Strawberry Watermelon Frosé

Strawberry Watermelon Frosé

In August, you can feel summer being rationed. The warm days and nights are no longer endless, and you can feel that the last vacation, the last dinner enjoyed outside, and the last barefoot days will come far too quickly. Did we experience enough? Did we travel? Did we enjoy the flowers and vegetables the earth gave us during these months? 

Then at some point, you have had too much. Too much heat. Too much sand in the corners of your suitcase. The days have a laziness that no longer suits you. You begin to crave the day you can turn off the air conditioning. Since childhood, we associate autumn with new beginnings, even decades after we no longer need to do back-to-school shopping.

This is the in-between drink. Before you are ready for pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking and sweaters dyed in harvest colors. When you are still holding on to summer and saying, “This is good. I am content.”

Strawberry Watermelon Frosé

Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed and frozen
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 bottle rosé

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender and puree.
  2. Pour into glasses and garnish each glass with a strawberry.
Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles (wine pairing: rosé)

Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles (wine pairing: rosé)

What foods can you not get enough of in the summer? For me this year, it’s tomatoes. Caprese, bruschetta, gazpacho, tomato soup, I love it all. While I love all things tomato, caprese has a special place in my heart. Or stomach, if we are being literal. Turkey burger looks boring? Add a caprese topping. Need to liven up plain pasta? Caprese!

Zucchini is another favorite summer food. I particularly love zoodles. If you don’t own a spiralizer, high end grocery stores will sell packaged spiralized zucchini. In my area (Metro Detroit), you can find zoodles in the produce section of Fresh Thyme stores. If no pre-spiralized zucchini is to be found and you don’t want to buy a new spiralizer, you can try thrift shops. Undoubtedly, someone had bad memories of a 2010s keto diet mid-pandemic and Mari Kondo’d a spiralizer out of her life. (While I love zoodles, they cannot pass as a replacement for wheat pasta. They are their own thing to be appreciated on their own merits.)

Also, if you have all the ingredients in your kitchen but the tortellini, you can make this with regular pasta. The cheese tortellini just kicks it up a notch. Also, if you don’t have or can’t find white balsamic vinegar, feel free to use regular balsamic. It won’t be as pretty, but the taste will be equally good.

This is the first recipe in my food and rosé pairing series. If you want to learn more about pairing rosé with food, please see this post.

Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles

  • Servings: 4 entree or 8 side salad portions
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Wine pairing: rosé.

Ingredients

  • One 10 oz package cheese tortellini
  • Two medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 12 oz tomatoes chopped
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped finely
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped (or use mozzarella pearls)
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic glaze to top (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain tortellini and rinse with cold water.
  2. While tortellini are cooking, prep the next four ingredients and combine in a large bowl.
  3. Add cooled tortellini, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and salt to taste.
  4. Serve with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Food and Wine Pairing: Provençal Rosé

Food and Wine Pairing: Provençal Rosé

Rose wine and food pairing

The Provence wine region of France is known for their fields of lavender, their location on the Mediterranean, and their crisp, fruity, dry rosés. Provence rosés are as beautiful as the region where they are cultivated. The wines are the palest of pinks and dangerously drinkable. Flavors you can expect from this style of rosé include strawberry, melon (especially honeydew and watermelon), rose petals, and celery. The alcohol levels range from low to medium, with most rosés within an ABV of 11.5–13.5% ABV. They have enough acidity to be an excellent summer wine, but are less acidic than many dry whites.1-2

Rosé wine has skyrocketed in popularity in the US over the last few years, so we should know how to pair it with food. Luckily, rosé is pretty versatile as far as food wines go. In spite of that, I am focusing specifically on rosés specifically from Provence, so that I could test all of my recipes with the same style of wine. Not all rosés are the same, just like not all red wines or all white wines are the same, and I wanted to offer consistency here and not a generalization about rosés.

Provençal rosé pairs well with fish, seafood poultry, salads, barbeque, egg dishes and charcuterie. Not surprisingly, it pairs with many classic French dishes like Nicoise salad, bouillabaisse, and ratatouille.2-4 It’s a great choice for picnics, bridal showers, summer brunch, and happy hour with a charcuterie board, being both festive and affordable.

