Category: Wine at Home

Wine at Home

Prawns In Lemon White Wine Sauce Over Zucchini Noodles…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

It’s summertime, which means most people are drinking crisp, chilled white wines. Accordingly, I’ve been coming up with more recipes for white wine pairings. This pairing suggestion came from Heather McGrail, who loves to recommend healthier versions to classic meals. Using just a bit of butter, a lean protein like shrimp, and veggies as an alternative to starch, I’d say this pairing is a bit more healthy than most. Not only is it delectable, it’s also wonderful paired with our McGrail Family Chardonnay!


Prawns In Lemon White Wine Sauce Over Zucchini Noodles & Cous Cous

Makes 3 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ lb. fresh uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails on
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 ½ cups zucchini noodles
  • 3 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl, soak shrimp for 6-12 hours in a mixture of water, milk, and apple cider vinegar to reduce fishy taste and smell. Dump liquid and rinse shrimp well before using.
  2. Make couscous as directed. Set aside.
  3. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Once hot, add butter and garlic. Brown garlic in butter-oil mixture.
  4. Add shrimp to pan and season well with salt and pepper. Add white wine, lemon juice, cayenne, and zucchini noodles and cook for about five minutes or until shrimp are cooked through, stirring constantly. 
  5. Add more salt and pepper to pan as necessary. Sprinkle parsley leaves over pan and stir well. 
  6. Spoon most of the excess sauce from shrimp and noodle pan and stir into couscous. 
  7. Serve couscous with shrimp and zucchini noodles alongside some McGrail Family Chardonnay. Enjoy!

Please let us know if you end up making this zesty pairing at home. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Cheesy Summer Squash & Mac Casserole & McGrail Family…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

If you’re anything like me, you live for the amazing fruits and veggies that come around during summer, but still, the quarantine hasn’t been great for your summer bod. Not being able to go to the gym and being stuck at home with a stocked fridge and an overflowing wine closet has physically put me more in a winter state than a summer one. Because of this, I’ve included some alternatives to certain ingredients and some optional steps, as to offer healthier versions of this scrumptious summertime supper.


Cheesy Summer Squash, Cauliflower, & Macaroni Casserole

Makes about 12 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 12 oz. (about 4 cups) zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz. yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • Pepper to taste
  • 12 oz. steamed cauliflower
  • 12 oz. steamed broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
  • 1 1/4 to 2 cups shredded cheese blend (medium cheddar, Jarlsberg, and even a lite blend are fine), separated
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan, separated
  • 3/4 to 1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, separated
  • Optional: 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 (6 oz.) packages of macaroni and cheese (I used Annie’s organic mac and cheese with 12g protein for a healthier alternative to regular Kraft)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium-low in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and chopped onions and cook until soft and browned.
  3. Add sliced zucchini and squash. Add pepper to taste. Cook thoroughly, until soft.
  4. In a large casserole tray (I used a 9″x13″ tray), break up your steamed cauliflower and broccoli into 1″ chunks. Sprinkle with pepper, cooked corn kernels, 3/4 cup shredded cheese blend (optional), 1/2 cup parmesan (optional), 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional), and melted butter (optional).
  5. Evenly spread cooked zucchini and squash on top. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheese blend and 1/2 cup grated parmesan on top.
  6. Prepare your macaroni and cheese as directed on package.
  7. Evenly spread your prepared macaroni and cheese over the casserole pan. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese blend, 1/2 cup parmesan, and 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs. Add pepper to taste.
  8. Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling inside and the top is crispy and browned.
  9. Enjoy with a slightly chilled bottle of our McGrail Family Chardonnay!

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this delicious summertime casserole at home! Please let us know if you do try out this recipe. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Pluot-Blackberry Amaretto Pie & 2018 McGrail Malbec

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

It’s the time of the year when your friends, neighbors, and coworkers all seem to have an overabundance of some sort of delicious, fresh produce from their home garden. This past week I had pluots, figs, tomatoes, and zucchini shared with me. Since stone fruit is so good in pies, is super seasonal, and I had more than I would probably eat normally, a pie seemed like the best use for these tasty treats. With a bottle of our new and bold, but jammy Malbec filled with notes of plum and blackberry, I opted for this sweet summertime pairing.


