Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cahors Malbecs and American Wagyu Beef Asian BBQ #Winophiles


The #Winophiles bloggers are invited by Nicole of Somm's Table to explore the birthplace of Malbec, Cahors in France. Some of us are lucky to receive samples from the Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins de Cahors (UIVC) via the coordination from Jill of L'occasion. A big shout-out to everyone who contributes to the process! Malbec is a beef lover’s mate. Let’s take a look at how my American Wagyu beef BBQ plays out with the three Malbec samples I got: 2016 Château Lamartine Cuvée Particulière Cahors, 2018 Château du Cèdre Extra Libre Malbec, and 2018 Château de Gaudou Le Sang de Ma Terre Malbec. First, let’s learn about the region.
CAHORS AOC – 70% Malbec + 30% Merlot/Tannat
Cahors is a deep red wine (known locally as Côt, Auxerrois and “Vin noir de Cahors”), made from grapes grown in or around the town of Cahors, in the Southwest part of France. Cahors is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) (Controlled designation of origin) in the French Southwest wine region, with the dominant grape variety of Malbec (a minimum of 70% of the wine) and a supplement of Merlot and Tannat (up to 30%). 
Photo Credit: wineguy.co.nz
GEO & TERROIR – Southwest of France + 2 Terroir Areas
Along the river, from Cahors and the surrounding area to the village of Soturac, the vineyard follows the river from east to west for some 60 km. Although the eastern part of the vineyard is 75 minutes north of Toulouse, the western part lies on the borders of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, just over 2 hours’ drive east of Bordeaux.
Photo Credit: UIVC
The Cahors vineyard consists of two major terroir areas, Causse and Valley, with very different landscapes. “Causse” is perched higher up, at an altitude of 250 to 350 meters. This is the hillsides and limestone plateau terroir, which is less fertile than the terraces and less influenced by the river. Temperature contrasts between day and night result in the grapes ripening later, with less flesh but undeniable finesse.
The other area is in the “Valley”. This is a “terrace” terroir created by the Lot river.
·       The “first terrace” terroir is located closest to the river. It consists of young and fertile alluvium, with sandy loam soils that yield light, fruity wines.
·       The “second terrace” is five meters higher. This is a limestone terroir where runoff has extracted the finest and most fertile soil elements, with the presence of rounded pebbles. The more clayey soil, when compared to the first terrace, retains water, providing the vineyard with stable hydration and giving the wine body and depth.
·       The “third terrace” consists of two types of soils: a more gravelly limestone soil nearer the plateau, giving the wines great finesse; and a clayey-limestone soil giving the wines fruitiness and strength.
WINES –  Lamartine Cuvée Particulière / Extra Libre / Le Sang de Ma Terre Malbec
The 2016 Château Lamartine Cuvée Particulière Cahors consists of 90% Malbec, 10% Tannat and is produced from old vines from the 2nd and 3rd terrace of the Lot Valley.  In addition to its intensity and complexity, the Cuvée Particulière Cahors exhibits a hint of licorice with the layering of smokiness, dark chocolate, and spices. The 10% Tannat undoubtedly plays a role in the added tannin that makes this wine uniquely complementary to grassy and fatty beef such as Wagyu beef.

