Sips and Dips!

These days, life is all about experiences. The gathering of friends, creating of memories, and sharing in experiences. Wine creates more memories than any other beverage in the world, but the old school thinking of wine being pretentious and complicated is gone. Whether in one of my public wine classes or at one of my private in-home wine and food pairing experiences, it has been proven time and time again almost anything can be paired beautifully with wine. A crowd favorite is a “Sips and Dips” theme, which is exactly what it sounds like: the perfect wine paired with a variety of dips. Easy as could be, minimal prep time, and a casual great time for everyone. I have compiled some popular dips and suggested recipes with my personal favorite wine style pairings.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo chicken dip is my favorite go-to dip at any party or gathering because it pairs incredibly with almost any wine! It’s particularly good with off dry and semi sweet whites, but it’s also a home run with the dry whites and reds, as well. My personal favorite is an off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc, but have fun with this one! When in doubt, grab whatever bottle of wine you have and serve up a bowl of buffalo dip, and let the fun begin.

Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe


Meat Lover’s Pizza Dip

This dip is so easy to make and incredibly delicious. Best of all, it’s low carb and keto friendly! The ol’ “If it grows together, it goes together” applies here, so it’s wonderful with any Italian red, however the salt, fat, and acidity of the dip makes this a fabulous partner to a majority of medium and full bodied red wines. My favorites include Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Sangiovese, and Nero d’Avola.

KeepRecipes.com Meat Lover’s Pizza Dip Recipe


Crab Rangoon Dip

Crab rangoons are another favorite staple wine pairing with any white or rose wine, so it makes sense to ditch the wonton wrappers and grab a spoon! I enjoy this dip with a crisp Pinot Grigio from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, as well as a fruit forward yet refreshing dry rose’ from Provence, France, but in reality, most dry and off-dry whites will be delightful with this dip.

Spend With Pennies Crab Rangoon Dip Recipe


Jalapeno Popper Dip

Sweet loves heat, and that’s certainly the case with off dry and semi sweet white wines when paired with this incredible jalapeno dip. All of the deliciousness of stuffed jalapenos with the ease of a dip. Dry whites work beautifully as well, as will a dry rose’.

Taste of Home Jalapeno Popper Dip Recipe


Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is a standard go-to favorite. With its creamy texture and salty flavors, spinach artichoke dip will pair beautifully with a variety of wines. My personal favorite is Sauvignon Blanc. Combined, this varietal with this dip highlights the herbaceousness of both the dip and the wine, offering beautiful “green” flavors.

Spend With Pennies Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe


Dessert Dip: Monster Cookie Dough Dip

This dip is just a good time in a bowl! Between the peanut butter, oats, M&Ms, and cream cheese, it’s everything delectable all mixed up in one bowl. Perfect sweet treat for a buttery chardonnay, semi sweet whites, and even some fruit forward reds, such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Gamay!

SomethingSwanky.com Monster Cookie Dough Dip Recipe


Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Celebrating Oregon Wine Month

Originally published in the May 2019 issue of the South Shore Senior News

There are countless numbers of world wine regions I am incredibly fond of for a variety of reasons, but Oregon is one of my very favorites. If you have yet to enjoy a wine from Oregon, you are in for a wonderful surprise. This region produces some of the purest, highest quality wines in the world with a large focus on sustainability. Oregon boasts more than 700 wineries and more than 1,000 vineyards growing 72 grape varieties.

Pinot Noir is the predominantly grown grape in Oregon, making up 72% of the region’s grapes, with Pinot Gris a distant second, comprising 14% of the region’s grapes. Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon are also grown and produced here, among many others, and offer superior domestic wines to the US market.

Oregon wines are often discussed as being similar in style and even quality to the wines of Burgundy, France. Both Oregon and Burgundy produce wines that distinctly reflect the individual terroir in which the grapes were grown. You can actually taste the difference in terroir (soil type, slope gradient, slope aspect and sunshine hours, climate, etc.) from vineyard to vineyard, even if only a mile or less away. Although I would never consider Oregon in the shadow of Burgundy, I do believe Burgundy has been a source of inspiration to its Oregon counterparts for many decades.

Oregon’s winemakers focus on small batch, high-quality wines. The grape growers and winemakers take incredible pride in their craft, and that is represented well with consistently high ratings by Wine Spectator and the like. In fact, Oregon wines made up 20% of Wine Spectator’s 90+ scores on domestic wines in 2017.

