Tag Archives: wine pairing

Wine Pairing with Korean Food


Happy Wine Wednesday!

Have you ever made Korean food before? Not me!

Once upon a time, my friend Ceci and her family had Rob and I over for a Korean feast. We loved it so much that I suggested we do it again. {Which was essentially inviting myself over. Bad friend!}

But last night, I got to cook my own Korean dish for the first time in my life thanks to Plated! I made us some Beef Bibimbap:

Sooooo not pretty, but oh so good! I’ll be doing my recap and review of Plated on Monday. Our dish was made with marinated flank steak, but here is a general recipe for Bibimbap with ground meat for you.

While eating this dish, I got to thinking…

What kind of wine does one pair with Korean cuisine?

Generally speaking, I’ve used the old standby of slightly sweeter wines with Asian food because the sweet counteracts spicy dishes. But that is like saying there is only one type of wine for European food! And we all know that’s ridiculous thinking.

So I gave it a little bit of thought based on my limited experience with Korean food and did a little research on The Interwebs, as well.

Here is what I discovered:

  • Pairing a sweeter wine with Korean food is a rookie mistake because it takes away from the flavors of the food.
  • Don’t pair with a big, heavy, bold or tannic wine because there are too many flavors already going on with sweet, spicy, umami and fermented components.
  • Korean dishes are served together, often with contrasting flavors, so the wine needs to suit every piece. Something light or palate-cleansing is preferable.

With that, here would be my top wine picks I’d like to try with Korean food:

  • Dry Riesling (I love the ones from Alsace, France!)
  • Dry Rosé
  • Pinot Noir

Nowhere did my research recommend Champagne; but knowing how the dry bubbly is a perfect palate cleanser that can stand up to many strangely textured and hard-to-pair foods, I think it’s one on which I’m willing to gamble, too.

For more info, check out these sources:

Luckily, I now know I can make something Korean, thanks to Plated, which gave me the confidence to do so. And I’ve also learned that we have a Korean Restaurant in the Twin Cities that’s located in the “south of the river” ‘burbs. That way, I don’t have to beg Ceci to invite me over again… 😉

What’s your favorite Korean food?

What wine would you pair with it?



Wine Pairing & Giveaway Winner


First off, it’s time to announce the winner to last week’s Wine Bible Giveaway:

Allison at Life’s a Bowl!

Allison, I’ve sent an email your way. Please email me the address to which you’d like your Wine Bible shipped. Thanks so much to all who participated.

Some of you requested to learn a little bit more about wine pairings. I always love this topic. In the past I’ve made lists of wine pairings such as Cheese and Wine Pairings, Thanksgiving Wine Pairings, Wines for the BBQ, and Wines for Easter.

Today I thought that maybe I should offer up just one wine pairing from time to time. I could share one easy wine pairing for something you could make tonight and could pair with a wine you could easily pick up tonight, too. So here it is…

Pinot Grigio


Basil Pesto

Here I’m talking your basic, classic basil pesto and a nice, crisp Pinot Grigio. Generally, the Italian sort will work best. Basil pesto is an Italian concoction after all. The crisp acidity of the Pinot Grigio cuts through the fat in the pesto’s olive oil. This pairing will make you happy.

Basil Pesto is so simple to make, too. It just takes some garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and parmesan. Pine nuts or other nuts are optional, too. Here are a few variations for those looking for a specific recipe, as well as a few ways to use pesto! Or if you are in a pinch, you can always buy a jar of the prepared stuff. I’m not judging.

Pesto is great over pasta (add some veggies or chicken!), drizzled over chicken or pork, swirled into a side of green beans or spread on toasted slices of French bread. Mmm…

If you are changing up your pesto – say, to make cilantro pesto, for example – the pairing might not work as well. I think a Sauvignon Blanc might work a little better with a cilantro pesto. A creamy pesto might go better with a heavier white, too. So for this pairing, I’d just keep it simple.

But remember, the best wine pairing is one that you enjoy! So go out and experiment!

What is your favorite way to eat pesto?

Do you have a favorite wine pairing with pesto?

