Especially during this time of year, I love having people over for dinner and serving up some seriously delicious food and drink. Food and wine pairings take this kind of entertaining to a whole new level which is why I am so pleased to share this full meal menu featuring pairings of this lovely Malbec with an appetizer, main course and dessert.
This meal can be put together in an hour or less – including the appetizer and dessert – which leaves you plenty of time to enjoy not only your company but the food and drink as well. Once you sit down to dinner, you can shed your apron and put your feet up because your work will be done!
Antigal Winery’s UNO Malbec is a delightfully versatile wine that compliments so many foods. My last post included ratings and other accolades that this wine has received and they are impressive. The best test for me, though, is whether I really enjoy drinking it. A 92 point bottle that I really don’t like is just a bottle I don’t like. But I like the UNO Malbec a whole lot and I believe it lives up to the ratings it has rightfully earned. So I’ve put together a menu that pairs with this wine from appetizer and all the way through dessert so you can savor its deliciousness throughout your whole meal.
Malbec customarily pairs with a variety of foods. According to WineFolly.com, wines made from grapes grown in the Uco region of Mendoza, Argentina (including the grapes that go into Antigal’s UNO Malbec) “offer dense, layered black fruit (black plum, raspberry, blackberry, and olive) with savory notes of red pepper flakes and a dusty, cocoa powder-like finish.” Now that’s a lot to work with. It was hard to choose where to go with this meal but I did pare it down. So, accordingly, our menu for the evening is as follows:
Appetizer – Herbed crackers with goat cheese, fresh ground pepper and dried cranberries. I used Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps with rosemary, raisins and pecans. The rosemary was the driving force behind this cracker selection, with the pepper and berry toppings on the cheese complimenting those same flavors in the wine.
Entree – Spinach, Herbs and Hot Italian Sausage over Pasta served with fresh baked rustic bread, olive oil and dried herbs for dipping. I used a “bake at home” bread from the bakery at my local Fresh Market along with an unfiltered cold pressed olive oil and Toscana’s Tuscan Herb Salt.
Some key points for these pairings are:
- Keep It Lean: Draining the grease from the sausage, and wiping the remaining grease out the pan, helps maintain some balance between the wine’s tannins and the richness of the entree. Too much fat in the food can overpower the wine and that is not what we want here.
- A Little Cheese Please: Malbec goes very nicely with hard, aged cheeses. Too much cheese violates the “Keep It Lean” rule above but a light sprinkle over the top adds a little pop to the dish and compliments the wine.
- Fresh is Best: Malbec traditionally has a flavor palette that compliments spinach, rosemary and a variety of peppers. The pasta recipe I’ve created below doesn’t have many ingredients but the ones it does have should be as fresh as possible. The garlic and herbs used in this recipe have their own glorious fragrances and complex flavors, and the fresh tomatoes provide just enough “sauce” to get the herbs and spinach to coat the pasta. Besides being able to taste the herbs themselves, they also enhance the flavor profile of this wine.
- Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot: Not all wines can withstand a spicy dish but Malbec has it covered. Now, the recipe below I would say is mildly spicy which is well within the comfort zone for Antigal’s UNO Malbec. If you like it hotter, just add crushed red pepper.
Dessert – Dark chocolate brownies. I don’t normally recommend desserts from a box but there is no point in making brownies from scratch when you can mix up any of Ghirardelli’s decadent brownies in under 5 minutes. The Triple Chocolate and Dark Chocolate mixes have a very rich chocolate flavor and a perfect chewy texture that nobody would ever guess came from a box. The chocolate flavors will draw out the hints of chocolate in the UNO Malbec … if you have any left by the time you get to dessert.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how you are going to bring all of this together in an hour. Well, wonder no longer! The recipe for the entree is below but here is everything else you’ll need to pull this dinner party off:
- Herbed crackers like Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps
- 4 oz. log of plain goat cheese
- Mixed peppercorn grinder
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- Loaf of crusty “bake at home” bread from bakery or freezer section of the supermarket
- High quality olive oil
- Coarsely ground herbs for bread dipping like Toscana’s Tuscan Herb Salt
- Ghirardelli brownie mix along with oil, water and egg necessary for recipe.
The directions are:
- Open that bottle of UNO Malbec!
- Preheat your oven for your brownies and take out the goat cheese (remove from wrapper and let warm up).
- Sprinkle 1/2 tsp (or more) herb salt on a plate and add 1/4 cup (or more) olive oil; let set until ready to serve with dinner.
- Mix up brownies and bake per package directions; allow to cool.
- Review your bread’s baking instructions and put it in the oven in time for it to rest (if necessary) after it comes out of the oven.
- Start pasta per directions below.
- While sausage is browning, spread the softened goat cheese on a few of the crackers. Add a couple dried cranberries to each, and sprinkle with a dusting of freshly ground peppercorns. Put the remaining cheese on a small plate or other serving dish, sprinkle with freshly ground peppercorns , and surround it with crackers and dried cranberries. Your appetizer is now ready to serve.
- Finish up the pasta per the directions below.
- Slice your bread and enjoy!
Link to WineFolly article referenced above: http://winefolly.com/review/mastering-mendoza-malbec/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter