Archive for the 'Wine' Category


Lamb Burger Wednesday!!!

My good friend in Sacramento just sent me the following suggestions for Lamb Burgers!!! I had to post it verbatim because it sounds fantastic! Add a Greek salad, or my favorite grilled vegetables, and you have a feast. I LOVE LAMB and this is calling to me… How about you?

Complements of Brian in Sacramento:

“Not so much of a question, but over the past couple of years we’ve “discovered” ground lamb as a great substitute for ground beef.  We use it pretty much in any recipe where we would normally use ground beef (ie, spaghetti, meatloaf, etc.).  Our favorite usage of it, though, is “lamb-burgers”.  We will mix the ground lamb with crumbled feta cheese, ground cinnamon, and whatever other herbs and spices we have laying around–usually coriander, parsley, maybe fresh mint, crushed rosemary, salt, etc.  We form this into hamburger-sized patties and grill them just like hamburgers.  Serve this in a hamburger bun with a little bit of greek yogurt mixed with dill or just eat the burger by itself.”

Wine Pairing – Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet


Pinot and Pork = Perfection!!!

I sent out a coming-soon teaser on this a few days ago. It’s truly one of my favorite meals to cook, both for family meals and casual entertaining. I’ve even used it for culinary seminars because it includes so many culinary techniques – pan searing, roasting, cooking temps for perfect meat, harmonizing flavors, etc. Hope you enjoy it as much as I  do! The picture is my dinner from last night! And don’t stop reading til you get to the end of the post for the wine-pairing! I promise, it will entertain you ;-)

Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Creminis, Sweet Onions and Dried Cherries


  • 2 (approximately)2lb Pork center-cut tenderloins – they usually come two to a package.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Small package cremini mushrooms – thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup dried Cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh minced thyme


Preheat oven to 375. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large oven proof sauté pan over medium heat. Season tenderloin with salt & pepper. Sear tenderloin in sauté pan until golden brown on each side; remove from heat.  Add remaining olive oil, sauté garlic, mushrooms and yellow onion until beginning to soften, add dried cherries, and half the wine (this will also deglaze the pan adding additional flavor). Cook until the wine is reduced, add the cherries, minced thyme and the remaining wine. Remove from heat, add the seared tenderloin back into the pan and place pan in oven to finish roasting.  Roast in oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 135f, remove from oven and to rest pork for about 10 minutes – this should allow the pork to reach a finished temp of 140f – PERFECTION!!!


Plate this wonderful tenderloin with mashed potatoes, or broad-cut pasta. Finish with some roasted red peppers for added plate texture and spoon pan jus over finished plate – OH, and don’t forget to complete your masterpiece with a sprig of fresh thyme!!!

Warning: Provocative picture ahead! But it’s also educational – “Pigeage”: The french term for punching down grapes during fermentation. This is how the color and flavors in the skins are continually reincorporated into the juice. At the wine production company I manage, all our wine is hand made and goes through “Pigeage” three times a day until the wine is put through the press after fermentation is complete! I picked this pic because the grapes are Pinot Noir.

Wine Pairing:

Pinot Noir, PERIOD!!!

Here’s why, a good Pinot Noir has a classic earthy nose sometimes reminiscent of mushrooms, or wet straw, with a fruity bouquet of bright cherries, raspberries, and a soft finish of tobacco. Truly one of the great wines of the world, and this dish SINGS with it for obvious reasons!!! Obvious you ask? Pork tenderloin is a low-fat cut of meat, and Pinots usually don’t have overly pronounced tannins, therefore they don’t need a lot of mouth-coating fat like a big Cabernet might. The mushrooms, and thyme harmonize with the earthiness of the wine, and the cherries… well, do I really need to point that one out? Bottom line is “THIS DISH IS A PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH WHEN PAIRED WITH A GOOD PINOT!!!” Sorry for my exuberance, just can’t help myself!

Please try this one! Let me know how it goes, and as always, recipe improvements are appreciated!


Mailbag Friday

Question: In wine tasting and judging, what is the difference between aroma and bouquet? Brian, Sacramento

Answer: To many there is no major difference, but for some (me included) the aroma is the broader term for how the wine smells, the bouquet is its fruity aromatic notes. In other words “That Syrah has a wonderful aroma of smoke, licorice, and bacon fat and lovely fruity aromatics that include a beautiful bouquet of violets, blackberries and rich dried plums.”

COMING SOON: Pan seared pork tenderloin with braised onions, mushrooms and dried cherries – paired with Pinot Noir


Red, brown, or wild, it’s all good!!!

I frequently look in my fridge and observe what’s left-over, and ponder what to do with it! So the other day, I did pan seared salmon, my stand-by roasted veggies and steamed red rice. This rice is a chewy, nutty rice, and it was wonderful as a neutral balance for the meal. So next evening when I’m standing at the fridge pondering what to do, viola! Red rice = Rice Cakes! I had everything I needed to make a basic cake, and so I expanded my creativity as I forged ahead. The following recipe is my fast-born creation. As always, I’m a loosey-goosey cook, so feel free to adjust this recipe as needed to perfect it for you – one warning though: Be careful with the flour for the final binding, use it sparingly and just enough to hold them together for the pan searing. Too much flour and you’ll have gummy cakes… YUCK! Other than that, have fun and PLEASE do try them and let me know how they turned out and what you did to make them yours!!!