There is a culture of sustainability among Oregon farmers and winemakers, something more and more of us are prioritizing when it comes to the preservation of our planet. 47% of Oregon’s vineyards are certified sustainable, a higher percentage than any other domestic wine region. Oregon also accounts for 35% of US Demeter Biodynamic vineyards. Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator remarks, “It’s here in the culture; it’s here in the air. The very DNA or Oregon winegrowing is sympathetic to this non-interventionist, naturalist, small-scale form of farming and winemaking.”

With incredible respect and admiration for sustainability and biodynamic farming, I will more often than not choose a wine from Oregon over any other if it is available on a menu while I am dining out. I know I am getting a wine that a community’s heart and soul went into growing and making, and that spirit is reflected in each savored sip.

Since 2012, the Oregon wine industry has celebrated Oregon Wine Month annually in May. I invite you join in and celebrate with your own bottle of wine from Oregon, and discover a new favorite wine region to enjoy for a lifetime.

For more information, visit https://www.oregonwine.org/

SSSNMay2019

Celebrating Mardi Gras With Wine

Condensed version published in the South Shore Senior News, March 2019.

Back in 1993 at the age of 18, my family and I moved from Massachusetts to Louisiana. You can imagine the culture shock this Yankee was in for, having been born and raised in New England! I had never visited Louisiana or anywhere in the deep south, and truth be told, I didn’t know much about the culture. Being a foodie for all of my life, spending time in Louisiana was nothing short of one delicious adventure after another. I soon learned what the incredible appeal was about visiting cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, between the culture, the history, the music, the wonderful people, and of course the food. Although New Orleans  is known more for its mixed drinks such as daiquiris, hurricanes, and even hand grenades,  I find wine to be the ultimate complement to the local cuisine.


All these years later, whenever I make a trip to Louisiana to visit my family, the very first thing on my list is stopping for a fried shrimp po’boy. Incidentally, my favorite po’ boy isn’t from a restaurant in New Orleans, but from a quaint little restaurant in my mom’s town of Gonzales, LA called Philay’s Catfish ‘n More. The shrimp are fried to juicy perfection and dressed with just the right amount of toppings. Whether fried fish, fried oysters, or fried shrimp po’boys, the meal simply isn’t complete without being paired with a dry, crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Grüner Veltliner, or perhaps a nice dry rosé.

Shrimp po’ boy from Philay’s Catfish n’ More

Another seafood favorite of mine is boiled crawfish. For years, I thought the term “crawfish boil” was actually “crawfish bowl”, clearly my inability to decipher the charming New Orleans accent. Once I attended my first official crawfish boil, it all made sense… a giant pot of seasoned crawfish, corn on the cob, and potatoes that once cooked was dumped on a giant table covered in brown paper. An experience everyone should enjoy at least once! A crawfish boil begs for several bottles of Chardonnay on the table, from unoaked versions to oaked versions. It is simply a pairing made in heaven.

Louisiana Backyard Crawfish Boil

No trip to Louisiana is complete without enjoying some authentic gumbo and homemade jambalaya. In my experience, I’ve found the little hole-in-the-wall food stands and take out restaurants have the best jambalaya and gumbo in the state, such as The Jambalaya Shoppe. Not only is an individual portion of jambalaya here enough to eat for about 3 days, but the giant seasoned chunks of chicken and sausage can’t be beat. I absolutely love pairing these spicier dishes with an off dry white, such as Vouvray or German Riesling, or even a light to medium bodied red with softer tannins, such as a Pinot Noir or Gamay.


We cannot forget about the endless amount of delicious desserts Louisiana offers. From the traditional Mardi Gras dessert King Cake, to creamy Louisiana pralines. But no trip to New Orleans is complete without visiting Café du Monde in the French Quarter to enjoy their famous beignets. The light, fluffy, French donuts are fried to perfection and smothered in powdered sugar. Any of these delectable, sweet desserts will pair perfectly with an off dry white, a semi sweet white, or even a sweet dessert or ice wine.


At one time I saved my Louisiana cuisine for when I would visit, but those days are long gone. Although I once again live in New England, I regularly cook Louisiana style cuisine so I can enjoy that unique taste of the deep south paired with the perfect wine in the comfort of my Massachusetts home.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

SSSNMarch2019MardiGras

Wine and Chocolate For Valentine’s Day

Originally published in South Shore Senior News, February 2019 Edition

Wine and chocolate, a match made in heaven in this wine lover’s opinion. I tell my students, when in doubt, grab a bag of dark chocolate and a bottle of tannic red wine, and you will have an evening of deliciously paired bliss. There is so much to explore in the world of chocolate and wine. Valentine’s Day is upon us, and what better time than to take our taste buds on a sweet adventure?

