Tag: cabernet sauvignon

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!

Vineyard Related

Time to Burn

By Mark Clarin of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

As we continue with our new shelter in place conditions in this country, there are a few fine folks who are working to ensure the 2020 vintage, and vintages beyond, will be spectacular. We recently removed about three acres of our estate Cabernet Sauvignon and put the vines into piles to dry out. Today is the perfect day to light the piles on fire and send them back to the earth to become part of the circle of life. The ashes will be spread throughout the soil and the rain will replenish the soil.

We will leave the ground fallow for a year. This tradition dates back centuries and we will celebrate the year by frolicking around the fallow ground with flutes and percussive instruments to chase away the soil pests like nematodes. This is how it was in the beginning and this is how it will be (Mark 2020 v. 17). Once we have successfully chased away all the pests, we will put our clothes back on and replant the vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon. Clone TBD.

Wine at Home

Shelter-in-Place Worldly Picture & Wine Pairings

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

Feeling bummed out because your months of planning a fabulous trip abroad, across the country, or even in-state were proved unavailing due to the shelter-in-place order? If you’re currently sheltered-in-place, it probably seems like you have a lot of time on your hands. That time doesn’t have to be spent sulking at home. Take a trip without leaving your couch! There are so many great international and national films available with just the push of a button through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

I’m a huge believer in the idea that wine can be paired with anything. Grab some popcorn, a cozy blanket, and a bottle of McGrail wine, because we’re about to take a (virtual) trip, while drinking delicious wine!

Don’t worry if you don’t have any of these wines at home at the moment. We have several ways to get you some tasty McGrail wine to enjoy with these fantastic flicks! We are currently offering:

  • Local home delivery at no additional cost for new orders
  • One cent shipping to anywhere in California for new orders
  • Drive-up service at the winery (receive wine without leaving your car)

International Movie & Wine Pairings

New Zealand – What We Do in the Shadows (2015) and 2016 A Jó Élet, “the Good Life,” Cabernet Sauvignon

Image courtesy of IMDB.com.

Rated R

This vampire mockumentary was directed by and stars New Zealand’s two most well-known movie actors and directors–Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement. You might know Waititi as both the guy who plays Hitler in Jojo Rabbit and the director of the satirical film, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020. He’s also directed and acted in a few more notable movies and series, including Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian, Thor: Ragnarok, and another great New Zealand-based movie, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. You might recognize Jermaine Clement from the Grammy award-winning comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords, but he also has an extensive brag sheet of voice acting, writing, directing, and producing. Together, these guys created a comedy dream (or rather, nightmare) that is as spooky as it is hilarious. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics gave this comedic flick a 96% rating and said it is “smarter, fresher, and funnier than a modern vampire movie has any right to be,” and called it “bloody good fun.” FX recently released a show with the same title name, based on this film, because it was that good!

I highly recommend pairing this bold, dark-humored picture with our equally bold and dark 2016 A Jó Élet, “the Good Life,” Cabernet Sauvignon and fresh-out-of-the-oven garlic bread, you know, to keep the vampires away…

Find this film on Amazon Prime Video for just $2.99 to rent or $8.99 to buy.

Watch the trailer here.


Ireland – Waking Ned Devine (1999) and 2017 Sláinte Red Blend

Image courtesy of IMDB.com.

Rated PG

When old pals Michael and Jackie discover someone in their teeny Irish village has won the lottery, they embark on a mission to find that person and get a share of their winnings. Upon uncovering the winner, a lad called Ned Devine, has passed from the shock of having won the lottery, they contact the lottery authorities and devise a plan to convince them that Mr. Devine is alive and able to collect his winnings. Rotten Tomatoes said, “A heartwarming comedy with a delightfully light touch, Waking Ned Devine finds feel-good humor in some unexpected — and unexpectedly effective — places.”

To get the full Irish experience, open a bottle of our 2017 Sláinte Red Blend and a bag of Irish crisps (potato chips to us Americans), preferably Tayto’s Cheese and Onion, to enjoy with this wine. American potato chips work fine, too.

Catch Waking Ned Devine on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy.

Watch the trailer here.


Australia – Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and 2018 Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc

Image courtesy of amoeba.com.

