Spring Wine Pairings from the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

In celebration of April as Michigan Wine Month, and the long awaited spring season, we asked the folks at the eight distinct Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula to share some wine tips along with suggested wine and food pairings to celebrate the season.

Wine Glasses

Photo Courtesy of Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Pairing food and wine can sometimes seem difficult or complicated. Just remember, dry white wines go very well with delicate or simple foods. A great rule of thumb is – if you would squeeze lemon on any particular dish, a dry white wine would be a very suitable match. Keeping this in mind, Chateau Grand Traverse 2014 Dry Riesling offers a classic steely-dry style, mineral qualities with fruit forward flavors, bold acidity and fresh aroma. This wine pairs well with Great Lakes grilled whitefish, most seafood or shellfish. In addition, Caesar salad or rich cheeses and assorted fruit also work well with this wine. Dry wines may taste tart to some, however, when paired with foods the delicate flavors shine through.

Spring is a great time to break out the bubbly. Chateau Chantal suggests their Tonight Blanc de Blanc. A dry Riesling-Chardonnay blend bubbly is delightfully easy to drink and will make tonight, or any night, special.

The dry nature and good acidity of this sparkling wine cleanse the palate after bites of rich and creamy cheeses, fried appetizers, cream-based seafood pastas and other dishes. Serve well chilled for the perfect pairing with this recipe:

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples, paired with Chateau Chantal’s Tonight

Makes 2 tarts

 Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 red apples (such as Braeburn or Gala), cut into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • ½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the apples, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.

Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a ½-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is crisp and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into pieces before serving.

In the kitchen at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery they are wrapping up a fresh way to present chicken, combined with bright spring flavors of asparagus, lemon and thyme, paired with the Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery 2013 Pinot Grigio. The Pinot Grigio is a clean and fresh wine, with well-balanced fruit flavors of lemon, orange peel and tangerine and compliments this light, healthy and refreshing springtime dish.

Watch Patrick Brys create Spring Chicken in Parchment here!

Spring also means the start of grilling season, and the folks at 2 Lads Winery have a suggestion on something to throw on the grill as well as what to enjoy drinking with it.

The marbling and intense flavor of ribeye steaks stands up to the more powerful bold red wines, like the newly released 2013 Cabernet Franc. The spices, herbs and bright fruit expressed in this wine match the fresh herbs and black pepper of a grilled ribeye. 2 Lads Wine Club Member, Jennifer Lawson, shared this winning recipe:

2 Lads Ribeye Steak with 2 Lads’ Cabernet Franc

 Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 10 oz ribeye steak
  • 2 bunches of spring onions

Directions

Lay onions and steak in a large baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over onions and steak, turning ingredients to coat.

Let marinade anywhere from 1 hour to as long as overnight.

Heat grill to high (450° to 550°). Grill steak, covered, turning once and moving it from flame as needed to prevent charring until done the way you like, about 8 minutes for medium-rare. In the last few minutes, add onions to grill, laying them perpendicular to the grates. Cook, turning as needed, until the onions start to soften and grill marks appear.

In celebration of the arrival of the spring season, Peninsula Cellars recommends one of the most celebrated and sought after wines of the Old Mission region, with their 2013 SemiDry Riesling. This perfectly balanced wine, wrapped in a delicious sweetness, pairs beautifully with grilled chicken and fish, or bold flavored cheeses such as blue cheese or brie.

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Photo Courtesy of Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

At Black Star Farms the winemaking team and culinary staff are continuously looking for the perfect union between wine and farmstead cuisine. A favorite at the winery is the 2013 Arcturos Gerwurztraminer with a Carrot Ginger Bisque with Coconut Milk and Candied Walnuts.

The 2013 Arcturos Gerwurztraminer compliments this dish perfectly. This vintage is dry, fruit forward and shows the classic floral and spice components found in this varietal. The aromatic quality of this wine, along with its ripe citrus flavors makes for a perfect pairing with the Carrot Ginger Bisque. The dish is a perfect balance of spice, from the ginger, and sweetness from the carrots. The coconut milk adds a nice creaminess, without making it too rich, and the candied walnuts finish it off by adding a nice texture.

