There’s something so special about Italian food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I find it impossible to dislike Italian food. The ingredients are so, incredibly wholesome and versatile. Italian dishes are just plain comforting and delicious.
Vintage after vintage, our C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be one of my absolute favorite wines we produce. I can always count on it being fruit-forward and drinkable as soon as it’s released. My favorite vintage was the 2013 and despite being so drinkable when it was released, this wine is aging beautifully. I’d say the 2017 vintage is quite similar to the 2013. Consistently, the C. Tarantino Cab has gorgeous acidity, which makes it the absolute perfect wine to pair with Italian dishes. I’m not sure if it’s the soil the grapes are grown in, if it’s the grape clone (337, which is different from what we have on our estate and our Lucky 8 Vineyard), or if it’s even the way the sun hits the vines in the summertime, but something about this wine is simply magical.
If you were lucky enough to receive this fabulous wine in your most recent club shipment, whip it out and try this pairing for yourself. We are a few bottles shy of selling out of the 2017 vintage of this Cab, so if you want to try this pairing, don’t wait. Get a bottle now. I promise you won’t be disappointed by this pairing!
Have you ever tried something that is so extraordinarily flavorful that you just can’t get enough of it? This is how I feel about McGrail wine… and chimichurri sauce. Accordingly, this pairing has a TON of flavor.
What Is Chimichurri?
Wondering what the heck chimichurri is? Basically, it’s an herb-based sauce made primarily using raw or uncooked ingredients. It can be red (chimichurri rojo) or green (chimichurrri verde), depending on what kind of herbs are used. It pretty much always contains garlic, parsley, oregano, and vinegar, but there are countless variations of this scrumptious sauce.
No one seems to be totally sure about chimichurri’s origin. Some believe it derived from the Basque region’s “tximitxurri” sauce, as the pronunciations are very similar, though the ingredients are not. Others think it was loosely based off of Sicily’s salmoriglio sauce, as both typically contain parsley, oregano, and garlic. Since the English always seemed to stick their head in everyone’s business back in the day, there are some people who insist it was called “Jimmy’s curry,” “Jimmy Curry,” or even “Jimmy McCurry,” after an English lad who joined in the fight for Argentina’s independence, and some who believe it was the result of an English prisoner asking for condiments to season his meat, after England’s attempt to invade Argentina failed. There are many myths as to where chimichurri sauce came from exactly, but at this point in its history, it is most commonly found in Argentine or Uruguayan cuisine.
A Jó Élet, “The Good Life”
“A jó élet” is a Hungarian phrase, which roughly translates to “the good life” in English. This bottle of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for nearly 30 months in 100% brand new Hungarian oak barrels. These barrels are sourced from two different coopers, both of whom use tight grain oak from the Zempelén Forest. This wine demonstrates a classic Cabernet Sauvignon bouquet of dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla, but also offers the notes of baking spice and bold tannins that you would expect from a wine that has been aged for over two years in brand new Hungarian oak. The Good Life is rich and full-bodied with notes of leather, herbs, and white pepper, which makes this the perfect wine to pair with a chimichurri rib eye steak. When you pair this wine with this dish, there is no doubt you’re living the good life.
I hope you’re excited to try this recipe at home, because I seriously can’t wait to make this pairing again! This is probably my favorite food and wine pairing so far.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk all rib eye marinade ingredients together, except for the salt, pepper, and rib eye.
Place the rib eye in a gallon-sized ziploc bag and add the marinade to the bag. Make sure the meat is completely covered by the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours, depending on how thick the meat is (longer if the meat is thicker).
When ready to place the rib eye in the skillet, liberally season it with salt and pepper.
To make the chimichurri sauce:
In a food processor, add all chimichurri sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Store chimichurri sauce leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last several days without browning.
To prepare the sides:
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of well-salted water to a boil.
Add the fingerling potatoes and boil until soft, about 15 minutes.
Strain the potatoes and set aside.
To cook the rib eye and sides:
In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add garlic cloves and halved shallots. Cook until slightly browned.
Add sliced crimini mushrooms. Cook mushrooms with the garlic and shallots, stirring occasionally, until they become soft.