Rated R

Social outcast Muriel, played by a young Toni Collette, is obsessed with marriage, fitting in, and being accepted, not only by her peers, but also by her local politician father. This was Collette’s fourth-ever acting credit, for which she gained a whole 40 pounds in just seven weeks, in order to truly embody Muriel. The movie has its fair share of both good-humored and tragic moments, as well as feathered 90’s hair and funky 90’s garb, and is an Australian classic. Rotten Tomatoes said, “heartfelt and quirky, though at times broad, Muriel’s Wedding mixes awkward comedy, oddball Australian characters, and a nostalgia-heavy soundtrack.” If you’ve never seen this movie and are in the mood for trying something wistful and new, watch this.

This film is best paired with our 2018 Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc, as it’s quite lovely, but has a bit of a bite to it (from the acidity), kind of like Muriel does. Enjoy with a side of Fairy Bread (white bread with margarine and sprinkles, or hundreds-and-thousands as they’re called in Oz), a disgustingly popular Australian snack in the 1990’s.

Find Muriel’s Wedding on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 to rent or just $5.99 to buy.

Watch the trailer here.


China – The Farewell (2019) and Gracie Sparkling Brut

Image courtesy of IMDB.com.

Rated PG

Billi, a 30-year-old Chinese-American, and her adorably sweet grandmother, whom she refers to as Nai Nai, have always had a close relationship, despite the fact Nai Nai lives in China. When visiting her parents, Billi is told Nai Nai, her father’s mother, is dying of lung cancer and has just three months left to live. Given the news, Billi’s father’s family plans to gather from all over the world to see Nai Nai one last time, under the pretense that Billi’s cousin is getting married, as no one, including Nai Nai’s doctors, has told her she’s dying. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave the movie a 98% rating and said it “deftly captures complicated family dynamics with a poignant, well-acted drama that marries cultural specificity with universally relatable themes.” This film demonstrates what it truly means to be a family, but it doesn’t end the way you think it might. With a perfect balance of both tragedy and comedy, The Farewell will make you laugh out loud, but it will also make you weep.

Enjoy a bottle of our Gracie Sparkling Brut and take out dim sum from your favorite Chinese restaurant or grocery store as you watch this heartfelt film. That’s what Nai Nai would want you to do.

Watch The Farewell for free on Amazon Prime Video

Watch the preview here.


England – About Time (2013) and 2017 Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon

Image courtesy of flicks.co.nz.

Rated R

This movie, starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, follows the romance between Tim and Mary, who first meet on a blind date through a pitch black dining experience in London. Though this sounds like the most genuinely interesting way to meet someone, this isn’t the most intriguing thing about the couple, as Tim has a huge secret: he can travel back in time. This romantic comedy was not at all what I expected it to be, as it twists and turns, unapologetically touching on heartache and true, unconditional love. Nevertheless, the English screenwriter of this film is Richard Curtis, who also did rom-com classics Love Actually, Notting Hill, and the later mentioned Four Weddings and a Funeral. You are guaranteed to fall in love with both the relationship between McAdams’s and Gleeson’s characters and the relationship between Tim and his father (played by Bill Nighy). You are also guaranteed a good, healthy cry. Rotten Tomatoes said “Beautifully filmed and unabashedly sincere, About Time finds director Richard Curtis at his most sentimental.”

Enjoy this film with our 2017 Austin James Cabernet, a robust, but a velvety and romantic wine and something slightly dark, slightly sweet, but satisfying (akin to this film), like dark chocolate peanut butter cups with sea salt.

Catch this movie on Netflix.

Watch the preview here.


South Korea – Parasite (2019) and 2016 James Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon

Image courtesy of IMDB.com.

Rated R

If you haven’t seen this film yet, you’re missing out. Korean director Bong Joon-ho nearly swept the 2020 Academy Awards with Parasite and it won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Parasite follows an impoverished, but resourceful Kim family through their means of infiltrating the home and the lives of the wealthy Park family. Due to it being classified as both a comedy and a thriller, and because of its truly alluring aesthetics, you won’t be able to stop watching this film. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave Parasite a rating of 99% and said “An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.”