Happy Wine Wednesday!


Wine Bible {A Giveaway}


I was cleaning out my office the other day and came across a second Wine Bible! Have you seen this book before?

Wine Bible

It’s a thick {900-page!} book that I’ve referred to over a thousand times. I’ve never read it cover to cover, but it has been a great source of reference when I was first learning about wine. There is no reason for me to have two of these books, so I’m offering one up to one of you!

This book covers everything from how wine is made, to particular varietals, to wine regions around the world to wine pairings and much more.

I remember being confused at the beginning of my research on wine because I’d search the label of the bottles I was marketing for The Traveling Vineyard and couldn’t find what kind of wine that was. Back then, I didn’t know that some wines were labeled by the region and others were labeled by the varietal.

A particularly confusing wine for me that the company once carried was the Roero Arneis. Was this a Chardonnay? A Sauvignon Blanc? I had no clue!

After referring to my trusty Wine Bible, I learned that arneis is the name of the grape. I just had never heard of it before. Most people haven’t. Roero is the specific area in the Piedmont region of Italy where said grapes for that bottling were grown. While Traveling Vineyard doesn’t currently carry this type of wine, I still don’t see it very often. Sometimes I’ll find it at an Italian restaurant that has an extensive Italian wine list. When I do, I smile. I feel like I know a secret that not everyone knows. And now you do, too!

So what’s arneis like? Well, I remember it being crisp, with hints of mineral and pear. I remember it going well with spinach and artichoke dip at my tastings. However, I’m not really sure if that’s a pairing that would please wine critics! As I open to page 333 of the Wine Bible, I read that arneis goes in and out of style, pairs well with seafood, means rascal in the dialect of Piedmont, and that it’s “dry, lively, and fairly full in body with light pear and apricot flavors.”

These days, you can wiki such things. However, having the information available at my fingertips by a reputable wine expert, Karen MacNeil, in a perfectly laid-out fashion does not even compare.

Understanding the difference between region and varietal was a pivotal point in my wine education. Add that to learning that the terroir can affect the final product of the same grape being grown in one region versus another opened up my entire wine world.

Still, you can’t know everything about wine. Styles, trends and even climates are constantly changing. That’s one of the things that makes wine so interesting. This book is a great reference tool whenever you have a question about wine. It’s the perfect gift for a wine lover, too.

Enter to win this book by commenting below on the #1 thing you’d like to learn about wine!

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 10th at 12:01am.

The winner will be announced on that week’s Wine Wednesday.


Walleye Two Ways {With Wine Pairings}


This weekend, I tried to replicate last year’s Pantry Challenge. I made it more restrictive this time, though. After making a list of all of the items I had in my fridge, freezer and pantry, I decided that I could only use items in my home. I couldn’t supplement with any other groceries. I didn’t have too many ideas on what I’d make. I just knew that the list of foods I already had was way too long and varied not to figure out something.

When my parents were in town earlier this summer, my dad stashed some walleye in my freezer. He had caught it when he was out fishing a couple of weeks earlier.

Walleye? What’s a walleye?

That was a question I was asked when a work colleague came into town from Boston a few years back. We were out to dinner and I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that they wouldn’t see this northern, freshwater fish on the East Coast.


Growing up, I really didn’t like fish. Part of it may have been that my mom didn’t like it, which means she never really cooked it. The times I did try fish, I didn’t like it because it tasted, well… fishy.

I can’t pinpoint when I started trying and liking fish and seafood, but I can say that it was probably at the end of my college career or shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, Rob is allergic to seafood. So the opportunity to make it this weekend presented itself when he went out of town.

I have to say that I don’t have a lot of experience cooking fish, but I have done it with success. So I started by looking up a pinning a few recipes to find out what were the best methods to preparing walleye, in particular.

What I found?

People really like to fry walleye! I think that’s the way I’ve mostly eaten it, too. But I didn’t want to fry it. I wanted to find a healthier version. I wanted to try something different.

