Wine for Summer’s Bounty is the theme of this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend where we, along with other food and wine bloggers, put a meal together around the theme, select a wine to pair with the meal then write about it. It’s great fun to plan the meal and wine pairing and then to read about the pairings other bloggers planned.
In preparation for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend theme, I took a quick tour through our local Farmers’ Market just to see what jumped out at me. There is so much to choose from at the Farmers’ Market this time of year that it can be a bit difficult for me to focus. Everything looks good and I want to bring all of it home with me. Same goes for the choices from our wine cellar. Decisions, decisions.
I made one quick pass through the market without making any purchases, just looking, smelling and deciding. Then I decided on melons. Yep, that’s right, melons. Specifically, watermelon. I couldn’t resist one display of bright red, cut melons that looked and smelled like summer. So with that decision made and with the purchase of a round, heavy, seedless watermelon I began the planning process.
Salad, I decided, would be how I put the melon to use. Before leaving for the Farmers’ Market, I had taken a walk through our herb garden, just to see what I had to work with. Basil, mint, rosemary, marjoram, sage and oregano were all possibilities. Again, too many choices — but with the watermelon tucked under my arm, I decided mint.
Green beans were plentiful in the Farmers’ Market as well. That sounded good to me, so I also came away with tiny green beans, some fresh garlic and cherry tomatoes. I love tomatoes and green beans together and they’re even better with a bit of butter and garlic. That was decided.
Now, what to serve as the main course? Mint always makes me think of lamb. Mint jelly was so often served with leg of lamb when I was growing up, I suppose that is the reason for the association. Leg of lamb is much too large a piece of meat for the two of us, so I thought about ground lamb. I headed to our local market hoping they would still have some in the counter. I was in luck. Oh happy day.
We decided to make this wine and food pairing a real challenge by choosing a red wine to pair with the meal. Most often when the weather is hot, the mercury has been at or near 100-degrees lately, we drink white or rosé wines. It’s simply more refreshing to sip a chilled, lighter bodied, low alcohol wine in the heat. But surely we must have a lighter red wine in our cellar.
This was Pete’s part of the assignment. He did some searching and decided on a bottle of Garnacha we received from our Les Marchands Wine Bar and Merchant wine club. Les Marchands has become our favorite destination when in Santa Barbara for its extensive by the glass wine list and delicious food (which comes from the kitchen of The Lark.) As a result, we joined their Daily Drinkers wine club.
The wines we have enjoyed from Les Marchand are made in an old world in style, that is with less ripe fruit with judicious use of oak aging, just what we would enjoy drinking on a warm summer evening.
Balsamic Watermelon Salad with Mint: this recipe is inspired by a recipe for Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad from Pinch of Yum. I added the mint and used red leaf lettuce as the greens, left out the chicken and since I had aged balsamic vinegar did not make the balsamic vinegar reduction as called for in the recipe.
I added heirloom tomatoes to the mix as well, because they just looked so juicy and delicious in the Farmers’ Market. (Yes, I know, I don’t follow instructions very well.)
Steamed Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic: I quickly steamed the green beans, leaving them a bit firm. In the mean time I lightly sautéed chopped garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper in a combination of butter and olive oil. Just add the cherry tomatoes long enough to heat them through, season with salt and pepper then serve the mixture over the steamed green beans.
Grilled Lamb Burgers: generally I like to keep it simple, just seasoning with salt and pepper and a bit of marjoram. But in keeping with the theme of bounty, and at Pete’s suggestion, I added a bit of crumbled blue cheese to several of the burgers. I surrounded the blue cheese with the meat like a meatball, then flattened the meatball to a burger and added salt and pepper.
Oh, yum! Although the flavorful lamb did not need the creamy, salty deliciousness the blue cheese added, it was a delicious addition. The cheese became soft and warm with grilling. It really was too good for words.
2011 Maldivinas Garnacha ‘La Movida Granito’ Castilla y Leon — ruby-violet color in the glass with aromas of strawberries and blueberries. Spicy, savory flavors combine with blackberry and ripe plum flavors, smooth tannins and a medium body. The finish is medium in length with nice acidity. Obvious flavors from wood aging are not present. Overall a flavorful wine, but not heavy on the palate, perfect for a summer meal. ABV 14.5%.
This wine is produced in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain, not far from Madrid. The 60 year old Garnacha vines are farmed organically, no pesticides or herbicides are used in the vineyard. The vineyards are planted on granite and slate soils.
Following a cold soak for three days, fermentation proceeded with only natural yeast. The wine was not fined or filtered. Notes from the importer indicate oak aging, but not the type of oak or length of aging.
The savory flavors of the wine paired perfectly with the flavors of the grilled lamb. The salty deliciousness of the blue cheese in both the lamb burgers and the watermelon salad accentuated the savoriness of the wine. The buttery richness of the green beans contrasted nicely with the clean finish of the wine. And most importantly, this Garnacha was not too ripe, too heavy bodied or too alcoholic for a summer meal.
The Take Aways
Overall, a great pairing. Both the food and wine were juicy and savory. Blue cheese makes almost anything better, the salty, creamy goodness contributes so much flavor. It certainly was not necessary in the lamb burgers, but it was delicious. The key to using blue cheese is to add just enough to accent flavors, but not overwhelm the dish. We found this true for both the watermelon salad and the lamb burgers. A little bit goes a long way.
It always surprises me when I hear someone say they don’t like lamb. If this describes you or someone for whom you cook, consider grilling ground lamb. Season liberally with salt and pepper and marjoram and grill the burgers. If you add a bit of blue cheese as we did with this preparation, I’m confident you will enjoy them.
Fresh mint added a pop of flavor to the watermelon salad. I must remember to use it more often. Mint too is best added just as an accent flavor, so that its flavors are in the background lending complexity and freshness but not dominating the flavors of a dish.
More and more we are appreciating wines made with minimal intervention in the cellar. Natural yeast fermentation and neutral oak aging allow the flavors of the grape and the region to shine through. We appreciate that in a red wine, especially during the summer months, because these wines often have a lighter body and fresher flavors.
So to answer the question as to whether Garnacha would do the trick, we have to say that yes this one absolutely did. Enjoy, and we hope you are inspired to make you own delicious food and wine pairing.
Thanks to David for another great theme for Wine Pairing Weekend #3.
Be sure to check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the August Wine Pairing Weekend!
Pull That Cork shared “Wine for Summer’s Bounty. Will Garnacha Do the Trick?“
Meal Diva paired “Summer Vegetable Red Sauce with Amarone“
Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted “Pan-Seared Padròns with DeRose Vineyards’ Négrette“
Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog shared “Tomato, toe-mah-toe: Summer’s bounty with Sicilian wine Donnafugata“
Grape Experiences paired “Cecchi Chianti Classico 2010 and Vegetable Lasagna“
Curious Cuisiniere shared “Chipotle Garden Salsa with Wild Hare Petite Sirah“
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog posted “Grilled Paiche with a White Greek Blend“
Take a Bite Out of Boca shared “Quinoa-Crusted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks paired with Monrosso Chianti“
foodwineclick shared “Summers’ Bounty or Attack of the Killer Turnips?“
Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “Lobster Paella and Albarino“
Tasting Pour shared “Summertime and the Cooking is Easy“
Cooking Chat paired “Linguine with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and a Sauvignon Blanc”
Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Wine for Summer’s Bounty” on Saturday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the September Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Regional Food and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, September 13.