Saturday, February 6, 2021

Farina Amarone della Valpolicella with Ground Pork in Karela Rings #ItalianFWT

Farina Amarone: Ruby red color with garnet hues. Mildly bitter, spicy, cocoa, sour cherry, raspberry, currant, and balsamic notes. Warm, full-bodied, structured, fine and balanced

It feels so good to kick off my Italian wine bloggings for 2021 with the topic of Italian Wines to Go With Meat Braises and Stews, thanks to the invite of Cam Mann's Culinary Adventures. With two feet of fresh snow outside my New Jersey home, I crave for a bit comfort food and wine, but want to go outside my comfort zone. Let's take a "bitterly" wild journey to taste the 2016 Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico and Ground Pork in Karela (Indian bitter melon) Rings.

Farina Amarone della Valpolicella 2016, SRP $30, ABV 15%, 
70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Molinara

Farina Amarone della Valpolicella

Fairna was born and lives in Valpolicella, a land of deep-rooted and excellent winemaking tradition. Farina’s century-long expertise uniquely interprets the terroir of  Valpolicella. Valpolicella is the most famous red wine district in northeastern Italy's Veneto wine region. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico wines in particular are intensely rich, red Amarone wines from the traditional Classico viticultural zone of Valpolicella. 

Grapes drying at Remo Farina (Photo Credit: Wine.com)

This 2016 Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is made from a careful selection of Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes dried in the typical fruit drying sheds for about 4 months, and is matured first in barriques and then in Slavonian oak barrels. 

Grapes kept in drying rooms, known as appassimento in Italian, for 3 weeks to 3 months
(Photo Credit: Whole Food Market Wine)

Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are the typical Italian indigenous grapes used to produce Amarone della Valpolicella. Corvina, with the classic bitter note, is generally considered as the finest and traditional grapes of the three. Rondinella's popularity picked up since 1960s because of its prolific yields. It is hardly ever produced as a single varietal wine, but rather is used to add herbal flavors to the Corvina base and to flesh out the blend. Molinara, which is super-acidic and easily oxidized, is a light-bodied Italian red grape that is used as a minor blending partner in Valpolicella, Bardolino and IGT Veneto wines. On its own, Molinara is fairly characterless and ultimately rarely appears as a varietal wine. 
Farina Amarone with Ground Pork in Karela Rings

Amarone - Bitter Plus Enormous Size in Italian

Amarone comes from the Italian word amaro, which means bitter, completed by the one suffix which denotes enormous size or volume. Amarone della Valpolicella is an intensely flavored dry red wine concentrated its flavors from dried grapes. This style was invented as Veneto's winemakers searched for a way to increase the body, complexity and alcohol content of their wines. The grapes are picked in whole clusters and are kept in drying rooms that have warm temperatures and low humidity (i.e., the process is known as appassimento in Italian) for anywhere from approximately three weeks to three months. When the drying process is complete, the grapes are gently pressed and the must is fermented to dry. The grapes' high sugar content translates into a higher potential alcohol, so a complete fermentation results in a powerful wine of 15 or 16 percent alcohol by volume. This is subsequently aged in larger barrels and smaller Slavonian oak barriques for at least two years before commercial release.

Indian Bitter Melon - Karela helps manage diabetics and gut health

Ground Pork in Karela Rings 

Karela, Indian bitter melon, is considered as one of the most bitter vegetables. This vegetable has a distinct "spiky" look and an oblong shape. It's hollow inside that's filled with flat seeds and pith, which are to be removed. While I care more about the bitter taste I like about Karela, this bitter vegetable is packed with therapeutic benefits such as managing diabetics and gut health. As you could tell, Karela is not for everyone - either you love it or you hate it. It is an acquired taste! To lighten up the bitterness, you could blanch the cut-up melon in boiling water for a few minutes. However, the freshly green color will turn dull. In comparison to Chinese bitter melon, which is bigger, longer and less spiky, Karela is milder in terms of bitterness. When I could handle Chinese bitter melon all my life, Karela is perfectly fine...no blanching required. 

Seasoned Ground Pork Stuffed in the Karela Rings

To retain the shape so that I can stuff the ground pork in easily, it's better just to cut up the fresh Karela in rings without softening it up by blanching. Although the seasoning of the ground pork is entirely up to you, I recommend using dried herbs, and maybe a bit garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper in my case. Try not to make the meat filling too wet so it won't be "mold" inside the round rings. First, pan fry the Karela rings in the hot pan until golden brown on both sides. Then add a bit water and put a lid on the pan to slow cook it for five to ten minutes, depending on how soft you want the Karela to be. I personally liked it more crunchy and am obsessed in looking at the vibrantly green color of the Karela. So I only cooked it for five minutes. But to make it into a "braised" dish with the softer Karela, I cooked another version of it for 15 minutes after the pan fry, and added a light cornstarch glace to wrap up the dish.

