Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvest Wine Dinner a Fall Feast for the Senses

There's an indescribable sense of comfort I glean from wine dinners; the joy of sitting down with friends to handcrafted cuisine and tasty wines carefully paired with each morsel.
I enjoyed one such meal recently, an organic Farm-to-Table menu prepared by Executive Chef Sean O'Connell at bluEmber Restaurant inside Rancho Las Palmas Resort. Chef O'Connell selected produce from locally based County Line Farms, which David Dees of JAQK Cellars then paired with some exquisite wines.
Selections included Chanterelle-baked pan squash with grilled asparagus matched with the lush and easy-drinking Pearl Handle Chardonnay.
The earthy and flavorful mushroom and squash combined well with the creamy and lemony notes in the wine. I'm not typically a Chard lover, but this version has certainly captured the attention of my fickle palate.
Zippy heirloom tomato and tender squash blossoms were a tasty treat when matched up with the tummy-warming favorite of the night, Soldiers of Fortune Syrah. Full of cherries and chocolate, taking the first sip of this wine is like opening gifts on Christmas morning. It is easily my favorite in the JAQK lineup.
We also enjoyed vanilla salmon confit with JAQK's spicy Black Clover Merlot, the notes of vanilla bean in the wine making it a solid choice for this dish.
JAQK's tobacco-inflected High Roller Cab was smooth on the palate with a pull-apart slow-braised wagyu short rib beef perched atop creamy polenta.
For the grand finale, we inhaled a cardamom-spiced pumpkin cheesecake that was light as air and also paired with the High Roller Cab, which took on an almost sherry-like quality when sipped with this decadent dessert.
Suffice it to say, I'm still dreaming of Syrah and squash blossoms...
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Special thanks to:
JAQK Cellars
bluEmber Restaurant:


Monday, October 24, 2011

Get Your Tickets Now for the Sweet n' Savory Convention

What could be better than the enticing aroma of red wine, herbs, and short ribs simmering in a crockpot?
Not much else, apparently. Now add some veggies, bittersweet chocolate, clove, cocoa and chili powders, a dash of cinnamon, and let this convention of sweet and savory meld overnight for ten hours on low. (Of course there's a bit more to it, but you'll have to wait for the book to find out exactly what). Regardless, I awoke to a meal like no other.
A feast like this deserves nothing less than a hefty, big fruited wine to join the flavor party. I chose a 2009 Llama Old Vine Malbec.
This wine is full of chocolate and spices, and is rich and full of deep cherry flavors, just like the rustic style of the short ribs, which sat atop homemade sweet potato mash. Now if only our wines could be as 'fork tender' as this mouth-watering repast...

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