Author: mcgrailvine

Wine at Home

Herb Braised Short Ribs, Creamy Polenta, & 2018 Colton’s…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

If you’ve ever had our Colton’s Cabernet, you know it’s special. One of the things that sets it apart from our other Cabs is that it’s an old-world-style Cabernet Sauvignon and the grapes used to produce this wine come from our Lucky 8 Vineyard. What’s unique about this property is there is a gargantuan eucalyptus tree on the adjacent property, which lends these grapes some serious herbal characteristics. Though the herbal notes came through like crazy in our first vintage of this Cab, each vintage following has been farmed more meticulously, which has reduced the amount of mint and eucalyptus we get from these grapes. Unlike our estate-grown Cabernets, Colton’s Cab is aged for just 18 months in oak, rather than the 30 months our Cab Reserve, Patriot, Good Life, and James Vincent spend in oak, resulting in a wine that is far less tannic and more approachable just prior to bottling. Lastly, the clone of Cabernet Sauvignon, clone 30, is slightly different from the clones 8 and 15 that are planted on our estate. Still, the 2018 vintage of Colton’s Cabernet is unexpectedly big, but is incredibly smooth, with some muted herbal hints, which is why this is perfect to pair with some her braised short ribs.

Herb Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and Creamy Polenta

Makes about 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

For the short ribs:

  • 3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh sagebrush
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 2 bay laurel leaves
  • Optional: Extra sagebrush or rosemary sprigs to garnish

For the polenta:

  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

For the short ribs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Remove all racks from oven except for one and place it in the lower third of oven.
  2. Brush short rubs with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add each short rib, leaving space between them. Sear each short rib, allowing them to really brown. Turn short ribs on each side, until all sides are browned, about fifteen minutes in total.
  4. Once short ribs have been seared, turn the heat to medium, add onion and garlic around short ribs, and cook until soft, about five minutes.
  5. Add red wine and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add herbs, cover, and place in oven. Braise short ribs in oven until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about two to two and a half hours.
  7. Allow meat to rest in covered pan for twenty minutes prior to serving.
  8. Rest the meat. When the meat is done, rest in a covered pan for 20 minutes before serving. Serve by gently tugging the chunks of meat away from the bone and spooning the saucy onions over top.
  9. Serve in a bowl or on plate with the creamy polenta, garnish with an extra herb sprig, and pair with our 2018 Colton’s Cabernet Sauvignon!

For the polenta:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring salt and 4 cups water to a boil. Slowly and steadily add polenta or cornmeal, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk 2 minutes after all polenta has been added. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat. Add butter, cheese, and one of the minced garlic cloves, then season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Serve in a bowl or on plate with the braised short ribs, garnish with an extra herb sprig, and pair with our 2018 Colton’s Cabernet Sauvignon!

I hope I’ve inspired you to grab your Dutch oven and make this tasty pairing at home! Please let us know if you do make these short ribs and if you have any feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine Cocktails

A Virtual Trip to Italy via Sparkling Citrus Aperitivos

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

If you’ve ever been to Italy, or almost anywhere in Europe for that matter, you’ve probably at least heard of an Aperol spritz or enjoyed one yourself. If you haven’t, you’re probably wondering what the heck an Aperol spritz is. It’s the drink of summertime in Northern Italy and much of Austria. Plainly, it is some combination of Aperol, soda, Brut wine, orange slices, and ice.

Aperol: Italian Aperitivo and Amaro

Aperol is a bittersweet, orange, classic Italian aperitivo. Aperitivos, or apéritifs in French, are dry, light, and bittersweet drinks that are usually slightly alcoholic and served prior to dinner, in order to “open up the palate” or stimulate one’s appetite before a large meal. In Northern Italy, if Aperol is not served as the aperitivo, then usually a dry vermouth, a dry wine, or Campari (akin to Aperol, it’s a bittersweet, orange classic Italian aperitivo) is served in its place. Alongside aperitivos, small, dry, finger-food snacks, such as green olives, nuts, cheese, prosciutto, salami, chips, or crackers are typically served. In Europe, people tend to eat much slower than Americans do and leisurely enjoy their time at the table, before, during, and after dinner, which is why aperitivos are such an important facet of European culture. Even digestivos, or drinks to be enjoyed post-supper, exist! If you’ve ever had an Amaro, a bitter, herbal, citrus, and/or floral Italian liquer made from brandy, it’s most likely you have sipped on a digestif; however, Aperol and Campari, which are aperitivos, are actually considered Amaro.