White chocolate and Pinot Noir is probably the most surprising and delicious chocolate and wine pairing I’ve ever experienced. Pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir, then put a square of quality white chocolate on your tongue and savor. While the chocolate is melting, raise the glass to your nose and breathe in the aromas of the wine. You will start to taste an incredible vanilla flavor that wasn’t noticeable before. Once you’ve enjoyed this sensation, take a sip of the wine, coating the white chocolate as it continues to melt, and enjoy pure bliss.

Old vine Zinfandels are some of my favorite wines, and I’m absolutely obsessed with pairing them with dark chocolate raspberry, such as Ghirardelli dark chocolate raspberry squares. Zinfandels are so jammy and fruit forward that these chocolate squares will turn that wine into liquid raspberry on the palate in the most heavenly of ways.

Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have undertones of eucalyptus or mint, which makes these hefty reds the ideal partner for chocolate mint. You can go beyond dark chocolate mint candies and pair them with Mint Milanos, Thin Mint cookies, or even grasshoppers.

I enjoy the flavor of coffee in pretty much anything, and chocolate is no exception. You will bring out a delicious earthy, mocha note when pairing red wine with dark chocolate covered espresso or coffee beans. Earthier varietals like Cabernet Franc and Pinotage will truly impress with this delightful pairing.

A fun and unusual combination I have grown to love is dark chocolate chili, which provides a nice spicy kick. Enjoy this with a nice Syrah/Shiraz, and watch the fruit and spice dance happily on the palate, switching off who takes the lead.

What about white wines? These can be a bit tricky, especially the drier ones, as too much sugar will amplify the acid, resulting in an unpleasant bitter taste. I have found the heavier bodied oakier whites, such as Chardonnay, pair wonderfully with creamy white chocolate, or even milk chocolate covered nuts or turtles. Try an off-dry white, such as a Riesling, or a sweeter white, such as a Moscato, with milk chocolate caramels with sea salt.

Want to explore a little outside the box? Try chocolate covered bacon for a new and exciting twist. This gives you the best of the wine pairing world: salt and fat blanketed in decadent chocolate. You could even drizzle chocolate on some salty kettle chips for a similar effect.

When it comes to wine and chocolate pairing, the best part is the “research”! 

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

SSSNFebruary2019

What You Need to Know About Champagne

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY TRAVELING VINEYARD ON DECEMBER 29, 2018

As long as I can remember, I’ve had an incredible passion for Champagne. Champagne was my very first experience with fine wine, and has become a regular part of my wine drinking. Champagne is not simply a bottle of bubbly wine, however …

What is Champagne?

Champagne is not a grape or a style, it is a geographical region in northern France. In order for a wine to be called Champagne, it must come from this region, and it must adhere to various rules and laws that include specific growing conditions to its wine making technique.

Champagne must be made in the Methode Champenoise, or Méthode Traditionelle (Traditional Method). This is a very intricate and time consuming wine making process that involves a second fermentation in the very bottle it will later be sold in. This can often, in part, account for the hefty prices many bottles of Champagne command.

How Do You Properly Store Champagne?

As with all wine, you want to store your bottles of Champagne away from bright or artificial light and maintain a consistent and cool temperature (ideally 44-50 degrees F). Long term storage should be with the bottles on their sides in a wine rack or in a wine cellar.

What’s the Best Way to “Pop” the Cork?

Although the loud POP sound of a bottle of Champagne is synonymous with celebration, it is not the proper and safe way to open your bubbly. The first step is to remove the foil, then to loosen the wine cage (this should take 6 twists of the wire tab). Next, drape a towel or cloth over the cork and cage, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and away from yourself and others, and while firmly holding the cork in place, slowly twist the bottle from its base. You want a very soft “pop” of the cork into your hands.

How to Serve Champagne

There are various shapes of glassware in which to serve your Champagne, such as a flute (tall and narrow) or a coupe (wide and shallow), or even various white wine glasses. The depth of a glass can really influence the aromatic release of a sparkling wine. There is much controversy about which shape is best, so my advice is to try different glasses and choose your favorite. My personal favorite is a traditional Champagne flute, simply for the aesthetics and the ability to see the bubbles dancing to the top of the glass. To me, this is a symbol of celebration.