It is only fitting to enjoy Parasite with a bottle of our 2016 James Vincent Cabernet, a dark and mysterious wine, but also our top-of-the-line, award-winning Cabernet. Cook up a bowl of hot ram-don, this film’s most noteworthy dish, to enjoy, as well.

Rent this film for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video or buy it for $14.99.

Watch the preview here.


Solvang and Central Coast, California – Sideways (2004) and 2016 McGrail Merlot, Picazo Vineyard

Image courtesy of Amazon.com.

Rated R

An essential watch for wine lovers, Sideways captures the essence of the true California wine snob. Published writer Miles is kind of a depressed mess, but one that possesses a deep enthusiasm and respect for wine. With just days remaining before the wedding of his friend Jack, Miles takes his soon-to-be-wed pal on a last fling trip through Solvang and the Central Coast wine country of California. Along the way, they meet beautiful lady friends, Stephanie and Maya, both of whom are blissfully unaware that Jack is only a few days away from being a married man. The trip quickly turns sour when Miles lets Jack’s secret slip to Maya. Sideways flaunts a talented cast, consisting of Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, and Virginia Madsen. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a score of 97% and said “Charming, thoughtful, and often funny, Sideways is a decidedly mature road trip comedy full of excellent performances.”

You can’t watch Sideways without a glass of wine, but due to the way this film influenced wine drinkers’ perception of the varietal, you have to watch it with Merlot in your glass. Because we are a Cab house, our Merlot is built like a Cab, but still has Merlot’s classic characteristics, which is why we think even Paul Giamatti’s character would be happy to drink our take on this ill-famed varietal. Pair this film with our 2016 McGrail Merlot from Picazo Vineyard and a classic wine country charcuterie plate with the works–olives, salami, grapes, nuts, carrot or bell pepper sticks, a baguette, and wedges of stinky cheese.

Catch Sideways on Hulu or Amazon Prime Video ($3.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy).

Watch the preview for Sideways here.


Other Notable International Films

Czech Republic – Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Rated PG-13

Surprisingly, a movie that was meant to be set in Nazi Germany, was actually filmed in Prague. Like most WWII films, Jojo Rabbit has its painfully solemn scenes, but being a satire, this movie is mostly laughs. With it taking place at the end of the war, you get to see the Nazis defeated, which makes it that much better. The cast is composed of mainly A-list actors and with Taika Waititi as the director, you won’t be disappointed. Rotten Tomatoes said “Jojo Rabbit‘s blend of irreverent humor and serious ideas definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste — but either way, this anti-hate satire is audacious to a fault.” Buy it for $19.99 or rent it for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video.


England – Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Rated R

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a brilliantly dark-humored English film, starring several A-list actors of the 1990’s, including Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant. The movie was directed by seasoned English Director Mike Newell, who also directed several other well-known films, like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Mona Lisa Smile. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave this comedy a 96% rating. Rent this movie for $2.99 or buy it for $14.99 on Amazon Prime Video.


France – La Vie en Rose (2007)

Rated PG-13

This French film was the first movie in which an Academy Award for Best Actress was awarded for a French-language role. Marion Cotillard portrays brothel-born, charismatic entertainer Edith Piaf in this visually stunning biopic, which puts Piaf’s addictions, relationships, and losses under a microscope. Rotten Tomatoes said “the set design and cinematography are impressive, but the real achievement of La Vie en Rose is Marion Cotillard’s mesmerizing, wholly convincing performance as Edith Piaf.” Rent La Vie en Rose on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 or buy for $7.99.


Germany – Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Rated R

Like Jojo Rabbit, this movie can be categorized as both a comedy and a war film. Director Quentin Tarantino knows how to create excitement organically and make an audience laugh through suspense and gore. He uses an ensemble cast to depict Germany’s occupation of France (even though this was mostly filmed in Potsdam, Germany), as Brad Pitt’s character gathers an army of Jewish soldiers to employ vicious tactics against the Nazis. Rotten Tomatoes said, “a classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, Inglourious Basterds is violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining.” Watch Inglourious Basterds on Netflix.