Austrian Spritz

The term “spritz” is not Italian, but rather comes from Italy’s northern neighbor, Austria. Between the years 1805 and 1866, Austria actually possessed what is now much of Northern Italy, though the two countries still share a border today. Because Austrians found Italy’s acidic white wine unpalatable, they would often “spritzen” up their wine with a splash of sparkling water or soda, which is how the term “spritz” was coined. Just like in Italy, you can order an Aperol spritz nearly anywhere in Austria, albeit it’s less likely to be served with the same pre-dinner snacks you’ll find in Italy.

Brut Sparkling Wine

Since I’ve discussed the first two ingredients of an Aperol spritz, I will finish with the most important ingredient of an Aperol spritz–the sparkling wine! Sparkling wine, has many names around the world, depending on the country and region in which it’s produced, what grape varieties are used to produce it, and the amount of residual sugar, or lack thereof, in the wine. Most Italian sparkling wine is called Prosecco. While Prosecco is sometimes associated with being sweet, it can also be dry or somewhere in-between sweet and dry. There are four basic categories to indicate how sweet it is: brut, extra-dry, dry, and demi-sec. Because there’s already a considerable amount of sugar in Aperol, the type of Prosecco that is typically used in an Aperol spritz is Brut–the driest. Our Gracie Sparkling is also a Brut, which is why it works so well in an Aperol spritz!


An Italian-Inspired Playlist

One of the things I love about an Aperol spritz is that it can make you feel like you’re sitting on a piazza on Lake Como, with wisteria growing overhead and a nice cool breeze blowing through… until you realize you’re stuck at home in a global pandemic. What I’m trying to say is those initial first sips are always spectacularly refreshing. To lengthen that first-sip feeling, I’ve created a “Virtual Trip to Italy” playlist, so that Lake Como fantasy can last just a moment longer.


Aperol Spritz with Gracie Sparkling Brut

INGREDIENTS:
  • Ice
  • 3 oz. Aperol (can be found at almost any grocery or specialty liquor store)
  • 3 oz. Gracie Sparkling Brut
  • 1 oz. unflavored sparkling water or soda
  • 1-2 orange slices, for garnish
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Fill a wine glass about half way with ice, or with about five large ice cubes.
  2. Measure out Aperol and dump into glass. Pour an equal amount Gracie Sparking Brut into glass (you will have to eyeball this part; it’s a lot more difficult to measure, because it’s bubbly). Top with a splash of sparkling water.
  3. Add 1-2 halved orange slices inside glass for garnish. Enjoy on a warm summer day with our “Virtual Trip to Italy” playlist!

I hope I’ve inspired you to enjoy this breezy Italian classic cocktail at home! Please let us know if you make any of these dishes. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Tri Tip and 2015 McGrail Merlot, Picazo Vineyard

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Merlot, which is our Winemaker Mark Clarin’s favorite varietal, is the Bordeaux brother of Cabernet Sauvignon, but is often forgotten about and inexplicably doesn’t seem to have as great of a reputation as Cab. Since it’s Mark’s favorite varietal, Mark has made our Merlot liked he would make any of our Cabernets–big and delicious! This Merlot drinks like a Cab, but still has the Merlot characteristics that you can’t get from a Cabernet. Having been aged in a combination of new and experienced French oak, our Merlot has those rich, silky smooth tannins you’d expect from a gorgeous French oak barrel and is still big enough to stand up to a steak dinner. This wine tastes like luxury to me, but is still humble enough to be enjoyed on spring day, in both its price point and its drinkability.

I love our Merlot with a lean, but flavorful tri tip that can easily be thrown on the grill. Using a savory rub, work some spice and umami into your meat so the mouthfeel matches that of our Merlot. Enjoy it with an easy tomato, avocado, and corn salad, soft, buttery potatoes, and our 2015 McGrail Merlot for a full-on tasty summertime meal!

