Baby, it’s cold outside! When the weather gets cold, I enjoy drinking fuller, bolder, red wines. They make me feel warm and cozy. I had been saving a bottle of McManis 2014 North 40 red wine for the first frigid cold day of the year. With temperatures in the teens, I’d say it is pretty cold! This is primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Tannat. These are bold grapes, so letting the wine breath is crucial. Without letting air get into the wine, the flavors will not be brought out. I popped the top off about two hours before dinner, and I still felt that we could have let it breath a little longer!
North 40 is amazingly balanced and complex. The color is a deep, ruby red, with a nose of plum, vanilla, baking spices, and mocha. When tasting, there were black fruits and leather. An hour later, a hint of mint was noted as well. So many layers of flavor! There were high tannins with a long finish at the end.
A wine with high tannins is bitter and will make your mouth dry out. When you take a sip of a tannic wine, you will feel it on the insides of your cheeks and back of your tongue. When pairings foods with tannic wines, it is important to pair them with heavier foods that can stand up to the wine’s bitterness. Generally, heavier foods, like beef or lamb, have higher amounts of salt and fat. Salt and fat react with wine by making more tannic wines appear less so and much easier to drink.
To go with the the tannin of this wine, I made a beef stew. Beef stew is one of the easiest dishes to make in the cold weather because it’s simply putting all of the ingredients in a pot and letting it cook for a while. Most recipes call for the same ingredients with slight variations. The recipe I followed called for butternut squash, all spice, and Italian green beans, which are almost like a sugar snap pea. I could not find these kinds of beans, so I used regular green beans instead. I also added cinnamon to bring out some more baking spice flavors in hopes that it would go well with the wine.
Overall, I’d give the pairing 3 grapes. The wine was absolutely amazing, and the overall taste of the meal was pretty good. However, the recipe I followed was lacking texture. Except for the beef, the meal was rather soft. It needed something chewy, like potatoes. Ordinarily, most beef stew recipes call for potatoes, but this one did not. The wine was really the star of the show!
Wine: McManis 2014 North 40 ($18)