So on Friday night, I made myself some Tuscan Walleye, something I can’t imagine that many people have done. 😉 I weighed my package of vacuum-sealed walleye and learned that it was twelve ounces. Twelve ounces of fish? How was I going to eat that in one sitting? Fish isn’t exactly something that tastes great reheated.

But after I took it out of the package, I found that there were TWO filets! And since I originally couldn’t decide which recipe I wanted to try, I decided I’d have walleye one way on Friday night and another way on Saturday for lunch.

Tuscan Walleye

For the Tuscan Walleye, I put the filet in a baking dish and brushed it with a Tuscan Herb-flavored olive oil that my parents also gave me as a gift.

630Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I repeated this on the other side. This blog is not titled Season It Already! for nothing.

631I popped it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for about seven minutes. In the meantime, I made myself a Caprese Salad. And I’m not talking my usual Poorman’s Caprese. Oh, no.  I went all out with some fresh mozzarella and even added a different brown tomato called the Kumato for some color.

633I drizzled it with the same Tuscan Herb olive oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper as well.

Dinner was Served!

634Eating this dish out on my back deck as the sun began to set on Friday night. At first, the fish was a little fishy-tasting. But soon, the seasoning took over. It was light and flaky and perfect for a summer day. After finding absolutely no bones, I gave Sham and Sophie each a piece. Bad Idea! They continued to beg from me the duration of my meal.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Tuscan Walleye with a nice crisp Italian Pinot Grigio.


As for my second version of walleye, I decided to do something WILD! A week or so ago, when I was at the store, I impulsively bought a grapefruit because it just smelled so good that day. It’s not a fruit I often eat, so it was still in my fridge. Then I found a recipe for Grapefruit Walleye!

Grapefruit Walleye

Since the recipe calls for 4 to 6 walleye filets, I just divided this recipe by four to cook for one. My one grapefruit was the perfect amount to cover the needed grapefruit juice and sections. However, I think I may have started my grapefruit sauce a little to early, because it really reduced down by the time the fish was done and became more of a chutney.

Grapefruit WalleyeBefore I cooked the fish, I did notice some bones, but I was having trouble getting those little suckers out. So I was just careful when I ate and they came out easily as the fish flaked away.

This time, I added some fresh basil to my Caprese Salad, used only a Kumato and drizzled it with a good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil. The walleye turned out beautifully! I loved the combination of grapefruit with the dill and green onions. I’d make this version again in a heartbeat.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Grapefruit Walleye with crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, of course! Sauvignon Blancs are know for their grapefruity and herbal qualities. With the dill, green onions and grapefruit, this is a match made in heaven!

Thank you, Dad for the delicious walleye!


What is your favorite way to prepare fish?


FACES mears park


My friend Jared and I bought a Groupon deal for a five-course dinner at FACES Mears Park in St. Paul. I had never been there and the menu looked exceptional. Not knowing what is going to be offered at these types of dinners, I have never been able to do these with Rob. You just never know if he’ll be allergic to something that ends up on the plate. We know that they can sometimes accommodate, but Rob never wants to inconvenience anyone with too many exceptions.

Since Jared and I are wineaux friends, this was a perfect night out for us because each course was going to be accompanied by a Wine Pairing!

The service here was fantastic. And what I really loved is that the chef creating our meal that evening came out to explain each and every course.

First Course


Scallop served with a glass of Brut Cava {read: Spanish bubbly}

I absolutely love scallops. And I love it even more when they’re done in an interesting way. The whole bacon-wrapped scallops trend is way overdone. In fact, any bacon and scallop dish has me rolling my eyes. This lone scallop was sandwiched between two flaky pastry-like puffs and a wonderful sauce.

Second Course

Mac & Cheese w/Tempura Shrimp

Mac & Cheese with Tempura Shrimp served with a Vinho Verde from Portugal

I voted this the best Mac & Cheese in the Twin Cities. While this particular dish is not on their menu, it’s a version of their Lobster Mac & Cheese. Whole wheat pasta is used to impart more flavor. Chef also told us that it’s made in the same style as risotto, adding a little at a time and mixing until incorporated, thus giving the dish a richer, creamier texture. Done. I’d order this again in a heartbeat. And while I also roll my eyes at Lobster Mac & Cheese, I’d probably overlook that here just to have this style of Mac & Cheese again!

