Saturday, October 13, 2018

A month of #MerlotMe food and wine pairings #WinePW

October is MerlotMe month.  Today the members of our Wine Pairing Weekend are going to share their thoughts on this wonderful varietal.  We would love for you to join us for twitter chat at 11 am ET following #MerlotMe and #WinePW.  We will be discussing wines that we received from sponsors for this event.  All opinions expressed by me during chat or on this blog are completely my own.

I received these 5 bottles for purposes of tasting and pairing.   I want to thank Jeff of Food Wine Click for all of his hard work in arranging this opportunity for our group.  You can learn more about the #MerlotMe movement in his information post.  

Join me as I discuss my pairings........

                                                                                          The first pairing I did was at the end of September in anticipation of #MerlotMe month.  I had made this wonderful Braised Chicken with Apples for Apple Week.  I mentioned in that post that I paired this with the Chelsea Merlot from Goldschmidt Vineyards.                                                                                                  My husband prefers red wine over white.  I have found Merlot to be a perfect pairing with chicken dishes, especially if that chicken is roasted or braised.                                                                                                        This 2016 Chelsea Merlot was no exception but it was exceptional!!  This wine is made in Alexander Valley and aged in barrels.  60% of the final product is aged in French Barrels, 20% in American Barrels and 20% in Hungarian Barrels.  It is smooth, fruit and luscious.
The second pairing was a casual fun dinner of Mini Mummy Meatloaves that I shared.  My hubby and I paired our dinner that night with a bottle of Decoy by Duckhorn Vineyards.  No reason why the kids should have all the fun during Halloween. 

I chose to pair the Decoy Merlot with a Halloween post because it is so magical.  Decoy Merlot tastes like a very expensive bottle of wine yet is affordable enough to be enjoyed without any pretense or occasion.

The kids loved their mummy meatloaves and Frank and I loved our deconstructed version that paired beautifully with the Decoy Merlot.

I had a few of those mini meatloaves left so a few nights later, when I was making some homemade Pitas for my Bread Bakers group, I decided to turn them into Hashweh.  Hashweh literally means stuffing and is often used in Stuffed Grape Leaves.  It normally is made with lamb but beef is often substituted.  I am sharing my version of the recipe with you today that I made using the leftover meatloaf.

I served up the Hashweh with the fresh pitas and a bottle of Charles Krug Merlot.  This was our first time tasting a Charles Krug Wine.  I don't know why.  They have the oldest tasting room in California. Located in Napa Valley that tasting room has evolved and grown into a beautiful estate that has become a world class hospitality center.  

I absolutely loved this wine.  I will be looking for it again as the price point is very reasonable for such a wonderful, fruity and smooth wine.  It is aged in French Oak Barrels for 17 months and is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  You will find my recipe for Hashweh at the bottom of this post.

I served up the 2015 Duckhorn Merlot with a pot roast that I had made in my Instant Pot.  It was one of those days when I had been running from the moment my feet hit the ground.  When I finally walked back into the house, I was tired and hangry.  I hadn't taken anything out of the freezer for dinner.  TGFMIP!!  That is Thank God For My Instant Pot.  

The first thing I did was open this bottle of wine, grab a box of crackers and some cheese.  I stuffed some cheese in my mouth to ward off my hunger hysterics and pulled a chuck roast from the freezer. Stuck that in the microwave on defrost for 15 minutes, poured a glass of wine for me and Frank, and we collectively sighed as we took a sip.  

Duckhorn Merlot is a Napa Valley wine.  It is a little pricey so we normally only have it on special occasions.  But, sometimes, on days like that day, you just need to pamper yourself.  So we sipped our wine and snacked on cheese while we shared our day together.  

When the roast was defrosted enough to cut into pieces, I seared it in the Instant Pot, threw in the veggies, set it to cook and in an hour we were enjoying dinner and another glass of this wonderful wine.

The final, astounding, amazing wine that we tried was the Duckhorn Merlot from Three Palms Vineyard.  I had been blessed to have had this wine before.  I knew exactly what to expect.  This Three Palms Vineyard Merlot is the wine you want to serve when you have guests over that you are hoping to impress.

We didn't have guests for this pairing.  We didn't even have a five course meal, which this wine certainly deserves.  We had pot pie made with the leftover pot roast of which I just spoke.  It was a wonderful, indulgent way to end my few weeks of #MerlotMe tastings.

Merlot got a bad rap for a while but I'm not really sure why.  It is one of the most food friendly wines around.  When I am having guests I know that a bottle of Merlot is sure to please more often than not.  When I have a meal that I'm not sure would pair well with wine, I can almost guarantee that Merlot will make that dish wine friendly.

Let's see what the others did to celebrate Merlot Me Month and then I will share my Hashweh recipe with you.

#rice, #groundmeat, #international, #MiddleEastern,
MiddleEastern, side dish, rice, ground meat, main dish
Middle Eastern
Yield: 4-6 servingsPin it


Seasoned ground meat mixed with flavorful rice. Perfect for stuffing grape leaves or for stuffing into hot pita pockets.


3/4 lb. ground lamb or beef or 3/4 lb leftover meatloaf, crumbled
1 T. ghee (if using leftover meat)
1 c. long grain rice
1 sm. onion, diced
1/4 t. allspice
1/4  t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 1/2  c. water
toasted pine nuts


Cover rice in cold water and let set for 15 minutes, until easily broken in half with a fingernail.  Drain and set aside.

If using fresh ground meat, brown in a skillet over med high heat until crumbly, about 10 minutes.  Remove all but 1 Tablespoon of the drippings.

If using leftover meatloaf, melt 1 Tablespoon of Ghee in a skillet over med high heat.

Add  the onion to to skillet and cook for a minute or two until translucent.  Add the rice and cook until translucent and starting to brown.  Stir in the seasonings and  water.  Add the crumbled meatloaf at this time, if using.

Bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let finish cooking until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Serve garnished with toasted pine nuts or use as a stuffing for grape leaves.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. I have been holding the Three Palms. Haven't decided quite what to do with it. But it will be special. And I've never heard of Hashweh. Looks tasty. Thanks for sharing!

  2. All your pairings sound great Wendy! Plus I want to try your BBQ recipe on David's article as well.

    1. I hope you like it Michelle. We haven't bought BBQ sauce in 20 years.

  3. Looks and sounds like some great pairings Wendy. I love how you had the Three Palms. There is a school of food pairing thought that there should only be one star of the meal (either the wine or the food..i.e. you don't necessarily pair a 5 star wine with a 5 star meal) I don't know about that but I can see how one might enjoy the 5 star wine with a 3 star meal. Cheers

    1. We certainly enjoyed it Martin. But then I think I could have enjoyed that Three Palms with popcorn LOL.

  4. Nice pairings Wendy. You are so right, Merlot is a food friendly wine.

  5. Terrific food and wine pairings, Wendy! Thank you so much!!! And that BBQ recipe (need it!!). Cheers!

  6. Love the mini mummies. I had made mini meatloaf surprises one time. It's individual meat loaves with a breakfast sausage snuck inside. But your mini mummies are so much cuter!!!

  7. Looks like you had a whole lot of pairing fun with all of these Merlots!


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