Sunday, January 27, 2019

Uruguay's Bodega Garzon Tannat Paired with Lamb Skewers and Beef Short Ribs

One of the perks of being a member of the #WinePW is giving myself opportunities to try wines that I may not normally think of drinking or buying. I'm so excited to receive Jill Barth's "Straight From Uruguay Wine, Food and #WinePW Stories" invite, an opportunity to explore the lesser-known wines. After reading the invite, the "live for the moment" part of me wants to hop on a plane (or maybe two planes), and go to Uruguay’s capital city, Montevideo right away and experience the vibrant wine and food culture there. Well, the rational part of me wins, and holds me back down to my chair, fingers at my keyboard, to start searching for Uruguay's crown jewel - its signature red wine, Tannat!

I probably had tasted Tannat in a blend a few times, and honestly couldn't tell how this grape would taste alone. After trying Bodega Garzon‘s 2016 Tannat Reserve, this 100% Tannat which has been rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, may very well become one of my favorites to pair with Chinese BBQ or pan-fried lamb and beef dishes or without any pairings. Bodega Garzon is located in the Maldonado region of Uruguay, which is mesmerized with ballast hills, soft and stony soils and Atlantic breezes, and paints the perfect terrior for creating elegant and complex wines.
A frontal descriptive wine label says it all and well 🍷🍇🌄
"This noble wine is made with our estate grown grapes, harvested and sorted by hand, from selected blocks of our vineyard in Garzon, Uruguay. The wines are aged in French oak barrels.  The grape clusters are handled with care to allow them to express their varietal character and the uniqueness of our particular terroir. Located only 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, numerous small vineyard blocks cover the slopes and hills and benefit from varying micro-climates and different levels of humanity and canopy management. This allows the vines to develop with maximum exposure to the sun providing rich fruit." 
The wine is oaky with a tad cocoa on the nose. It tastes lush blackberry and cassis, tangy acidity, wood spices, opening up to full-body, texture and firm tannis, showing the landmark characteristics of the coastal Tannat wines in Uruguay and finishing with peppery and savory notes. Sticking with the traditional pairing, like what Uruguayans do, I’m going to start off by pairing this wine with a Chinese beef dish. The thinly sliced beef short rib is marinated in soya sauce, a little brown sugar, minced garlic and rice wine for at least an hour, and is pan-fried until it’s brown both sides. What’s so special about this beef rib is that its slice-cut allows the cooking time to be significantly reduced when compared to chunky beef short ribs. The beef rib slices still retain the chewy textural mouthfeel with meat still on the bone, and are quick to cook as a daily dish without the long-hour laboring and braising. 

No doubt in my mind, the Tannat Reserve is a perfect BBQ wine as it is fruit-forward, tangy and smoky, enhancing both saucy and dry-rubbed BBQ meat. Xinjiang Lamb Skewers or Yang Rou Chuan (新疆烤串)is a famous lamb dish in Northwest China where the Muslim populations congregate.
Lamb Skewers BBQ in Xian's Muslim Quarter
Like a lot of the Chinese food, the lamb skewers gain popularity among the whole nation and around the world. They are served as street food or in restaurant, and are variant in flavors with easy customization for personal or regional taste. After all, it’s a true representation of the Muslim diet in China. Think appetizer, main course or party food…this lamb skewers can be it all! What is so good about this lamb skewers + Tannat pairing is the cumin- and paprika-infused lamb intensifies the smoky note of the wine, bringing out the complexity and oaky flavor of the wine, to the fullest it is capable of. The acidity of Tannat turns the lamb skewers juicier. Let’s take a look at the recipe:

Xinjiang Lamb Skewers

Ingredients (serving four persons):
·       1 1/2 pounds leg of lamb, cut the lamb in ¾ inch cubes. Ask the butcher to debone the leg of lamb if possible. The leg of lamb sold at Costco typically comes as boneless. Leg of lamb can be substituted by lamb chops.
·       1 tablespoon of ground cumin
·       ½ tablespoon of paprika or red chili pepper
·       2 teaspoons of fennel seed
·       1 tablespoon of minced garlic
·       2 teaspoons of salt
·       2 tablespoons of Shaoxing Wine.  Substitute with rice wine if Shaoxing wine is not available.