Obsessed in looking at the vibrantly green color of the Karela!

Bitter Wine with Bitter Food

Describing wines as "bitter" seems to be shooting yourself in the foot. However, this is only true when you consider bitterness as a turn-off and there's no right food to pair it. While sipping my pleasantly "bitter" and spicy Farina Amarone, which is attributed by Corvina's  signature bitter note and Rondinella's herbal characters, my taste bud was also bombarded by the stuffed Karela...bitter, juicy, spicy, porky and savory. I'm truly indulged in self-bitterness!

Indulged in "Self-Bitterness"

Check out other #ItalianFWT bloggers' Italian wines and braised meats or stews below:

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs - Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae #Winophiles

French #Winophiles bloggers have been invited by Linda Wipple from My Full Wine Glass to taste sweet Bordeaux wines in November. We are so luck to receive multiple #Sample of sweet Bordeaux, organized by Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click. When most food and wine pairing 101 would recommend pairing sweet wines with desserts or cheese, I think about sipping these sweet Bordeaux  wines with a couple of hearty Asian carb-loaded dishes – sticky rice with Chinese sausage and Korean Japchae. Let’s learn some facts about these sweet wines from Bordeaux.

Photo Credit: Flickr

WINE FACTS TO KNOW

Botrytis aka Noble Rot Grown on the Grape Clusters (Photo Credit: jjbuckley.com)

  • The dominant sweet wine region in Bordeaux is located 20 miles south of the city of Bordeaux, reaching both banks of the famed Garrone River and stretching into the beginning section of the Ciron River. The rivers provide the perfect condition for a misty morning microclimate that grows Botrytis, also called Noble Rot.
  • Botrytis grows on the grape clusters late in the harvest, bolstered by cool morning fogs that envelop the entire vineyards as well as the hot dry afternoons that evaporate the moisture and concentrate the flavors on the grapes.
  • The grapes to make sweet Bordeaux are mostly Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, plus a bit of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris.
  • Sauternes and Barsac are the most famous sweet wine regions in Bordeaux, producing the more expensive sweet wines. There are many other AOCs,  such as Loupiac and Sainte Croix du Monts, in Bordeaux that produce much more affordable sweet wines.
  • Loupiac AOC, which is located between Cadillac and Sainte Croix du Monts, requires by laws to make wines of greater ripeness than those of Sauterne, yielding slightly sweeter wines.
  • Sainte Croix du Monts AOC, which looks across the river to Sauternes, is a hilly area with chalk and limestone soil made from decomposing oyster shells.
  • Entre-Deux-Mers is the largest appellation within Bordeaux, but doesn’t appear on the wine labels that often. By law, the Entre-Deux-Mers designation is given only to dry white wines made there from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.

SWEET BORDEAUX TO SIP 

exotic fruit, citrus, a touch of vanilla, light and fruity

Château La Hargue Bordeaux Blanc Moelleux Semi-Dry 2019 (SRP$15)

This Château, which was acquired in 1954 by Henri Ducourt, has been known for producing quality sweet white wines. Planted with only white varieties on loamy soils, it is blessed with its proximity to the running water and amble exposure to the sun. The fluctuation between hot days and cool nights intensifies the aromatic expression of the grapes, forming the winning terroir for white-wine producing in this part of Entre-Deux-Mers.

aromatic intensity, Acacia flower, candied fruits, distinguished by its minerality and vivacity which gives it freshness and elegance

Château La Rame Sainte Croix du Mont 2016 (SRP$35)
Château La Rame, which is currently under the direction of the family’s seventh generation winemaker, Yves Armand, is a well-sized estate, with fifty hectares of vineyards planted, of which over one third of the hectares are dedicated exclusively to Sémillon and the production of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont.

intense on citrus fruits and candied fruits, supple, fresh

Château du Cros AOC Loupiac Vin Liquoreux 2014 (SRP$30)

Under the leadership of Catherine Boyer, the vineyard of Château du Cros lies on the hill-slopes at the right bank of the Garonne River, 40 km South of Bordeaux on argilo-calcareous soil. The limestone subsoil and chalky clay topsoil bring the freshness to the sweet wines.

savoir faire, easy to drink, strong presence of fruit, mouthful of freshness

Château Loupiac-Gaudiet Loupiac Vintage: 2016 (SRP$20)

At the Château Loupiac-Gaudiet, their wines are built around the delicate balance between fruit, sugar and acidity, allowing each vintage to be able to reveal at its freshness and best aroma.