How to Pair Champagne

When we think of Champagne, we think of celebration and decadence. Caviar, smoked salmon, exquisite French cheese—each of these are a match made in heaven with a beautiful glass of Champagne. As someone who enjoys Champagne on a regular, non-celebratory basis, these luxurious foods simply aren’t always on my menu. One incredibly delicious everyday pairing is, believe it or not, French fries! There isn’t a single other wine this New Englander would rather pair with freshly fried fish and chips than a glass of Champagne. Fresh fried seafood, goat cheese, fish tacos, fresh strawberries, even deviled eggs are simple everyday pairings that are sure to enhance the Champagne experience. Shellfish, such as shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, and lobster are other delicious dinner options. High acid, salt, and fat content in your food pairings will be sure to pair wonderfully with the high acid content of your Champagne. Cheers!

Choosing the Right Glassware for Your Wine

I was once one of the skeptics who didn’t entirely believe that glassware made a significant difference when it came to drinking wine, that is until I put it to the test myself. I took two wine glasses of the same shape and size, one Riedel crystal glass, and one from the dollar store. I poured the same wine in both glasses and began to explore. I was absolutely amazed at the difference. The aromas were noticeably different in each. The dollar store glass gave off a somewhat chalky odor, overpowering the delicate fruit and earthy aromas of the wine, where the crystal glass sent all of those aromas directly to the nose. From first smell, I was a believer. Then, I sipped the wine from each glass, and once again, my world was changed. The aromas flowed on the palate in just the right spots from the crystal glass, where as in the dollar store glass, the wine just sort of landed flatly on the palate. I didn’t understand the hows and whys, but I knew glassware absolutely made a huge difference.

This fall, I was fortunate to attend a seminar with Maximilian Riedel, glassmaker and 11th generation CEO of Riedel crystal glassware. We were presented with five different handcrafted Riedel crystal glasses: Cabernet Sauvignon, oaked Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and basic white wine. The sizes and shapes of each glass were noticeably different, but each one was thin, light, and incredibly beautiful. Over the course of two hours, Mr. Riedel led us through one of the most fascinating seminars I have ever attended, sampling some very high-quality wines in each glass. We’d go back and forth between glass, smelling and tasting, seeing for ourselves how the delicate nuances of each wine was either enhanced or dulled, depending on the glass it was served in. I left absolutely amazed. I was even more thrilled when Mr. Riedel announced each attendee would be able to take the glasses we used at the seminar home with us! That collection is now my prized glassware that I use when I want to truly taste a wine to its fullest.

Glassware makes a huge difference in your wine tasting experience. The way a glass is shaped can direct its aromas to the nose properly, and it can cause the wine to flow on the perfect spot on the palate, almost like magic. You don’t need to spend a fortune on glassware to enjoy your wine, but investing in a set of moderate or high-quality glassware, even if just for special occasions, will truly enhance your appreciation and ability to taste the nuances of a wine. Neither do you need a different glass for each varietal. Although they are available and are crafted to enhance each specific varietal, you can achieve a similar effect with basic glasses. For instance, I serve my white wines in a differently shaped glass than my red wines. I serve my oaked Chardonnays in a differently shaped glass than my Rieslings, and I serve my Pinot Noirs in a differently shaped glass than my Cabernet Sauvignons. Each wine is so unique in its aromatics and texture, and a specifically crafted glass for each truly brings out the best. For every day consumption, however, I suggest having two different glasses—one for whites and one for reds.

How to Choose the Right Glassware

In general, red wines are bigger and bolder than white wines, and these require a glass with a bigger bowl to allow the aromas and flavors to be expressed to the fullest potential. The smaller bowl of a white wine glass helps to preserve the aromatics and floral aromas. This simple rule will elevate your wine experience. The stem on your glass matters, too. Although stemless glasses are attractive and popular, the stem of a glass plays an important role in maintaining the temperature of your wine. Temperature is extremely important in the aroma, flavor, and texture expression of a wine. Holding a wine glass by the bowl itself, and not the stem, can easily change the temperature of the wine in your glass.

Next time you’re serving wine to friends and family, check your cabinet and be sure you’re using the right glassware for your wine!

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com
vinoislife.com

A Cookie Swap Wine Tasting

Today is National Cookie Day! Yes, there’s truly a day for everything. Although if there was the perfect time to have a designated cookie day, this time of year is definitely it. Over the past several years, I have conducted several cookie swap themed in-home wine tasting events, and this year was no exception.

My fabulous host and multi-time in-home tasting attendee Ameera hosted a cookie swap tasting in celebration of her 30th birthday. The great thing about a cookie swap (besides the obvious) is that every guest gets to contribute and bring their favorite cookies to share. As the Wine Educator, I choose which wines I will bring to the tasting based upon the cookies everyone has offered to bake and bring.

cookieswap01

It’s certainly fun to apply my pairing knowledge and predict what I know (or at least am fairly certain) will be a great match, which cookies will be delicious with which wines, but it’s even more fun to see my dozen or more wine loving guests experiment with the flavors and come up with new and unpredictable pairings. We pleasantly found the following are fabulous together:

Oatmeal cookies with coconut with Chardonnay.
Gingerbread cookies with Viognier.
Caramel Apple Pie cookies with both Viognier and Chardonnay.
Dark chocolate raspberry cookies with Zinfandel (probably my all time fave!)
Peanut butter blossoms with Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
Dark chocolate peppermint with Malbec (this also pairs amazingly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah).
Chocolate chip cookies with pretty much any red wine, both dry and sweet.

In previous cookie swap events, I have been been able to determine some general rules when it comes to pairing wine and cookies. That being said, when it comes to wine, there never seems to be one final answer, and all rules are meant to be broken. For instance, I assumed snickerdoodles would be much too sweet and sugary to pair well with an oaked Chardonnay, but much to my surprise, it was a delightful pairing. Generally speaking, the sweeter the cookie, the sweeter the wine. Sugar cookies and frosted cookies should pair nicely with semi sweet and sweet wines. Chocolate cookies with red wines is another almost sure bet. Lemon cookies, if not heavily glazed and not too sweet, seem to pair lovely with off dry and drier whites, especially those whites with citrus and/or lemon notes.

I was asked to create the pairing suggestions for your cookie swaps based upon wine category. You will find this fantastic chart designed by our design team below. But remember… rules are meant to be broken, and you might find additional matches that you find simply delicious. Happy pairing!

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

A Twist On The Traditional

Originally published in South Shore Senior News, November 2018

A perfectly paired wine will have dinner guests talking long after the dinner itself. Wine creates memories, it brings family and friends together, and it is the ultimate condiment to enhance our food. Wine evokes all five of our senses, and when paired with the proper food choices, leaves a lasting impression on both our palates and our minds.

Thanksgiving is filled with tradition, both cultural and family. Warm and inviting side dishes, casseroles, and homemade pies are just a few of the food traditions we honor. The wine options can often get lost in that tradition, and we might tend to grab random bottles of Chardonnay and Merlot just to have fairly acceptable whites and reds available. Imagine stepping outside that traditional box for just a moment and providing your guests with wine selections that will dazzle their palates and bring out the absolute best flavors and textures of every dish on that table.

Typically speaking, any given Thanksgiving offers a myriad of flavors, from cranberry to sweet potato, pumpkin, and squash, to green beans and Brussels sprouts, corn dressing and sausage stuffing. The possibilities are endless. So how does one offer a great wine selection that will pair well with each of these foods? That is indeed the challenge for many, but it doesn’t have to be.

It is my belief every celebration should begin with bubbly of some sort, but that does not limit you to Champagne. Prosecco is Italy’s go-to bubbly, and offers a lighter, fresher, fruitier flavor than many Champagnes. Spain brings us Cava, which can be a tad drier than Prosecco, but not as complex as Champagne.

When selecting white wines, I suggest considering wines with an aromatic quality and a medium to heavy body, such as Vourvray (the Chenin Blanc grape from the Loire Valley of France) and Condrieu (the Viognier grape from the Northern Rhone of France). Both regions produce wines of varying degrees of dryness/sweetness, so whichever your palate desires, you can thoroughly enjoy. You can also go the non-aromatic variety route with a Pinot Gris from either Oregon or Alsace, France. Each will offer a bit more weight and creaminess than a Pinot Grigio (same grape, different name) from Italy, but without the aromatics of the aforementioned grapes.

When choosing your red wines, you want to make sure they are not too overpowering for the dishes they will be served with so you create a nice balance of both flavor and weight. I suggest varieties with lighter tannins and more pronounced fruit, such as Pinot Noir in the form of red Burgundy, or Gamay in the form of Cru Beaujolais. You can find delicious Pinot Noirs outside of Burgundy, France as well. Russian River Valley in California is producing stellar Pinot Noirs that will leave lasting impressions.

Wine can enhance a dinner so much, it is truly worth a little extra effort to make a warm tradition such as Thanksgiving an exceptional experience.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com
vinoislife.com

Friendsgiving Food and Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It brings about warm feelings, and of course, much celebration. I adore spending time with my family, enjoying great food, wine, and especially the company of friends. When Friendsgiving became a thing, it felt like hitting the jackpot! The same warm, comforting celebration, but with my closest friends whom I consider my extended family.

I hopped on the bandwagon and began celebrating Friendsgiving with my friends, and each year it gets better and better. I typically host at my home a week prior to Thanksgiving, and we make it a potluck style dinner where I cook a turkey, supply the wine, and each friend brings a side dish, appetizer, or dessert. It’s an evening we all look forward to every single year.

A Warm Welcome with Cranberry Recipes and Wine

Every celebration should begin with small bites for nibbling, and the perfect wine to sip while saying your hellos, and mingling. As much as I personally love pumpkin flavors, the Massachusetts native in me always includes cranberry flavors in my Friendsgiving menus. There is so much one can do with cranberries and pairing that fruit flavor with wine is truly fun and exciting.

I particularly enjoy having cheese selections to nosh on, but one that is a bit more eclectic than a simple cheese plate. Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls are full of flavor and texture and would truly pair with almost any wine you pour in your glass. The goat cheese, which is highly acidic, will smooth even the sharpest white wines, the pecans are a beautiful pairing with off-dry and semi-dry whites, and the cranberries complement the tart red fruit notes of many red wines, whether lighter-bodied or fuller-bodied. I would reach for an unoaked Chardonnay, an off-dry or dry Riesling, and a Petite Sirah, respectively.

Perhaps you prefer the warm creaminess of baked brie. An alternative option would be Baked Stuffed Brie with Cranberries and Walnuts. Pair this crowd pleaser with a more sophisticated white like a Pinot Gris from Alsace, France, or a dry Rose’ from Provence or Tavel, or even a medium-bodied Syrah/Shiraz.

I am a huge fan of cocktail meatballs, and one of my favorite styles combines the sweetness and tartness of cranberry sauce with the spicy kick of chili sauce. We all know sweet loves heat, and Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs would pair perfectly with an off dry glass of celebratory bubbly, such as Prosecco.

And a Savory Side (Dish) of Fun

Side dishes can be extremely fun and unique, and at a potluck celebration this allows each guest to get creative. I love stuffing with a little something special, like Sausage, Apple, and Walnut Stuffing, which is one of my all-time favorites. The protein portion of the dinner doesn’t need to begin and end with turkey. The savory sausage, tangy apple, and nuttiness of the walnuts in this recipe make this dish a great partner for a wide spectrum of wine styles, depending on your preference for white or red. A beautifully balanced Chardonnay from Oregon will wow your white wine lovers, and a Portuguese red blend will more than satisfy your red wine loyalists.

My Friendsgiving would not be complete without a batch of buttery Spoon Bread Casserole on the table. It’s another side dish I crave all year long. This dish is incredibly simple to make and offers all the comfort of cornbread, but with a richer, creamier, more buttery flavor. It shines with any Chardonnay, and I’d reach for either a California Chardonnay, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley of France, or even an Oregon Pinot Gris would be welcome pairings that wine drinkers will cling to even after that last bite. A selection of reds would also work wonderfully.


Wine holds more memories than any other beverage in the world.

JON ACUFF


Another mainstay for your Friendsgiving table is a heaping plate of Oven Roasted Root Vegetables.They’re not only beautiful and healthy, but they add satisfying textures and tastes that complement turkey and stuffing—and are as satisfying as turkey as an entree for your veggie-loving guests. My pick for the best wine pairing would be a soft, fruit forward red or a lighter-sipping Torrontés.

More Than Just Pie

Family Thanksgiving dinner is always followed by countless pies of all sorts, so for Friendsgiving, I find it fun to include non-pie desserts that still showcase autumn flavors. I’m a fan of trifles, because they are super easy to make and can be made in virtually any flavor combination you like. Pumpkin Butterscotch Gingerbread Trifle combines all the fall spice flavors we love so much in one big, delicious trifle bowl. This would be incredible with an off-dry white, such as a Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or Moscatel.

Bite-sized desserts and cookies are a great way to end Friendsgiving, as well. Viognier is an ideal complement to Gingerbread Biscotti. How could anyone refuse the coffee and chocolate combination of Coffee Roasted Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Clusters with a nice glass of Pinotage? I know I sure couldn’t!

Jon Acuff once said, “Wine holds more memories than any other beverage in the world.” How incredibly true that is! Whichever dishes and wines you choose to serve at your celebration, Friendsgiving is all about creating new memories. Cheers to family, friends and friends that are like family!

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Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com