Monday, May 9, 2016

From Highbrow to Down-Home, Amador Barbera Pairs Perfectly with a Variety of Cuisine

In anticipation of Barbera Festival, June 11, three participating wineries share their favorite Barbera-friendly recipes – a wine known as a food wine and for its versatility with a variety of cuisine. 

Gourmands, backyard barbecue masters, and spur of the moment hosts are already fans of barbera’s versatility as a “food” wine. Blessed with a generous acid structure and smooth tannins, Barbera is unique in its ability to pair with a wide variety of cooking styles, from pizza to haute cuisine.

Taking up the challenge of Barbera versatility, three wineries participating in the sixth annual Barbera Festival chose a favorite Barbera-paired recipe to share. Each dish represents one of three dining experiences: formal, last-minute gathering, and the backyard gathering.

These wineries, among the 80 from all over California that will gather June 11 to pour their interpretation of this Italian varietal, appreciate Barbera’s signature characteristics: a dark pigment with lots of berry flavor that can range from bright with tart cherry, raspberry and spice flavors to riper, deeper wines with black cherry, blueberry, blackberry and vanilla flavors. It is exactly these traits that make it such a food-loving wine.

Terra d’Oro Barbera Portabella Burgers
Terra d’Oro winemaker Chris Leamy prefers the laidback style of Amador, opting for casual backyard dining. His recipe is reminiscent of Memorial Day or Fourth of July gatherings:

4 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
½ cup Italian dressing
¼ cup Terra d’Oro Barbera
½ cup roasted garlic
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
4 onion or ciabatta rolls
8 leaves of romaine or bibb lettuce
4 3-inch wide strips of roasted red peppers
Thinly sliced lightly grilled red onion
2 tablespoons of homemade pesto
Mayonnaise, if desired

Place mushrooms stem side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with dressing, wine and roasted garlic. Let stand for 45 minutes to marinate. Turn to coat both sides with dressing, then broil mushrooms five minutes on each side, or place on a hot grill and cook five minutes on each side. Turn stem side up and top with cheese. Grill for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl. Spread a heaping tablespoon on the bottom half of each roll. Top each with a cooked mushroom. Add lettuce, roasted peppers, onion slices and cover with top half of roll. Serves four.

Rubino Estates Winery Italian Meatball Sliders with Barberanara Sauce
Rubino Estates appreciates impromptu gatherings where friends come together at a moment’s notice to share conversation, delicious food and a wonderful glass of Barbera:

¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh basil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 garlic, minced
1 large egg
1 teaspoon onion powder
25 ounces ground beef and/or pork/lamb

2 jars of marinara sauce
1 large chopped sweet onion (1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces of coffee (prepared)
½ bottle of Rubino Estates barbera

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Open two bottles of Barbera and allow to breathe.
Place all ingredients for the sauce in a large pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce is cooking, gently combine meatball ingredients in a large bowl being careful not to over mix. Divide meat mixture into 12 equal portions. Arrange in a glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
Pour Barberanara sauce over meatballs and continue baking until hot and gray in center, about 25 minutes more.
(An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should read 160 degrees F.)
Top with shredded mozzarella and broil for two minutes or until melted. 
Place each meatball in a bun, top with Barberanara sauce and basil leaf.

Enjoy with the remaining 1½ bottles of Barbera.

Fiddletown Cellars Blackberry Lamb Chops Sweet Tart
Joe Shebl, Fiddletown Cellar’s winemaker, laughs when he puts “Fiddletown” and “upscale” in the same sentence, but this small hamlet in the Sierra Foothills has serious wine connoisseurs taking notice. And the food? Being married to a professionally-trained chef tends to lead to dinners verging on divine. Planning a special meal? Pull up a chair…and open up a bottle or two of Barbera!

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¼ cup sliced green onions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blackberries
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon blackberry liqueur, such as Chambord
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 (4-to5-ounce) lamb rib chops, cut 1 inch thick, or 8 (3-ounce) lamb loin chops, cut 1 inch thick

Heat the broiler with a broiler pan in it.

In a large skillet set over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the green onions, syrup, and cloves. Add ½ cup of blackberries. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the berries have disintegrated and the sauce is just slightly thickened. Stir in the vinegar, liqueur, and the remaining ½ cup berries. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, stir together the allspice, salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly over the chops. Broil chops in the heated pan, turning once halfway through the cooking, for 12 minutes or until barely pink in the center.

Transfer the lamb to the skillet with the sauce and spoon some of the sauce over the lamb. Let the lamb rest in the sauce for 10 minutes before serving.

To sample Barbera, there’s no better opportunity than attending the Barbera Festival, which takes place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sat., June 11, 2016. Tickets cost $50 ($40 for designated drivers). Tickets include admittance, wine tasting—Barbera poured by over 80 wineries from all over California, live music from bluegrass band Carolyn Sills Combo, and a commemorative wine glass. Food, provided by top restaurants and caterers, is sold separately, and parking is free. For more information, go to

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