By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards
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. I’m especially looking forward to watching Keanu Reeves host the event. 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.
- Enjoy each ceviche endive spear with a few splashes of McGrail Kylie Ryan Rosé!
BEST ORIGINAL HORS D’OEUVRE:
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.
- Add salt to taste.
- Enjoy this snack with a glass of our buttery 2018 Charlie Rae Chardonnay.
BEST SUPPORTING SNACK:
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)
- 3 ½ tbsp. olive oil
- 4 oz. prosciutto
- 20 ciliegine whole milk fresh mozzarella balls (approx. 7 oz.)
- 3 tbsp. unsalted dry toasted pecan pieces
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
- fresh arugula for topping
- thick balsamic vinegar
- pink Himalayan sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Drizzle olive oil on each flatbread and brush to coat evenly on both sides.
- If you would like your flatbreads a little crispier, you can bake them for 2-3 minutes in the oven before putting on the toppings.
- Cut each mozzarella ball in half. Evenly place prosciutto, mozzarella halves, apple slices, and pecan pieces on each flatbread piece.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted to your desire.
- Top each flatbread with fresh arugula, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Enjoy this tasty app with a pour of McGrail 2016 Shamus Patrick Red Blend.
Please let us know if you end up making these pairings and if you have any feedback! We’d love to hear it.
Cheers and enjoy!