One of the wine pairing rules of thumb says to pair wines and cuisine of the same region. This week, we are flying down to Argentina, to Mendoza in the foot hills of the mighty Andes, for a casual and easy to make wine dinner.
Actually, it’s late winter right now in Mendoza, Argentina (remember from grade school, below the equator is the season opposite that above the equator?) So today in Mendoza, it’s low to mid 50s and sunny. The 2018 grape harvest was already in and fermenting the first weeks of March and is now WINE, fermented and resting in vats to age and gain flavor. A cloudy summer with low rain made for a harvest that ripened slowly, promising complex, elegant, fresh and fragrant wines which will begin mid-2019. Argentina’s vintners are thinking that 2018 will be a vintage as delicious as the famous 2013. Something to look forward to!
The best growing regions in Argentina are in the high elevations foothills of the Andes. The thinner air means better exposure to the UV rays for sugar ripeness; the cooler nights mean better acidity. And the vines are watered by the melting snow from the mountainous peaks. Argentinian wines can be fabulous…and affordable.
The signature grape of Argentina is Malbec, an “immigrant” in the early 19th century from France, where it was and remains a blending grape in its native region of Bordeaux. It thrives in Mendoza and makes a delicious unblended wine that wine consumers are finding pleasant.
One of our favorite Argentinian wines is an amazing Malbec based blend from the winery of Susana Balbo, a rare woman winemaker in South America, and named one of the top women winemakers in the world. The D&W Destination Wine Team was delighted to discover and get our hands on her delicious 2015 Crios Red Blend at an outrageously reasonable price. (Confession: I rarely buy a case of any wine. It is so good, I’ve been passing it out to friends and am about to get a second case!)
2 C (tightly packed) of parsley, pulled off the coarse main stems
1 TBS dried oregano, or ¼ C fresh oregano leaves
4 medium cloves garlic
1 C extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, optional pinch of red pepper flakes to taste
1. Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well chopped.
2. (DO NOT allow sauce to become smooth paste. You want some texture, a fine chop suspended in the olive oil. I usually chop by hand then stir olive oil and other ingredients together.)
3. Grill your meat over a charcoal or hard wood fire, and serve with the Chimichurri.
Argentinian Hearts of Palm Salad
1 14oz can hearts of palm slice into rounds
1 medium seedless cucumber washed and cut into rounds
2 medium garden fresh tomatoes seeded and coarsely chopped
1 ripe avocado halved, peeled and sliced
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice
1 TBS fresh squeezed orange juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place prepared vegetables in a bowl
2. Whisk oil and juices together and pour over vegetables, tossing gently to coat
3. Season to taste. Serve as a side to grilled meat or vegetables.
Crios Mendoza Red Blend 2015
Steak with Chimichurri is nicely complemented by this hearty red blend. Mostly Malbec, it also has small portions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Bonarda, and Syrah. It was awarded 91 Points by highly regarded Wine Spectator critic, James Suckling. And we agree. It is, as he says: “Delicious wine with light spice, walnut and chocolate character. Hints of ripe fruit. Medium body, fine tannins, and a clean finish.”
Crios Mendoza Rosé of Malbec 2017
Salads can be hard to pair with wine, but this is the perfect pair for the bright, citrusy Hearts of Palm Salad. This clean, dry rosé has more body than the typical Mediterranean versions and is slightly less tart, but it has the flavors of strawberry and tart cherry, with a hint of spice. It would also be great to serve with grilled chicken and Chimichurri.
Learn more by listening to Roz talk on this subject on WGVU radio here: http://www.wgvunews.org/post/food-forum-19.
About Roz: During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.
Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.