Third Course

Filet En Croute

Filet en Croute served with a Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon from California

Think Beef Wellington here, but perhaps with a flakier outer crust. If my memory serves me, the meat was a little more well done than either of us were used to, but the sauce was rich and flavorful. By the time I finished, I was stuffed. I knew we had two courses left, but I had no idea one of them was another entrée!

Fourth Course

Seafood Tagine

Seafood Tagine served with a Pinot Noir

Isn’t this one of the most beautiful dishes you’ve ever seen?! Upon the lifting of the lid, the aromas were powerful and tantalizing. This was one dish of which I could tell that our Moroccan chef was most proud. I believe the seafood that day included salmon, halibut and mussels. The broth was intensely flavored with a Moroccan Chermoula. I was so full, but managed to enjoy a few bites. I could sit there and inhale those aromas all day!

Fifth Course


Tuxedo, Truffle & Napoleon served with Moscato

This was probably the least satisfying pairing, but I always love me a rich truffle or a flaky, yet creamy Napoleon. I was so full at this point that I was glad these little desserts were only bite-sized.

I was very impressed by this restaurant and hope to return soon. I’m still a little unsure of why this place is called FACES mears park. Is it because the restaurant actually faces Mears Park? Or is it because there is a face as part of the logo? Or is FACES an acronym for something? It could be a combination of these, too. Whatever it may be, I think people would love to know that little tidbit of information. Usually a restaurant name is pretty understandable. But I’m unsure about this one.

The restaurant is run by Executive Chef David Fhima. Fhima’s was a Minneapolis restaurant that was on my wish list years back. But I never made it before it closed. Luckily, I was able to try his food here! Something else I love? From their website:

We source our products mostly from local farms, utilize organic produce and dairy whenever possible and use only grass-fed meats. Our breads, pastries and desserts are made from 100% unbleached, whole wheat flours, honey and turbinado sugar. We never use ANY preservatives or additives.

Gotta love that.

Have you ever wanted to dine somewhere, but learned that it closed before you got the chance?



Nicollet Island Inn – Minneapolis (Wine Pairing Dinner)


Wine pairing dinners can be pricey. I have only been to one before, with my friend Jared. It was actually a Champagne-pairing dinner at the Urban Eatery in Uptown, Minneapolis. It was fantastic!

So when Jared asked me to join him in a Seven Course Tasting Menu in January at the Nicollet Island Inn with a Groupon he had bought, I jumped at the chance. I had never been to the Inn itself, just to the pavillion for the Homegrown Experience this past summer. I can tell why this is a romantic hotel and a popular venue for weddings.

In fact, this is a the place to take a date with whom you’d like share a romantic evening and impress. And of course it was only natural that Jared and I added the wine pairings {being fellow Wineaux and all} to our seven courses for just $25 extra per person. This dinner was not an organized one like the one we attended at Urban Eatery, but just the opportunity to try their regular tasting menus. The Grand Tour Tasting Menu offers the choice of one of two options for each course. We decided that we would just try them all! He would order one and I would order the other.

First Course – Starter

Steak tartare

Petit Steak Tartare with Malbec & Lobster Bruschetta with a California Bubbly

I had honestly never had steak tartare before, quite frankly, because it scared me. It always makes me think of raw hamburger meat. And who would want to eat that!? But here was my chance to give it a try. And I loved it! I couldn’t believe how refreshing of a flavor it had. I honestly could have handled eating the whole thing, but if I wanted Jared to share the lobster bruschetta, I was going to have to share the tartare. The bruschetta was excellent, too. However, Jared said that this tartare wasn’t as flavorful and spicy as most of the other tartares he’s had.

Second Course – Soup

Root Vegetable

Root Vegetable Soup with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc & Onion Soup Gratinee with a Pinot Noir

Jared was surprised that I guessed the red was a Pinot Noir without hesitation just after smelling it. As you may know by now, I’m a Pinot Noir snob, so I know that aroma anywhere. However, Jared’s palate is better than mine, so I felt like while I didn’t find that all of the pairings worked, he appreciated them much more than I did.

