Wining Wife®

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Month: February 2014

Tasting the 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone with Food Pairings

DSC_0300We paired the 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone* with Pasta e Fagioli, Steak Gorgonzola, Rosemary Potatoes, Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce, and Parmesan Cheese with Honey and Balsamic Vinegar drizzle.

We decanted the wine and left it to breathe for an hour before dinner so that it could open up, as was suggested in my researching the proper serving of Amarone wines. While cooking dinner, the wine sat, in its decanter, emitting an intoxicating aroma of plums and blackberry. My anticipation built over the course of cooking dinner, as I thought, “If this wine is as grand as the nose suggests,we are surely in for a treat.”

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

The first course was Giada’s Pasta e Fagioli. This dish had to be modified, as I didn’t have cheesecloth, nor did I have sprigs of fresh thyme. What I did instead was add a teaspoon of dried thyme, a tablespoon of  minced fresh rosemary, and the bay leaf without creating a sachet of herbs. I didn’t skimp on the red pepper flakes. We like heat in this household, and so my pinch of red pepper flakes was generous! I ladled the soup into bowls, drizzled a bit of olive oil and added the grated parmesan, and then brought the bowls out to the table.

Before tasting the Amarone with the pasta e fagioli, we tried the wine. On the nose, there was a fruity bouquet of the aforementioned plums and blackberry cassis, but there were also hints of tobacco and vanilla. On the tongue, the wine was robust and meaty. It was deeply floral with black cherry. I thought, “I’m not quite sure this will pair well with a soup. This may overpower the soup.”

I was wrong.

The pancetta, kidney beans, and red pepper flakes were a great paring for the wine. The heat on the wine paired well with the heat at the end of the bite of the soup. It brought out a butter quality in the wine, and highlighted the Amarone’s dry and tannic qualities.

For comparison, we decided to try the soup with Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards’ Sangiovese Rosé, a wine we’ve gotten a lot of milage out of. This was a complete mismatch. The soup really needed a robust wine to stand up to it and push back. The Sangiovese Rosé just got lost. There was no comparison – the soup reduced a normally very robust rosé wine to seltzer water. The pasta e fagioli and the Amarone, however, were perfectly paired.

The soup and wine were so great together, we had to enjoy seconds of each!

Steak wtih a gorgonzla crust

Steak with a gorgonzola crust

The steak came out perfectly. I brushed a mixture of 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 small minced shallot, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. white pepper over the steaks and let them rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature. When it was time, I placed them in the broiler for about 6 minutes each side. I removed them, crumbled 2 packages of gorgonzola cheese over the steaks, sprinkled 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs over the cheese, and added green onions that I had brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper to the broiling rack. I put them under the broiler (on the high setting) for 3 minutes, until the cheese was good and bubbling.

Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce

Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce

The mushrooms sautéed in red wine were super-easy. As a tip, rather than use good wine as cooking wine (as a means of saving money), you can use those small bottles that come in 4-packs. This way, too, you do not have to uncork a full bottle of wine for using in your recipes. I sautéed 2 packs of sliced white mushrooms, 2 minced shallots, and a teaspoon of thyme in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (I always use unsalted so that I control the amount of salt that appears in a dish.). I added kosher salt and pepper to taste, then let the mushrooms cook until they were looking good and browned. I then added half of one of the small bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and scraped up the browned bits. Then, I cooked the mushrooms with the wine until the wine had mostly evaporated. I added 1/4 cup of chicken broth (because I had some left after making the soup), and cooked down the liquid. Once that was done, I added some cream (about 1/3 cup) and some chopped fresh chives off the heat.


Rosemary Potatoes

For the rosemary potatoes, I cut about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes into 1″ chunks, then tossed them in 1/4 cup of olive oil, added a teaspoon each sea salt and fresh ground pepper, 5 cloves of minced garlic, and minced rosemary from 5 sprigs. I then threw the potatoes into an oven that had been heated to 400 degrees, and cooked them for 1 hour, stirring them up at 20 minutes in and 40 minutes in. I think it would have been better had I stopped cooking them at 40 minutes, as they were a little overdone in the end. I had to pick through them and discard the potatoes that were not edible. Those that survived the wrath of too long in the oven were quite delicious despite being a bit too browned.

Once everything was done, I plated it up and served it along with our third glass of Amarone.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Let me preface this section of the review with these key words: If you have the chance, you must try an Amarone.

With the steak and the gorgonzola cheese, the Amarone really softened. It took on that cigar box quality Wining Husband and I really enjoy in deep reds. The steaks definitely brought out the smokier qualities of the wine on the palate. The mushrooms brought out the tannins in a very good way, and the potatoes brought out the more fruity qualities of the wine. We took our time with the meal, savoring every bite – because, well, it was truly amazing.

After resting a bit, I brought out the parmigiano reggiano we scored at Grocery Outlet (In case you didn’t know, this discount store is a cheese lover’s dream). I drizzled a tablespoon each of honey and balsamic vinegar over the cheese. Now, this alone, was amazing. I’d never thought to do such a thing, but had found this suggestion somewhere in my RSS feeds, and I figured this would be the perfect time to give it a try.