The 2018 Château du Cèdre Extra Libre Malbec has 90% Malbec and 10% Merlot, and has no added sulfites. It’s produced from grapes coming from two different types of soil: the first terroir, composed of stony clay and limestone, produces straightforward wines with fine tannins, whereas more powerful and dense wines derive from soils composed of clay, sand and rich in pebbles. The Extra Libre reveals an intense aroma of red and dark fruit. It’s soft on the palate, well-rounded and fresh that will accompany well with non-saucy beef dishes.
2018 Château de Gaudou Le Sang de Ma Terre Malbec is a 100% Malbec, produced mainly on the third terraces but also on the limestone plateau in the Causse of the AOC Cahors by the Durou family. This wine is young, packed with black fruits and dominated by tannins. A dense expression of Malbec from old vines, it has a spicy character. A great wine to go with beef BBQ!
Standing Waygu Beef BBQ at Yakiniku Jiromau in Tokyo
AMERICAN WAGYU BEEF BBQ
A recent trip to Japan introduced me to the world of Wagyu (i.e., Japanese cows) beef, which is a heavenly experience for beef lovers. Due to the intense fat-marbling of these Japanese cows, the beef, especially the cut of the cow belly, literally melts in your mouth and has an exquisite taste and texture. It’s worth it even though we are talking about around US$5 for a piece of the size of a bandage.
Korean Indoor BBQ at home
To pair these Cahors Malbecs, I can’t think of a better alternative than this fat-marbling beef and found the American version of it via Crowdchow, which is an affordable way to enjoy Wagyu beef sourced in the US.
Yamamoto 100% Black Wagyu Cow - Photo Credit: Crowdchow.com
The Wagyu beef strips I purchased are from the Yamamoto Ranch located in Palestine, Texas. With the help of modern breeding techniques, Yamamoto’s 100% Black Wagyu herd are completely traceable to Japan. The herd, all born and raised on the ranch, is comprised of the Takeda genetics the ranch purchased directly from this highly recognized Wagyu legend from Japan. The herd at Yamamoto are fed corn in addition to grazing on nearly 1,000-acres of Coastal Bermuda in addition to hay and a grain mixture. Yamamoto Wagyu are finished on all-natural, non-GMO hay and grain, resulting in a taste and texture only found in Wagyu — luscious marbling, supreme tenderness and mellow, beefy flavor.

To truly showcase the taste of this American Wagyu beef, I opted to do a Korean BBQ – an indoor grill that sits on a portable gas burner.  As inspired by dipping sauces used in the Japanese Wagyu beef BBQ joint in Tokyo, I have prepared four types of savory condiments as the dipping sauces for the Wagyu beef stripes: regular soya sauce, sugary soya sauce (reduced to syrupy consistency in the sauce pan), Ponzu citrus seasoned soya sauce and rock salt. I personally loved the rock salt with the beef as the true grassy and beefy flavors were unmasked, while my family preferred the syrupy sugary soya sauce. The technique to cook these thinly sliced beef strips is to put them on the hot grill quickly like 1 minute on each side. Dip them in the sauces of your choice and enjoy it with a bowl of brown rice as well as side vegetable dishes (e.g., Asian cucumber salad, sautéed mushrooms, stir-fried cabbage and scallion).
Although there are various degrees of intensity and complexity of these Cahors Malbecs, overall, these wines do a perfect tango with the fatty and grassy beef. When Malbec is a beef lover’s mate, these Cahors Malbecs are soulmates to this Wagyu beef!

Disclaimer: wines are samples. Opinions are mine.


Check out our blogger friends’ Cahors Malbec exploration and see what dishes they pair with these wines:

Jane from Always Ravenous explores the "Flavors of Fall Paired with Cahors Malbec"
Cathie of Side Hustle Wino looks at "Cahors  - The Birthplace of Malbec"
Jill from L’Occasion shares "Cahors, a French Classic"
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be posting "Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec + Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs"  
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm samples "A Trio of Cahors Wine and the Pairings Served"  
Jeff of FoodWineClick! gives us "The Malbec You Never Knew: Cahors"
Linda of My Full Wine Glass shares "Newbies to Old-World Malbec Discover Cahors"
Cindy of Grape Experiences explores "The Old-World Style of Malbec from Cahors"
Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen give us "French Malbecs Meet Chinese Duck" 

Gwen from Wine Predator shares From Cahors: Biodynamic Chateau du Cedre Malbec with French Charcuterie

Pinny of Chinese Food & Wine Pairings matches Cahor Malbecs and Waygu Beef

Cynthia and Pierre of Traveling Wine Profs give us "Cahors, Hainan Chicken Rice, and the Stories Wine Books Tell"

Susannah of Avvinare will be Shedding Light on Old World Malbec from Cahors

Payal of Keep the Peas discusses Cahors: What Put Malbec on the Map

Rupal of Syrah Queen will posting Cahors - Tasting “Black Wines” With The Original Malbec

David of Cooking Chat pairs Mushroom Truffle Risotto with Cahors Malbec
Nicole will be "Bringing Home Cahors with Clos D’Audhuy" here on Somm's Table.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Roadmap to Explore the Granite Belt Wine Country in 48 hours


The Granite Belt Wine Country
The Granite Belt wine region is located in Queensland, Australia, and is famous for producing cool climate wines and emerging grape varieties, “Strange Birds”. This region is the highest wine region (ranging from 800 to 1200 meters above sea level) in Australia. With its unique terroir, longer growing season and deep granitic gravels, this region consistently produces wines of elegance and complexity. The region also has absolute freedom to grow any grapes that make sense to the owners, their customers, and their land. I have visited this amazing wine region two days ago with the #WBC19 crew and wanted to share my great experience right away. Here comes the "roadmap" that you can use to book and arrange everything you need for a memorable 48-hour wine excursion. Be ready for fantastic wines, great food, and proud wine people!


AIR TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION
The Granite Belt wine region is approximately 2 ½ hours drive from the Brisbane Airport (BNE). If you have a designated driver or share driving among friends and family, renting a car is an option. The safest bet is to hire a wine tour specialist such as Filippos Tours, which knows Stanthorpe (the heart of Granite Belt) inside out. Burt, our driver and tour guide, has deep local knowledge of the wineries and can help plan how many wineries you can visit, given the time you have.

ACCOMMODATION
While there are quite a few motel options in the area, staying at the Granite Belt Motel, which is located in Stanthorpe, would be a great idea. Most of the rooms are recently renovated and have nice décor. Delicious breakfast can be prepared by the motel owner Lou. Some of the wineries also offer accommodation right at their location if you prefer to be more cozy with a particular winery.


WINES
Theresa from Heritage Estate walks us through her wines
Heritage Estate Wine, a 5-star 2020 Halliday* Wine Companion, has produced award-winning wines since 2004. Try their 2019 Fiano, which is a lusciously fruity and textured white wine. In addition to the impressive wines, pre-book with Theresa and Robert to sit around the 160 years old leather-topped rosewood table and have a grand dining experience. 
* James Halliday is a well-known Australian wine writer and critic, winemaker, and senior wine competition judge. Think Robert Parker in the US.
Brad from Savina Lane is pouring Graciano for tasting
Savina Lane is known for producing premium hand-crafted wines from single vineyard hand-picked fruit. Contact the owner Brad or Cheryl, to see if their Cellar Door is open. They are running out of current wine releases for walk-in customers. If you have the opportunity, try their 2015 Graciano, which has red cherry aromas and hints of dark chocolate and white pepper.
Michael from Jester Hill talks about his beautiful Rose
Jester Hill Wines is a French Provincial style vineyard, cellar door, and cafe in the Granite Belt. It has a long list of top-notched wines, ranging from the unique Sparkling Rousanne (methode traditionale) to tannic Petit Verdot. Michael, the owner of the winery, is known as the man who does everything in the vineyard and winery by himself. Ann, another owner, serves to-die-for hors d'oeuvre and platters to accompany your wine tasting experience in their out-/indoor cafe.
Ballandean Estate Wines, the oldest winery in Granite Belt, has been producing fine wines since 1932. Having the bloodline of an Italian family, Leeanne truly embraces the Italian tradition while optimizing the freedom given by Granite Belt to produce emerging varieties. Try 2016 ‘Messing About’ Saperavi, a variety that’s originated in Georgia. It’s a full-bodied, ink-purple red wine that would go well with beef steaks or lamb chops. Try also the home-made pasta in tomato sauce with a glass of Chardonnay or Shiraz in their Barrel Café.
Raymond from Golen Grove starts with the Whites
Golden Grove Estate has been awarded by the Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology (ASVO) as the 2019 Winery of the year, including Winemaker and viticulturalist of the year. Raymond, the winemaker, has produced a full spectrum of wines that suit every taste. Out of the sparklers, whites, and reds, the 2018 Durif is a true stand-out. It’s tannic but elegant, a perfect red wine for game meats.
Twisted Gum Wines believes in sustainability and no irrigation
Twisted Gum Wines produces single-vineyard non-irrigated wines. Its owner Michelle is fully aware of the impacts (e.g., global warming) from the climate changes and aligns their vinicultural strategy to deal with them. Since the region is currently experiencing drought and unusual heat for the season, Michelle believes the vines that are trained to grow with a water source in the deeper soil will survive these climate impacts. Try 2019 Chardonnay that’s fresh and un-oaked, allowing wine lovers to taste the fruit.
Hidden Creek Wines are seeking a niche

Hidden Creek serves some alternative varieties such as Tempranillo Verdelho and Viognier, which are “Strangebirds” for the region. Andy, the owner, believes in making wines with a ‘niche’ that consumers will remember it uniquely from a producer. Try their 2018 Viognier, which is stone-fruit, textured, and has a hint of ginger. Leanne, another owner, also brews great expresso in winery's café.

Carefully done pairing between food and wines at QCWT
Queensland College of Wine Tourism is a joint venture between the University of Southern Queensland and the Department of Education, Training and Employment. The College grows its own grapes and produces wines under its brand, Banca Ridge. The wines are made from fruit largely grown in the surrounding Stanthorpe State High School and QCWT vineyards, and many of our wines are locally produced alternative varieties. Try their 2017 Methode Traditionelle Sparkling with a charcuterie board before a sit-down dinner at their Varia Restaurant. The 4-course dinner we had was carefully paired with wines to showcase the food.

Sirromet, O'Reilly's and Ocean View Wines are served at the #WBC19 lunch
Sirromet Wines, which is located at Mt Cotton Brisbane, is the largest cellar dollar that showcases wines from the Granite Belt wine region. Mike Hayes, the Director of Viticulture and Chief Winemaker, has 39 years of wine-making experience and is the ASVO’s winemaker of the year of 2017. A wine geek detail that was shared by Mike was the Paulsen 1103, which is a grape that can fight extreme drought and heat, may have a great future in the Granite Belt area. Try Sirromet's Sparkling Shiraz, which goes perfectly well with a buffet that features salmon, mussel, and cured meats. O'Reilly and Ocean View wines were also served at the #wbc19 lunch at Sirromet.


ROCK
For keen outdoorsy, climb up to the Pyramid in the Girraween National Park for a breath-taking view if you can. On your path to the top or even on the less challenging paths in the park, you’ll see massive granite outcrops, large angular tors, and precariously balanced boulders.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Hong Kong “Add Oil”– Eat Local Flair & Drink Wines!


I learned to process the new Hong Kong after it has been through three months of anti-government protests since June in my recent visit. Being born and raised in Hong Kong, never in a day I felt sad and hopelessness about this global city I love until recently. I don’t have an answer in terms of how Hong Kong can break through the current perpetual cycle of political turmoil and civil unrest. I do believe Hong Kong will overcome these adversaries with strengths and the never-give-up attitude one day. 
Posters to urge political reform posted near Fortress Hill Subway Station
As I was wandering around the seemingly emptier streets of the old neighborhood on  Saturday evening, I walked passed a couple of the neighborhood restaurants which serve affordable local delicacy for many years – true good eats that can only be found in Hong Kong. I feel that the only way to resume hope is to continue doing what one does best and to focus on the positivity of life that matters to you. In my case, let’s eat some local delicacy and drink some wines!
The legendary and Michelin-awarded Sister Wah Chinese Noodle Restaurant has been serving noodle soups for many years. To make the signature beef brisket in clear soup, they use fresh local beef braised in stock with over 10 different herbs. Most items on the menu are at around US$6-7 each.
I ordered the beef brisket soup with vegetable rice to go. To pair this meal, I have found a 187 ml-bottle of Australian Hardy’s Nottage Hill Cabernet Shiraz in the local grocery store. This Nottage Hill Cabernet Shiraz is a great table wine, which has the ripe red berry notes that’s lively and easy-going. It’s off-dry and goes well with the beef brisket which is lean yet wrapped with a layer of fat.
Hand-shredded poached chicken is another local flair that’s perfect as a side dish. Using the chicken legs, they are poached, hand-shredded, tossed in salt and white pepper and served at room temperature. What’s so unique about this dish is that the chicken is sourced locally in Hong Kong – translating into freshness and the rich taste of a chicken.
Another cold side dish that is perfect for summer is the pork stomach slices. The pork stomach is washed carefully to remove any mucus inside the stomach lining prior to poaching. It is poached with Sichuan peppercorn, ginger, and scallion, and is then tossed in salt, white pepper, and a little bit MSG. The Nottage Hill Cabernet Shiraz is a causal daily red wine that doesn’t overpower these types of cold summer dishes.
These two cold side dishes are the signature dishes from Hau Hing Yu Kee, which is a chain store specializing in these affordable cold side dishes.

What a satisfying meal that’s uniquely Hong Kong! 

#TreasureHongKong #hongkongaddoil










Friday, September 27, 2019

Celebrating Abruzzo Wines with the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay #ItalianFWT

For the month of October, #ItalianFWT bloggers are invited to explore Abruzzo wines with Dave from Cooking Chat. It was also awesome to receive some wine samples of this region from Donna White through the support of Gwen from Wine Predator. Thank you all for making this pairing experience so easy and enjoyable. Having the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montuplciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay in hand, let the celebration begin!


TRAVEL
Abruzzo is located between the Adriatic Sea and the massifs of Gran Sasso d’Italia and Majella. Blessed with the strong temperature contrasts between day and night as well as the good ventilation, the terroir ensures an ideal microclimate for the vines and produce grapes of high quality. Approximately 65% of the region is situated in the inland mountain region and is distinguished by a continental climate, while the rest is the coastal area that has broad hilly strip and mild climate.
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
Montepulciano is one of the most widespread indigenous grape varieties in the region and represents more than half the regional vine base. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo alone represents over 80% of the total number of DOC wines produced in Abruzzo and is one of the top three DOC wines produced in Italy. This is followed by the white grape Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, another protagonist in Abruzzo’s wine history. There are also a series of native, national and international grape varieties such as Passerina, Pecorino, Cococciola and then Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.

WINE & FOOD

Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP 2017 ($10 SRP)*


Wine Description
Codice Citra was founded in 1973 when 3,000 small family growers decided to unite to form a winery dedicated to quality. The property, with its 6,000 hectares—14,800 acres—covers the majority of the Chieti province. Since its foundation, Codice Citra has focused on cultivating the most important, indigenous grape varieties within the province of Chieti.

About the Vineyard
These family owned properties, some with only one hectare, create a mosaic of small vineyards stretching north to south along the Adriatic coast and east to west from the sea to Majella Mountain. The range of climate and topography offers unparalleled quality and variety.

Wine Production
Hand-harvested grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks with a long maceration at a controlled temperature. The must is frequently pumped over to intensify the aromatics and the color. The wine is then finished in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes
Deep ruby in color with purple highlights. Classic Montepulciano aromas of wild berry, dried herbs, and black pepper are framed by chewy tannin and bright acidity.

The Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is made of 100% Montepulciano grape. When thinking about what food to pair with this wine, many ideas came to my mind – roast beef, Guazzetto oxtail or aged cheddar cheeses. However, I decided to marinate pork belly in different sauces and seasonings, and put them on the grill, making the last use of the outdoor BBQ for the summer season.


