Pairing Food with Wine

This week, I had a little more time than I usually do when planning for wine tasting. So, I thought we would have specific food pairings with each wine. Sometimes I can get a little lazy and just serve berries and cheese & crackers. You can get all the food pairings at Manteca Grocery Outlet as well (while supplies last), with the exception of Becky’s Blackberry Pepper Jam…

Here’s a link to a basic food and wine pairing chart, check it out if you’d like to have a little more guidance. I don’t know if I’d trust it completely though – it lists chocolate as one of the hard to pair with wine foods. I have never had any trouble pairing chocolate with wine – it seems to go with just about every red that we’ve tried on the Front Porch!

a nice line up of wine

Marco Fiori Sauv Blanc ~ Lander Jenkins Chard ~ Greg Norman Malbec ~ HCV Merlot


Marco sauv blanc   fresh fruit pairing

2013 Marco Fiori Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley $4.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

4.7 out of 5 on

We let this wine breath for 15 minutes before we tried it and we paired it with a fresh fruit platter. Terry took her first sip of this Sauvignon Blanc while we we’re all still visiting, and interrupted with a, ‘oh, that’s good. I like it a lot.’  Kerri commented that this Napa wine is airy, nice on a summer evening. She said she would pair it with fish or chicken. Larry tasted pear. Scott, who usually stays away from Sauvignon Blanc because it’s too sweet for his taste, said, ‘this, I’ll drink, it’s not too sweet at all. So, to recap: Kerri said it was airy, Larry thought it was pairy and Terri and Scott liked it a lot.



lander jenkins chard   beckys jam and chard

2011 Lander Jenkins Chardonnay California $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

2012 New York int’l wine competition awarded this winery Family Owned Winery of the Year

After searching the internet on details of this wine, I found that they have recently changed their label, which may be why we have it. We paired this California Chardonnay with Becky’s homemade Blackberry Pepper Jam with cream cheese on crackers. Dang, that jam is good. Larry felt it had a little bite to it and Terry thought it was buttery. Becky said it’s pretty good and Scott stated that it was strong, but not bitter.

Wine Enthusiast: Rich in apricot, orange and tropical fruits, with buttered toast, honey and creamy lees flavors, this Chardonnay leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s flashy and forward, yet has enough acid and mineral balance to give it interest.  (8/ 2013)

K&L Notes: Lander-Jenkins’ 2011 California Chardonnay boasts the freshness of the cool 2011 vintage, with aromas of lemon cream and Key lime pie that carry over to the round, but fresh palate. Packs a lot for the price.



greg norman malbec   sliders and malbec

2011 Greg Norman Malbec Argentina $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

This Malbec from Argentina also has had a label change. This bottle, even with the old label, was my favorite of the night. We paired it with Chicken Sliders with provolone cheese and marinara sauce. Kerri tasted the berries and would pair it with red meat. She said it reminded her of a Pinot Noir. Terry thought it was good, very smooth and I agreed. Scott was talking baseball with the guys, but stopped to say, ‘I like it’.

Winemakers notes: Intense purple red and ruby hues paint the backdrop for this Argentinian adventure bursting with ripe fruit flavors, hints of exotic smoke and vanilla and a long, dreamy sunset-like finish.

“Excellent and enjoyable best describe this black-fruit driven Malbec. Hard to find this quality for the retail price.”           —Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program



HCV merlot   salami and merlot

2010 Happy Canyon Vineyards Merlot $6.99

Elsewhere price $22.99

This California Merlot scored 92 points from! We paired it with Salame and Cheese on bread rounds. Kerri commented that is was jammy and she definitely tasted dark cherries. Becky said, ‘I love it! It’s like sunshine in my mouth.’ She would pair it with steak or cheesecake. When she paired it with her Blackberry Pepper Jam then took another sip, she said you get a little ‘pizzaz’. I thought it was just dry enough and after about 30 minutes of breathing, it mellows way out. This would go excellent with a nice dark chocolate.

Tasting notes: Happy Canyon Vineyards offers us an aromatically complex Merlot with their 2010 release from the nation’s newest AVA, Happy Canyon! This release is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. The palate offers cocoa and fresh dark cherry fruit with soft tannins supporting the fruit. Reserved oak and a bright acidic structure keep this Merlot food friendly and down-to-earth.

The Forgotten Adventures of Jake Tarr

Let me tell you a story. Okay, it’s been a few years since we’ve gone camping. Sleeping on the ground isn’t really my thing. I like beds and showers and free breakfast that is already ready already. So, when I was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago – and people stopped their cars as they passed to shop through my stuff – Steve and I sold the air mattress & tent among other things. Later that day, we watched ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ with our son Jake.

 After seeing the movie, Jake decides he needs more adventure in his life, he says we never do anything noteworthy or mentionable. He wants to go to cool places and hike and climb rocks…

What? I reminded him of all the places we’ve been and all the things we’ve done, as specifically as I could. Fishing in Cresent Lake – a beautiful glacier fed lake in northern Washington; camping in Three Rivers; hiking in the Redwood’s; taking a ferry boat ride to Victoria Island in Canada; horseback riding on Catalina Island; he rode a bike on a tight rope at the LA Science museum; whale watching in Long Beach Ca; Sledding in the High Desert after a snow; Touring Alcatraz and the Winchester Mystery House; Rock Climbing in the Joshua Tree National Monument; Off-roading in Sedona, AZ; Snow Boarding and fishing in Big Bear; Snorkeling – touring the USS Missouri – Submarine ride in Hawaii; Snorkeling – parasailing – jet skiing in Cabo; probably more cool stuff that I can’t think of right now… (here’s some pictorial proof, in case Jake actually comes across this someday when he Googles his own name)

Jakes forgotten adventures

Guess what he says. Go ahead, make a guess. He says he doesn’t remember those things! Adventures in four states and three countries – forgotten.