Germany – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Rated R

Yep, the movie containing “Budapest” in the title wasn’t actually filmed in Hungary at all, but rather in Dresden, Germany. The film boasts an amazingly talented cast, with names like Bill Murray, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman, and more! Don’t let me tell you how grand this movie is. If you haven’t seen this quirky Wes Anderson film, do yourself a favor and rent it for just $3.99 on Amazon Prime Video. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics gave it a 91% rating. 


India – Lion (2016)

Rated PG-13

Based on a true story, Lion follows the life of Saroo, a five-year-old boy from a poor Indian family who one day falls asleep on the train and wakes to find he has traveled thousands of miles across India, away from his family. He learns to survive on his own in Kolkata, but is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, Saroo leaves to find his family, using Google Earth to help him find his way home. Rotten Tomatoes said “Lion‘s undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.” Rent Lion on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 or buy it for just $4.99.


Ireland – P.S. I Love You (2007)

Rated PG-13

I almost never have the guts to turn this movie on when I see it playing on TV, because it never fails to make me cry. If you’ve ever been to Ireland, you know it’s an incredible country. This mostly melancholy romantic comedy does a really excellent job of showing off all of Ireland’s most stunning aspects. You can find this tear-jerker on Netflix.


Italy – Murder Mystery (2019)

Rated PG-13

As is to be expected of any Adam Sandler movie, Murder Mystery is slightly hokey, but he and Jennifer Aniston make a great pair. Still, this movie effectively builds up the whodunnit mystery throughout the film and does so in a manner that isn’t blatantly obvious. It also really shows off some of the most magnificent parts of Italy and other European destinations. I am excited to say I was actually staying on Lake Como in the same village, at the same time the last few scenes were being filmed. I even caught a glimpse of Sandler’s stunt double! Find this movie on Netflix.


Italy – Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Rated PG-13

A charming Jewish-Italian man romances a beautiful, but engaged school teacher, who eventually falls in love with and marries her new suitor. The couple have a son, whom they clearly adore more than anything. When Nazis invade Italy, the father and son are taken to a concentration camp and heartbreak follows. The father does all he can to keep his son from realizing the true horrors of WWII by providing comedic relief. Though it is somewhat predictable, the movie uses comedy to be as lovely, but as realistic, as any war film can be. Rotten Tomatoes said Life Is Beautiful “offers the possibility of hope in the face of unflinching horror.” Rent it on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 or buy for $7.99.


Japan – Isle of Dogs (2018)

Rated PG-13

Being Wes Anderson’s second animated film, Isle of Dogs does a wonderful job of using incredibly detailed stop motion animation to convey sound, movement, texture, depth, and emotion. When Mayor Kobayashi declares all dogs are to be quarantined on Trash Island, one Japanese boy sets out to retrieve his lost dog “Spots” and Trash Island’s residents, both stray and previously owned, assemble to help him. Isle of Dogs is quirky and adorable. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave this film a 90% score. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video–$3.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy.


Mexico – Roma (2018)

Rated R

Roma takes place in Mexico City in the 1970’s and follows young caretaker Cleo. Cleo, who cares for four children, is stunned when she finds out the children’s father has run away with his mistress and that Cleo, herself is pregnant. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics gave it a 95% rating and said “Roma finds writer-director Alfonso Cuarón in complete, enthralling command of his visual craft – and telling the most powerfully personal story of his career.” Watch Roma on Netflix.


New Zealand – Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Rated PG-13

When rebellious Ricky Baker is taken to his most recent foster home, he and his new mum quickly form a bond, though his new dad is not so quick to latch on. Tragedy strikes Ricky’s new family and he runs away into the New Zealand wilderness, only to soon be accompanied by his foster father. Ricky and his new dad become the subjects of a manhunt after getting lost. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed by Taika Waititi, a 96% rating and said it “unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.” Rent it for $2.99 or buy it for only $6.99 on Amazon Prime Video.


Northern Ireland – Derry Girls (2018-2019)

Not Rated

Though it’s not a movie, Derry Girls, a brilliant British comedy series, is definitely worth mentioning. Set in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in the 1990’s, this show follows the lives of a group of mischievous, misfit Catholic school girls. It offers historical accuracy in touching on the bloody sectarian conflict between the unionists and nationalists, but keeps you laughing through it all. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave it a score of 98% and said it “makes frenetic light of teen life” in its setting. Watch Derry Girls on Netflix, but don’t forget to turn on the captions, as Derry accents are hardly intelligible to the American ear. 


