It’s not just cheese and charcuterie any more. As California tasting rooms continue to push the envelope on food and wine pairings — really, immersive culinary experiences for guests — winemakers are celebrating their own diverse heritages that manifest in food pairings for their wine portfolios. And wine country subculture is not as homogenous as one might assume. There are as many traditions — cultural and culinary — as there are wines showcasing the abundance and quality of some of the most sought after wines in the world. Here are four examples of favorite recipes with wine pairings that are especially meaningful to some of our most beloved winemaking families, with stories from each about why these dishes are perfect with specific wines.
Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi, Darioush Winery: Pistachio + Pomegranate Meatballs | Darioush 2018 Signature Shiraz, Napa Valley
“On December 21 we observe Yaldā Night, the Iranian celebration of the winter solstice—it is the last night of autumn and the longest night of the year. We enjoy hosting our family and friends for an evening filled with eating and drinking, in celebration of this special time of year.
Many think of Shiraz as being synonymous with dynamic, luscious red wine, but to our family it also represents home; the Iranian city renowned for gardens, poets and viticulture. At Darioush, we craft a Shiraz each vintage as an ode to our birthplace in Iran and culture, and it pairs wonderfully with festive Persian-style lamb dish.”
The recipe is from Chef Najmieh Batmanglij, from her book Joon: Persian Cooking Made Simple: Pistachio + Pomegranate Meatballs (made with lamb).
Makes: 24–30 meatballs Prep: 20 minutes plus 10 minutes of refrigeration Cooking: 20 minutes
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1V cups (180 g) raw pistachio kernels (see note)
V cup (15 g) fresh plain bread crumbs
3 cups (250 g) chopped fresh parsley
1 cup (85 g) chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup (85 g) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 teaspoons sea salt
2 lb (900 g) ground turkey thighs, lamb, or deboned fish fillets
V cup oil to brush meatballs glaze
1 cup (240 ml) pomegranate molasses*
1/3 cup (80 ml) grape
1 teaspoon salt
V teaspoon freshly ground pepper
V teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup (150 g) pomegranate arils
1. To make the meatballs: Place all the ingredients, except the ground turkey and egg, in a food processor and pulse until you have a grainy paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the turkey and egg. Lightly knead with your hands for a few minutes (do not over-mix). Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Generously oil a wide, non-reactive baking dish, large enough to fit 24 meatballs, (about 12 x 14 in/30 x 35 cm) and set aside.
3. Remove the turkey paste from the fridge and shape into walnut sized balls (about 1V tablespoons each) using an ice-cream scoop. Place the meatballs in the baking dish and brush well with oil. Bake in the oven for 5 to 15 minute (depending on your oven).
4. Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the glaze.
5. Spoon the glaze over the meatballs and bake for another 5 minutes to infuse them with the flavor of pomegranate.
6. Garnish with the pomegranate arils and serve warm with the sauce. Nush-e joon!
For a vegetarian version, in step 1, replace the meat with cooked quinoa. To cook the quinoa: Place 2 cups quinoa (rinsed thoroughly) and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan, stir gently and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. In step 1, place all the ingredients for the meatballs, increasing number of eggs to 3, and the cooked quinoa in a food processor and pulse until you have a grainy paste.
Remi Cohen, Domaine Carneros: Latkes with creme fraiche, applesauce, or a dollop of caviar | Domaine Carneros Estate Brut or the tête de cuvée Le Rêve, a Blanc de Blancs
“Growing up in a Jewish family, I always enjoyed Hanukkah celebrations, especially when they involved latkes. Latkes (potato pancakes fried in safflower oil) are a traditional Hanukkah dish that celebrates the part of the holiday story where the small quantity of oil in the temple miraculously gave candlelight for eight days instead of just one. All types of fried potatoes, from potato chips to fries, make a classic pairing with sparkling wine.”
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled, grated, and squeezed of all liquid
1/3 cup grated onion
1/4 cup flour
Safflower or other vegetable oil for frying
· Coarsely grate the peeled potatoes and drain out as much liquid as possible. Mix with the grated onion.
· Mix the egg, flour, salt and pepper until the flour is well blended.
· Fill a frying pan with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the oil and heat until hot. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the oil. Flatten each scoop with a spatula. Cool for 3-5 minutes until the edges are brown and then flip and cook another 3-5 minutes to brown the other side.
· Transfer the latkes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with salt.
