Wine Pairing Texas

February/March Texas Wine Pairing

What do we always think of in February? Valentine's Day, and - CHOCOLATE - of course - AND - the third week of March is American Chocolate Week. Considered by many as hard to pair, Texas Wines offer several excellent opportunities. Here are a few pairings to consider: 

Llano Estacado Texas Port with rich decadent flourless chocolate cake - In Texas we like to add a hint of spiciness to the cake and make it a flourless chocolate 'CHIPOTLE' cake! The port style wine's nutty vanilla and ripe berry flavors marry perfectly with the rich spicy chocolate. 

Mandola Estates Canto Felice with chocolate-dipped strawberries. The subtle sweetness in this Texas wine materializes from flavors of fresh red cherry and young strawberry aromas. Brilliant red in color, this wine has such pronounced flavors of chocolate and strawberries, you won’t be able to resist pairing the two. 

Haak Madeira with, well... it is perfect all by itself. This wine makes me want to hug someone! With aromas and flavors of coffee, caramel, peaches and cinnamon, followed by nutty toffee, it is perfect as a treat following any meal. But, since this month is about chocolate, have some chocolate fondue with fruit and marshmallows on hand. Another possibility would be a chocolate raspberry tart. 

April/May Texas Wine Pairing

Spring is here - what better than Spring lamb with your other Easter treats! I grew up in cattle country, so we did not eat lamb until my mom developed some intense food allergies and we gave it a whirl. We found out what we had been missing! Since then, it has become a family favorite for special occasions. It also pairs perfectly with several Syrah wines from Texas wineries - three come to mind right away: Homestead Winery Syrah with its juicy fruity flavors and toasty finish, Bella Vista Syrah with blackberry mingling with chocolate and hints of pepper, and Fuqua Vat No. 5 Syrah with velvety tannins, black cherries and vanilla. Any are superb matches for my favorite lamb recipe (serves 4): 

2 racks of lamb trimmed of fat (about 1 1/2 pounds each) Salt, Pepper, Crumbled Dried Thyme, Rosemary 2 teaspoons of Olive Oil 1/2 cup dry white wine. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub the lamb with the salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary, then sprinkle with the oil and rub it over the spices. Roast according to taste - I like to remove mine at just over 30 minutes or 140 degrees internal temp. Let the lamb rest while deglazing the pan. After resting, the temperature reaches about 145 degrees - medium rare to medium. To deglaze the plan - discard all but a tablespoon or so of pan juices. Over medium high heat, add the white wine. Stir and boil until the liquid is reduced by about half. Pour over the lamb, carve and serve. My husband loves this with mint jelly so I always have that on hand.

June/July Wine Pairing

Texas Wine is perfect for your summer barbeque. Many Texans have their own special recipes for sizzling on the flame next to the pool or tailgating at the local 4th of July Celebration. Favorites range from bratwurst to wings, but when it comes right down to it, a good juicy burger is hard to beat. You can choose beef, turkey, chicken or buffalo to serve with a buffet of extras - guacamole, mushrooms, grilled onions, every kind of cheese you can think of, bacon, and salsa to name a few. Throw in sides such as corn on the cob, grilled veggies, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, pasta salad. Then top everything off with s'mores for dessert. You will be sure to please everyone! The only thing missing is the Texas wine. I can think of several possibilities, and if you've got a crowd with a diverse palate, you might include several Texas wines. 

If you are going to be gathering outdoors, my personal favorite Texas wine for the occasion is McPherson Cellars 2009 Rosé of Syrah. This is a dry rosé in the style of some of the great rosés of Provence. This Texas wine is served chilled and perfectly moderates the Texas heat while complementing a wide range of food. It won a Gold Medal at the 2010 Lone Star International Wine Competition. If you have a group that likes their Texas wines sweet, you might try Red Road Winery's Las - a sweet blush with plenty of strawberry and cherry on the palate. If you'll be enjoying your picnic indoors-yes, it's okay to want to escape the Texas sun in July-I can't think of a better wine than McPherson Cellars Grenache Mourvedre. Happy Grillin' y'all!!!

August / September Wine Pairing

Some of the best times I've experienced were around Labor Day when my brother and tons of friends would show up in Childress for a big dove hunt. The guys (and gals) would camp out at my parents, hunt for a couple of days, then prepare a gigantic feast. The dove were prepared by stuffing a jalapeno in each breast and wrapping the breast with bacon. The breasts were skewered and cooked over an open campfire. A big pot of pork and beans was served along with a simple salad and garlic bread. I can't think of a better wine to serve than McPherson Cellars Grenache Mourvedre. The aromas of game come through in this Rhone-style wine and make it a perfect pairing for the dark, dense, flavorful meat of the dove breasts. Other favorites for this dish would be the Sunset Winery 2005 Twilight Tango Malbec, or the Lone Oak 2007 Double Diamond Merlot. Unfortunately I haven't found any place to buy dove breasts, so I may have to take up hunting again someday!

October/ November Texas Wine Pairing

The fall brings so many possibilities for Texas wine and food. Everything from Halloween candy, caramel apples and popcorn balls to Thanksgiving at Grandma's. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to explore Texas food and wine pairings. The first wines that come to mind are any number of fabulous Texas Viogniers. Becker Vineyards Viognier, with hints of oak would be a natural choice for smoked turkey. La Buena Vida Vineyards Springtown Viognier is another great option, along with several others such as Brennan or McPherson. If you want to go red, Fuqua has their Texas Summer Cab, Vat 9 that's full of fruit and flavor. I normally wouldn't recommend pairing a Cabernet with Thanksgiving dinner, but this is a 'summer' cab because of the lightness, making it a perfect choice. Low tannins would also allow you to spice up the turkey and dressing a bit for a true Texas style feast. If you want to add in variety, consider Zin Valle Rising Star Brut Sparkling as an aperitif, and finish off with one of the Haak Madeira fortified wines or Homestead Winery's decadent Sherry.

December/ January Texas Wine Pairing

Ah, holiday dinners... what is your tradition? Ham, turkey, prime rib, or maybe goose? And what about all those delicious goodies to nibble throughout the season? What are the perfect Texas wine pairings? 

Throughout Texas wine country, there are special wines sold only during the holidays, best enjoyed on a chilly evening by a warm fire. Sunset Winery in Burleson has a sweet red Texas wine available only through the winery. Five dollars of every purchase of Sunset's Santa Wine goes to Harvest House, a local charity providing food, clothing, financial assistance and other services to people in need. The wine is great when served warm with spices as a mulled wine. Another treat only available during the Holiday season is Tehuacana Creek Vineyards' Glögg. It's a sweet red Texas wine with cinnamon, ginger, raisins a touch of brandy, best drunk warm in a mug and perfect with Inga's gingerbread cookies. 

For the perfect Holiday dinner, start with Zin Valle's Sparkling Brut as an aperitif. No matter what the dish, Texas white wine lovers will enjoy any one of Texas' great Viogniers - Brennan, Red Caboose, McPherson Cellars and others, while Texas red wine fans might want to treat themselves to a special Texas Tempranillo such as Inwood Estates' Cornelious.