Do you grill frequently in the fall? Studies show outdoor grilling and smoking is actually higher in the fall then summer. At first look this seems surprising, yet I enjoy cooking outside in the fall because I can then stay outside to enjoy the meal. We watch a lot of college football on Saturday nights in the fall. What goes better with college football than a delicious grilled steak and a great bottle of wine? Check out what I recently cooked up as #MerlotMe month continues.
The Wine: As #MerlotMe month continues I recently received a fun surprise: this Merlot from Rombauer Vineyards. Many know Rombauer for their big, buttery Chardonnay, after all it is their signature wine. However, Rombauer has a wide portfolio of wines including Zinfandels, Sauvignon Blanc, and a selection of Bordeaux blends. I was excited to receive this Merlot, opening it much earlier than I typically do with samples, but I knew just what I was going to do with it.
2013 Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Merlot Napa Valley USA ($35): This wine was crafted of 88% Merlot with 12% Cabernet Sauvignon; it offered fresh aromas of red fruit, with violets, balsamic, soft spice notes, savory herbal notes and a touch of cedar; on the palate this was a juicy, medium body wine with definitive green stem notes in mid-palate, ending with a lingering hint of vanilla, rich with layers of flavors, well-structured and balanced with integrated tannins and acidity with a long, juicy finish. Click here to order direct or click here to locate near you.
The Food Pairing: It was a Saturday night, but not just any Saturday night, it was college football Saturday night. And not just any college football Saturday night, it was Wisconsin vs. Ohio State University college football Saturday night. If you don’t recall, my husband is a Wisconsin alum, and my daughter spent her freshman year of college at Ohio State (and since transferred to THE University of Texas ~ yay!). One more key note, my husband cannot stand OSU. So what does this have to do with food? It was a nice fall evening, we were watching the game outside on our patio, and I had decided if I grilled him a good steak and served him good wine no matter the outcome he would be happy.
My Choice: Merlot is a crazy versatile grape. It blends well with other grapes and it pairs easily with a wide variety of foods. In fact, Merlot can typically pair with the lightest of chicken recipes, to vegetarian recipes, to full-throttle steak recipes. I chose to go quasi full-throttle with a flat iron steak coated in the awesome Hardcore Carnivore seasoning. My husband loves chimichurri, so I made a quick chimichurri to top the steak, and served with Garlic Parmesan Broccoli and Potatoes in Foil. I put the steak and the broccoli/potatoes in foil on the grill for an easy clean up.
The Results: As you know when I write these food and wine pairing articles I chose the food pairing based on what I know about the wine, NOT what I have tasted in the wine. The average wine consumer buys a wine at the supermarket, brings it home, opens it, and enjoys it with dinner. Therefore, in my food and wine pairing series I select a wine sample, chose a meal to pair with it, then cook and open about the same time. No room for substitutions or mulligans. I am making an educated guess, but I never really know what will pair best with the wine until it is too late to make a change. All that said, this pairing was delicious. The steak turned out perfectly cooked, and the Hardcore Carnivore rub adds such depth of flavor while locking in the juices…I love this stuff! The chimichurri added a slight kick and lots of zest. Even the broccoli was delicious, and I loved the potatoes. A great meal for a Saturday night on the patio watching a big college football game!
More about Rombauer Vineyards from their web site:
Having grown up in Escondido, California Koerner and Joan Rombauer were exposed at early ages to the world of wine. Furthermore, Koerner was raised with an appreciation of food and the power of pairing the right foods and wines. (His aunt, Irma Rombauer authored the international best-selling cook book The Joy of Cooking) After becoming a pilot, Koerner moved his family to Dallas and flew all over the world learning more about the world’s great wine regions and wine. However, he and Joan missed their laid back small town feel of California so they moved their family to Napa Valley. Over time Koerner and Joan’s wine appreciation transformed into passion and Rombauer Vineyards began in 1980. Today, thirty five years later, the winery remains owned and operated by first and second generation members of the Rombauer family.
The Rombauer family is passionate about producing the best wine possible. And, they are passionate about great food and wine pairings. However, their passion does not end there. They are also passionate about being stewards of both the land and the community to share in the responsibility to protect the land and environment for future generations. As part of this holistic endeavor 70% of the energy they use is solar power, their green waste is composted and used in the vineyards as fertilizer, they are industry leading in water use efficiency, and they provide nesting boxes in their vineyards for barn owls that prey on vineyard pests. Finally, 7 of Rombauer’s vineyards are Certified Napa Green/Fish Friendly Farming to assist in the ongoing effort to protect endangered Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout.
My Song Selection: Rombauer’s Merlot is a real crowd pleasing wine, with something for every palate to love. It is beautifully crafted, modern yet balanced. This may seem like a strange song pairing; however, is my thinking is everyone loves Bruno Mars, he is multi-talented and wildly entertaining. Who does want to enjoy Bruno Mars? And who would not want to enjoy Rombauer’s Merlot?!
*Disclaimer: This wine was shared with me as a sample under no obligation to review; all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What is your favorite Merlot and food pairing?
Get your own bottle of Rombauer Vineyards 2013 Carneros Merlot and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!