 Carrot Ginger Bisque with Coconut Milk and Candied Walnuts with Black Star Farms’ Arcturos Gerwurztraminer

 Soup

  • 12 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 8 chopped carrots
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ tsp white pepper

Cook broth in a large saucepan, reducing it by half to concentrate flavors. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan, add onion and garlic and sauté 3 to 5 minutes. Add ginger and carrot, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add coconut milk, cover and cook 5 more minutes. Add reduced broth to vegetable mixture and season with white pepper. Cover and cook until all carrots are tender. In a food processor, puree soup until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Candied walnuts

  • 1 cup walnut halves/pieces
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter

In a pan over medium heat, add 1 cup walnuts, ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1 Tbs butter. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and nuts are coated. Transfer to a sheet pan with parchment paper and separate the nuts from one another. Leave at room temperature to dry. Crumble if desired for garnish.

Block II Vineyard is the oldest and most recognized Riesling Block at Bowers Harbor Vineyard. Year after year, the Riesling grapes from Block II continue to exceed expectations by producing globally recognized, award-winning wine including the 2012 Riesling, Block II. This dry wine emanates lychee and anise aromas, followed by bright apple flavors with a thread of floral spice, and finishes clean. This wine pairs well with many flavors of the spring season including scallops, sushi and Cajun grilled shrimp.

The lighter more aromatic wines are perfect for the spring season. Another must-try spring wine is Hawthorne Vineyard’s 2012 Pinot Grigio. With hints of mandarin orange and peach, this wine is a  complement for pastas with cream or lemon sauces, delicate fish, and even hummus.

Pasta with Lemon Cream and Prosciutto with Hawthorn Vineyard’s Pinot Grigio

 Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • ¾ cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 Tbs thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Simmer over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced to ¼ cup, about 2 minutes. Add cream, lemon peel, orange peel, and cayenne. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add peas; simmer just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in mint and lemon juice. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Grapes

Photo Courtesy of Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to pot. Toss pasta with sauce to coat. Divide pasta among plates or bowls. Drape prosciutto slices atop pasta and serve, passing Parmesan separately.

Spring also marks the beginning of wine festival season including the upcoming Blossom Day, May 16, featuring fresh spring fare paired with the season’s new releases, and Divas Uncorked, June 12, WOMP’s annual Girls’ Night Out. Event details can be found online.

What are some of your favorite food and wine pairings?

Turkey Hunting Season in Michigan – An Experience You Can’t Miss

Today, guest blogger Katie Keen, the wildlife outreach technician from the DNR in Cadillac tells us what you should expect hunting for turkey in Michigan this spring.

SPRING TURKEY SEASON!

kalkaska county opening

Turkeys enjoying a managed wildlife opening on public land in Kalkaska County.

Those three words make me smile ear to ear!  Everything looks so different in the early spring.  With the snow finally gone revealing the earth below, you can really see every contour of the ground. Without the raspberries, nettle and other thick vegetation hiding the forest floor, it’s like a whole new playground to explore.

Turkey season is on my mind.  We had turkeys moving through our property all winter.  We’d see the highway of turkey tracks, the scratching in the beech and maple leaves, and a group of turkeys in our neighbor’s corn field looking for any kernels left from the fall harvest.  So now I’m wondering; where are they?  With the snow gone and the thick layer of leaves everywhere I’m having a harder time finding the turkey evidence.

I’m ready, though!  In exchange for some honey I harvested last fall from my bees, I’ve asked the neighbors if I can chase turkeys on their property if those toms decide to try lose me at my property line.  I’ve also gotten my turkey license, which is another topic that gets me excited.

Did you know that anyone who wants to hunt a turkey in Michigan can?

 Turkeys can now be found in every county in Michigan, and everyone has the opportunity to turkey hunt.  Michigan has several turkey seasons for you to choose from.  Some you do have to apply for in advance because there are more hunters then turkey licenses available.  Anyone can hunt turkeys from May 4 – 31, in what’s called Hunt 234.   Hunt 234 is a great, flexible option for hunters who may want to hunt in many different places and who want more than 7 days to find those turkeys.  Mi-Hunt is a great mapping program that you can use to look for public land in Michigan that is open to hunting.  With over 4 million acres of public land available, Mi-Hunt allows you to build your adventure at home from your computer!

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Father (Pat McKenna) and son (Josh McKenna) turkey hunting together in Gladwin County.

 The turkey story in Michigan is truly amazing – our state has made huge strides in wildlife management.  Like most states across the nation, there was a time when today’s common animals were either gone completely, or very hard to find.  Wild turkeys were once a rarity in Michigan.  As you can imagine, the late 1800’s were a different time than the time we live in now.  Grocery stores weren’t on the corner, families were clearing land for settlements and hunting regulations were unheard of.  Now, everything has changed.  Most importantly in the arena of regulations and funding.  The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (aka the Pittman-Roberson Act of 1937) was enacted. A national coalition of conservationists, backed by the sporting arms and ammunition industry, persuaded Congress to direct an excise tax on those items to a special fund for wildlife restoration.  With a lot of hard work and dedication in the 1950s, the turkey population was reestablished.  

 If you’ve ever thought about giving turkey hunting a try, this is your year!  Turkey hunting provides good healthy local protein that you can harvest yourself in a very interactive hunt.  You can use a call to sound like a turkey and get one to answer you back!  How fun is that?

So when you are crawling on your belly, trying to sneak up on some gobbling toms remember:  Only a few decades ago, turkeys were hard to find and only a few people got to hunt them!  Today, everyone has a chance!

thumbnailGovDKatie Keen is a wildlife outreach technician for the DNR in Cadillac, who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators and media representatives to help with their DNR-related needs. In her, spare time she is a wife and mother who loves to be outdoors and educate folks about the DNR.

Eight Answers to Your Michigan Wine FAQs

Cheers! April has been named Michigan Wine Month, and we’re ready to raise our glass. Michael Schafer Esq., The Wine Counselor, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Michigan wineries

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

What are some of your favorite wine trails throughout Michigan?
There are so many great options to choose from. Each of the trails offer unique opportunities to enjoy Michigan’s world-class wines. While the most famous are the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and the Old Mission Peninsula Trail, the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Trail, the Lake Michigan Shore area and the Bay View Trail are fascinating and fun as well.

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

When do think the best time of year for wine tasting in Michigan is?
The best time of year for tasting Michigan wines is all year round! Our wines are so varied and different, they’re delectable all the time. The prettiest time of year for visiting wineries is in the fall, but April is Michigan Wine Month and the Michigan Wine Showcase April 20, 2015 is a fantastic opportunity to sample wines from all over the state.

If someone had never been wine tasting in Michigan before, where would you recommend they go first?
I suggest they enjoy the area closest to them and then explore from there. If they’re on a quest to taste our wines and distance isn’t a factor, the Leelanau Peninsula would be my first choice.

What makes Michigan wines unique?
Three factors make Michigan wines unique. 1. Our locations, or terroir (a French word used to describe the grapes’ neighborhood) close to many lakes and rivers in addition to our proximity to the Great Lakes. 2. We’re between the 41st and 47th parallels of the earth. This is the same latitude as Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley and the Piedmont region. All of these areas are world-famous for producing great wines.3. The hardworking  Michiganders who grow the grapes for our creative Michigan winemakers to make the wine.

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

What would people be surprised to learn about Michigan wine or wineries?
The Michigan wine business originally started in the Monroe area, close to the Ohio border. It moved to the “fruit belt” of Western Michigan, now known as the lake Michigan Shore area.

What’s your favorite Michigan wine?
The one that’s currently in my glass!

Where can people go to taste & learn about Michigan wines?
The Michigan Wine Showcase on April 20 at the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Michigan wines. More information can be found at www.michiganwines.com/showcase.

Where can people go to learn more?
A  wonderful resources are Michiganwines.com.  There is a plethora of information on this easy to use website.

Watch Michael tell us more about how Michigan wines are made below. 

Michael SchaferMichael Schafer Esq., The Wine Counselor®, is the charismatic speaker, educator, Sommelier, CSW, CCTP, writer and consultant who entertains while educating. His humorous and fun approach is reflected in his trademark phrase “I taste bad wine so you don’t have to”®. Whether training restaurant teams, conducting private tastings, or customizing a wine event, Michael demystifies wine and leaves his clients laughing and learning! WineCounselor.net