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Unveiling the 12 Divine Christmas Wine Pairings: A Culinary Symphony for the Holidays!

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

As the festive season unfolds, we invite you to embark on a delightful exploration of the 12 Wines of Christmas – a symphony of flavors expertly crafted to complement the spirit of the holidays. Our vineyard, nestled in Ramona Valley, is a testament to the artistry of winemaking, where passion and tradition intertwine to produce wines that capture the essence of the season. Join us as we unveil a curated collection of wines, each paired to perfection for a season of merriment and the sensory pleasures that await!


Orange Muscat and Chardonnay blend. Notes of orange blossom and sweetness.

Pairing: Caramelized Pear and Pastry Cream Tart

Crisp and refreshing pears with a sweet vanilla cream and a light buttery crust make this the perfect conclusion to any holiday meal.


Pie Dough:

2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (2g) salt

6 ounces (180g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2 ounces (60g) cold shortening, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons (30ml) buttermilk (or heavy cream)

Caramelized Pears:

4 large Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored with a melon baller

Juice of ½ a lemon

¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon (14ml) vanilla extract

1 tablespoon (14g) butter, cut into 8 small pieces

1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Pastry Cream:

6 large egg yolks

1 cup (200g) sugar

3 tablespoons (22g) cornstarch

1 ½ cups (350ml) whole milk, scalded see note

2 teaspoons vanilla (10ml) vanilla extract

3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Chill time: 1 hour

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes 1 10- inch tart


Prepare and chill the dough:

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add the cold cubes of butter and shorting and cut in with a pastry knife or your fingers until a fine crumble is made. Work in the buttermilk just until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Bake the caramelized pears:

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).

Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place the prepared pears cut side up on the sheet pan. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pears to prevent browning.

In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle the mixture over the pears evenly. Drizzle each pear half with a bit of the vanilla extract, then add a piece of butter into the well of each pear half where the core was removed.

Bake for 30 minutes, cut side up. Flip the pears cut side down and carefully stir the juices and sugar that have begun to caramelize on the pan.

Return to the oven and bake for another 20-35 minutes depending on how firm the pears were to begin with. The pears should be softened and caramelized around the edges where the pear meets the pan.

Remove from the oven, but do not turn the oven off. Flip the pears cut side up

and allow to cool to room temperature on the pan.

Bake the tart shell:

While the pears are cooling, bake the tart shell. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface until 1/2 inch (8mm) thick. Carefully place the dough into a tart shell, form and trim off all excess.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill the tart shell with dried beans, or pie weights. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the shell is light golden brown.

Remove from oven, recycle foil, discard beans and set aside for the shell to cool completely.

Prepare the pastry cream:

In a mixer, cream the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cornstarch and continue to mix on medium speed until fully incorporated.

Stir in the scalded milk* in a slow, steady stream. Pour the mixture into a

saucepan, add the vanilla and simmer over medium heat, constantly stirring until the mixture has thickened to about the consistency of mayonnaise.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Strain into a clean bowl to remove any lumps.

Cover and let pastry cream cool to room temperature.

Pour the mixture into the tart shell and set aside.

Assemble the tart:

Slice the cooled, caramelized pears into thin strips across the width of the pear that are all

roughly the same size. Gently fan the slices across the top of the pastry cream, creating a

circular pattern and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

*How to scald milk: Add cold milk to a wide, shallow, heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat the

saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. The milk is scalded when small bubbles appear around the outside of the saucepan, or the temperature registers 180 to 185 degrees F (82 to 85 degrees C). For this recipe cool the milk for 10 minutes before adding it to the pastry cream.


Grapefruit pitch marks this wine followed by flavors of guava and passionfruit

Pairing: Herb Marinated Lamb Chops with Asparagus, Lemon, and Spring Greens

A citrusy blend of fresh herbs and garlic does double duty in this recipe as an aromatic

marinade for pan-seared lamb chops and a bright dressing for baby greens.