Red Rice Cakes


  • 2 cups cooked red, wild, or brown rice
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup minced dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup minced green onions
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg – slightly beaten
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Clarified butter


Combine first 5 ingredients together in mixing bowl, when done stir in slightly beaten egg, season with salt and pepper, and add only enough flour to gently bind the mixture (mixture will still be sticky, don’t add too much flour or cakes may be gummy when done).

Put panko in a shallow bowl and reserve for coating cakes.

Shape mixture into small patties, and gently coat each patty with panko. When done shaping and coating rice cakes, heat clarified butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, place cakes in pan and cook on each side until golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve for plating.


These cakes are wonderful as stand-alone appetizers, or as a first course on a bed of greens tossed in a light vinaigrette. They are also excellent topped with fruit chutneys, mango salsa, lemon aioli, etc. Trust your taste buds and have fun!

Wine Pairing:

These cakes are earthy,  savory, and a little sweet. A dry Riesling would be my first choice. It creates a nice counter-balance to the cakes, plus if you plate them with a vinaigrette the wine won’t be trounced by the acidity in the salad. Another choice would be a medium bodied Chardonnay or Viognier. Stay away from overly bright acidic whites like Pinot Grigio, or NZ Sauvignon Blanc. They are too bracing and bodacious if you’ve added the dried fruit. If you’ve omitted the dried fruit and kept them very savory, then these wines would work, but they’d HATE any sort of vinaigrette, so go the aioli route with them! MOST importantly, trust your palate… after all, you’re the one eating them!!!


Liquid nirvana with a touch of white pepper… oh and some prawns too

I’m a huge advocate for different and interesting wines. I love it when people bust out of the ordinary for the extraordinary! One of my favorite white wines is Albariño. Albariño is Spain’s most popular white wine, and is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most loved white wines, and qualifies in my wine lexicon as extraordinary! It is a bright crisp, aromatic style wine with peaches and apricots being the typical fruit characteristics. It also has a touch of white pepper, usually found in the mid-palate. This delicious wine is considered to be just about the most perfect pairing for shellfish! So I’m suggesting you go to your local wine store, buy a bottle or two, stop at your local market, pick up some nice prawns, head home to make the extremely simple cocktail sauce I’ve included and have your self a little Albariño and shrimp cocktail celebration this weekend!!!

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons pure prepared horseradish (you can use the creamed that’s all that available)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh tarragon – minced (this adds a wow factor to the sauce)
  • Lemon Juice to taste


Blend the horseradish, fresh tarragon and lemon juice into the ketchup and adjust ingredients based on your preference. I suggest you make this and let it chill for about an hour before serving to allow the flavors to open up and harmonize.


Does everybody know your name?

I have a special request!

A large part of my job includes overseeing a fantastic wine bar that features boutique wines that the company I manage produces. So in the spirit of trying to make this wine bar a great experience I’d love to have your input on some of the following items – or any other suggestions you’d care to share!

  1. Does a boutique wine bar appeal to you?
  2. What kind of atmosphere is the most comfortable – energetic/bustling, quiet/mellow, etc?
  3. What kind of events would draw you in – meet the winemaker, food pairings, blind/systematic tastings, wine education seminars, etc?
  4. Are you familiar with the wine-club concept?
  5. How important is live music?
  6. If it were convenient, how often would you visit a wine bar?

I’d love to get your answers on some of these. Also, if you have time and can check out our website and facebook I’d love to get your feedback on those as well. :-)

And now, my blogging is done, and I’m waiting with bated breath!


If the Greeks could do it, why can’t we?

I don’t (as a rule) plan to get political in this blog, but if using wine can help our country regain some civility, and achieve progress, I’m all for it!

It’s been said that the ancient Greeks realized that debate under the influence of alcohol was more open, honest, and truthful. They had elaborate rituals called Drinking Parties-Symposiums. After all, it was much easier to speak one’s mind while somewhat inebriated (they never allowed full-on drunkenness though), and valuable information was much easier to gather – I’m sure we can all attest to our somewhat uncensored actions from time-to-time while under the influence.

“The symposium basically had a serious purpose. The purpose was serious conversation. In the midst of all the drinking philosophical questions were examined: What was the purpose of life? What is justice and truth? Can we live under unconditional loyalty? Are the gods to be trusted? Are women really inferior? Is drinking the answer? Many of Plato’s dialogues including the symposium were first conceived in a drinking party when questions asked and the tongue freed by wine would speak.”  – Christopher Xenopoulos Janus

I say, let’s gather all our elected officials together. Let’s put them in party togas, give them comfy reclining couches, let the wine pour freely, and pose all the critical questions swirling around us today: Why it so hard to pass healthcare? Should corporate America really be the ones calling all the shots? Is there really a problem with allowing civil rights to every American citizen regardless of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation? Is it better to invest in improved incarceration for our criminals, or improved schools for our children? The list goes on and on…

The current system doesn’t seem to be working to well, maybe this is worth a try, if nothing else, it sure would be interesting to hear what they have to say with their filters turned off! Even better, it should be broadcast uninterrupted like the State of the Union address is. This would beat any carefully moderated political debate in helping me make my voting decisions! What do you think?

Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


May 2018
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