Syrah

Steak Fajitas with Wine

Tequila and I aren't friends.  I tried to get to know him but after a high school graduation trip to Cancun, he didn't exactly leave a great first impression.  It was the end of June and I was in charge of planning my high school graduation trip.  I couldn't think of anywhere else more fabulous to party than Mexico.  You only had to be 18 to drink, there was plenty of nightclubs and kids our age, and it got me as far away as possible from the worrisome eyes of my grandmother.  The morning of the flight couldn't come fast enough.  My excitement grew as we packed in the airplane with kids from other schools.  We were loud and obnoxious and very obviously teenagers.  Once we landed, we made our way to the hotel and I felt like a grown up checking myself into our suite with my best friend.  Everyone agreed to meet in the lobby to get the party started.  After a quick shower and change of clothes, we headed for Coco Bongo nightclub.  The bar inside the nightclub featured shots of tequila that were lit on fire.  One after another we downed the shots.  The rest of the night is really a blur.  I remember getting on the bus with my friend and her bloody toenail hanging off.  Then, arriving at the hotel room and hugging the toilet the rest of the night.  I didn't drink for the next 3 days in Cancun because of my new friend tequila.  And, when I finally did order a drink, it was a very mild vodka and cranberry juice.  Although this happened over a decade ago, tequila really left an impression.  I might need to thank tequila for being such a bad friend because who knows, I may have never met WINE!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!!  Many people believe that today is Mexico's Independence Day.  Mexico's Independence Day actually occurs on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is virtually ignored in Mexico except in Puebla, which is were most of my grandmother's friends and family are from. It's a day to celebrate Mexican freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War and in Puebla's case, to celebrate the victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th.  I like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by serving carne asada or steak fajitas!  And because I'm no longer friends with tequila, I grab the perfect bottle of wine to accompany this dish.  Nothing screams steak or carne asada more than a bottle of big, red full-bodied wine that is ready to take on the meat.  Malbec, Petit Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Bordeaux blends and Rioja or Priorat reds.  Pick your choice!  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine you'll notice how the wine suddenly seems soft.  The protein from the meat helps to act like saran wrap and shields your mouth from harsh tannins found in the wine.  The spice in both the meat and food spring forth and the flavor of the meat becomes extremely apparent.  Many of the wines have a meaty aroma and flavor to them making it a perfect combination.  Cheers!

Philly

I used to watch the Fresh Prince of Bel Air religiously.  Will Smith was smooth with the ladies and full of flavor on the show.   I remember when his cousin Ashley brought home a high end Philly cheese-steak sandwich on a croissant.  Of course, being from Philadelphia, this wasn’t the Philly Will was used to.  At about the middle of the episode, his friend “Ice Tray” shows up with a cheese-steak sandwich from his hometown.  Will states that if you can’t see the sandwich through the grease on the outside of the bag, it’s not a real Philly.  I have to agree!

A greasy, cheesy, meaty sandwich like a Philly, calls for a big red wine!  Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly.  The protein from the meat and the creaminess of the cheese coat the tongue like saran rap, shielding the palate from the tannin and bringing the fruit in the wine forward.  The full-bodied Cab brings out the flavor of the cheese, while standing up to the grease.  Both the wine and food are heavy and rich, mirroring each other.  I also like Syrah and Zinfandel with this delicious sandwich!