3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup (120ml) fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup (60ml) fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup (60ml) fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt

8 lamb loin chops, about 2 pounds (1kg)

1 pound (450g) California asparagus, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided


1/2 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper


6 ounces (170g) assorted baby greens, such as arugula, spinach, and kale

2 tablespoons (30ml) chopped fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon (5ml) finely grated lemon zest

Serves 4


Combine the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Set

aside 1/4 cup (60ml) for the salad.

Place the lamb in a baking dish, pour the remaining marinade over the lamb and turn to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Allow the lamb to stand at room temperature for 30

minutes before cooking.

Preheat the oven broiler. Spread the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1

tablespoon (15ml) oil, lightly season with salt, and turn to coat. Broil the asparagus on the top rack until lightly charred and crisp tender, 5 to 7 minutes, turning as needed. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the juice of the lemon.

Remove the lamb from the marinade, discard the marinade, and lightly season the lamb with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook until brown on both sides and cooked to your desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the heat and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the greens in a bowl, drizzle with some of the reserved marinade, and toss to combine.

Divide the greens between 4 serving plates. Top each salad with 2 lamb chops and the asparagus. Garnish with the mint and lemon zest and serve immediately.

3: 2021 VIOGNIER

Delightfully crisp, dry white wine with notes of lemon/lime, mango and honeysuckle.

Pairing: Sea Bass Chowder

Sea bass is poached in coconut milk for this extra rich and velvety hearty chowder. A stunning holiday lunchtime treat.


1 tablespoon (15g) coconut oil

5 spring onions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds

5 medium Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675g), peeled and cut into ½-

inch (1.25cm) cubes

1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes

3 cups (720ml) unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred

½ cup (125ml) water

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt

2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces/225g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes

1½ pounds (680g) sea bass fillets, cut into 2-inch (5cm) pieces

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Serves 4


Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking

Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Add the potatoes; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in the red bell pepper, coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes

Add the zucchini and bass. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.

To serve, divide the chowder among 4 bowls.

Squeeze the juice of one lime wedge over each serving.


This gorgeous wine is made with the grapes from central California. Originally from southern France, it is easy to drink, fruit-forward red wine.

Our Alicante Bouschet is a heavier wine so it’s best to pair it with equally intense foods. BBQ and smoked meats are our favorite, as well as grilled vegetables. Roasted pig or lamb are also

options when enjoying Alicante Bouschet wine.

This year Grant is hosting Christmas for the whole family at his apartment in North Park. Since he is not sure he will have the room to make a full meal, we are going to get our main course from our favorite barbecue place in Poway, Smokin J's! They have a smoked turkey and brisket that is perfect for this wine pairing!

We love Smokin J’s and they have catered many of our important family events like Caitlin’s wedding and her graduation and now our holiday meal!

5: 2020 AQUARIUS

Mostly Petite Sirah with Sangiovese and Merlot. Rich bold flavors and intriguing mouthfeel of the wine

Pairing: Spice-Rubbed T-Bone Steak with Pan-Fried Fennel Mashed Potatoes

Note from our Winemaker Susanne:

One of my favorite pairings. I can’t help myself, I just love the taste of anise and l will take it in any form I can get it. This pairing was first introduced to us at a Dinner in the Vines catered by John Little Catering many years ago. Earthy spices and the mellow licorice flavor of fennel add an extra savory dimension to this meat and potatoes dish.


2 teaspoons (10ml) chili powder

1 teaspoon (5ml) freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar

1 teaspoon (5ml) paprika

1 teaspoon (5ml) dried oregano leaves, finely crushed

1 teaspoon (5ml) dry mustard

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cumin

2 teaspoons (10ml) salt, divided

2 (1-pound/450g) T-bone steaks, each 1 inch (2.5cm) thick

3 medium russet or other starchy baking potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675g), peeled and cut into


3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons (45ml) half and half or light cream

3 tablespoons (45ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 fennel bulb (about 8 ounces/225g), stems removed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced lengthwise

Serves 4


Mix the chili powder, black pepper, sugar, paprika, oregano, dry mustard, cumin, and 1 teaspoon (5ml) of the salt.

