Great food wines to start the new year right

December 31, 2018

I hope all had a wonderful Christmas. It’s not too late to find wine for New Year’s Eve/Day. Following a long list of sparklers and white wines recently written, let’s look into something for ham, roast beef or roast pork.

These are holiday meals of choice based on my latest foray to the grocery stores. Before I kick it off, Tom queried, “I saw your mention of artichoke capital as Castroville. Which wine goes with artichokes?” First time this has come up, Tom. Artichokes are a tough pairing because they are high in cynarine, a hydroxycinnamic acid that makes things taste much sweeter.

Fortunately, at Chez McD, artichokes are a preferred appetizer. I like to steam them, then spread the leaves and stuff them with a slurry of parmesan, Italian bread crumbs, garlic and butter for finishing in the oven. I have learned that a good Fino Sherry, Dry Sercial Madeira or my fav Cantina Florio fine dry Marsala enhances them. Be careful, most Florio Marsala you will find on shelves are the sweeter varieties; avoid these for this use. They are better as dessert, cheese and fruit wines. You will be rewarded if you ask your local wine shop pal to locate one of those recommended. Available in Wilmington and Claymont. Marsala is a fortified wine. It cellars a long time. 

Sweet, salty ham pairs best with fruity, slightly sweet wines with sharp acidity. Riesling Spatlese, Moscato, Chenin Blanc, Grenache Rosé, Lambrusco and Zinfandel fill that bill. Smoky, sweet ham and most U.S. Petite Syrah are wonderful together. Turley Cellars Pesenti Petite Syrah Paso Robles is excellent. Any vintage from 2010-15 is highly rated and in its window with the exception of 2013, which won’t be ready until 2025.

The 2012 is a 95-point winner by most critics. As mentioned in August, your best choices for dry cured, such as prosciutto, Serrano, Bayonne or Speck are the same as those for artichokes. See what I did there? Add most fruit-forward sparklers (sparkling Rosé) and Manzanilla Sherry.

Many of European heritage believe eating pork with sauerkraut to welcome a new year brings good luck and blessings in the coming year. Crown pork roast is a festive traditional new year showpiece. Depending on the stuffing and sauce, I’m going with White Cotes du Rhone, Pinot Gris, a big old-time Chardonnay or an Alsatian. My preference with apple, sauerkraut and onion sauce is going Alsatian. Please, friends, rinse the kraut thoroughly before continuing with any recipe. Cut the apples and onions to resemble the kraut (2# washed and squeezed), equal volume of each. Mix with 1/2 C cider vinegar, 1/2 C apple butter, 1 C wine, 3 T light brown sugar and 2 tsp caraway seeds. Place in a roasting pan just big enough to hold the tied crown roast. Season pork and roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes in a separate pan. Pour off grease. Cut temp to 300 degrees; place roast on top of raw mélange and roast to 155 degrees. I always use a thermometer. Let stand before serving; the temperature will improve to 165 degrees. If the sauce needs liquid, add water; that is what has evaporated. The mélange becomes the sauce. Best choice Willm Riesling Reserve 2014, 89 McD plus a price point under $14. Lots of ripe apple nose. Crisp acidity with apple flavors. These are very consistent and favorably priced. If you can’t find the ‘14, the ‘15 or ‘16 is fine. 

Excellent prime rib recipes, after Denise of course, Due to volume of recipes, pairing is complicated. As a traditionalist, I prefer Irvine’s recipe. Crack open one of those older bottles of Bordeaux, Shiraz or Cabs you’ve been bragging about. Those who don’t cellar should look for 2014 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Rick Sayre always brings terrific affordable Cab to your table. Alexander Valley 2014 shows cassis, dark cherry, cedar and mocha with round, smooth palate, clean finish. Won double gold at San Fran Chronicle. Both cost less than $21. That’s stealing, folks! The Reserve is mid-$40s; nice wine, poor QPR. Happy New Year!

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