little cheeky and fun on a holiday centered around eating.

The Thanksgiving Wine Report with Robin Watts - Presto // stirandstrain.comDOMAINE SEAILLES “PRESTO” COTES DE GASCOGNE
France

Retails apx. $13

Years of waiting tables and bar tending has taught me that people love to drink wine but don’t necessarily love to be bogged down by knowing more than a few varietals. White drinkers, more often than not, automatically ask for one of three varietals with sauvignon blanc leading the pack. Why not serve a wine that satisfies that crisp, clean, bright white craving but exceeds the expectations of your casual sauvignon blanc drinker? This 50/50 sauvignon blanc/sauvignon gris gives you that great melon and white peach flavor on the front end with subtler notes of lime, lemongrass, and green apple on the back end. This is an acidic, and organic, crowd pleaser that is perfect to drink while preparing your thanksgiving feast. A welcome cool down in the heat of the kitchen for under $15.

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts and find all his wine picks here at Wine Wine Wine

Follow Stir and Strain on Delectable too!