Sweden – The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared (2016)

Rated MA

Notorious and widely-disliked Allan Karlsson has lived a long, remarkable life. On his 101st birthday, Allan is reminded of his time working as a spy, during which he had stolen a soda recipe from the Russian government to give to American President Richard Nixon. He remembers he still has the formula for this highly revered Folksoda hidden somewhere in the world and he, his pet monkey, his dimwit caretaker, and his best pal embark on a journey to find it. Hilarity and frenzy ensue, as details of Karlsson’s wild life emerge through old memories during his new adventures. This movie is most certainly silly, but it also has its sweet and sentimental moments. I don’t know how better to describe it than being like a Swedish, geriatric version of The Hangover. Watch it on Netflix.


Notable American Destination Films

Hollywood, California – Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood (2019)

Rated R

Amazon Prime – $9.99 to rent or $19.99 to buy


Napa Valley, California – Bottle Shock (2008)

Rated PG-13

Free on Amazon Prime Video


Napa Valley, California – Wine Country (2019)

Rated R

Available on Netflix


New York, New York – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Rated R

Amazon Prime Video – $2.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy


New York, New York – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Rated PG

Amazon Prime Video – $3.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy


Rhode Island and East Coast, United States – Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 

Rated PG-13 

Amazon Prime Video – $3.99 to rent, $11.99 to buy


Seattle, Washington – Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

Rated PG

Amazon Prime Video – $2.99 to rent, $12.99 to buy)


What did you think of these wine and movie pairings? Did you try any? We’d love to hear your feedback!

Cheers and enjoy!

Food and Wine Pairings

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Gnocchi and C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery

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!

Heirloom Tomato, Fresh Basil, and Mozzarella Potato Gnocchi Paired with our 2017 C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon

Makes about 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. whole mini heirloom tomatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. shelf-stable potato gnocchi, cooked according to package directions
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup roasted garlic marinara sauce
  • 8 oz. ciliegine mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
  • Grated pecorino romano and parmesan blend cheese 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the garlic to the skillet. Cook until slightly browned. 
  3. Add mini heirloom tomatoes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Prepare the potato gnocchi according to package directions.
  6. Cook garlic and tomatoes in skillet for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to soften.
  7. Add the gnocchi to the skillet. Cook until heated through.
  8. Stir in ½ cup of the fresh basil and the marinara sauce.
  9. Add the mozzarella. Stir until it just begins to melt.
  10. Plate the gnocchi and sprinkle the pecorino romano and parmesan cheese blend over each plate. Garnish with remaining basil.
  11. Enjoy this delicious dish with a glass or two of our 2017 C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon!

Please let us know if you end up making this pairing and if you have any feedback! We’d love to hear it.

Cheers and enjoy!

Vineyard Related

FEBRUARY 2020: Vineyard Dormancy, Maintenance, & Weather

Sunshine and our recently pruned estate vines.

By Laina Carter and Mark Clarin of McGrail Vineyards

February was an incredibly busy month in the vineyards, but unseasonably so, as our vines are currently dormant and February tends to be a pretty uneventful month for our vineyards. There are countless facets to grape growing and external factors affecting grapevines that no year and no season are ever the same.


Dormancy & Pruning

Grapevines, like most perennials, undergo a dormancy stage, which is essentially a hibernation period for these plants. The vines have stored all of their nutrients in their roots, leaving the once vivacious, fruitful shoots dry and void of leaves and fruit. Dormancy allows grapevines to tolerate winter weather and gives them time to prepare for budbreak in the spring. Like hibernating animals, the vines are waiting for warmer temperatures before once again using the energy they have stored up to become active and begin growing again.

The most critical vineyard practice that occurs during dormancy is pruning. For us, pruning usually happens around February, when the vines are completely bare and nearing the end of their dormancy. This year, we began pruning our estate vines at the end of January and continued with our Lucky 8 Vineyard through the beginning of February.

Our recently pruned estate vines.

Each year, we prune last year’s growth back to the cordon. Our vineyards are currently pruned to two bud spur positions. These positions are kept approximately a fist apart along the cordon in order to keep the new shoot growth separated for later when the fruit sets.

A vineyard worker pruning our estate vines.

Pruning is important because it gives us the ability to determine the number and position of shoots on the vine, and will therefore determine cluster count and quality of wine. The reason we prune back is to control consistency in production and to make sure we can still walk down the rows and properly manage the vineyard. There are many tasks throughout the growing season that require hand manipulation. Since grapevines are vines, they seem to have a mind of their own and want to grow in wild directions. Our trellis allows us to control the vines so that we can manage yields and quality.


Vineyard Re-Development

Our winemaker Mark planting new vines at our Lucky 8 property in 2018.

Our estate vineyard was originally planted in 1999 and is now at the end of its ideal productive life. We have sixteen and a half acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and it has, and still continues, to serve us well. At some point, the need to replant is fast-approaching, so we are taking out a section of approximately three acres this year to be replanted again in 2022. Since we have our new Lucky 8 vineyard coming into full production, it affords us the opportunity to re-develop our estate vineyard.

The area at the front of our property where we have removed nearly three acres of vines.
A pile of vines that have been pulled from the area at the front of our property where we have removed nearly three acres of vines.

It takes about three years for new plantings to come into full production. It’s about a five-year process when you have to remove a vineyard, because you want to leave the ground fallow for a year. If we have to remove all 16.7 acres at once, we would lose production for five years. By doing it in small quantities, we will still be able to produce our cherished Patriot, James Vincent, A Jó Élet “the Good Life,” and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon through the re-development phase. This February we began our vineyard re-development by removing about three acres of Cabernet vines at the front of our estate property. It will take up to ten years for us to replant the whole vineyard and up to twenty years to get back into full production.


Vineyard Drought

Our recently pruned vines at Lucky 8.

We are currently at the beginning of March, 2020 and we haven’t seen significant rainfall since early January, which is quite a bit different from what the last few winters we’ve experienced. December was fairly wet and we were on course to having a “normal” winter when the new year decided to change all that. We tried a little irrigating this past week to trick the vines into thinking it’s still winter. The windy weather has really dried things out and the hills are turning brown, which is very unusual for this time of year. We’re hoping this month brings rain again and more importantly, a decent snow-pack in the Sierra mountains, but time will tell. Until then, we will continue to irrigate as needed.


Unseasonably Warm Temperatures

On February 26th in 2018, there was snow on Mt. Diablo and snow on Mt. Hamilton, which is wildly different from the weather we experienced on the same day this year, with sunshine and a high of 76˚F.

The view from our estate property of snow on Mount Diablo on February 26th, 2018.
A bud in our estate vineyard in April of 2019.

Although we have had some warm late winters in years past, these temperatures can be of concern for grape growers. Air temperatures of 50°F are the threshold of below which grapevines refuse to grow. This means that enough days with a mean air temperature of 50°F or above could cause budbreak in the vineyards. Since an earlier budbreak during a warm late winter hasn’t really happened for us before, we aren’t too worried; however, an early budbreak could result in damage to the vines if spring frost occurs. We are keeping our fingers crossed that our vines don’t come out of dormancy this week! 


Grape growing is definitely not for the faint of heart. 

Food and Wine Pairings

Oscar-Worthy Wine & Hors d’oeuvre Pairings

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.

A real academy award at the winery, which was awarded to Ginger’s cousin Patti Dehaney, who won in 2019 for the hair and makeup on Vice.

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Peel and remove seeds and skins from grapefruits and mandarin oranges. Break apart into 1/2″ pieces.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Air pop the popcorn if you’re not using pre-popped popcorn.
  2. Melt the butter in a small bowl or measuring cup.
  3. 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.
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on each flatbread and brush to coat evenly on both sides.
  3. 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.
  4. Cut each mozzarella ball in half. Evenly place prosciutto, mozzarella halves, apple slices, and pecan pieces on each flatbread piece.
  5. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted to your desire.
  6. Top each flatbread with fresh arugula, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. 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!