Using a spatula, move the mushrooms, garlic, and shallots to one side of the pan. Add the rib eye steaks and about half of the marinade in the ziploc bag. Add the fingerling potatoes over the mushrooms, garlic, and shallots, and stir, so they are evenly covered in marinade. Add the optional sprigs of rosemary or thyme.
For medium-rare steak, cook the steaks for about six minutes on each side, flipping after about three minutes (twelve minutes total, four intervals of three minutes). Add about 3-5 minutes to total cooking time if you like your meat well done.
Once cooked to desired done-ness, plate the steaks and vegetables. Spoon the chimichurri sauce over the steaks.
If you’re anything like me, you live for spring and summer. Not only do these seasons bless us with incredible fresh fruits and veggies, the warmer weather just makes me feel alive. Still, the best part of spring and summer is that I can finally sip on chilled wine comfortably.
There’s truly nothing like that first sunny, 75˚F day of the year. You inexplicably begin to feel relaxed, allowing the sunshine to warm your skin and taking in as much vitamin D as your body will allow. The sweet smell of blooming jasmine sailing through the air subconsciously tells you that springtime is here.
Unfortunately for those who live in California, it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly what season it actually is. According to “the Twelve Seasons of California,” we are just at the beginning of our second winter. Our recent fool’s spring was the inspiration for this sunny pairing.
Aside from the deceptive seasons, living in California is fabulous! We have access to the freshest produce in the country, and obviously, the finest wine as well. I combined the best of each of these things to create this lovely pairing!
The first notes you get from our delightful 2019 Kylie Ryan Rosé are gorgeous notes of bright grapefruit, which is why I began with citrus as the main star of this dish. Right now, you can find all sorts of exquisite citrus fruits at the grocery store–mandarin oranges, Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, grapefruits, navel oranges, and more. I decided on a nutty, peppery baby arugula and creamy avocado and burrata as the secondary attraction to the salad, to complement the citrus and to sort of balance out one another. Since these ingredients are all so light and refreshing, I thought pistachios would add a nice crunch and make a great additional source of protein. I love the little bit of kick you get from chives and green onions, which is why it was a no-brainer for me to choose them to spice this plate up. I decided to go with a lighter-bodied dressing, so as to not overpower the main ingredients. Lastly, I threw in some deliciously spicy shallots and fresh-cracked rainbow pepper to add a nice bite to the finish and balance out the slightly creamy finish on the Rosé.
7 oz. organic baby arugula
2 pink grapefruits
3 Cara Cara oranges
3 blood oranges
4 mandarin oranges
2 navel oranges
8 oz. burrata cheese (2 pieces)
⅛ oz. chives, minced
3 green onion stems, thinly sliced
⅓ cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, chopped into small pieces
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup white Modena vinegar
⅓ cup pasteurized orange juice
¼ cup virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
¼ tsp. fresh cracked rainbow pepper
Enjoy with a bit of garlic sourdough bread or ciabatta toast on the side.
Using a small, sharp knife, peel and remove skins from grapefruits, navel oranges, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, and mandarin oranges. Cut into ⅓” thick round slices.
Evenly divide the baby arugula onto 4 plates to create a bed on each. Evenly divide the citrus fruit between four plates.
Slice the avocados and add ¼ to ½ of each onto each plate. Cut each piece of burrata in half and add one half to each plate.
In a small dish, combine the shallot slices, white Modena vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir well to create the vinaigrette dressing.
Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over each plate.
Sprinkle the minced chives, green onion slices, and pistachio pieces over each salad.
Just like the Super Bowl, the Oscars are another pompous American display of money and image, but a slightly more polished one we all so excitedly buzz about in the months leading up to the one-night awards show. If you’ve never watched the Oscars, they are quite a production. All of Hollywood’s hottest actors, producers, directors, screenwriters, and editors are gathered in one place to pat one another on the back for making movies just marginally different or better than those released the previous year. Everyone is dressed in gowns and suits costing thousands of dollars, only to be scrutinized on the pages of People magazine, landing on the “worst dressed” list if they weren’t able to snag an Alexander McQueen gown. Some are snubbed for the Best Actor award year after year *cough cough* Leonardo DiCaprio *cough*, while others are first-time Oscar goers and take home the award for Best Supporting Actress. At its worst, the event is one giant, hoity toity celeb get-together with its fair share of letdowns and surprises. At the end of the day, the Oscars are a beloved, fundamental component of American culture.
I know I sound cynical, but I love the Oscars, really. There’s laughter, tears, and everything in between. Plus, it’s all so unbelievably glamorous and beautiful, it’s hard not to watch. Although I’m still bitter Greta Gerwig was passed up for Best Director for Little Women, I can’t wait to see what wacky remarks Taika Waititi will make on the red carpet and what Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson will wear. Hopefully Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood wins Best Film, but just like the 49ers losing the Super Bowl, anything is possible. With so much uncertainty as to what will happen, the Oscars are exciting to say the least.
Like most nationally televised events, the Academy Awards are best enjoyed with drinks and snacks. Really though, if Scar-Jo wins Best Actress for her less-than-stellar performance in Marriage Story, I’m going to need a big glass of wine. I’ve produced and self-awarded some truly chic wine and appetizer pairings (with recipes) to enjoy when Tom Hanks makes a heart-warming speech and to comfort you when Leo is once again snubbed for Best Actor.
BEST APPETIZER IN A LEADING ROLE:
2019 Kylie Ryan Rosé with Shrimp and Citrus Ceviche in Endive Spears
Makes about 16 servings, with 2 endive spears per serving.
Not only is ceviche downright delicious and unquestionably refreshing, it can also be a gorgeous dish if you use the right ingredients. I love fresh shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit and any combination of the three is always a win for me. A little jalapeño always adds a nice kick to anything and it goes without saying, garlic and onion make everything just a little tastier. Not only does the endive look great holding the ceviche, the endive leaf makes the perfect one-bite edible vessel for this sophisticated shrimp cocktail. Throw a fabulous Rosé into the mix and the result is delightful. The citrus notes in the wine complement the grapefruit and mandarin orange remarkably well, while the heat from the jalapeño is softened by the slight creaminess on the palate.
This appetizer and wine pairing has so much grace and beauty, but is also satisfying, self-contained, unexpected, balanced, and simply delicious. To me, this pairing is more than deserving of the “Best Appetizer in a Leading Role” award. It really just steals the show.
Nibble on this refined refreshment when Saoirse Ronan receives the award for Best Actress.
2 large grapefruits
2 large satsuma mandarin oranges
½ jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
¼ cup yellow onion, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ tsp. minced garlic
1 lb. cooked shrimp, deveined, peeled, chopped into ½” pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
cracked rainbow peppercorn
pink Himalayan sea salt
6 endive bulbs, leaves separated
2 large hass avocados, thinly sliced
4 green onion stems, chopped thinly
fresh kale for a garnish
Peel and remove seeds and skins from grapefruits and mandarin oranges. Break apart into 1/2″ pieces.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine grapefruit, mandarin oranges, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, garlic, shrimp, olive oil, and lime juice. Toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place a small spoonful of the ceviche into each endive spear. Add a small slice of avocado into endive spear and sprinkle green onion on top.
The endive spears might have a bit of trouble sitting up once filled with ceviche, so use a bed of fresh kale as a garnish and to prop up the endive leaves if you need to.
2018 Charlie Rae Chardonnay and d’Anjou Pear White Balsamic and Butter Popcorn
Serves about 9, with 1.5 cups of popcorn per serving.
Picture this: it’s the evening on Sunday, February 9th (AKA Academy Awards night), and you’ve just come home from McGrail’s Quarterly Wine Club Release Party. You indulged in some incredible Smokin’ Hot Meats and Treats nachos, so you’re not feeling all that hungry, but you’d like something to snack on while you catch the Oscars. We’ve all been in a Smokin’-Hot-Meats-nacho coma, so there’s no need to feel alone. If you’re finding yourself in this situation, I’ve got the perfect lightweight and simple, Oscar-worthy hors d’oeuvre for you! This popcorn isn’t super sweet or over-the-top buttery, but it is just the right amount of tangy and salty. With the pear balsamic and just a bit of butter, it pairs so well with our Charlie Rae Chardonnay.
Whether you’re enjoying this hors d’oeuvre on the couch by your lonesome or at an Academy Awards party, this pairing is sure to become a classic! Because of its unexpected, but simple brilliance, we have awarded this tangy treat “Best Original Hors d’oeuvre.”
Munch on this during Taika Waititi’s red carpet interview.
12 cups unsalted air-popped or store-bought pre-popped popcorn, sans butter
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup d’anjou pear white balsamic (I used Gourmet Blends’ version, but Amazon has some highly rated alternatives)
pink Himalayan sea salt
Air pop the popcorn if you’re not using pre-popped popcorn.
Melt the butter in a small bowl or measuring cup.
In a large bowl, drizzle the butter over the popcorn. Gently mix the popcorn so it is evenly coated with butter. Drizzle the white balsamic over the popcorn. Again, gently mix the popcorn so it is evenly coated with the white balsamic.
2016 Shamus Patrick and Prosciutto Apple Balsamic Flatbread
Serves about 16, with 1/4 flatbread per serving.
Have you ever had fresh garlic naan? If not, you’re missing out. If you have, imagine all things that taste good with wine on top of that mouthwatering naan. Then imagine that with a glass of the most delicious Red Blend you’ve ever had. That’s what I’m about to throw at you. This appetizer is flat-out delectable and paired with our Shamus, it’s even better. The Shamus Patrick Red Blend is fruit-forward with beautifully balanced acidity, which makes this sweet, nutty, and savory balsamic-prosciutto-Honeycrisp-pecan combo such a suitable pairing.
While I feel like the whole prosciutto, balsamic, arugula flatbread thing is done maybe a little too frequently, I’m not about to overlook it. I believe it’s a tried-and-true staple of the American palate and it tastes so good with our Bordeaux-style Red Blend. Because I know you can’t have appetizers paired with wine without some sort of yummy carbs, I’ve awarded this one “Best Supporting Snack.”
Snack on this when Tom Hanks receives only his third Academy Award.
4 pieces or about 12 oz. of Tandoori garlic naan (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
Whether you’re rooting for the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs, or even if you’re just watching the game for the multi-million dollar commercials, every American knows the most important part of any good Super Bowl party is the food and the drinks. Is the game a total dud? Well, at least you have something delicious to snack on. Is your team destined for defeat? Luckily, you’ve got some yummy wine to sip on. Even if the commercials are the best you’ve ever seen and your team is headed toward victory, having an excellent spread at your Super Bowl party makes you the real winner. We’ve got three incredible pairings for your Super Bowl party that everyone will enjoy!
The Super Bowl has always been a huge deal for the McGrail family. This is especially true for the late Jim McGrail. Historically, we have always been closed on Super Bowl Sunday, because Jim liked to invite all of his friends to the winery to watch the game on the big screen T.V. As an avid football fan, he loved any excuse for a party with great food and wine.
Enjoy these easy, but killer Super Bowl appetizer recipes paired with some of our favorite McGrail wines!
Crispy Stuffed Parmesan Pesto Crimini Mushrooms Paired with the 2018 McGrail Family Chardonnay
Makes 18 to 24 stuffed mushrooms; 1-2 stuffed mushrooms per serving, depending on size and number of mushrooms in a pack.
I know not everyone at your party is going to eat meat, but I also know that a plain ol’ veggie platter can get really boring, really fast for our herbivorous friends. These Crispy Stuffed Parmesan Pesto Crimini Mushrooms are sure to please your plant-eating pals, and even your meat-eating mates will love this healthy option, too!
Serve these with our 2018 McGrail Family Chardonnay for a touchdown of a pairing! This full-bodied, barrel-fermented Chardonnay perfectly complements the buttery texture and creaminess of these delectable, bite-sized morsels.
If you’re thinking you’re not going to make these, because not everyone likes mushrooms, or because of the mushroom flavor or texture, don’t doubt these delightful delicacies! Admittedly, I really wasn’t expecting these to be as amazing as they were. When I made these and fed them to our tasting room staff, they were blown away, not only by the flavor, but also by how surprisingly pleasant and crispy the texture was.
16 oz. organic whole Crimini mushrooms
8 oz. fresh prepared pesto (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto)
1 cup yellow onion, minced
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup unsalted, roasted pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (replace with nutritional yeast or another dairy-free alternative to make the recipe vegan)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
Pre-heat oven to 350˚. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Remove stems from mushrooms and mince.
Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized pan. Sautée onion, garlic, and mushroom stems in olive oil until slightly browned. Set aside.
Brush mushroom tops with remaining olive oil. Spoon and spread prepared pesto onto insides of mushrooms. Bake mushrooms upside down (pesto side up) at 350˚F for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have become a slightly darker shade of brown.
Pre-heat oven to 400˚F.
Stuff the insides of the mushrooms with sauteed garlic, onion, and mushroom stems. There should be at least a little bit of room left inside the mushrooms when you are finished.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the chopped pistachios, grated Parmesan, panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Stuff mushrooms with Parmesan and panko mixture. Push the mixture into the mushroom using the back of a spoon, then evenly distributed the remaining mixture over the tops of the mushrooms. It’s okay if the mixture is overflowing from the mushrooms.
Bake stuffed mushrooms at 400˚ for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the stuffing has reached desired crispiness.
Marinara & Ricotta Meatball Poppers on Toasted Garlic Bread with the 2016 C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon
Serves about 20.
Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like Italian food? Not only is it comforting and delicious, but with such wholesome and versatile ingredients, it’s also pretty difficult to make Italian food that just doesn’t taste good. I can say with great confidence that at least 95% of Americans like toasted garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna, which is why I created the ultimate Super Bowl app: Marinara and Ricotta Meatball Poppers on Toasted Garlic Bread.
Pair this appetizer with our 2016 C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll have a match made in hors d’oeuvre heaven! This Cabernet is super fruit-forward and big enough to not be overpowered by an ultra delectable appetizer. It is also extremely drinkable and has gorgeous acidity, which is why this wine pairs so well with meatballs in tomato sauce. I also chose this wine because it has a red foiled label, the perfect color for 49ers fans and Chiefs fans alike!
24 oz. organic French baguette(s)
4 tbsp. roasted garlic & herb butter spread
1 cup yellow onion, minced
4 oz. sliced Crimini mushrooms, minced
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
20 oz. frozen party size mini meatballs (about 42 meatballs)
26 oz. roasted garlic marinara sauce
16 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
Pre-heat the broiler to high. Line a large sheet pan with foil
Slice baguette(s) into 3/4 to 1 inch slices. Spread the roasted garlic and herb butter on the sliced bread liberally. Broil the buttered slices on high for 3 minutes or until desired toastiness is reached.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Sautée onion, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil until slightly browned. Add frozen meatballs and marinara sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are warmed thoroughly, stirring occasionally.
Spread the ricotta on the toasted bread slices.
Spoon each meatball with a little bit of sauce onto each slice of toast. Secure with a toothpick.
Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon Bites with Sriracha Horseradish Dipping Sauce and the 2016 Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon
Serves about 8, with 2 bites per serving.
If there are any foods that are sure to please a Super Bowl party crowd, it’s bacon, steak, or some combination of steak and bacon. You obviously can’t go wrong with anything bacon-wrapped, but the steak really adds that superfluous extra layer of juicy American glutton that every Super Bowl party needs. I think the general agreeability of this appetizer speaks for itself, but just to add a little extra flavor, try the bacon-wrapped steak with our Terrapin Ridge Sriracha Horseradish dipping sauce.
A big, manly app requires a big, manly wine, which is why I have paired it with our 2016 Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine does have some fruit and acidity, but it was primarily built with velvety tannins and balanced structure. A buttery Filet Mignon is big and bold enough for this wine, but just soft and silky enough to complement it. With another red foiled label, this wine is also great to bring along as a hostess or host gift, no matter if you are a 49ers fan or a Chiefs fan!
1 lb. filet mignon or beef tenderloin
12 oz. uncured apple smoked bacon (about 8 slices)
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
cracked rainbow peppercorn
pink Himalayan sea salt
4.5 oz. Terrapin Ridge Sriracha Horseradish dipping sauce
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Over medium heat, cook sliced bacon in a large pan until bacon is cooked thoroughly, but not crispy.
Cut steak into small, bite-sized pieces. In a medium bowl, combine steak, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cut bacon slices in half. Wrap bacon slices around steak pieces, secure with a toothpick, and evenly distribute on lined baking sheet.
Cook bacon-wrapped steak for 8 to 12 minutes or until desired crispiness (for bacon) or done-ness (for steak) is reached.
Pour Terrapin Ridge Sriracha Horseradish dipping sauce into a small dish for dipping.