Easy Grilled Tri Tip

Makes about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. tri tip, silver skin removed
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
  • 3 tbsp. meat rub of choice (I used Five Marys Spice Seasoning Rub)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season tri tip with rub of choice and allow to sit for at least one hour. Work rub into meat.
  2. Heat grill on high. Liberally season tri tip with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Sear tri tip on each side for 6-8 minutes. Lower heat to low and flip meat over. Cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. Meat will be ready when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat has reached 130 degrees F. Allow meat to rest for 10-20 minutes, then slice against the grain.
  4. Store remaining tri tip in an airtight container for up to one week after preparing.
  5. Enjoy with a bottle of 2015 McGrail Merlot, Picazo Vineyard!
Wine at Home

Simple Grazing Boards & Gracie Sparkling Brut

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Grazing boards (a fancy name for large charcuterie boards) are one of the easiest culinary trends at the moment. Not only can anyone make them, they are gorgeous and delicious, and also all the rage on Instagram. They’re perfect in almost any setting–lounging around the pool, avoiding small talk at a party, or at home, just because you want a snack. Since I’ve been in charge of overseeing several McGrail winery events, I’ve also been the creator of nearly every cheeseboard or crudité platter our winery events have seen. That’s a lot of charcuterie for one girl to make! With this experience, I’d say I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to make a respectable grazing board. I’ve come up with some easy-to-follow steps, which are listed below, to make your own Insta-worthy grazing board at home.

  1. Find a pretty plate, platter, board, or tray to use. It can be old or it can be new, but it should be pretty. Make sure it’s the right size. How many people will be enjoying your masterpiece? Make sure it’s clean. Wash it if you need to.
  2. Consider your main components–cheese, meat, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, nuts, crackers, olives, dried fruits, dips, jams, herbs, etc. Try to choose ingredients that are colorful. Rainbow carrots, mini heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers, and various colorful fruits are some of my favorite munchies to use. When you choose ingredients that are naturally colorful, your board will be both more visually appealing and more nutritious.
  3. Also think about how your guests will be eating each component–with their hands, with a toothpick, etc. Will they need mini tongs to pick up each piece? Will they need somewhere to dispose of toothpicks or rinds? Will you be providing snack plates or napkins? Your guests will likely need something to cut the cheese wedges with. Make sure you have one knife available for each type of cheese that needs to be cut.
  4. Start by placing your larger pieces on the board first. Larger, stickier items, like cheese wedges should be placed around the outer edges of the board. This is helpful for keeping smaller snacks, like nuts or berries, from falling off the sides of your board. Dips, jams, and sauces in small bowls or saucers should also be placed on the board first, but should go in the center of the board to reduce risk of falling off. Hummus is always great to have with veggies.
  5. Separate similar colors and similar ingredients. Separating your colors will up the “wow” factor of your board, because it makes it appear more colorful. If you have red cherries and strawberries, put one on one side of the board and one on the opposite side of the board. Although certain components should be separated, do not just simply put a handful of each thing on the board. The placement should look organic, not careless. Some placements should be triangular, some should be long and skinny, and some should be funky.
  6. Make the board as full as possible. The more you have on the board, the prettier it will be! It will need to be fuller in the center and more sparse on the edges. You can use other fixings as support for smaller ingredients. Stack your blueberries as high as you can. It’s okay if they’re overflowing onto a cheese wedge.
  7. Get creative with your components. Each part doesn’t just have to be one ingredient. One thing I like to do is chop up apples, squeeze lemon over them, drizzle honey on top, and sprinkle a bit of blue cheese over the honey. Or, cut some mozzarella into small pieces, add a dollop of pesto or a basil leaf and a mini tomato, and stick a toothpick through it for a mini caprese salad.
  8. Cut up fruits or veggies that have seeds or pits or that would be cumbersome to eat whole. Bell peppers should be seeded and sliced into sticks, because just straight up eating a whole bell pepper would feel ridiculous and messy. Watermelons and oranges should be sliced, with the skins left on to make eating them easier. Don’t forget some fruits, like apples and pears should be squeezed with lemon once sliced and seeded to keep them from turning brown!
  9. Create patterns or artwork by manipulating certain ingredients. Salami can be folded into quarters and bunched together for a unique look. The tips of strawberries can be cut and worked to look like roses. Make it interesting to look at and to eat.
  10. Lastly, add some fun herbs or edible flowers as a garnish. This can contribute some serious pop to the board. A few sprigs of rosemary is a lovely and easy way to class up the board.

Though nearly every wine can be enjoyed with a grazing board, not every grazing board should be enjoyed with every wine. It’s a rule in the wine world that most food can be enjoyed with sparkling wine due to its versatility, which is why I have chosen to pair our Gracie Brut with an equally stunning grazing board.

