It’s time for another food and wine pairing extravaganza from the #WinePW group. And if you’re a Merlot lover, you’ll love it! Because October is #MerlotMe month, each fortunate wineloving foodie received sample bottles of wine from a variety of California producers to swirl and sip. Our intent was to select a favorite dish that will bring out the best in the Merlot. By the looks of the pairings (see below), this delicious mission was accomplished!
Merlot is the second leading variety planted in California, the first being Cabernet Sauvignon. Its grapes, lighter blue and black than those of Cabernet Sauvignon, have a thin skin with loose bunches of berries hanging from the vines. In general, dominant flavors include raspberry, black cherry, plum, chocolate, and cedar yet earth, herbal, and floral notes may be detected. One of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux blends, Merlot from the Right Bank of Bordeaux (especially St. Emilion and Pomerol) helped boost its acclaimed international reputation. California vintners have found much success in their plantings and production of Merlot; each wine expresses distinct terroir as well as the winemaker’s style.
I received a sample bottle of 2015 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot($15), a woodsy blend of 91% Merlot and 9% Malbec. Paso Robles AVA is one of my favorite wine regions and has received international attention for its production of quality Bordeaux blends. This particular wine is from San Luis Obispo County; the grapes were harvested over a two-week period beginning in mid-September 2015. Vinification consisted of whole berry fermentation in stainless steel tanks and maturation for 12 months in the barrel with 22% new American oak from Missouri forests.
After aerating for thirty minutes, I noted intense aromas of black cherries, licorice, chocolate, touch of earth, and vanilla wafting from the glass. Luscious flavors included more rich chocolate, baking spice, black cherries, and juicy red fruit. With a round mouthfeel, food friendly acidity, and velvet tannins leading to a lingering finish, I craved each sip with bites of Savory Chicken with Mushrooms.
Savory Chicken and Mushrooms
- 2 chicken breast halves, boneless, skin-on
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8oz fresh mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
|Preheat oven to 400 degrees.|
|Season chicken on all sides with salt and ground black pepper.|
|Heat olive oil and garlic over medium high heat in an ovenproof skillet. Place chicken skin-side down in skillet and cook until browned - about 5 minutes.|
|Turn chicken over. Stir mushrooms with a pinch of salt into skillet. Increase heat to high. Cook, stirring mushrooms occasionally, until mushrooms shrink slightly, about 5 minutes.|
|Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate and loosely tent with foil. Set aside.|
|Set skillet on the stove top over medium-high heat, cook and stir mushrooms until brown bits start to form on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Pour water into the skillet and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Cook until water is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add thyme. Remove from heat.|
|Stir in any accumulated juices from the chicken into the skillet. Stir butter into mushroom mixture, stirring constantly until butter is completely melted.|
|Season with salt and pepper. Spoon mushroom sauce over chicken and serve.|
Cheers! ~ Cindy
For more Merlot and food pairings, please check out the following articles from my talented #winePW colleagues!
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Celebrating the Harvest with Eggplant Lasagna and J Lohr #MerlotMe”
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Merlot Sauce”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “A Paddling of Duck(horn)s”
- Gwen from Wine Predator shares “3 Merlot from Sonoma with Colorful Fall Pasta #WinePW”
- Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere shares “Individual Beef Wellington Paired With Merlot Wine”
- Jeff from FoodWineClick! shares “Grill Braised Brisket with Duckhorn Merlot”
- Nicole from Somms Table shares “Many Merlots Make Marvelous Mediterranean Meal”
- Jane from Always Ravenous shares “Roasted Pork Loin with Brandy Prune Sauce Paired with Merlot”
- Nancy from Pull That Cork shares “A Fall Pairing for Merlot”
- Jill from L’Occasion shares “Merlot, the Busy One”
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Celebrating Napa and Sonoma with #MerlotMe”