Also, I am not a huge French Onion Soup fan, only because I often find it too salty. However, this one was not! I ate the majority of that soup. Thanks, Jared!

Third Course – Salad

Beet Salad

Beet Salad & House Salad

At this point, I went to the restroom and when I returned the wines to be paired with the salads were placed on the table. I told Jared not to tell me what they were, that I wanted to guess. It’s not too often that I get to play that game. I usually pose it on others! While I can’t remember what one of the wines was, I do remember that the aroma of the other was very familiar. I just couldn’t place it. At first I thought – Burgundy! “It’s got a mineral quality to it!” But then I second-guessed myself because I didn’t think that the restaurant would open a quality white Burgundy to serve pours by the glass. But I knew something was off… I kept thinking French though and finally I got it – Riesling! But a dry Riesling – perhaps from Alsace. Oh how I love those! They have such a unique aroma and flavor. But I was wrong on the region. This Riesling was from Chile! I had never had a Riesling from Chile and it very much resembled the style of Alsatian Rieslings. I prefer the drier ones over the sweets, so I’ll definitely be in search of one like this from Chile, if only because it’d be a better value for similar quality.

The salads were good, too. The beets, extremely colorful. On first glance, I thought that some yellow tomatoes accompanied those beets, but when I bit into them, they were beets as well!

Fourth Course – Pasta

Mushroom Agnolotti & Lamb Bucatini

Mushroom Agnolotti with Rioja (Tempranillo) & Lamb Bucatini with a French Rhone (Grenache-Syrah)

Holy Agnolotti! Those melted in my mouth… not to mention those perfect parmesan crisps adorning the bowl… The Lamb Bucatini was nice in flavor, but I think I’m learning that I don’t like the bucatini-shaped pasta. It’s a thick spaghetti with a hole in the center. I don’t know why it is – the texture? There is just something about it that rubs me the wrong way.

Fifth Course – Meat

Duo of Scallops with Burgundy and Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauvignon

Duo of Scallops with Burgundy & Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauvignon

I enjoyed both of these, but I adore scallops and while I’m picky about my steaks, the tenderloin is one of my favorites. Both were cooked perfectly, although the duo of scallops just seemed to be one cut in half. These were very satisfying dishes!

Sixth Course – Cheese

Artisnal Cheeses

Artisnal Cheeses with Ruby Port

It has been almost two months and I didn’t take very clear notes (although we asked the server twice) on which cheese these were. So I can’t share that info with you. There was a soft cheese that I believe was a camembert-style from Georgia and I know another cheese was from Wisconsin. We enjoyed them all immensely. Hey, it’s cheese!

Seventh Course – Dessert

Pistachio Cheesecake &Caramel Ganache

Pistachio Cheesecake with Conundrum & Caramel Ganache with Ruby Port

Yum. They are desserts, so there is not much that I wouldn’t like! Have you had Conundrum before? It’s a white wine blend that yields a slightly sweeter style of many wines on the market. However, it is not as sweet as, say, a sweet riesling, a moscato or a dessert wine. That’s why it didn’t work. Wine paired with a dessert should be sweeter than the dessert itself. Jared agreed with me on this one. The cheesecake would have worked much better with perhaps a Moscato d’Asti or a Muscat Canelli. Oh well, maybe it was a substitute for something else no longer on hand.

Overall, it was an elegant, well-executed, delicious meal. I’d recommend it to anyone who is a foodie or, if you aren’t, for a special occasion! In total, we dined for about about two and a half hours, so it was great time to catch up. It was a very relaxing evening. Sometimes it’s just nice not to feel rushed.

It’s been a while since I’ve had wine considering all of the meds I’ve been on as of late, but Jared and I are planning going to FACES mears park next week. It’s a Groupon Living Social voucher I have for a five-course dinner with wine pairings. I had actually never heard of the place before receiving the offer! But, it’s a restaurant featuring Chef David Fhima. I’ve heard great things about his food. However, his restaurant, called Fhima’s, closed back in 2008 before I ever was able to give it a try. It’ll be another night out catching up with the older brother I never had.

