Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Wine and Food Pairing at RagApple Lassie Vineyards

On a recent Saturday afternoon, RagApple Lassie Vineyards offered a wine and food pairing.  The combinations we exhibited were very simple and can easily be prepared at home.

2004 Chardonnay with Beaufort Shrimp
This was a wonderful combination.  Our Chardonnay is a very intense style...not a lot of oak, just enough, as it was barrel fermented and then aged about 5 months in the combination of new and 2 to 4 year old French with some American barrels.  This wine is our signature wine and our best seller.  It is treated to what is called sur-lie stirring.  This means that, after the wine is done fermenting and transferred off the sediment or main “lees”,  it is put back in the barrel where the “lesser lees” fall out.  Then the barrels are stirred manually about twice a week for 3 months, which enhances the mouthfeel and the rich butteriness of the wine.  The Beaufort Shrimp consists of cooked shrimp, which was then mixed with Miracle Whip Salad Dressing and finely chopped celery and onion.  Added to that is a dash of hot sauce…just enough to give it a little bite.  This dish is served cold and so can be made as early as the day before your event.  The rich, buttery character of the chardonnay married beautifully with the creamy bite from the shrimp.

2004 Merlot with Cocktail Meatballs
Our merlot has a really nice classic cherry character, both in the aroma and taste.  It is medium bodied with lots of fruit and a bit of a smoky background.  We served this with cocktail meatballs that have been a classic recipe for many, many years.  You just make your favorite meatballs (or buy them if you prefer) and heat them in a combination of chili sauce and grape jelly.  As it turned out, the slightly sweet fruitiness in the meatball sauce enhanced the cherry character of the wine and brought it out.  In return, the wine made the meatballs taste much more flavorful and brought out the sauce.

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon with Beef Tenderloin
This cabernet is a full bodied, silky wine, with a nice touch of tannin.  It has been described as round and harmonious with plenty of black cherries, plum and some chocolate flavors to it.  This was paired with the classic…rare beef tenderloin.  Often you hear red wine with beef and white wine with fish.  While that is a very simplistic and not always completely true statement, there is a good reason for serving red wine with beef.  There are varying levels of tannin in red wines, depending on the age of the vines, where they are from, and how they are made.  Tannin is a component in wine, particularly red wine, that gives it its astringency and often helps it to age longer.  It is more of a sensation on the tongue, rather than a flavor.  A perfect example of tannin is the dry feeling you get on your tongue when you drink strong tea.  Tea has lots of tannin.  Anyway, red meat tends to clear the tannins off of the tongue, leaving the palate refreshed and able to taste better.  Therefore, the red wine enhances the flavor of the meat and the meat helps you to experience the wine to its fullest.

2004 Syrah with Lamb Chops
Syrah (also called Shiraz in places like Australia) is generally one of two major styles, often determined by what is known as the terroir (tare-wahr), or growing area.  The Shiraz of Australia tends to be very jammy and fruity and on the heavy side.  The Syrah of the Rhone region tends to be more elegant with a distinct black pepper character.  RagApple Lassie Syrah is more like the Rhone style; while having nice fruit and a hint of smoky finish, the black pepper is easy to pick out.  This wine was paired with rack of lamb chops which were marinated for 30 minutes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a generous amount of garlic.  These were broiled in the oven but could also be done on the grill.  The idea is to grill just long enough that they stay pink inside.  This does not take very long.  The cook recommends that high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil should be used.  The everyday stuff supposedly just does not make the mark.  The pairing was quite nice as the pepper and smoke from the wine married beautifully with the marinade and soft luscious flavors of the lamb.

Rockford Red with Chocolate Ganache Cake
This is one of our more unique wines and our second best seller (next to the Chardonnay).  It is a sweet wine at 4% residual sugar, but does not taste as sweet as one might expect due to the blend involved, which includes cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, chambourcin, merlot and a bit of zinfandel.  This wine is perfect with any kind of chocolate.  Every time a restaurant uses our wines for a wine dinner, they pair this wine with the chocolate dessert.  In this case, we served it with a chocolate ganache layer cake.  What a perfect ending.  Wish you had been here!


  1. Stewart VandenbergApril 14, 2008 at 8:38 AM

    Nice recipes! Have you ever done any cooking/marinating using grape lees?Stewart

  2. Ladyofthegrape responds:

    This is an intriguing question.

    The only use of wine sediment that I have heard of would be the tartrates or crystals that fall out of a wine when it is chilled. This is done at the winery so that this sediment does not precipitate in your bottle of wine in the refrigerator. These crystals are actually cream of tartar, which, as you may know is used in baking. I have a long time friend in Pennsylvania who is a wonderful baker. He is also an awesome amateur winemaker and has used his tartrates in baking recipes that have called for cream of tartar with great success.

    If anyone has had any experience or has knowledge of using the lees or sediment, I would love to hear about them.