· Accompany with applesauce, creme fraiche, and chives (and caviar makes this dish even more special).
Katie Bundschu, Abbot’s Passage: Grilled Duck Marinated in Orange, Rosemary, and Garlic | Abbot’s Passage Points Unknown Rhone-Style Blend
“For the holidays, this wine has a dark, brooding opulence that stands up to the richness of the duck, yet has a balanced acidity that pairs nicely with the brightness of the orange marinade. Plus, the wine’s earthy and savory notes of soft leather, black pepper, and sarsaparilla root complement the gamey flavors of the duck.“
- 1 large duck, skin intact
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsps kosher salt
- 2 cups fresh orange juice
- 2 Tbsps fresh rosemary, minced, plus extra sprigs for garnish
- 1 Tbsps freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 fresh small oranges, halved, for garnish
Rinse duck and pat dry. Remove neck and giblets and save for another time. Using a cleaver or other heavy knife, remove spine, splitting the duck in half. (You can always ask your butcher to do this for you.) Remove excess fat from cavity and tail area and trim off a bit of excess neck skin. Prick duck skin all over with tip of sharp paring knife, making sure not to penetrate meat. Place the duck into a shallow dish and set aside.
Make a marinade by combining the remaining ingredients, reserving ¾ cup of it for basting the duck while grilling. Pour the rest of the marinade on the duck, turning to coat. Cover the container and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, turning often.
When ready to cook the duck, heat a well-oiled grill to medium-high heat. Using long tongs, carefully place the duck on the grill, skin side down. Grill until the skin is evenly browned, about 12 minutes, then flip over and continue grilling to desired doneness, about 6-8 more minutes for medium rare. If grilling oranges for garnish, brush them with olive oil and put them on the grill when you flip the duck. Grilling them will not only give them flavor but also release the juices.
Just before removing duck from the grill, baste liberally with reserved mixture. Place the duck on a platter and garnish with rosemary and grilled oranges, if desired.
Megan and Reed Skupny, Lang & Reed Napa Valley: Pork Chops | Lang & Reed Cab Franc
“Reed and I took to the hobby of purchasing whole pigs from kids who raised them to earn money for the 4H and FFA. Our first pig we purchased was named Sunday, and she was one fat and happy sow. We decided we were going to butcher her ourselves. Seemed like the perfect weekend activity. Well, it turned into quite a fiasco, as you can imagine. We stumbled our way through it, and had some very tasty (albeit very roughly cut) pieces of pork by the end. Our favorite cuts, by far, were the bone-in pork chops. This is our go-to for having company, especially over the holidays. It comes out of the oven and is a showstopper every time (even when we make it just to eat on the couch while watching a movie).”
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 10 hours
1 cup of salt
½ cup sugar
10+ whole allspice
10+ whole black peppercorns
3 thyme springs (if you have them)
3 bay leaves
1 dried arbol chili (optional)
2-4 large pork chops (bone-in for more flavor)
Napa Valley Spice Rub
2 cups wood chips (We like applewood, but you can choose anything.)
1. Combine ingredients through dried arbol chili in a medium saucepan and cover with a finger’s depth of water. Bring to a slow boil until sugar and salt dissolved.
2. Let brine chill by adding it to ice in a large bowl.
3. Add pork chops and add more water to cover meat, if needed.
4. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
a. Note – you can reuse the brine for a whole chicken or any other meat.
5. 1 hour prior to finishing brine, soak 2 cups of wood chips in water for smoking.
6. After 6-8 hours, remove pork chops from brine, rinse, and pat dry.
7. Lightly season each pork chop with Napa Valley Rub from Whole Spice, Napa Valley or Herbes de Provence.
8. Place wood chips in smoker according to your smoker’s directions. Smoke for 2-3 hours. This might take a few pans full of wood chips. You’ll need to monitor how fast they smoke.
9. With a few minutes left in the smoking process, turn the broiler on and place a cast iron pan in the oven to preheat.
10. Remove pork chops from smoker. Place in preheated pan and return pan to broiler for 3 minutes per side. A general rule is 3-4 minutes if the chop is more than one inch thick and 2-3 minutes if the chop is less than one inch thick.
11. Remove from broiler and place pork chops on cutting board. Let them rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh aioli and crispy broccoli or sautéed green beans.
Get adventurous this holiday season with these tried and true recipes and their perfect pairings.