Based on my experience, here are foods I recommend using on a grazing board to enjoy alongside Gracie:

  • Jarlsberg cheese
  • Asiago cheese
  • Mozarella, tomato, and pesto bites
  • Pita crackers
  • Bruschetta
  • Herb focaccia bread
  • Balsamic basil Triscuit crackers
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Honeycrisp apple
  • Granny smith apple
  • Dried apricots
Wine at Home

Garlic Balsamic Pork Tenderloin & 2016 McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Garlic Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Makes about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp. herbs de Provence
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. pork tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp. honey mustard
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. red wine
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Rub the pork tenderloin with the herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Coat seasoned pork with mustard.
  2. Turn broiler on high. Place tenderloin on wire rack, about 5 inches from broiler, with a baking pan below it to catch any drippings. Broil the tenderloin for about 5 minutes on all 4 sides, or until tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  3. Once cooked through, remove tenderloin from oven, place in a pan, and cover with foil. Tenderloin will continue cooking, so leave it covered for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove foil and thinly slice pork.
  5. Make the garlic balsamic sauce while the pork is cooking.
  6. Heat a medium sauce pan on medium. Brown minced garlic in hot oil. Add chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and red wine. Stirring occasionally, allow sauce to come to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Allow sauce to simmer until it has boiled down into almost less than half and has thickened.
  7. Once pork has been cooked and sliced and sauce has been prepared pour the sauce over the pork and allow to sit for at least ten minutes before enjoying. Save some sauce to enjoy over potatoes or rice.
  8. Enjoy this delicious dish with a glass of 2016 McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine at Home

Tri Tip Blue Cheese Salad & 2016 James Vincent…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards


Tri Tip and Blue Cheese Salad

Makes 4 servings of salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. tri tip, silver skin removed
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
  • 3 tbsp. meat rub of choice (I used Five Marys Spice Seasoning Rub)
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 corn cobs, husks and silks removed, kernels cut from cob
  • 1 large haas avocado, pitted and cubed
  • 1 oz. parmesan crisp croutons
  • 8 oz. mini heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. Sonomic balsamic red wine reduction
  • 2 oz. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season tri tip with rub of choice and allow to sit for at least one hour. Work rub into meat.
  2. Heat grill on high. Liberally season tri tip with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Sear tri tip on each side for 6-8 minutes. Lower heat to low and flip meat over. Cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. Meat will be ready when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat has reached 130 degrees F. Allow meat to rest for 10-20 minutes, then slice against the grain.
  4. On four salad plates, evenly divide romaine lettuce, corn kernels, avocado, croutons, tomatoes, and blue cheese. Add about 4 ounces tri tip on top of each salad.
  5. In a small bowl, combine shallot, Sonomic balsamic red wine reduction, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Stir well, then drizzle over each salad.
  6. Store remaining tri tip in an airtight container for up to one week after preparing.
  7. Enjoy this flavorful salad with a glass of our 2016 James Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine at Home

Herb Focaccia & Linguica Flatbread & Sláinte Red Blend

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

One thing the McGrail team has always discussed tasting great with our Sláinte Red Blend is pork sausage. Since I usually don’t really care for pork sausage, it has been a challenge for me to find the energy to actually take the time to make the pairing. Having grown up in a Portuguese family, linguica has always been a staple in my family’s breakfasts, lunches, and dinner. Maybe I forgot that linguica is pork sausage, but it is certainly one of the more palatable foods of the Portuguese cuisine, which I think is why I’ve taken a liking to it. If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying fresh-off-the grill linguica, it’s greasy, meaty, and a little sweet and spicy. I chose it as the main star of this dish, because while I think it’s great on its own, it’s also delicious with other acidic foods, like tomatoes or onions. I added cheese to balance out the acidity and an herb focaccia to complement the slight herbal notes in the nose of our Sláinte Red Blend. To further the Portuguese theme of this pairing, I think it’s important to mention this wine is composed of two Portuguese varietals and Cabernet Sauvignon. This really is a most excellent pairing!

Herb Focaccia & Linguica Flatbread

Makes about 16 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 oz. fresh herb focaccia bread
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 22 oz. linguica sausage (I recommend Silva’s or Lockeford sausages, both are founded in Northern California), sliced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 6 oz. white mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 10 oz. mini heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 oz. fresh ciliegine whole milk fresh mozzarella balls, quartered
  • 4 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Take your focaccia bread and rub 2 tablespoons olive oil all over it.
  3. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes or until bread becomes slightly brown.
  4. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium and cook linguica slices until just heated through.
  5. In a small frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-low and cook shallots, garlic, and mushrooms until they become soft.
  6. Evenly disperse the tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, linguica, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs over the top of the focaccia bread.
  7. Cook the focaccia flatbread in the oven at 450 degrees F for 10 to 20 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.
  8. Enjoy with a glass of our Sláinte Red Blend!

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this perfectly balanced pairing at home! Please let us know if you do make any of these plates and if you have any feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Bistec Encebollado, Frijoles Cubanos, & 2015 McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

One of my favorite types of food, that is surprisingly difficult to find in the Bay Area, is Puerto Rican food. I know of a few great places in Santa Rosa, San Rafael, and San Francisco, but there’s nothing I know of within an hour’s drive that is worth the effort. I have found myself craving my favorite Puerto Rican steak, bean, and rice dishes a lot lately and with the SIP still in effect, I decided I would try making these delicious plates at home. Armed with a lengthy list of ingredients, I set out to the local supermarket in search of what could make or break one of my all-time favorite meals. Though this pairing was certainly more complicated and time consuming than many others, this was well worth the work, as it was one of the most balanced pairings and flavorful meals I’ve made yet! I seriously could not stop praising myself while I enjoying this dinner. I hope you will consider enjoying this pairing at home, too!


Bistec Encebollado

Makes about 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain in 4-5″ squares
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup organic beef stock
  • 2 large white onions, sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 (0.18 oz.) packet Sazón seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ádobo
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry oregano
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a Ziploc bag, combine steak slices, olive oil, vinegar, beef stock, onions, cilantro, Sazón, garlic, dry oregano, cumin, and salt. Shake the sealed bag to evenly distribute the seasonings over the steak. Put bag in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat a large pan on medium-low. Remove onions from bag and sautée them until they become soft, not browned. Remove steak slices from bag and cook with onions, until they are cooked through.

Frijoles Cubanos

Makes about 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. dried black beans, rinsed in a strainer
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sofrito (recipe below, in case you can’t find it at the store)
  • 2 smoked pork hocks
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (0.18 oz.) packet Sazón seasoning
  • 3 1/2 cups organic beef stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

I had the misfortune of not being able to find sofrito at the store, but luckily I was able to quickly use some ingredients I had on hand to make this flavorful addition to the beans.

SOFRITO INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

SOFRITO DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slowly add each sofrito ingredient to a food processor and blend together until smooth.
  2. Sofrito can be used in other foods or eaten as a salsa. Store in an air-right container for up to two weeks.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, add your cleaned and rinsed dry beans. Cover the beans with water and turn burner on medium heat. Bring to a boil and allow the beans to boil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the beans from heat and allow them to soak for about an hour. Stir occasionally to make sure most beans are still soaking in the water.
  3. Return the beans to medium heat, but do not drain them.
  4. Add sofrito, pork hocks, cumin, oregano, Sazón, beef stock, vinegar, cilantro, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir.
  5. Once the beans have reached a boil, lower heat to medium-low. Allow to cook for up to two hours, or until most liquid has disappeared, stirring occasionally. Beans will be ready when they are tender.
  6. Enjoy with the bistec encebollado, white rice, fried plantains, and 2015 McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve!

Puerto Rican Steamed Rice

Makes about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked medium white calrose rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, bring the oil, water, and salt to a boil.
  2. Add the rice and boil until almost all water has evaporated. Stir.
  3. Add 3/4 cups water and stir. Lower heat to medium-low. Cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes, or until all water has been cooked out.
  4. Add frozen peas when rice is still very hot and stir.
  5. Enjoy with bistec encebollado, frijoles Cubanos, fried plantains, and our 2015 McGrail Cabernet Reserve!

Savory Fried Plantains

Makes about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 plantains
  • 4 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a medium, deep saucepan on high. Using a candy thermometer, get the temperature of the oil to 400°F. This is the ideal temperature for frying plantains, but 375°F will work too.
  2. Peel plantains and slice them thinly and at a slant. About 1/8” is the best slice thickness to get them crispy.
  3. Slowly add each plantain slice to the hot oil and allow each to brown around the edges. It should take about 20 seconds per slice. Using tongs, remove each plantain slice from the oil when they are ready and place on a paper-towel-covered plate to drain excess oil from plantains.
  4. Sprinkle hot plantains with salt and garlic powder (optional).
  5. Plate and enjoy on their own, with guacamole, or use your remaining sofrito to dip them in. Serve with bistec encebollado, frijoles Cubanos, white rice, and our 2015 McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make some of these incredibly flavorful dishes at home! This is one of my personal favorite pairings so far. Please let us know if you make any of these dishes. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Sweet & Savory Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches & Shamus…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Summertime is swiftly approaching and though I’m not totally sure what that means for us in the middle of a pandemic, one thing that is for sure is we can still enjoy our favorite summertime food and wine, just not really with each other!

I used to worship my Crockpot in college, but over the past couple of years I’ve forgotten how magical slow cookers can be. Since I’ve been making and eating most of my meals at home during the shelter-in-place, I’ve become very friendly with my slow cooker again. What I love most about slow cookers is the work in using them is minimal. You literally just throw a bunch of stuff in the pot and forget about it until you’re ready to eat. It’s amazing.

With summer on its way, I’m looking forward to enjoying all the foods that are beginning to come into season. I love delicious barbecue food–grilled corn, fresh watermelon, tasty salads, hamburgers, yummy squash, and everything in between. Combining my adoration for my Crockpot and my appreciation for summertime foods, I came up with a recipe for a sweet and savory slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich that pairs perfectly with our easy-drinking, summertime favorite, Shamus Patrick Red Blend.


Sweet & Savory Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork & Tangy Slaw Sandwiches

Makes about 16 sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7.5-8 lbs. pork shoulder or pork butt
  • Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup sweet Vidalia onion barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 cup orange juice, divided
  • 1/2 cup mango juice
  • 1 (0.7 oz.) packet dry Italian dressing seasoning 
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into rings 
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp. honey, divided
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I used avocado oil mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups carrots, shredded 
  • 1 orange, peeled and cubed
  • 4 apricots, pitted and minced 
  • 2 large haas avocados, peeled, pitted, and cubed 
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 3 stems green onions, thinly sliced
  • 16 brioche buns
  • Salted butter 

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the pork:
  1. Remove your pork shoulder or pork butt from packaging and liberally season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Put your pork meat in a large slow cooker and top with 1 cup barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup orange juice, mango juice, Italian dressing seasoning, and yellow onions. Cook in slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours. Add or subtract cooking time depending on weight of pork shoulder or pork butt.
  3. Once the pork has been cooked through, use two forks (one in each hand) to shred the meat. Add remaining barbecue sauce, apricot jam, 1 tablespoon honey, and mix well into meat.
For the slaw: 
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, minced garlic, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons honey, and salt and pepper to taste, to create the slaw dressing.
  2. In a large bowl, combine red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, oranges, mango, avocado, minced red onion, apricots, and green onion. Stir well. Pour slaw dressing over cabbage mixture and stir well. Put prepared slaw in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least an hour.
For the sandwich:
  1. Cut your brioche buns in half and butter the inside portion of each half. Broil on high with buttered portion facing broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until desired toasty-ness is achieved.
  2. Fill each bun with cooked pork, onions, and slaw.
  3. Enjoy with a side of fresh-cut watermelon or potato salad and a glass (or two) of our Shamus Patrick Red Blend!  

I hope I’ve inspired you to dust off your slow cooker and make this yummy pairing at home! Please let us know if you do make these sandwiches and if you have any feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Creamy Polenta and Spicy Shrimp with Charlie Rae Chardonnay

INGREDIENTS:

  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated cheddar
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

For the polenta:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring salt and 4 cups water to a boil. Slowly and steadily add polenta or cornmeal, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk 2 minutes after all polenta has been added. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat. Add butter, cheese, and one of the minced garlic cloves, then season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

For the shrimp:

  1. Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add oil. Add garlic, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, and half of the green onion slices. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add heirloom tomatoes. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and thyme. Cook until shrimp are entirely pink, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add wine and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in heavy cream and simmer for 2 more minutes. 
  6. Serve shrimp over polenta. Garnish with remaining green onions and red pepper flakes.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of Charlie Rae Chardonnay.