·       Marinate the lamb cubes with all the ingredients above at least for four hours or overnight.  No dipping or BBQ sauce is served with the skewers so marinating the lamb is important to yield flavorful meat.
·       Soak the bamboo skewers in water overnight so they won’t burn so fast while BBQ’ing. 
·       Skew seven cubes on each skewer.
·       Ideally, a rectangular cast iron pan is used, but any grill that generates high heat fast can be used. 
·       Heat the cast iron pan on high on the stove.
·       Drizzle canola oil on the pan until it’s smoking.
·       Line up the skewers on the pan without crowding. 
·       Cook both sides until the meat looks a bit charcoal.
·       Serve immediately.


To serve with the beef and lamb, I’m cooking an earthy vegetable medley that has carrot, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, rehydrated woodear mushrooms  (a Chinese fugus used also in hot and sour soup) and tofu sticks.  Simply slice all the ingredients, stir-fry it in a non-stick frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce to taste, and cook it with ¼ cup of vegetable stock for 5 minutes.  Finish with corn starch solution and a drizzle of sesame oil. 

Any flat bread will go well with these dishes but I choose the thick scallion bread I got from the Asian grocery store.  I’m sure this Tannat Reserve can pair many cuisines. However, I’m flabbergasted how well this pairing turns out to what it should and food together produce synergy and surpass expectations!

Read more on Uruguayan wine regions

More Uruguayan Wines from Fellow Bloggers of the Wine Pairing Weekend...
Pinny from Chinese Food and Wine Pairings presents Uruguay's Bodega Gazon Tannat Paired with Lamb Skewers and Beef Short Ribs  
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla gives us Brined Quail with a Numbered Bottle of Tannat
Cindy from Grape Experiences provides Taste Uruguay: 1752 Gran Tradicion Montevideo 2017 and Pasta with Caruso Sauce
David from Cooking Chat stirs up BBQ Baked Steak Tips with Wine from Uruguay
Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm presents Food and Wine of Uruguay; Chivito Sandwiches paired with Garzon Cab Franc
Jeff from FoodWineClick offers up Picturing Uruguay with Lentil Stew & Aguara Tannat
Kat from Bacchus Travel Tours hints at a Hidden Gem: On the Hunt for Wine from Uruguay
Jane from Always Ravenous stirs up Discovering Uruguayan Wine Paired with a Winter Plate
Steven from Steven's Wine And Food Blog shares Tannat and Brazilian Feijoada #WinePW
Linda from My Full Wine Glass asks Meatless in Uruguay - Is that possible? #WinePW
Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen says Relax Your Mussels with Uruguayan Albarino
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs Tannat from Uruguay and French Cassoulet
Nancy from Pull That Cork gives us Uruguay: a Wine and Food Sampler #winePW
Gwen from Wine Predator shares Uruguay: Influenced by Immigrants #WinePW Jennifer from VinoTravels presents Bodega Garzón Tannat with Sausage Stew
Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog writes A Taste of the #Food and #Wine of Uruguay
Nicole from Somm's Table serves Two Rounds with Bodega Garzón Tannat: Chivitos and Chipotle-Coffee Flank Steak
Jill at L'Occasion rolls out To All The Foods I've Loved Before: Pairing Uruguayan Tannat


  1. My wife, Trish, doesn't eat beef, so the lamb skewers sound perfect. Anxious to try them with the Tannat!

  2. The cumin lamb looks great! I was thinking of trying those with cab franc, but maybe I’ll have to try them with a Tannat instead!

    1. I think cumin lamb will go well with Cab Franc too. Enjoy!

  3. These lamb skewers sound wonderful Pinny. Thanks so much for sharing. I went with a Cab Franc but I'm keeping my eyes open for that Tannat.

    1. Good move. Cab Franc and lamb are great match too!

  4. The lamb dish looks like a fabulous pairing-I'm salivating!!! I'll definitely try lamb with Tannat from Uruguay next time. Thank you!

    1. I was very happy with the lamb myself. A little prep work but so worth it!

  5. I tried the Bodega Garzon Tannat Single Vineyard. I'm wondering how the two of them compare to one another.

    1. That’s very interesting. Mine is Bodega Garzon Tannat Reserve. I would love to go to an Uruguayan wine tasting event if there’s one near me to taste more wines of this country!

  6. Sounds like some good pairings alright, yum! Love Asian style meat dishes like these.

  7. I love the idea of Tannat with both the short ribs and the lamb skewers! Bravo Pinny!

  8. Me too. I love red meat in general, can’t see this Tannat going with chicken or fish.

  9. I love the photo from the street market. I've only been to a few cities in China, but lamb seems to be a popular choice all over!

    1. Eat a lot of pork there too, but lamb like what you said is a popular meat used in Northern China!