Have you done a wine dinner?

If so, what was the most memorable wine pairing or part about it?

If not, what would you like to/expect to experience at a wine dinner?


Simple Cheese & Wine Pairings


When people host a Wine Tasting, I am often asked what cheeses should be served. My number one rule:

Keep it simple!

The last thing I want the host to do is spend a ton of money on expensive cheese or hours preparing mouthwatering appetizers. The tasting is really about the wine. In addition, I don’t want the tasting to be work for the host. I want them to have fun, too. {Although some people just like to do that!}

That being said, cheese does have the ability to enhance the wine as well and is an essential part of an educational wine tasting. I have often converted sweet wine lovers all the way over to the red spectrum, just by showing them how food can really enhance the flavor and the experience.

If you want to throw together some really easy, inexpensive cheeses for a wine tasting or are having a last minute gathering with a few girlfriends, here are a few suggestions. I like to call these “safe” cheeses, because they tend to go with almost all wines.

Safe Cheeses :

  • Mild Cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago

But maybe you want your focus to be the perfect wine with the perfect cheese. Maybe you have a favorite wine and you want to know the best cheese pairings to go with it are. Or maybe you just bought an interesting cheese and you’re wondering what wine to serve. Here are a few classic pairings:

White wines:

  • Chardonnay – Smoked Gouda, Brie
  • Gewürztraminer – Swiss, Muenster
  • Pinot Grigio – Asiago, Fresh Mozzarella
  • Riesling – Gouda, Monterey Jack
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Goat Cheese (chevre), Gruyère
  • Sparkling Wine – Brie, Camembert, Parmesan
  • Viognier – Aged Gouda, Goat Cheese (chevre)

Red wines:

  • Beaujolais – Provolone, Brie, Feta
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Aged or Sharp Cheddar, Danish Blue
  • Chianti – Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Ricotta
  • Malbec – Manchego, Taleggio, Cashel Blue
  • Merlot – Cheddar, Gouda, Jarlsberg
  • Pinot Noir – Harvarti, Colby-Jack, Feta
  • Shiraz/Syrah – Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, Edam
  • Tempranillo – Manchego, Havarti
  • Zinfandel – Sharp Cheddar, Muenster, Blue Cheese

Dessert Wines:

  • Moscato – Baby Swiss, Cheesecake 😉
  • Very Sweet Wines – Blue Cheese

When in doubt, do a google search like the following:

{insert cheese name here} + wine pairing

{insert wine name here} + cheese pairing

Seriously people, it’s that simple. You will yield several results. The ones that come up the most often will be your best bets. But then, be the judge yourself. Keep a notebook with your favorites so you don’t have to try to remember.

I’m often asked how these cheese should be served. Slices? Cubes? Let people cut their own?

How to Serve:

The truth… It doesn’t matter. People really don’t care about how beautiful your display of cheeses is. They just want to eat it. I would recommend smaller cubes or a not-too-thick slice for a couple of reasons. You want just a taste of the cheese {not a mouthful}. Big chunks are just too overpowering. And you may also want to try several! Think bite size. Small amounts of soft cheeses can even be smeared on crackers in advance to make it even simpler. But if you are just having friends over and you want to have pretty wedges for your guests to cut themselves, by all means… do that!

cheese & Wine

Just remember, grapes make a pretty arrangement, but they don’t go with wine!

For my hosts that decide to choose one cheese for each of the five wines that I bring to their Wine Tasting event, four to six ounces of each cheese is really all they need for an average tasting of about 15 guests.

Cheese is best enjoyed at room temperature. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just don’t leave it out for hours on end!

The Truth About Wine & Cheese Pairings:

What really matters is which cheese and wine pairing YOU like. Though classic pairings are classic for a reason, not everyone has the same tastes. So don’t be afraid to experiment! Just remember to cleanse your palate with a plain cracker between each pairing so that you don’t judge the flavors based on your last bite and/or taste. The discover your favorites!

What is your favorite cheese and wine pairing?