Coat the steaks on both sides with the spice mix and set aside at room temperature.

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover them by 2 inches (5cm). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan, off heat. Add the butter, half and half, and the 1

remaining teaspoon (5ml) of salt. Mash with a large whisk or potato masher until the ingredients are thoroughly combined but still lumpy.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the fennel slices; cook and stir until they are slightly browned and tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir the fennel into the potatoes.

In the same skillet, heat 1 more tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Spread the potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook undisturbed for 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the potatoes over, one section at a time, and cook for 6 more minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the pan from heat and cover it to keep the potatoes warm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Heat the 1 remaining tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast the steaks for 6 minutes for medium rare to medium.

Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the steaks to a serving platter.

Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

To serve, slice the steaks into strips and divide them among 4 plates. Spoon the potatoes next to the steak.

6: 2020 Carménère

This unique wine has fruity red berry aromas and tart flavors of raspberry along with granite like minerality

Pairing: Lamb Osso Buco with Spring Peas and Mint

*Ask your butcher to saw the lamb shanks in half crosswise to resemble the veal used for osso buco. Exposing the bone adds body to the sauce and makes it possible to enjoy the bone marrow. However, you can make the dish with whole lamb shanks, if you prefer.


4 lamb shanks, sawed in half crosswise

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons (3 fl oz/90 ml) extra virgin olive oil

3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, about 4-1/2

cups (450 g)

4 large cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) white wine

2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) chicken broth

6 large sprigs of fresh mint, tied together with kitchen twine, plus 2 dozen large mint leaves

½ pound (250 g) sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 cup (250 g) English peas or frozen petite peas


2 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

Serves 4


Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Set aside 1- 1/2 cups (150 g) of the leeks.

Add the remaining leeks and minced garlic to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent browning.

Transfer the leeks and garlic to a large plate and return the pot to medium heat.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Brown the lamb on all sides, adjusting the heat so the lamb browns without burning.

Transfer it as it browns to the plate with the leeks.

Pour off and discard any fat in the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the white wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any stuck-on bits of meaty residue with a wooden spoon.

Add the broth and bundled mint sprigs and bring to a simmer.

Return the meat and sautéed leeks to the pot, baste with the broth, cover, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Cook until the lamb is fork-tender and beginning to fall off the bone, about 2 hours, turning the meat over in the broth occasionally.

While the lamb cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Prepare a bowl of ice water.

Boil the sugar snap peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Transfer with a wire-mesh skimmer or sieve to the ice water.

Boil the fresh peas (if using) until tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain and add to the ice water.

When the peas are cool, drain well in a sieve.

Make the gremolata:

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.

With tongs, transfer the lamb to a bowl and cover.

Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and let stand for about 15 minutes to allow fat to rise to the surface.

Skim off as much fat as you can, then return the liquid to the pot. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to a sauce consistency; you should have about 1-1/3 cups (11 fl oz/350 ml).

Taste for seasoning.

Return the lamb and any juices to the sauce, reheat gently, and keep warm over low heat.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved leeks, season with salt, and

sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent browning.

Add the sugar snap peas and English peas. (If using frozen peas, add them now.)

Season with salt and heat, uncovered, until the peas are hot throughout, adding a splash of water if needed to moisten.

Tear the mint leaves into smaller pieces and stir them in.

Divide the vegetables among 4 wide shallow bowls.

Place the lamb shanks on top and spoon sauce over the shanks.

Top the shanks with the gremolata. Serve immediately.

7: Lacerta

This wine is a blend of Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet. The softness of these varietals along with distinct bouquet provide the silky finish and taste.

Pairing: Roasted Duck Leg with Black Currant Sauce and Roasted Turnips

A tart, slightly sweet currant sauce complements and adds bright flavors to these crispy duck legs and roasted turnips.