With the Amarone, the cheese brought out a sweet yet dry flavor to the wine – yes, that is an oxymoron, but the wine took on a wonderful flair. It also was much lighter than with the soup. It was definitely the perfect way to finish the meal.

What happened to the tiramisu cake and Elyssium? We had to save those for the next night, as we were quite full following this meal!

*All opinions in this post are my own. While Wine Chateau sent me the complimentary bottle of wine, I was not compensated for this post.

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2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone and Valentine’s Day

2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca'Bertoldi Amarone

2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone

What better a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with great food and great wine? When I received a free bottle of 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone from Wine Chateau*, I immediately set out to create a menu that would pair well with it. As you well know, I like to create a menu plan in advance, and I had the perfect spot for such a bold wine – Valentine’s Day.

I had never before tried an Amarone, and I was curious. Because wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, I wanted to be sure that I properly paired it. This is always an interesting chore when doing a blind pairing, so I set out to research the wine varietal first.

Traditionally, Amarones are more expensive wines. Finding one that is under $50 is quite a special thing. The reason they are more expensive is that they are made from older vines and the grapes are first allowed to dry into raisins.

In determining what I would pair such a wine with, I figured I would do a classic “coursed” dinner. This way, I could test the versatility of the wine and what better time to do a wine-pairing dinner than Valentine’s Day! I decided that I would do a soup, main course, and cheese course. Since Amarones should not be paired with desserts, we purchased a dessert wine – Quady Winery‘s Elysium to pair with tiramisu cake.

The soup I chose to make was Giada de Laurentiis’s Pasta e Fagioli. I was a bit skeptical, when I did the research, that a soup would pair well with such a bold red wine. The soup has pancetta in it, and has quite a bit of heft to it. I chose to do steaks with a gorgonzola crust, roasted rosemary potatoes, and mushrooms sautéed in wine for the main course. For the cheese course, I paired parmesan that had been drizzled with balsamic vinegar and honey.

How did it all turn out? You’ll have to check in tomorrow to find out. Have you tried an Amarone? What did you pair with it?

*All opinions in this post are my own. While Wine Chateau sent me the complimentary bottle of wine, I was not compensated for this post.

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The Best Mochas EVER!

Coffee cup

Coffee cup (Photo credit: @Doug88888)



Last night, I wanted chocolate – in a big way. I also wanted coffee. We also had some Strauss Dairy heavy cream that wanted to be used soon. I’d sort of intended to use it for ice cream, but I hadn’t yet gotten around to using it for that purpose. Instead, I had an idea: What if I modified my super-yummy recipe for hot cocoa and added a long shot of espresso to it as a treat before bed?


Before you can say, “Espresso before bed, are you crazy?” Let me assure you that this sleep-deprived mom of an 8 week old still fell to sleep just fine after drinking this mocha. And no, there was no alcohol involved.


Once I finished my web page customization project, I set myself to business in the kitchen. Wining husband took care of the long shots of espresso – he’s very good at making coffee with the espresso machine he brought into the relationship. Meanwhile, I whipped together the cocoa on the stove.


First, I whisked together two tablespoons of cocoa powder and three tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small bowl. I heated a small saucepan over medium heat, and added two cups of heavy cream to the pan. I whisked in the cocoa powder mixture and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Now, if I were making hot cocoa, I would have also added two cups of milk to this mix. Once the cocoa mixture was hot, but not boiling, I turned off the heat and added one cup to the long shots of espresso.


Trust me, you will want to try this recipe. Wining husband sipped his because he enjoyed it so much. This is a man who will gulp down coffee beverages like they are water. It took him a full hour to drink it, and at the end, he exclaimed, “That was the best mocha I’ve ever had.”


There you have it folks, the best mocha ever. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!




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Blackened Snapper and Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup

Blackened red snapper is delicious. If you haven’t yet tried it, I highly recommend it. We enjoyed this meal with Meyer lemon martinis.

In creating the blackened snapper, I wondered what I would pair with it, as I wanted something different from collard greens or kale. I came across the recipe for sweet potato soup on Pinterest (what a great resource for finding recipes, right?), and I decided that I would put these two together, modifying the recipes a little so they would fit the needs of our family.

I’m glad I did.

The soup, adapted from the Cook With B blog, was phenomenal – but it was also really easy to make. You start by nuking 2 pounds of sweet potatoes cut in half in the microwave for 15 minutes. While that’s going on, crisp up 8 or so slices of bacon. I went with a little more, because, well bacon. When the bacon was crisp, I removed it and placed it on a paper towel to absorb the grease. Then, I removed all the bacon fat except for about a tablespoon – saving it in a jar for later cooking. I sautéed onions in the fat and added cumin and red pepper flakes when the onions were translucent. I also added a half of a cup of white wine to deglaze the pan. Once I scraped up the browned bits, I added chicken broth. Following the broth, I allowed the mixture to boil while I removed the skins from the cooked sweet potatoes. Once the broth had boiled, I combined half of it and half of the sweet potatoes at a time in a blender. I served the soup with grated cheddar cheese and the bacon crumbled over the top.

It was a most splendid meal. The snapper recipe I referred to can be found at The Modern Cook blog. It was quite good!

What would you have paired with this meal?


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