Recipes to Serve With Provence Rosé:

Tortellini caprese salad with zoodles (Recipe)

Hummus bruschetta (Recipe)

Watermelon mint salad (recipe to post in August)

Niçoise inspired potato salad (recipe to post in August)

Recipe with Rosé:

Strawberry watermelon frosé (Recipe)

How to Taste Wine: 

Step 1: Examine the color. First hold the wine up to the light, and then examine it against a white background (tablecloth, napkin, etc.). Wine Folly has a great color chart on their website that can help you narrow down the shade of your vino. Other questions to ask yourself: Is the wine clear or opaque? Can other shades be seen along the edges of the glass? If the wine is browner near the rim, it may indicate the wine has been aged. If it’s pale near the rim, it may be a less flavorful wine. 5-7

Step 2: Swirl the wine glass. Yes, it looks snobby, but swirling your wine has two purposes: releasing aroma compounds and indicating alcohol levels. After you swirl, you will find there are tears running along the sides of the glass. These are called the legs. Is your wine a thick thighed gal? That indicates she has a higher alcohol level and you do not want to underestimate her.5-6

Step 3: Sniff. Note the distinctive aromas, which can be fruity, floral, herbal, or mineral. Take another sniff and see if you can identify new scents. Distinguishing aromas can be challenging. You might note that you smell berry, but you can’t identify which berry is triggering your scent memory. One way to simplify (or possibly complicate) the matter is to refer to the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel, which was created by Dr. Ann Noble, a chemist who retired from UC Davis.5-6, 8

Step 4: Taste. Your first sip should be swirled around your mouth so all the flavors are released. My first impression is always whether the taste matches the scent. White wines I usually find to be pretty consistent, but every now and then, I come across a red wine that smells like sweet ripened berries and tastes like gravel. Other things to note when tasting include acidity, sweetness, alcohol content, and tannins (wines with high tannins will “dry out” your tongue). The last thing is the wine’s finish. Do the flavors linger after your sip? If yes, your wine has a long finish. Is it a pleasant finish? Some wines may mellow out in the finish, while others taste delicious initially only to have an unpleasant finish.5-6

Step 5: Cheat. (This is the step that I invented.) Wine tasting is subjective. You may taste pears while your dining companion tastes apples and vanilla. After I note my perceptions of both smell and taste, I like to read the notes on the wine bottle. If the wine doesn’t provide any notes on the back of the label, I Google wine reviews and learn what Wine Enthusiast had to say about it. I then take another sip and see if I now taste new flavors based on the tasting notes of others. This isn’t to see if I am right or wrong; there isn’t a right or wrong in wine tasting. For me, it’s about training my palate. Please don’t ever read tasting notes before you taste yourself, as you will only taste what the notes tell you.

Sources:

1 Wine Folly: Essential Guide to the Provence Wine Region. Accessed July 6, 2022.

2 Wine Folly: Provence (Rosé). Accessed July 6, 2022.

3 Vine Pair: 10 Perfect Provence Rose and Fall Food Pairings. Accessed July 6, 2022.

4Dornenburg A and Page K. (2006.) What to Eat with What You Drink. (pp 253-4) Voracious/Little, Brown and Company.

5Wine Enthusiast: How to Taste Wine. Accessed May 26, 2022.

6The Spruce Eats: How to Taste Wine Like a Professional. Accessed May 26, 2022.

7Wine Folly: The Wine Color Chart. Accessed May 18, 2022.

8The Wine Aroma Wheel Official Website. Accessed May 18, 2022.

Cherry Amaretto Sangria

Cherry Amaretto Sangria

sangria, large batch cocktail, amaretto cocktail, summer cocktail

What is your favorite summer cocktail? Are you a margarita fan, always ready for a taco and a top shelf margarita?  Or are you all about the frosé?

I’m a sangria girl, but I rarely ever have it. It’s a large batch drink if you make it at home, and so many restaurants make shortcut sangrias with cheap mixes and Sprite that I am disinclined to order it on an evening out. Recently, I became curious about what an Amaretto sangria would taste like. Brandy is traditional in sangrias, but I suspected (correctly!) that an almond flavor would complement sangria flavors nicely.

As a note, this sangria is very cherry forward. If you don’t love cherries quite as much as I do, I would recommend a half cup of cherries and a half cup of your favorite berry rather than a full cup of cherries. Also the sugar amount is customizable. I made this with a quarter cup since I don’t love sugary alcohol drinks, but kept the recipe a bit sweeter to appeal to a larger group.

amaretto cocktail

Cherry Amaretto Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle light bodied red wine (Beaujolais/Gamay or Pinot Noir)
  • 1/3 cup Amaretto
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 orange sliced, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup sparkling water to top (optional)

Directions

  1. Juice your lemon, then stir the sugar into the lemon juice.
  2. Combine all ingredients except orange slices and sparkling water in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  3. When ready to serve, add the orange slices, ice cubes, and sparkling water. Garnish glasses with orange slices.