* If you live in Ramona the easiest place to buy duck is at ALDI Grocery Store and remember that turnips are power packed with vitamin C, magnesium and vitamin A and turnip greens are considered a superfood!


4 (8-ounce/225g) duck legs, skin on, excess fat removed

2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh thyme leaves, divided

2 medium turnips (about 10 ounces/280g), peeled and each cut into ten wedges

1 tablespoon (15ml) finely chopped shallots

1/3 cup (80ml) balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup (80ml) black current preserves

¼ cup (60 ml) water

2 teaspoons (10g) unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 2


Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C) with a rack in the upper and lower third.

Sprinkle both sides of the duck legs generously with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon (5ml) of the thyme leaves.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.

 Add the duck legs, skin side down, and sear for 4 minutes.

Turn the legs and sear for 1 minute.

Transfer the duck to a medium roasting pan, skin side up. (Reserve the duck fat in the skillet for later use.)

Cover the pan and roast the duck for 1 hour on the upper rack.

Uncover and roast for an additional 15 minutes.

While the duck is roasting, spread the turnips in a single layer, in another roasting pan.

Drizzle the turnips with 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the reserved duck fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the remaining teaspoon (5ml) of thyme leaves.

About 35 minutes before the duck is done, put the turnips in the oven, on the lower rack, so that the duck and the turnips will be ready at the same time.

When the duck is ready, let it rest while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, remove all but 1 tablespoon of duck fat from the skillet used for searing. (If there is less than 1 tablespoon left, just use what is left.)

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the shallots and cook and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer for 1 minute.

Add the black currant preserves and water and simmer for 30 seconds.

Turn off heat and whisk in the butter.

To serve, spoon the desired amount of sauce on 2 plates and top with 2 duck legs. Arrange the turnips next to the duck.

8: 2020 Nebbiolo

Our own estate wine offers aromas of rose petal, with notes of dried cherry, licorice, lush cocoa powder, and primordial earth.

Pairing: Pepper Jack Puff Pastry Bites

When the guests show up for your holiday party, put a glass of Nebbiolo in their hand and pass them one of these appetizers. These little darlings are quick, easy and delicious, and fairly stress free because they can be made ahead of time. Just keep them in the refrigerator and pop them into the oven before you serve them. These bites take just minutes to prep and bake and make a nice contrast to our gentle, fragrant Nebbiolo.


1 14-oz (396.9g) package frozen puff pastry

1 egg yolk, beaten

6 oz (169.5g) pepper jack cheese, cut into 30 uniform pieces, each about ¼ inch thick

1 Fresno chili, sliced into thin rings

1 serrano chili, sliced into thin rings

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoon (3.4g) fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Optional: 3 tablespoons (45g) sambal or savory chili jam to serve

Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes 30 pieces


Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and gently roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Score and cut into 30 pieces, each about 2-inches long, then arrange half on the baking sheet.

Store the other half in the fridge until ready to bake.

Dock each piece of puff pastry 3-4 times along the length, then cover with another sheet tray–this will keep them from rising too much.

Par-bake these for 10 minutes.

Remove the puff pastry from the oven, uncover and wash each piece with the beaten egg yolk, then top with a slice of pepper jack cheese and one slice of each of the peppers.

Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Return the bites to the oven and continue baking uncovered until the pastry is golden and crispy and the cheese has melted, another 6-8 minutes.

Once done, repeat with the remaining pastry from the fridge.

Garnish with the chopped rosemary and a small dish of the sambal and serve.

9: 2020 Phoenix

A blend of mostly Petite Sirah and Syrah among others. This dark red wine boasts bold yet smooth flavor profile.

Pairing: Pan-Seared Steak Portobello Mushroom Sauce atop Polenta

This classic dish has been updated and transformed to become a vegan delight. The earth flavors of Portobello mushrooms and the richness of polenta pair beautifully with our unique tasting Phoenix.