ASIAN CARBS TO EAT



Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage
Sticky rice with Chinese sausage is a hearty meal for the winter. The rice is also called “sweet” rice, which is glutinous rice that releases a lot of starch when cooked. In addition to the rice, the other main ingredients are finely chopped Chinese sausage (like salami), dried shrimps and dried shiitake mushrooms. I typically cook the rice, according to the cooking direction, in the non-stick pressure cooker or rice cooker first, and let it sit in the cooker and dry up a little bit before transferring it to the frying pan. In the frying pan, sauté all the chopped ingredients with sesame oil, use two spatulas to mix the sausage into the cooked rice, drizzle with dark soya sauce for the color and regular soya sauce for the taste. The starchy sticky rice is slightly sweet with rich umami flavors like dried shrimp and mushrooms, a perfect accompaniment to the sweet Bordeaux.

Korean Japchae

Japchae is a savory and slightly sweet dish of stir-fried glass noodles, minced beef and vegetables that is a signature carb dish in Korean. It is typically prepared with dangmyeon, a type of cellophane noodles made from sweet potato starch. The noodles are mixed with assorted vegetables, meat, mushrooms, and seasoned with sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Japchae is a fun party dish as it looks very colorful and is affordable to make. It goes well with the sweet Bordeaux as the sugar and soya sauce is seasoned through the noodles.

 

For other sweet Bordeaux sipping, check out the blogs of my #Winophiles friends:

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Terri at Our Good Life: “Spicy Hot Tacos and Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Martin at ENOFYLZ: “Pairing Sweet Bordeaux with Southern Fare”
  • Lauren atThe Swirling Dervish: “Golden Bordeaux Meets Savory Pumpkin and Smoked Bacon Tart: a Delicious Thanksgiving Twist!”
  • David at Cooking Chat: “Pairings for Sweet Bordeaux Wine"
  • Katrina atThe Corkscrew Concierge: “Golden Bordeaux Delights in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine”
  • Payal at Keep the Peas: “Four Sweet Bordeaux Wines with Four Courses”
  • Jane at Always Ravenous:“Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines: Tasting and Pairings”
  • Wendy atA Day in the Life on the Farm: “Hot Chocolate and Halva Pudding paired with Lion De Tanesse L'Amour”
  • Jeff at foodwineclick: "Sweet Bordeaux Meets the Smoke"
  • Jill at L'OCCASION : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Aren’t Just for Dessert”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Get Savory Pairings”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen: "Sweet Bordeaux Is A Sweet Delight - Savor These Perfect Food Pairings"
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines and pairings from opposite sides of the globe”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings: “Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs - Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae”
  • Susannah at avvinare: “Delightful Sweet Wines from Bordeaux”
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table:“Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée”
  • Gwendolyn at wine predator: "Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Sweet Semi-Dry Bordeaux"
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels: "A Look Into the Sweeter Side of Bordeaux Wines"
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Appetizers, entrées and yes, dessert please, with sweet Bordeaux”

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sipping Tissot-Marie Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz and Snacking Fried Pork Skin #Winophiles

Tissot-Marie Crémant du Jura Lapiaz Brut with Fried Pork Skin, Dill-infused Cheese, Pitted Dates and Almond

#Winophiles bloggers are taking a virtual journey to the smallest wine region, Jura in France in November. David Crowley from Cooking Chat Food is inviting us to share the delicious pairings of Jura wines with our choice of food. I have purchased a bottle of Tissot-Marie Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz and found it exceptionally tasty with snacks like the fried pork skin. To start, let’s learn some fun facts of Jura wines.

