.

Remember the Campbell’s soup jingle, Mm Mm good? That’s kind of how I feel about Merlot. It’s velvety tannins, plum and blackberry flavor and soft character make it easy to enjoy and very popular. It’s one of the “noble grapes” of France or cépage noble and is used as a blending grape but also as a single varietal. It’s planted all over the world and of course its character varies depending on the region.

In France where it’s a primary grape in Bordeaux Merlot tends to have more acidity, in Italy it can be lighter and more herbal, in the US it was so lush and delicious it led to a craze in the 90’s and the quality dropped as winemakers scrambled to plant it everywhere. It’s still the second leading variety planted in California, just behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Fortunately today it’s better than ever. I particularly like Merlot from California and Washington where the best examples combine the fruitiness you expect from a New World wine and yet the structure of an Old World wine.

When it comes to pairing, it’s actually pretty easy to find food that goes well with Merlot. I recently opened a bottle of J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot, 2014, a blend with 15% Malbec, as part of #MerlotMe. It’s a big red wine, but smooth with supple tannins and plenty of plum, a hint to spice and a long finish. It was awarded 95 points and Gold-Best of Class of Region from the 2016 California State Fair Competition. It’s a great value for $15.

You might think this wine would only pair well with beef, but it’s actually terrifically versatile and works with much lighter dishes than you might expect. In general, Merlot is a good wine for vegetarian dishes, especially if they have umami flavors (think eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes). I tried the wine with two dishes. It was good with roasted game hens I seasoned only with salt and pepper and some basil leaves under the skin. It was even better with a pasta dish I created with lots of mushrooms and Parmigiana-Reggiano.

Note: Choose a younger Parmigiano-Reggiano for this recipe, since it will melt bettter, preferably 24 months or less.

Mushrooms & Parmigiano Pasta
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces tagliatelle, spinach or plain
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces coarsely chopped oyster and cremini mushrooms, about 2 1/2 cups
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup broth —chicken, vegetable or mushroom
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 tablespoons reserved
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped flat leaf parsley

Instructions

Boil a pot of water for pasta. Add a pinch of salt and cook the tagliatelle al dente, per package instructions. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook stirring frequently until mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 3 minutes then add the broth. Cook for a few more minutes or until the liquid is almost completely evaporated.  Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook and toss to coat with sauce and turn off the heat. Sprinkle with most of the cheese on the pasta, and quickly toss to combine. Season to taste with pepper and garnish with parsley and remaining cheese.

Enjoy!

Now take a look at what #MerlotMe #WinePW friends are pairing with their Merlot:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Merlot Shows Its Versatility and Goes +1 With Cheese, Meat, and Chocolate”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Garlic Thyme Tuna Paired with a Merlot”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “#MerlotMe Trifecta for #WinePW”
Michelle from Rockin Red Robin shares “Welcoming Fall with #MerlotMe & #WinePW”
Jennifer from Vino Travels – An Italian Wine Blog shares “#MerlotMe with Sausage Baked Ziti”
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere shares “Exploring Merlot Wine Pairing with Bolognese Sauce”
Lori from Dracaena Wines shares “Hello, Can you #MerlotMe?”
Jill from L’Occasion shares “Evenings with Merlot
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Mercy Monday and Merlot”
Gwen from Wine Predator shares #We say MerlotMe with savory squash soup and sandwiches”
Jade from Tasting Pour shares “Chipotle Chicken Stew and Merlot”
Cindy from Grape Experiences shares “Wine & Dine: Merlot with Eggplant & Polenta Parmigiana”
Jeff from FoodWineClick! shares “A Love Affair for Merlot and the Grill”

Disclaimer: I received bottles Merlot as part of the the Merlot Me promotion in October, I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.

.

DISCLAIMER: This image is provided only for personal use. If you found any images copyrighted to yours, please contact us and we will remove it. We don't intend to display any copyright protected images.

Leave a Reply

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory […]

Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup

Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup A hearty, comforting and autumnal warming soup!  Perfect soup for all the family!  SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is the perfect quick and easy meat for a soup.  Serves 4-6 Prep time:  5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients 450g potatoes, peeled & diced 150g carrots, […]

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal […]

Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be […]

Bloody Mary Burrata – An Experiment in Liquefying Salads

I don’t think there’s actually a difference between a liquid salad, and a cold vegetable soup, but if there is, I’d like this Bloody Mary Burrata recipe to be considered the former. Especially since I already posted a gazpacho this summer. But regardless of what you call this strange hybrid, […]

Crispy Butcher’s Nuggets – Parts is Parts

While our homemade butcher’s nuggets won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts as the butcher shop, at least they won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts. Seriously, those folks will put anything into a sausage or meatball. All kidding aside, these crispy fried meatballs will have you wondering […]

Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes These light and fluffy peanut butter pancakes drizzled with peanut butter and jelly taste absolutely delicious.  The favourite, classic sandwich turned into the tastiest breakfast treat! Serves 4 Prep time:  10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients For the pancakes 200g plain flour 30g caster […]

All About Walnut Oil from La Tourangelle

La Tourangelle is a family-owned company that produces outstanding nut and seed oils, with heritage in the Loire Valley of France, an area known for nut oils. Their toasted sesame, roasted walnut, roasted peanut and roasted pistachio oils are all award winners. The company began in 2002 in Woodland, California […]

Chef John is On Vacation and More

That’s right! I’m on vacation for the rest of the week, and the beginning of the next, which usually means a lot of rest and relaxation, but not this time. That’s because Michele and I are going to be working harder than ever on a major, top secret personal project. […]

Chorizo, Red Pepper & Stilton Quiche

Chorizo, Red Pepper & Stilton Quiche This quiche is so easy to make and always goes down well, delicious served hot or cold. If blue cheese doesn’t take your fancy then you can use cheddar or any other hard cheese. Serves 8 Prep time:  10 minutes, Cooking time: 45-50 minutes Ingredients 225g […]