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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.

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!


Lighter Corn Chowder Paired with Chardonnay

Lighter Corn Chowder Paired with Chardonnay

As the summer season ends and the fall begins, soup starts making its way back into the weekly dinner rotation. I first made this recipe several years ago when I began the tradition of preparing a three-course dinner, each paired with a different wine for our anniversary celebration. I served it at room temperature, which I really enjoyed, but my husband prefers it served hot so you can choose.

This soup is delicious with either the Wine Snob* or Unwined Chardonnay or with a White Burgundy.

Ingredients for 2 people

4-5 Ears of fresh corn (or a 16oz bag of frozen corn)

1 Shallot, diced

1 tsp fresh thyme

3 cups vegetable broth (or low sodium chicken broth)

½ avocado, diced

Handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Splash of lime juice

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Optional, 2 ounces cooked crab

How to prepare:

  1. Carefully remove the kernels from the cob into a bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once warm add shallots, salt and pepper. Cook until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add corn kernels (hold back about ½ cup), broth and cooked shallots to a blender and puree until the mixture is creamy.
  4. Return mixture back to pan shallots were cooked in along with the remaining corn kernels. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Meanwhile, combine avocado, tomatoes, lime juice and if using, crab in a small bowl.
  6. When ready, portion chowder into two bowls and evenly top with avocado mixture.
  7. Uncork the bottle and enjoy!

*I’ve also grilled the corn to add a little bit of that smoky flavor before removing the kernels. The key is to only cook it until al dente rather than all the way.

 Why these wines:

Although this soup is not made with cream, it has a creamy texture, which pairs deliciously with the creamy texture of these Chardonnays. The green apple and citrus notes in these Chards also lend some acidity which helps cleanse the palate after each bite, so that each subsequent bite is just as tasty! The sweetness from the corn is why this wine would not pair well with a full body red wine.