Photo Credit: Wine LoveToKnow

Ten Facts of Jura Wines

  • Jura is the smallest wine region in eastern France, between Burgundy and Switzerland.
  • The climate in Jura is continental - long cold winters and hot summers, with more rain nearing the Burgundy side of the region.
  • Jura is famous for the idiosyncratic sherry-like late-harvest wine Vin Jaune, made in the Château-Chalon AOC.
  • Other important grape varieties in Jura include Pinot Noir, Poulsard, Trousseau, Chardonnay and Savagnin.
  • Chardonnay is the Jura's most planted variety, and the growing success of Crémant du Jura has benefited from the unripe grapes that are used as the sparkling base.
  • There are seven AOCs (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in Jura, namely Arbois, Château-Chalon, Côtes du Jura, L'Étoile, Crémant du Jura, Macvin du Jura and Marc du Jura,
  • Crémant du Jura is an AOC for sparkling wines. White and rosé sparkling wines are produced from Poulsard, Trousseau, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Savagnin.
  • Crémant du Jura is made in the méthode traditionelle, like champagne and is styled from bone-dry to delicately sweet.
  • The vineyard soils throughout the region tend to contain mostly clay in the lower flat lands with more limestone based soils in the higher elevation.
  • Due to the cool climate, chaptalization, which is the process to add sugar to unfermented grape to achieve the desired alcohol content, is permitted in the Jura region and is sometimes a necessity to compensate for the low sugar levels in the underripen vintages.

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Crémant is French sparkling wine that is produced outside Champagne. Unlike Champagne, which restricts to Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, Crémant simply expands creativity, affordability and varieties of grapes in the French sparkling world. Crafted with the the Champagne method, Tissot Marie Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz (SRP$18) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and local Jura varieties. It’s drier in style with notes of honey, ripe pear and white flowers. No doubt, this Crémant du Jura, which is a prime example of Jura wine, embraces affordability, tradition, and highly idiosyncratic Jura styles. • • #chinesefoodandwinepairings • • #jurawines #cremantdujura #henritissot #jurawine #burgundywine #frenchsparklingwine #cremantwine #cremant #cremantjura #sparklingwine #sparkilingwine #winepw #frenchsparkling

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Tissot-Marie Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz

Tissot-Marie Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz is one of the five Crémants, jointly produced by Henri Maire et Tissot and Groupe Boisset. Founded by Joseph Tissot in 1896, Maison Tissot started to sell wines before partnering with Henri Maire in early 2000s. Domaine Maire & Fils, another major Jura wine family, started its wine journey back in 1632. In 2000, the Tissot family draws closer to Domaine Maire & Fils, a long-time local partner and gives birth to Tissot-Maire, an alliance of winemaking knowledge inherited from more than 11 generations and with the largest winegrowing estate in the Jura region, to produce top-notched Crémants.

The company logo symbolizes the alliance of Tissot and Marie, two great Jura families, the connection with local traditional arts and craft, and the complexity that comes with winemaking
 
The Brut Lapiaz symbolizes the rough and rustic climate of the Jura. On the nose, it smells white flower blossom. As you sip this Crémant, the mineral, citrus, honey notes reveal, layering with creamy froth and dried apricot. The finish is amazingly fruity and long. No doubt, this Crémant, which has the Champagne feel, is a steal!
Tissot-Marie Cuvée Crémant du Jura Brut Lapiaz (SRP$18) - a blend of Chardonnay (50%) and Pinot Noir (50%) 

Food Pairing

To pair with this fresh and elegant Crémant, I put together a quick snacking plate that includes some dill-infused cheese, unsalted almond, pitted dried dates and store-bought fried pork skin. I’m particularly fond of the fried pork skin with this Crémant as the wine tones down the fattiness of the pork skin and the rich pork taste. Its bubble is so fun when it mingles with the crunch of the pork skin.

 

Check out other #Winophiles bloggers’ Jura wine journey and fun food pairings:


Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will share "Seafood B'Stilla + Domaine Rolet Arbois Trousseau 2012"

Pinny from Chinese Food and Wine Pairings is "Sipping Tissot-Marie Crémant Du Jura and Snacking Fried Pork Skin"

Linda from My Full Wine Glass will be heading "Back to the Jura (virtually), for Crémant this time around"

Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles is "Channeling the Jura for a rooftop getaway with a bottle of Savagnin and Friends"

Payal from Keep the Peas is sharing "Sherry? No, Jura"

David from Cooking Chat will be sharing "Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs with Jura Wine"

Terri from Our Good Life will tell us about "Sparkling Jura for Celebratory Moments"

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will serve up "Bourride served with a Chardonnay from Jura"

Nicole from Somm's Table will be "Cooking to the Wine: Two Savagnins from Domaine Daniel Dugois with Coquilles St. Jacques"

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva is talking about "Jura in the Afternoon"

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator will share "Exploring Flavors of Jura Food and Wine Take Two: Trousseau and Melon"

Susannah from Avvinaire tells us about "Discovering Delights From Jura Region"