The pork belly I picked up from Costco was pre-cut to ¼ inch thick and is around 12 inches long for each piece. I then cut them in half by length and marinated them with the sauces and seasonings overnight. The fun part for this dish was to marinate the pork belly in 8 different flavors, making a pork belly tasting flight. The marinating sauces/seasonings I used are chili sauce; ginger, scallion and salt; 5 spice and soya sauce; Montreal stick seasonings; salt and rice wine; fish sauce and dried onion flakes; fermented tofu sauce; and Hoisin and Oyster sauces. When grilling the pork belly, I started with the lowest heat to allow the meat to fully cook inside. After 20 minutes, I turned the grill to medium heat so the meat can pick up the charcoal flavor and color and became crispy. The Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a perfect wine for the pork belly as its yeasty and blackberry flavors go so well with the deeply flavored pork. The bright acidity also cut through the fatty layer of the pork belly and made it extra juicy and light. I cut the pork belly up in cubes and it was amazing to see how fun it was to pop a pork cube in the mouth and sip this wine along, perpertually!

Passerina IGP Terre di Chieti 2017 ($26 SRP)*

Wine Description
Ferzo,” in Italian refers to a patch of fabric that, when stitched together with others, creates a sail. The union of the finest viticultural “patches” in Abruzzo gives life to Ferzo, a distinctive line of wines which embody the best of region’s indigenous grape varieties.

About the Vineyard
The vineyards that source Ferzo Passerina are found in the rolling hills that stretch between the Adriatic Sea in the East to the Appenine Mountains in the West. The relationship between mountains and sea is always felt in this part of Italy as temperature variations yield a constant breeze known here as the "brezza di terra".

Wine Production
Native to Abruzzo, the Passerina grape produces wines of tremendous character. The grapes are expertly farmed in pristine vineyards before undergoing a gentle pressing and 6-hour cold soak before fermentation in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes
Medium yellow in color, bursting with bright aromas of ripe stone fruit, mineral, citrus blossom, and freshly cut grass. Lively and aromatic with a balanced and refreshing finish.
Monkfish - Photo Credit: thelocalcatch.com
To pair with this exclusive Ferzo Passerina, I have grilled some monkfish chunks. Don’t be fooled by monkfish’s monstrous look, it has a mild sweet taste and the texture of a lobster. It’s called a poor man’s lobster for a reason.  I asked the fishmonger to remove the skin of the fish and cut them in large chunks so it was suited for BBQ. I marinated the fish in finely chopped ginger and garlic for ½ hour prior to the grill. Skip or go light on the ginger if you don’t like the spicy taste of it. After putting the fish on the hot grill (medium heat), I seasoned with salt and pepper generously. The fish took about 20 mins to cook. Flipped the uncooked side of the fish after 10 mins. The Ferzo Passerina has an amazing white flower note on the nose. It was a great aperitif before the BBQ began. When it was time to enjoy the fish, the wine’s hint of sweetness like the ripe peaches, the robust texture and minerality interacted well with the ginger-marinated fish.

Caldora Terre di Chieti Chardonnay 2017 (SRP $11.99)

Wine Description
Delicate stalk-stripping and crushing. Pressing, static clarification, fermentation of clean must for 20 days at 12°C.
Caldora, part of Farnese Vini - Photo Credit: www.gonzalezbyassusa.com
About the Vineyard
Caldora is one of the largest cooperative wineries in the Abruzzo. Total holdings consist of around 1200 ha, in which only the best 200 ha are selected, vinified, and bottled under the Caldora name. The majority of these plantings are located within the Ortona area in a microclimate that runs through a 25 km band between the Adriatic coast and the 3000m high Mount Maiella.

Tasting Notes
Bright straw yellow. Intense with persistence. Perceptible aromas of tropical fruit. Full-bodied and balanced.

With the pronounced notes of tropical fruit in this Chardonnay, I think a plate of seafood risotto will be its ideal match. Using the Great British Chefs’ Risotto Recipe as a reference, I reduced the amount of cheese and made a lighter version of the seafood risotto. The Caldora Chardonnay is a no brainer with this seafood risotto as its medium body works really amazingly with the assortment of seafood, especially the succulent and buttery scallops.