Pluot-Blackberry Amaretto Pie

Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 frozen pie crusts (between 9 and 11 oz. each)
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • ¾ cup granulated white sugar, divided
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 9 oz. ripe blackberries
  • 3 large, ripe pluots, pits removed, chopped into ½” pieces
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • Extra sugar to sprinkle on top of pie crust.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Remove pie crusts from freezer and allow to defrost completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Cut vanilla bean down the middle. Use a spoon to scoop vanilla beans out of shell into a medium bowl. Add ½ cup sugar. Take vanilla bean and rub inside with sugar to work the remaining tiny vanilla beans out of the shell. Stir vanilla beans and sugar, so they are evenly dispersed (vanilla beans will clump together).
  4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to sugar and vanilla mixture. Stir well.
  5. In a large bowl, combine blackberries, chopped pluots, lemon juice, and amaretto. Stir.
  6. Add sugar mixture to fruit mixture and fold together well.
  7. Oil a 9” glass pie pan. Place one pie crust in pan. Pour pie filling into crust. Use extra pie crust to create a lattice over the filling or another classic pie crust design. 
  8. Bake pie at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake pie for 15 minutes. Sprinkle pie with sugar and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until baked completely.
  9. Allow pie to cool for about 45 minutes or longer before serving. Enjoy with a glass of McGrail Malbec.

Please let us know if you make this warm, jammy pairing! We’d love to hear from you.

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Hearty Gourmet Corn Chowder & 2019 McGrail Family Chardonnay

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

I am a huge fan of the delicious summer veggies that come with living in California and the tail end of summer seems to give us the cream of the crop (pun intended). Having easy access to what is arguably the best corn in the world here in the east Bay Area, I’m going to eat it at nearly every chance I get. A hearty, chunky corn chowder is one of my all-time favorite dishes and it’s even more excellent alongside our yummy McGrail Family Chardonnay. This chowder is filling, but so fresh and flavorful. I can’t get enough. I hope you enjoy this tasty summertime treat as much as I do!

For those who are vegan or vegetarian, I have included substitution suggestions for this recipe below.


Hearty Gourmet Corn Chowder

Makes about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 7 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • Kernels cut from 8 ears fresh corn (approx. 3.5 lbs. or 9 cups), cleaned with husks and silks removed (I used 6 yellow ears and 2 white ears)
  • 4 medium-large red potatoes (about 1.25 lbs.), cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme
  • ½ tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dry oregano
  • ½ tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Optional: Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese and chopped fresh chives

Make it vegan by cutting out bacon, subbing butter for vegan butter or olive oil, subbing chicken broth for vegetable broth, and subbing skim milk for unsweetened plain almond milk. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top for an added cheesy flavor.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large, thick-bottomed pot, cook bacon over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until crispy. Remove cooked bacon from pot and place on a paper-towel-covered plate.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter to pot with bacon grease and allow to melt. 
  3. Brown onion and garlic in butter. 
  4. Whisk corn meal into butter for about 1 minute. Continue whisking while adding in chicken broth and water. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring while soup comes to a boil. 
  5. Once at a boil, stir corn kernels, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper into broth mix. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 (or until potatoes are soft), stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove bay leaf from pot. In a blender, liquify 2 ½ cups soup, then pour back into pot. Add milk. Stir well.
  7. Serve chowder with an optional sprinkling of freshly grated cheddar cheese and chopped chives and a bottle of McGrail Family Chardonnay. Cheers!

Please let us know if you end up making this pairing! We’d love to hear from you.

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Black Bean Burgers & 2017 Malbec, Lucky 8 Vineyard

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

One of my favorite vegetarian foods is a black bean burger. They can be so filling and flavorful, just like our Malbec! For those of you who don’t know, our Malbec comes from our Lucky 8 Vineyard, which we acquired just a few years ago. We have been quick to update the farming practices used on this property to match the meticulous methods we have used on our estate property for several years now. We named  the vineyard “Lucky 8,” because the McGrails have eight grandchildren. The vineyard is planted with a handful of different varieties and clones of grapes that tend to grow well here in the Livermore Valley. Due to the fact that our Winemaker Mark Clarin’s mother’s favorite wine varietal is Malbec, we chose to plant a few rows of this Bordeaux variety in our Lucky 8 Vineyard, so this wine is affectionately dedicated to Sylvia Clarin. This wine is easy-to-drink, but is also full of flavor and perfectly balanced. It’s also one of just a few single-varietal bottles (aside from Cabernet Sauvignon) we produce here at McGrail Vineyards. This wine is certainly special to us and we think you’ll find it special, as well! 


Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers

Makes about 5 burgers.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz.) can organic black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. 21 seasoning salute
  • 1/4 tsp. ground smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh-cracked pepper
  • 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley leaves, packed
  • 1 free range large brown egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Five brioche buns
  • Two Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/3″ rounds
  • One Haas avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a food processor, add lime juice, red onion, and black beans. Pulse a few times, or until you can’t see any big chunks of red onion.
  2. Add cayenne, 21 seasoning salute, paprika, cumin, coriander, kosher salt, chipotle chili powder, and pepper. Allow food processor to process this mixture until all the seasoning has been mixed in well.
  3. To the food processor, add cilantro, parsley, egg, and bread crumbs. Again, pulse until you can no longer see any large cilantro or parsley leaves.
  4. Shape your black bean mixture into five 4.5″ patties.
  5. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Set your patties about an inch apart in the oiled pan. Cover the pan and cook your patties for about two minutes, twice on each side (for a total of four minutes per side per patty), or until patties have been cooked all the way through.
  6. Toast your brioche buns upside down on a baking sheet under a low broil for about three or four minutes.
  7. Spread the Thousand Island dressing on your toasted buns, add a cooked black bean burger, tomato slices, and sliced avocado.
  8. Enjoy your black bean burgers with a bottle of delicious 2017 McGrail Malbec!

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this tasty vegetarian grub at home! Please let us know if you do try out this recipe. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Black & Blue Cheese Burger & 2018 McGrail Malbec

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Malbec, which is the favorite varietal of our Winemaker’s mother, is typically an easy drinking, jammy wine. Being a producer of heavy, tannic Cabernets, our Malbec is naturally bigger and bolder than the typical Malbec. The large body on this Bordeaux varietal makes it excellent for pairing with heavy cheeses and red meats. A favorite of our winemaker, blue cheese burgers make a seriously scrumptious suitor for our Malbec.


Black & Blue Cheese Burgers

Makes 3 burgers.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. organic ground burger (I used 85% lean ground beef)
  • 1 ⅔ tbsp. worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tbsp. whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced into ⅓” rounds
  • 2 tbsp. red wine
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 3 oz. organic blue cheese crumbles
  • 3 ciabatta rolls (3 oz. each)
  • 6 pieces romaine lettuce leaves, cut into 5” pieces
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into ½” pieces

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, worcestershire sauce, 1 ½ tbsp. minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Use clean hands to work seasonings into beef and shape three burger patties. Smother patties with mustard.
  3. Heat grill on medium (about 350-400 degrees F).
  4. In the small skillet, sautee onion rounds until slightly browned. Add red wine and baby bella mushrooms. Sautee until wine has evaporated and mushrooms are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, remaining worcestershire sauce, remaining minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, to create a special sauce.
  6. On the heated grill, grill your patties for 2-3 minutes, flip them, grill for another 2-3 minutes. Repeat. Before the last few minutes of grilling, sprinkle blue cheese crumbles on top of patties. Put cut ciabatta rolls face down on grill and remove at the same time as you remove the patties. 
  7. Plate your ciabatta rolls and drizzle with special sauce. Place patties, romaine slices, tomato slices, and a spoonful of sauteed onions and mushrooms on rolls.
  8. Serve blue cheese burgers with blistered shishito peppers and a glass of McGrail Malbec. Enjoy!

Please let us know if you make these yummy burgers! We’d love to hear from you.

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Bun-Free Rosemary Gouda Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers & 2017…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Since portobello mushroom burgers always seem to be our go-to vegetarian pairing suggestions for our big, bold estate-grown Cabernets, I thought it was time I finally created a recipe to pair with our wines. I chose not to add a bun or any kind of bread to this burger, because like our Patriot Cab, I wanted this dish to be as savory and as flavorful as possible and I think sometimes starch can detract from that. While I am someone who generally prefers meat to a veggie alternative, this mushroom burger wasn’t just some alternative; it was incredible. I loved this big juicy, hearty mushroom so much, I can’t wait until the next time I get to make it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Bun-Less Balsamic Rosemary-Gouda Portobello Mushroom Burgers 

Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large portobello mushrooms (about 3 oz. each)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 2 ½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. black olive juice
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • ¾ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼” rounds
  • ¼ cup red wine, divided
  • 4 slices of gouda (about 1 oz. each)
  • 1 large organic heirloom tomato, sliced into ½” pieces
  • 5 oz. arugula

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Rinse portobello mushrooms under cold water. Use a wet paper towel or clean dish towel to gently clean the tops of the mushrooms. Cut stems from bottom of mushrooms. Using a spoon, gently scoop the gills from the underside of the mushrooms in an outside-to-inside motion. Rinse mushrooms again. Place mushrooms on a paper towel and allow them to dry.
  3. In a gallon-sized Ziploc, combine balsamic vinegar reduction, 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil, worcestershire sauce, olive juice, rosemary leaves, garlic, oregano, pepper, and salt. Once mushrooms are dry, place them in marinade in Ziploc bag. Shake bag to coat mushrooms thoroughly. Allow mushrooms to marinate for about 30 minutes. 
  4. Heat grill on medium heat (until it reaches 350-400 degrees F).
  5. In the heated skillet, sautee onion rounds until browned. Add 2 tbsp. red wine. Continue cooking until wine has evaporated. Remove onions from heat and put aside.
  6. Remove mushrooms from marinade and place on grill. Grill mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes. Flip and add sliced gouda. Grill for another 3-4 minutes.
  7. While mushrooms are grilling, pour the marinade into your heated saucepan, add 2 tbsp. red wine, and simmer on medium heat until marinade has reduced and thickened slightly (about 5 minutes), stirring continuously.
  8. To plate your burgers, place a handful of arugula on each plate. Add grilled mushrooms and top with tomatoes and grilled onions. Drizzle with marinade reduction.
  9. Serve bunless portobello burgers with a glass or bottle of McGrail Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy!

Please let us know if you make this delightful veggie pairing! We’d love to hear from you.

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Spicy Citrus Scallops & Cabbage & Sparkling -OR- Sauvignon…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

Can’t choose between our Gracie Sparkling and Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc? That’s okay; neither can I. This dish works with both of these delightfully crisp, refreshing wines. Either combo is godsent on a hot day, which we’ve had plenty of lately. The soft, creamy texture of the scallops tones down the heat of the cayenne and jalapeño, and both are brightened by a splash of citrus. Each of these flavors combine to complement our Gracie and Peyton Paige wines.


Spicy Citrus Scallops & Cabbage Salad

Makes about 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. frozen scallops
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 8 oz. mung bean sprouts
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed tangerine or clementine juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, minced, separated
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder, separated
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced thinly
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Soak frozen scallops in a large bowl of water overnight or for up to 24 hours to defrost and minimize fishiness.
  2. Heat olive oil in a griddle or frying pan on high (about 400 degrees F).
  3. In a large salad bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onion. Mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, tangerine juice, lime juice, minced garlic, 3/4 jalapeño, 1/8 tsp. cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, to create the dressing.
  5. Use a paper towel to pat the scallops dry. Season with salt, pepper, and remaining jalapeño, and cayenne. Allow to sit at room temperature for twenty minutes.
  6. Sear the scallops in the pre-heated griddle for about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Add small spoonfuls of dressing over scallops as they sear for added flavor.
  7. Dress the salad and plate it. Top with avocado, blood orange, and seared scallops.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this delightful summertime dish to enjoy with one of our yummy chilled wines! Please let us know if you do end up enjoying this pairing at home. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Semi-Sweet Summertime Grilled Fruit Spongecake & Gracie Sparkling

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

The versatility of sparkling wine always gets me super excited! It can go with pretty much anything and everything, but it’s also always delicious on its own or in a cocktail. Since we don’t currently have any sweet wines, it’s hard for me to come up with pairings that involve anything even semi-sweet. Berries and spongecake work well with our Gracie Sparkling Brut, because they both contain little sugar. The baked good aspect of the spongecake matches the hint of yeast in the bubbles. And berries with bubbles is always a good idea. I hope you enjoy this treat that is as tasty as it is beautiful with our equally gorgeous Gracie Sparkling!


Grilled Summertime Fruit Skewers, Berry Compote Spongecake, Dreamy Caramel, & Whipped Cream

Makes about 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 bamboo skewers, at least 6” long
  • 2 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed and separated
  • 8 large strawberries, washed and separated
  • 2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh-ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 5 apricots, washed
  • 6 (1 oz.) spongecakes
  • Caramel sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Optional: edible flowers for a garnish
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Pre-heat grill on low.
  2. Place bamboo skewers in a shallow bowl and cover with water. Allow skewers to soak in water until you are ready to use them. This prevents them from burning when they are on the grill.
  3. In a small saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups raspberries, three large strawberries, orange juice, lime juice, fresh ginger, and two pinches of sugar to create the berry compote. Heat on medium and use a large spoon to mash the fruit and stir ingredients together.
  4. Once fruit mixture begins bubbling, reduce heat to low and continue to stir occasionally. Allow fruit to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove fruit from heat and allow to cool.
  6. In a shallow bowl, add remaining granulated sugar. Cut the apricots and the remaining strawberries in half. Remove pits from apricots. Dredge your halved strawberries and apricots face-down in sugar.
  7. Place sugared strawberries and apricots face up on a plate. Being careful not to remove any sugar from the fruit, use your wet bamboo sticks to create skewers with alternating apricots and strawberries (I used three pieces of fruit per skewer). You will have a few pieces of fruit left over.
  8. On the grill, place each skewer face-down. Leave the grill open and grill each skewer for about 1-2 minutes, or until sugar has caramelized on fruit.
  9. Place each spongecake on a small plate. Spoon enough berry compote on the spongecake to fill the center of the cake. Top the cake with a drizzle of caramel sauce (optional), a few sprays of whipped cream, and a grilled fruit skewer. Garnish with the remaining fresh raspberries and edible flowers (optional).
  10. Serve with a glass or two of our chilled Gracie Sparkling Brut.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this pretty pairing at home! Please let us know if you try this one out. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!

Wine at Home

Independence Day Patriot Pairings

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

If you don’t fire up the grill on our Day of Independence, are you even American? One of my family’s oldest traditions is our July 4th ritual of throwing steaks, burgers, hot dogs, veggies, and just about anything else grill-able over the massive fire pit grill at my family’s ranch in the Livermore hills, while sipping on some yummy, locally-sourced beverages. Since McGrail’s Patriot Cabernet is the quintessential Independence Day drink, I’ve got some delicious pairings for this wine that can be tossed on the grill this 4th of July!

When asked what makes this wine so special, Heather McGrail said, “Patriot Cabernet is a favorite at McGrail and a tribute to all of those that serve our country and communities. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was first produced in 2009 and was a wine for a cause for the four Oakland Police Officers that lost their lives in the line of duty. Following our first vintage, we have continued to donate a portion of the proceeds to the families of lost heroes from police, fire, and military. Our Patriot Cabernet is produced using 100% new American oak and has beautiful aromas of dark cherry, berry, vanilla, and a hint of cocoa.” Personally, the Patriot is one of my favorite McGrail Cabs because of its rich, velvety mouthfeel and the delightful notes of vanilla, roasted coffee, and sweet campfire s’mores the wine derives from the new American oak it’s aged in. Below are some recipes to enjoy alongside this special Cabernet.


Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Cabbage Skewers

Makes about 6 servings, with two skewers per serving.

Having been aged in new oak for thirty months, our Patriot Cabernet can certainly come across as big and tannic for some palates. Pairing tannic wines with foods that contain fat is awesome for those who aren’t overly enthusiastic about that boldness, because the fat in the food combines with certain compounds in our saliva and creates a sort of layer of that fat that tones down the tannins in the wine. This is one of the reasons I love this pairing so much! But also, who doesn’t love bacon?

INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 bamboo skewers, at least 6″ long
  • 12 oz. red cabbage, cut into 12 equally sized squares
  • 1 lb. thick-sliced bacon (about 12 slices), uncooked
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Optional: micro greens for a garnish
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Place bamboo skewers in a shallow bowl, add water and soak skewers for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from burning while on the grill.
  2. Pre-heat your grill on medium-high, or about 400 degrees F.
  3. Take each piece of bacon and wrap it tightly around your red cabbage squares. Use your bamboo skewers to secure the bacon on the cabbage.
  4. Liberally sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder over both sides of each of your cabbage skewers.
  5. Set the cabbage skewers on the grill, reduce heat to low, or about 300 degrees F, and close the lid on the grill.
  6. Cook cabbage skewers on each of four sides for about three minutes (about 12 minutes in total), checking on cabbage about once a minute to ensure bacon fat doesn’t catch fire. Cooking time will vary depending on your grill and the size of each skewer. Skewers will be done when all bacon has been cooked through and cabbage has become soft.
  7. Serve bacon-wrapped cabbage over a bed of micro greens (optional) and with a glass of McGrail Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon!

Grilled Balsamic Parmesan Artichokes

Makes about 4 servings, with 2 artichoke quarters per serving.

Another food I love with our bold Cabernets is a sharp cheese. Freshly grated parmesan is one of those cheeses that can be so great with a big Cab and it can be even further complemented by some classic balsamic vinegar reduction. This hearty grilled artichoke is amazing with the parmesan and balsamic and a glass of the Patriot Cabernet.

INGREDIENTS:
  • Two large whole, organic artichokes
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large pot or deep pan with a steam basket, bring one inch of water to a boil.
  2. Wash your artichokes well. Cut about 1/2″-1″ off the top of the artichoke and trim the stem to about 1 1/2″. Using a large, serrated knife, cut the artichokes into quarters. Use a spoon to scoop out the furry insides.
  3. Set each quarter into the steam basket and cover. Steam the artichokes for about 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat your grill to medium heat.
  5. Once artichokes have been steamed, sprinkle insides with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
  6. Place each quarter face-down on the grill and grill for about two minutes on each side.
  7. Plate the quarters, face-up. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.
  8. Enjoy with a glass of McGrail Patriot Cabernet!

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes & Rosemary Rib Eye

Last, but certainly not least, our Patriot is perfect paired with classic steak and mashed potatoes. This is a tried and true, classic Cabernet pairing that couldn’t be more fitting for America’s day of Independence. Again, I’ve chosen to add parmesan to these potatoes, as it really complements the wine so well.

Makes about 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. rib eye
  • 2 tbsp. steak rub (I used 5 Mary’s)
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Pre-heat your grill to high heat.
  3. Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and cut into four equal parts. Rub each steak piece liberally with your favorite steak rub. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  4. Cut your peeled potatoes into 2″ cubes. Boil your cubed potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until soft enough to mash.
  5. Use a potato masher to mash your boiled potatoes. Add milk, parmesan, minced garlic, salt, and pepper and stir well.
  6. Season steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then place on the grill. Grill steaks for about 3 minutes on each side, then repeat (for about 6 minutes total per side), or until steaks have reached desired done-ness. Place a sprig of rosemary on top of each steak after the last flip.
  7. Place steaks on a plate and cover. Allow to sit for about five minutes.
  8. In a bowl or small plate, place one large scoop of mashed potatoes and one cut of steak with a sprig of rosemary as a garnish.
  9. Enjoy steak and parmesan mashed potatoes with a glass of McGrail Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make some of these deliciously patriotic dishes for your Independence Day celebration! Please let us know if you do make any of these dishes. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and enjoy!