Saturday, October 10, 2020

#MerlotMe with Markham and L’Ecole No. 41 Merlots and Army Ramen #WinePW

L’Ecole N° 41 2017 Merlot from Columbia Valley and Markham Vineyards 2017
Sustainably Made Merlot from Napa Valley

#MerlotMe is a global movement to unite wine lovers all over the world to celebrate Merlots, especially in the month of October. Our fellow #WinePW blogger, Jeff Burrows from Food Wine Click is hosting this year's celebration and has arranged #samples for the lucky bloggers. I am so thrilled to receive L’Ecole N° 41’s 2017 Merlot and Markham Vineyards’s 2017  Sustainably Made Merlot, and am curious how well these Merlots pair with my latest obsession, Chinese-styled “army ramen”.  

One person serving: meat-based ramen that is cooked in and consumed directly from a wide saucepan,  a feast that won’t let down a soldier’s appetite.

TASTE THE WINES

L’Ecole N° 41 2017 Merlot is one of Washington State’s finest Merlots, produced in Walla Walla Valley. Found in 1983, L’Ecole N° 41 is a third-generation family-owned, artisan winery that focuses on the ultra-premium, distinctive wine market. 

L'Ecole No 41 is found in 1983 in the Walla Walla Valley, Washington State, and produces ultra-premium wines that reflect the terroir.

With soft oak and rose petal on the nose, L’Ecole N° 41’s Merlot exhibits the perfect balance of yin and yan when the masculine features like the full body, pronounced structure and layers of complex aromas are softened by notes of cinnamon, cocoa and elegant acidity. The finish of this wine is memorable with lingering of cherry and plum notes.

L’Ecole N° 41 2017 Merlot (SRP$25, a blend of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3%Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot)
Markham Vineyards’ founding father, Jean Laurent left the Bordeaux region of France in 1852 to join the Gold Rush in California, leading him a journey to establish one of the first wineries in Napa Valley. Nowadays, being one of the few 10% wineries which attain the dual Napa Green Certifications, Markham produces Merlot as their flagship wine in vineyards that focus on replenishing natural resources, improving air and water quality and protecting the ecosystems and wildlife habitats. The 2017 Sustainably Made Merlot has a silky mouthfeel to start and is accentuated with notes of Bing cherry, berry reserves, milky chocolate. Gradually, it overlays with baking spices, vanilla oak and subtle expresso. The wine unfolds increasing denser mouthfeel that has a long and intense finish.

Markham Vineyards 2017 Sustainably Made Merlot (SRP$20, a blend of 87% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah, 1% Malbec)

Merlots, due to various misconceptions, are somehow mistaken as plain wines or wines without characteristics. I totally debunk these misconceptions as these Merlots I tried have everything I am looking for in not only a good wine but a food wine - the structure, complexity, warm spice notes, which is especially suited to pair a rich, meat-based noodle soup, a.k.a Chinese-style “army ramen”. “Army Ramen” or “Budae Jjigae” is originated in Korea when a wide variety and huge amount of protein like meat, eggs and cheese is added to a spicy noodle soup. When everything is cooked in and consumed directly from a wide saucepan, this is a feast that won’t let down a soldier’s appetite. For my Chinese-style Army Ramen, I simple cut out the hot soup base and use beef broth instead. Let’s see how easy you can cook this at home.
Chinese-style “army ramen” is a one-pot meal that is easy to prepare and is satisfying!

 
COOK CHINESE-STYLED ARMY RAMEN


Chinese-styled Army Ramen

Ingredients (one person serving)

·                     16 oz of beef broth or stock

·                     1 pack of instant noodle your choice

·                     1 thick slice cut of cooked pork belly or 4 slices of cooked bacon

·                     8 slices of ham, turkey or chicken cold cuts

·                     4 pork or beef pre-made potstickers 

·                     2 eggs

·                     Vegetable of your choice (e.g., mushrooms, cabbages, sweet corn, scallion) 

·                     Sesame oil (optional)

Instructions

1.       Pour beef broth or stock and the instant noodle seasoning pack into a wide saucepan. 

2.      Organize all the ingredients nicely in the saucepan and bring the noodle soup to boil.

3.      Put the noodle in the soup last until all the other ingredients are cooked if you prefer your noodle to be al-dente.

4.      Drizzle sesame oil over the cooked soup and enjoy it directly from the saucepan.



As you are sipping the Merlots and enjoying this massive “army ramen”, my advice to you is to focus on the gastronomical pleasure and forget about the calorie!

Check out which Merlots my #WinePW blogger friends are drinking to celebrate #MerlotMe: