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Cacio e Pepe with a Twist by Meredith Griffin

Cacio e Pepe with a Twist by Meredith Griffin

My husband loves Cacio e Pepe, I guess because it’s basically grown-up mac n’ cheese, and it makes me happy because it’s another meatless dish option for us. After playing around with the traditional recipe, I stumbled upon this winning version! A little hint of citrus along with the Pecorino Pepato makes it seem more gourmet, but requires very little extra help. When I tasted the Viszlay Chardonnay, I immediately thought it would be delicious with this version of Cacio e Pepe. I serve either a simple green salad or roasted veggies on the side to complete the meal.

Ingredients for 2

  • 8 ounces Bucatini pasta
  • 3 tbsp butter (Miyoko’s vegan butter works too)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • Zest and juice from one Meyer lemon*
  • ½ cup Pecorino Pepato, grated (Pecorino cheese with black pepper, which may require a trip to your local cheese shop to find; plain Pecorino will work if you can’t find the Pepato version)
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated


  • Begin by cooking the pasts according to the instructions on the package.
  • When pasta is almost done cooking to al dente, add 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and 1 tbsp butter.
  • Once butter has melted, add the pepper and lemon zest to the pan to cook for about one minute.
  • Add about ½ cup of the pasta water to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Add pasta and remaining butter and toss together.
  • Once butter has melted, reduce heat, and add cheese. Toss and add desired amount of lemon juice.
  • If pasta becomes thick add additional pasta water to help thin it out.
  • Divide between two pasta bowls or plates and enjoy with a glass of the Viszlay Chardonnay!

 *If your Meyer lemon gives you an abundance of juice, you may want to start with about half of it. You can always add more if you desire more citrus flavor.

Why this Wine?

The hint of citrus in the Cacio e Pepe adds an additional flavor profile to the dish, which helps bring freshness to the creamy texture. Similarly, the Viszlay Chardonnay has a creamy texture like many Chardonnays, but it also has bright acidity. There is a delicious harmony when the flavors of the wine and pasta come together.

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash by Meredith Griffin

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash by Meredith Griffin

This recipe has evolved into what it is today over several years of tinkering with it.

The first time I made this, it was, well let’s say very bland that even my mom and dad were unenthused, and they tend to enjoy most things I make. It’s perfect for a crisp autumn evening because it’s hearty enough to satisfy, but still nutritious! On a chilly night, I’m pairing it with the Three Places Pinot Noir, but if you’re not ready for a red I think it will also pair nicely with the Stormy Edges Chenin Blanc-Viognier White Blend.

Ingredients for two people

  • 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Olive oil
  • Assorted dried or fresh herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano (if using fresh, you’ll want about 1tbsp of mixed herbs diced and if using dry about 2 tsp of mixed herbs)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
  2. Spray flesh side of acorn squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook squash flesh side down for about 30mins or until fork tender (*see notes)
  4. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and let cool until able to handle.
  5. While squash cools, heat a sauté pan over med-high heat, add about 1 tsp oil and then add the onions. Cook until onions have softened (**see notes).
  6. Then add mixed herbs and ground turkey. Using a wooden utensil, break up the turkey as it cooks and cook thoroughly until meat is browned (about 10-15 mins).
  7. While turkey is cooking, use a spoon to remove some of the flesh from inside the acorn squash and place in a bowl. Be sure to leave some flesh so the squash doesn’t flatten.
  8. Break up the squash with a fork and then add cooked turkey mixture to squash and combine thoroughly. Add about half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, toasted chopped pecans and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Divide the mixture back into each half of the squash shells and top with the remaining grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  10. Return to oven for about 5-7minutes while you uncork the wine and pour into glasses.
*The acorn squash can also be cooked in the microwave. Cook flesh skin down in a microwave-safe dish with about a tbsp of water in the dish for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.
**If while cooking the onions, more liquid is needed added 1tbsp of unsalted chicken broth or water as needed.

Why these wines

Acorn squash is not as sweet as some of the other winter squash varieties and absorbs any added flavorings and seasonings very well. Turkey can lack depth of the flavor and needs the boost provided from the sauteed onions, herbs and cheese. So while this dish is flavorful, it is not bold or overpowering. Thus, the wine to mirror it needs to be lighter and delicate, like Pinot Noir.

Simple Fall Veggie Bowl by Meredith Griffin

Simple Fall Veggie Bowl by Meredith Griffin

Brussels, sweet potatoes, winter squash…combine all these to create a nutrient packed fall dish!

As the weather cools, I tend to only feel satisfied with heartier dishes, but I still want it to be nutritional and feel good after eating it. Roasting these veggies will bring out their sweetness and make them more satisfying to bite into.

I usually eat the veggies over some kind of cooked grain and call it a meal, and in that case, this recipe would serve two. However, it can be served with a protein, like salmon or chicken on the side and then it would serve four. Uncork either the Colour Reigns Red Blend or Pivot Merlot and enjoy!


  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 lb or so of Brussels Sprouts, stemmed, and halved or quartered depending on their size (try to make them close in size to the cubes of sweet potato and squash)
  • 1 onion halved, and sliced into half circles
  • 1-2tbsp of a combination of fresh herbs (I use thyme, rosemary and sage)
  • Marcona Almonds or regular almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated or sliced into thin slivers using a vegetable peeler
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1-2 cups of brown rice, Farro or Barley, optional
  • 1/2 cup if chickpeas, optional

How to Prepare

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° and line a couple baking sheets with non-stick foil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine squash and sweet potatoes together on one pan and add herbs, about 1 tbsp olive, salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes and then toss.
  3. While those begin cooking, on the second sheet pan add Brussels Sprouts to one side of the pan and sliced onions to the other half. Toss each with olive oil and salt.
  4. After the squash and potatoes have cooked for about 10-15 minutes, add Brussels and onions to oven and continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Once veggies are cooked to tender and just starting to brown, remove from the oven.
  6. Toss all the veggies together in a bowl with cooked grain and add almonds and cheese. You may want to add a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper over the top.
  7. Enjoy!

Why these wines

Brussles Sprouts can be hard to pair with wine, but roasting them helps reduce their bitterness and draw out their sweetness. By adding different veggies, cheese and nuts, it creates more complex flavor and texture which opens the door for wines like Merlot, Grenache and Bordeaux style red blends. The other roasted veggies add earthiness, the Parmigiano Reggiano adds umami and saltiness allowing the dish to hold up to medium body red wines like these. If you added some mushrooms, it might be even pair well with a Cab Sauv. Cheers!