Vineyard Related

The Importance of Pruning and Vineyard Replacement

By Mark Clarin of McGrail Vineyards

Newly pruned Cabernet Sauvignon vines and trimmings in McGrail’s estate vineyard

The Importance of Pruning

A simple illustration of a vine with two bud spurs

It’s that time of year again in the vineyard, when we prune last year’s growth back to the cordon. Our vineyards are currently pruned to two bud spur positions. These positions are kept approximately a fist apart along the cordon in order to keep the new shoot growth separated for later when the fruit sets.

The reason we prune back is to control consistency in production and to make sure we can still walk down the rows and properly manage the vineyard. There are many tasks throughout the growing season that require hand manipulation. Since grapevines are vines, they seem to have a mind of their own and want to grow in wild directions. Our trellis allows us to control the vines so that we can manage yields and quality.

Newly pruned Cabernet Sauvignon vines on McGrail’s estate
A vineyard worker pruning Cabernet Sauvignon vines on McGrail’s estate

Vineyard Replacement

Our estate vineyard was originally planted in 1999 and is now at the end of its ideal productive life. We have sixteen and a half acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and it has, and still continues, to serve us well. At some point, the need to replant is fast-approaching, so we are taking out a section of approximately three acres this year to be replanted again in 2022. Since we have our new Lucky 8 vineyard coming into full production, it affords us the opportunity to re-develop our estate vineyard. 

McGrail’s estate vineyard in fall of 2019
McGrail’s Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

It takes about three years for new plantings to come into full production. It’s about a five-year process when you have to remove a vineyard, because you want to leave the ground fallow for a year. If we have to remove all 16.7 acres at once, we would lose production for five years. By doing it in small quantities, we will still be able to produce our cherished Patriot, James Vincent, A Jó Élet “the Good Life,” and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon through the re-development phase. It will take up to ten years for us to replant the whole vineyard and up to 20 years to get back into full production. Grape growing is definitely not for the faint of heart. 

Winemaker Mark Clarin planting new vines at McGrail’s Lucky 8 Vineyard on Tesla Road in Livermore
Food and Wine Pairings

Win Over Your Guests with These Super Bowl Appetizer…

By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards

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!

Jim McGrail (second from the right) with his buddies, hanging out at the winery.

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.

Crispy Stuffed Parmesan Pesto Crimini Mushrooms.

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.

Crispy Stuffed Parmesan Pesto Crimini Mushrooms with our 2018 McGrail Family Chardonnay.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove stems from mushrooms and mince.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 400˚F.
  6. 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.
  7. In a medium sized bowl, combine the chopped pistachios, grated Parmesan, panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  8. 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.
  9. Bake stuffed mushrooms at 400˚ for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the stuffing has reached desired crispiness.
  10. Enjoy these noshes with a bit of of our 2018 McGrail Family Chardonnay.

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.

Marinara and Ricotta Meatball Poppers on Toasted Garlic Bread with a bed of organic basil as a garnish.
Marinara and Ricotta Meatball Poppers on Toasted Garlic Bread with our 2016 C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon.

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the broiler to high. Line a large sheet pan with foil
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Spread the ricotta on the toasted bread slices.
  5. Spoon each meatball with a little bit of sauce onto each slice of toast. Secure with a toothpick.
  6. Enjoy with a glass of C. Tarantino Cabernet!
Marinara and Ricotta Meatball Poppers on Toasted Garlic Bread with a bed of organic basil as a garnish.

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.

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon Bites.

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Over medium heat, cook sliced bacon in a large pan until bacon is cooked thoroughly, but not crispy.
  3. Cut steak into small, bite-sized pieces. In a medium bowl, combine steak, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cut bacon slices in half. Wrap bacon slices around steak pieces, secure with a toothpick, and evenly distribute on lined baking sheet.
  5. Cook bacon-wrapped steak for 8 to 12 minutes or until desired crispiness (for bacon) or done-ness (for steak) is reached.
  6. Pour Terrapin Ridge Sriracha Horseradish dipping sauce into a small dish for dipping.
  7. Enjoy with a glass (or two) of our Austin James Cabernet.
Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon Bites with Sriracha Horseradish Dipping Sauce and 2016 Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, but more importantly, I know you will enjoy these wines! If there are certain kinds of pairings you would like to see in the future, don’t be afraid to let us know.

Go niners!