3 cups (750ml) water

1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock

1 cup (160g) course ground polenta

1 teaspoon (5ml) salt

3 tablespoons (45g) non dairy creamer

1 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound (225g) portobello mushrooms

2/3 cup (160ml) red wine

2/3 cup (160ml) non dairy creamer

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons dried rosemary or sage

Serves 4


Pour the water and the vegetable stock into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

When the water begins to simmer, whisk in the polenta and the 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt.

Stir for 5 minutes while the polenta is simmering.

Cover the polenta and turn the heat to low.

Cook for 40 minutes total stirring every 10 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the non dairy creamer and. Cover and set aside.

Thinly slice the mushroom caps into half moons then slice again crosswise into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.

Finely chop the stems.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil in the skillet.

When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook and stir until golden brown.

Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the non dairy creamer and balsamic vinegar and the ½ teaspoon of salt.

Cook and whisk in cornstarch until the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and cover.

To serve, spoon desired amount of polenta in the center of each plate. Top polenta with sauce and mushrooms and dried rosemary or sage.

10: 2020 Super Tuscan

Made with our estate Sangiovese grape. Voluptuous wine with great depth and aging potential. Robust and flavorful, the characteristic flavors of cherries, tomato leaf, and herbs are the predominant flavors.

Pairing: Chicken Marbella

Note from Susanne: I don't know what it is with me and dried plums, but I love ‘em and can always find a reason to cook with them and they are delicious with our Sangiovese which is a fruit forward wine with spice, cherry and raspberry flavors complemented by subtle floral aromas. Here is a copy of that famous Chicken Marbella recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook by James Beard. This is one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook. It is easy to prepare. It is not really like cooking, it is more like assembling ingredients and it easily feeds 10 people.

Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook by James Beard

16 pieces, 10 or more portions


1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives

1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

1/4 cup dried oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped


1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.

4. Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Note: To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.

11: 2019 Volantis

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah Blend. Our signature "Happy Hour" wine as it is quite flavorful but light enough for happy hour.

Pairing: Mahogany Chicken with Cilantro Chimichurri

Note from Susanne: Our Volantis is soft, yet still bold and I enjoy drinking it with this chicken chimichurri dish. Long ago, and far away, I used to enter food contests and so I followed the National Chicken Cooking Contest with fervor and this was my all-time favorite winner! This is also my nephew Gavin’s favorite dish and I always make it for him when I know he's coming over.


1 cup chopped cilantro leaves

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

5 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons bottled hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, divided

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 1-inch cubes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle pepper

1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotle)

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish


In a small bowl, mix together chopped cilantro, olive oil, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, mustard, hoisin sauce and vinegar.

Reserve 2/3 of this mixture.

To remainder, add 1/2 cup lime juice and stir in chicken; cover and refrigerate.

Place sweet potatoes in a heavy saucepan and cover with boiling water.

Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until tender, about 15 minutes.

Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, then drain potatoes in colander.

Return potatoes to reserved cooking water and add butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, cumin, lime zest, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mash potatoes.

Preheat the broiler.

Thread chicken on 8 bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes.

Broil about 6 inches from heat, basting with reserved mahogany sauce until done, about 8 minutes.

To serve, divide potatoes among 4 plates; top each with 2 skewers of chicken and drizzle with cilantro chimichurri sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

12: 2016 Port

Red port made from Sangiovese grapes.

Pairing: Maripan Coconut Balls

Note from Susanne: This recipe is part of our family lore. Cate used it to enter a cooking contest at the Del Mar Fair when she was only five years old because her older cousin Gavin wanted to go to the fair for free. She won and we all got free tickets to the fair. It was a great day and is still a great memory!


7 ounce roll marzipan

3 ounce sweetened coconut

1 teaspoon cocoa

4 ounce coating chocolate


Knead first four ingredients together. Shape into 30 balls. Dip in melted chocolate and then sprinkle with shredded coconut.

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