When celebrating with Abruzzo wines, food is no doubt a crucial part of the experience!


Disclosure: The wines in this post are samples. All opinions are my own.

Join the #ItalianFWT Abruzzo Twitter Chat

On Saturday, October 5, at 11 am ET / 17.00 CST the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group will explore Wines from Abruzzo, and related food and travel, in the #ItalianFWT chat on Twitter. Enter the hashtag #ItalianFWT in the search field on Twitter and click Enter. Click “Latest” to show the latest live tweets.

Don't miss our blogger friends' posts about Abruzzo wines here: 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Simple Daily Meals with Señor Sangria to Welcome the Fall

By Pinny Tam
Since my blog coverage of Señor Sangria published in May, Señor Sangria has made a significant milestone. It is now served in Yankee Stadium in New York. Congratulations! No doubt in my mind that Señor Sangria is a great drink that is liked by a lot of people on many occasions and for many seasons. In this blog, I’m going to “dress” up Señor Sangria so you can drink more of it in a fun way in the fall and serve it with meals that remind you of the summer.
It is still pretty warm in early fall in New York and New Jersey. Maybe you are not ready to serve warm mulled Sangria. Maybe you don’t want to switch to heavy liquors and eat hearty meals quite yet. Whatever reasons you may have, Señor Sangria continues to offer the taste and versatility for the months to come. To dress up the Classic Red, Classic White, and Apple Raspberry, I simply add some fruit - canned lychee, dried tamarind and fresh raspberry to the drinks. The canned lychee is widely available in any grocery stores nowadays. A lot of people have tried it through drinking lychee martinis and know that this fruit is very sweet and has an amazing flowery aroma. Having it with the Classic Red just makes the Sangria smell so aromatic and sweet. It’s also fun to nibble on the spongy lychee. The dried tamarind that is usually salty and spicy elevates the Classic White to an amazing drink that has so many layers of flavors – sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy. For the Apple Raspberry, it is logical to have the fresh raspberry to add some freshness to it. 
The Señor Sangrias, with or without added fruit, are just pure pleasure at dinner times for me. Unlike a bottle of wine which you typically should finish it within a day or two once it is open, These Sangrias have longer “shelf time” when you put them in the fridge after they are open. In my experience, the flavors are not changed much even they are in the fridge for a week. Of course, it is important to make sure you put the cap back on as tight as you can to reduce oxidation. 
Although many foods go well with these Sangrias, nothing is easier and quicker than making some juicy beef and salmon burgers and oven-roasted chicken wings. For the burgers, you can use your favorite store-bought beef patties that may be left from the summer BBQ or like me hand-make some beef patties with your choice of added vegetables like scallion, onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. The added vegetables just brighten up and elevate the taste of an ordinary burger. I occasionally also fry an easy-over egg and overlay it atop the burger. 
If I haven’t made you hungry yet, I also like a salmon burger for dinner. There are a lot of high-quality salon burger patties out there to make your prep time down to nothing. But if you choose to make salmon patties on your own, all you need to do is to lightly poach some salmon, flake it, mix it with an egg and some bread crumb, form it into patties and pan-fry it. When done, drizzle some sriracha mayo over your salmon burger and you are left with the job of finishing this finger-licking good healthy burger. The Classic White is probably the best accompaniment for the salmon burger. 
Cooking whole chicken wings may seem to be an intimidating task to some people as they are difficult to cook – the tips are burnt, and the little drumsticks are undercooked when the wings are not flattened. One trick I learned is to skew the wings with metal or wooden skewers prior to roasting the wings in the oven. I like the metal ones as they won’t be burnt in the oven and are reusable. Skewing the wings to a close-to-straight line allows the heat to cook every part of the wing. The golden wings will be the perfect finger food for the Sangrias.
Disclosure: The Sangrias in this post are samples. All opinions are my own.