Hungry Man with Wine

We've all seen the commercial.  Two guys in a storm laying sand bags talking about what they had for dinner.  One says he had a Hungry Man dinner that equaled up to a pound of food.  The other guy says he had a sliver of trout spritzed with lemon and baby carrots as he gets blown away by the storm.  "Should of had Hungry Man!" the narrator proclaims.  As I strolled down the grocery aisle thinking of what would be fun to pair with wine in the frozen food aisle, I couldn't resist grabbing the Hungry Man dinner.  Although I'm not a huge fan of frozen dinners, I chuckled at the thought of it.  "Wine and frozen food?  Why not?"  I thought to myself.  I want everyone alive to enjoy wine, even if that means you're pouring a great glass of something special with a Hungry Man dinner.  And because this meal only costs around three dollars a package, you'll have plenty of money left over to splurge on the good stuff, vino!

Can you imagine the scene if wine was included in a Hungry Man commercial?  As a big burly man throws his frozen dinner in the microwave he goes to the kitchen drawer, pulls out a corkscrew and very delicately removes the cork from a fine bottle of wine.  I love it!  The Salisbury Steak Hungry Man dinner calls for an equally rustic wine to match its appeal.  After sampling several wines with this dish, the 2008 Tres Picos Grenache from Spain did the trick.  The wine has intense aromas of black fruit and wild strawberries laced with a hint of earth, smoked meat and black pepper.  The wine has a vibrant acidity helping it to stand up to the salty brown gravy sauce drenched over the meat.  The Hungry Man Salisbury steak isn't a very thick piece of meat either.  Grenache is also a somewhat lighter style of red wine mirroring the weight of the meat.  Many people say that Grenache is like Pinot Noir kicked up a notch.  The meaty and peppery notes in the wine play off the flavors in the food and the fruity acidity helps to wash it all down.  Other wines to try with a Salisbury Steak Hungry Man dinner are Pinot Noir (esp. with good acidity like New Zealand or Oregon to stand up to the salty gravy), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon (esp. from WA), Bordeaux blends, fruity styles of Shiraz, Dolcetto and Barbera.  Cheers!

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!