Yeah, so we risked our personal safety and camped last weekend in bear country. I had to get all new gear and buy bear spray! We set up camp, hiked, shot the compound bow, fished (caught nine fish between us), kayaked, cooked over an open flame (including the fish), got sunburned and came home early. All in a 24 hour period of time. Speed camping at it’s finest.

The moral of my story is this: If you’re planning trips while your kid is little, get a babysitter and leave the kid at home. He won’t remember anyway.

Time for some wine 🙂

6 wines

Light Grape Rose’ ~ Lindeman’s Chardonnay ~ Light Grape White Blend ~ Santerra White Table Wine ~ Light Grape Red Blend


light grape rose

The Light Grape 2012 California Rose’ $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

This was a happy-friendly summer wine. Brian said it was nice and fruity. Misty paired it with cherries and Arvin said it was nice and light. Connie thought it would make a nice summer sangria.

Winemaker’s notes: Delightfully fruity with flavors of strawberry, watermelon & cherry. So versatile, it that they can be served with a range of flavors and foods such as BBQ burgers, grilled salmon, lobster, omelet’s, pizza and spicy chicken.


lindemans chard 2

2012 Lindeman’s Early Harvest Chardonnay $2.99

Elsewhere price $6.99

I thought this Chardonnay was very fruity. Larry said it was nice; it’s got some body to it. I noticed he had a second glass. Brian commented that it was sweeter than he expected.

Tasting notes: Crisp and refreshing, Lindeman’s Early Harvest Crisp Chardonnay is at least 25% lighter in alcohol and calories compared to Bin range. Bright straw in colour with youthful green hues, this wine displays an attractive array of tropical fruit flavours with subtle spicy notes. The palate shows ripe melon & stone fruits with a creamy mid palate leading to a fresh finish.


light grape white blend

The Light Grape 2012 California White Blend $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

Terry thought this white blend was smooth. Scott liked it as a nice summer wine. Larry thought it tasted like a couple ice cubes melted in it, but it was enjoyable. Misty liked the pairing with pineapple and I thought it would make a nice sangria. Connie said it was very good and Arvin said he liked it; it had a little bite – well maybe a nibble.

Winemakers notes: Light color of yellow with elegant green tint. Fresh fruit flavors with hints of honeysuckle & citrus. The palate is bright with flavors of citrus with hints of honeysuckle. Finishing with a crisp clean minerality and lemon zest. This refreshing wine is a blend of Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.


santerra white wine

2009 Santerra Sonoma County White Table Wine $3.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Arvin commented that this white blend was dry; he noted that it is ready to drink now and would pair well with chicken. Brian, who doesn’t really like dry wine, said he had to take the last of his fast like a shot of tequila. Scott said it was dry, but not bitter – smooth.

4 out of 5 on pear, vanilla, rose petals…on the nose…full bodied with a slightly sweet, crisp finish…


light grape red blend

The Light Grape 2011 California Red Blend $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

Arvin found this red blend to be dry as well. Terry said it was dry, but good and Misty agreed that she liked it. I expected it to be lighter like the others from this brand; it’s a pretty good table wine. It would pair well with many different dinners.

Winemakers notes: Soft and rich, with flavors of cherry, dark chocolate & blackberries. The palate is plush and plentiful, backed by supple tannins and hints of creamy cocoa and sweet oak on the finish. This enticing blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Merlot, Tannat, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Because of its broad appeal our Red Blend is the perfect go-to table wine. The silky texture and medium body make it versatile, and the juicy fruit and bright acidity complement fish (especially salmon), meat, poultry, and anything grilled.



2010 Patassy Vineyard Pinot Noir $6.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Arvin immediately commented that this wine has finesse’. It’s really good and it has legs! You could just sit around and take in the aroma all night. Larry also thought it had a nice bouquet, another excellent red! (yeah, he’s been converted to the red side). This is a wine you buy by the case.

Check out this link for the story behind this Pinot and why it’s being sold at such a great deal!

Expert tasting notes from

Old-school Russian River Pinot here – lots of blackberry and cherry fruit in the nose, with deeper, earthy undertones. The palate is broad, fruity, and supple, echoing on the palate ripe red and mixed berry flavors, with just a touch of spice to keep things interesting. Medium-bodied, with medium acidity and soft tannins, this is juicy, accessible Pinot with a lot to offer for under $20

This is easily the best value in a CA Pinot that I have ever had. The Patassy father/son team clearly know what they are doing, and I suspect their future vintages, if they can be found, won’t be sub-$20. Kudos to K&L for finding this gem. Extremely flavorful, but not too big. An approachable, fruity and slightly tannic Pinot. Makes me believe that CA can make a really good Burgundy after all…