Amalaya Torrontes Riesling & Dynamite Vineyards Red Blend
“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene
The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.
I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.
Amalaya Torrontes Riesling 2012
Variety: 85% Torrontes, 15% Riesling
Dynamite Vineyards North Coast Red Blend 2013
Variety: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah
I am really damn excited about this week’s Wine Wednesday. For several reasons. First of all, I’ve got a stunning late spring/early summer panzanella for you with a few of my favorite things—pesto, parmesan, peas galore, poached eggs, and lots of bread. Actually panzanella is just a fancy word for bread salad which is pretty fabulous. I can eat this and call it salad?! But I’m also excited because I’m giving you some words of wisdom on how to choose red OR white wine for a dish. Whattttt? Yeah a choose your own adventure type thing.
Need a refresher on poached eggs? I tell you how and why, step by step, here!
A lot of people will only drink red or white wine. It doesn’t matter the variety. Hardcore red or white wine fans will stand by their choice under all circumstances. Working in a winery’s tasting room really hammers that point home. I do not discriminate, but I totally get only desiring one or the other because I used to be a red-only person. And for those who only want one or the other, it can be hard to choose certain meals when the dogma of wine pairing states that you may be a tad tacky if you pick the wrong pairing. But honestly, we can throw all of those rules out the window now.
First up, let’s say you’re craving a white wine. It is warm out now, so you might want something cool and refreshing, right? This Amalaya white blend is predominantly Torrontes, which you may not have heard of, and a small percentage of Riesling. Torrontes is a variety of grape grown in Argentina known for its freshness and moderate acidity. And Riesling originates from Germany with those classic perfumed, juicy, and fruity flavors. Put together, this wine is lovely—not too dry, but definitely not very sweet. The Amalaya white blend has some fabulous citrus and fruit flavors that are really great for cutting through the stronger garlic and parmesan ingredients in this salad. It is slightly aromatic from the Riesling which is brought out more by the various herbs (basil, thyme, mint) in this panzanella. The wine’s subtle sweetness works great with the sweet peas and cooked leeks. But finally, this wine has some richness more like a chardonnay that compliments the poached egg well.
Onto the red—for those who are craving more of a substantial wine experience. This red blend is a slew of everyone’s favorite big red varietals. And because it’s got so many different grape types, the winemaker can more expertly blend the juice to create exactly what he or she wants as the flavor depending on that season’s performance. This wine is exactly what you think of if you’re a lover of Olivia Pope (Scandal). It’s big, bold, rich, and not too oaky so that it is excellent to enjoy on its own or with a meal. The full body flavor works impeccably well with the nutty parmesan and rich poached egg. And this might be me, but I always think that astringent olive oil, amazing bread, and the tannins in red wine always complement each other. The one thing I like about this pairing, however, is that the spices in this wine—almost akin to holiday baking or jammy pies—change after you take a mouthful of this panzanella. This dish has very different herbs like basil and mint that make the wine taste just a tad fresher than it does on its own.
So there you have it! Two wines that are fabulous on their own and made even more delectable with this panzanella. So I think a trip to the farmer’s market is in order followed by a trip to the wine shop. Perfection!
Pea and Asparagus Panzanella with Poached Eggs
Adapted from Food52
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 baguette or loaf of ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 ½ – 4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch asparagus, woody parts snapped off and chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
3 cups peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 splash balsamic vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup smallish cubes of parmesan
Eggs, 1 per person for poaching
For the pesto:
1 ¾ cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
Salt, to taste
- Start by toasting the bread cubes. In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bread and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir so that all of the cubes are coated in oil (as best you can). Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread cubes are golden brown. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Wipe out the pan.
- While you are toasting the bread, make the pesto. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the herbs, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and half of the olive oil. Process until a green paste forms. With the motor running, add the remaining olive oil until the paste is smoother, thinner, and more of a pale green. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse until incorporated. Taste and add salt if necessary. I added about ½ teaspoon of extra salt, but as always, be cautious. Set aside.
- We only want the white and light green parts of the leek, so cut the darker green part of the leek off (probably about ⅓ of the leek). Clean the leek by cutting it in half, from just above the root to the tip, all the way through. Run under cool water making sure to run water in between the layers of the leek getting rid of any sand or dirt. Pat dry. Chop the leek into small half-moons.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the large pan from step one over medium-low heat. Add the chopped leek and a pinch of salt when the oil is warmed. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leek becomes slightly creamy, about 5-7 minutes—do not heat too quickly or the leek will brown.
- Once the leek is cooked, add the asparagus pieces and sauté, stirring frequently, until bright green, 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and stir until bright green as well, 2-3 more minutes. Taste the peas and asparagus to test that they are cooked, but still sufficiently crispy.
- Dump the veggies into the bowl with your toasty bread cubes. Add about 75% of the pesto, mix it all up, and add the rest of it after you make sure that everything isn’t drowning. Add the balsamic, lemon juice, a few cracks of black pepper, and parmesan. Mix well so that everything is combined together. Taste and adjust with more pepper, salt, lemon juice, or balsamic if you want more acid or saltiness, etc. Set aside.
- Poach the eggs, 1 at a time. Scoop the panzanella into bowls and place a poached egg in each. Serve and enjoy!