We’re having fun with this weekly column. How about you?
This week – Grit Daily is headed to SXSW with senior editor Stewart Rogers, Columnist Brian Wallace, and contributing writer Pete Salib covering Austin, Texas’ biggest tech conference. Executive Editor Jordan French is set to chat with author Brian Solis on Sunday at LinkedIn Studio.
Check back each Friday for our next edition of “Wine Down for the Weekend” for updates, events, and other fun.
Read on for an easy-to-prepare-at-home no-need-for-a-recipe fabulous dinner paired with a bottle of affordable wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, “wine down and chill.”
Just when I thought we were going to escape one of the best winters in recent memory, it seems as though we’ve had one snowfall after another. My daffodil and tulip sprouts are perplexed. Isn’t spring coming? Now, along with all this unexpected snow, the dreaded “spring forward” change-of-time is looming. Because I’m not a fan of losing time, I have personally lobbied to do away with this arcane practice. As such, I will be covering that in another column.
What to drink
Tempranillo originates from north-central Spain in the Rioja region. It is a dark, almost black, red-skinned grape. These dark beauties grow as far south as La Mancha although to a lesser extent. Higher altitudes and slightly cooler climates bring out the best in this grape. Tempranillos tend to ripen a few weeks earlier in the season compared to other varietals grown in Spain. Hence the name, “temprano”, which means “early” in Spanish.
A clever background on Tempranillos
Tempranillo also grows in the mountainous regions of Mexico. The country’s higher altitudes, as opposed to the sunny low elevation and beach areas, provide a cooler climate which prevents the grapes from getting too sugary-sweet as they do in the hot sun. Although the acreage is comparatively small versus what you find in Spain, wine consumption is growing in Mexico and Tempranillos are highly sought after. We often associate Mexico with sustained warm temperatures and high levels of sunlight. Neither of which is a bad thing. In fact, I wish that I was poolside, right now, in Mexico, reclining under the sun.
Tempranillo puts on a showy display of red, fiery foliage in the autumn. This is highly unusual as far as grape varietals go. Its spikey leaves are another feature that makes this grape special. Tempranillo is recognized as one of the nine noble grapes. It has been cultivated for over two centuries and ranks fourth in production worldwide and it
Bodegas Volver La Mancha Tempranillo
Buy the 2014 Bodegas Volver La Mancha Tempranillo if you can find it. If you can, you’re in for a treat because Wine Spectator awarded it 90 points. And do you know what the best part is? It retails for only $17 a bottle. This wine is not as widely available as some of the other wines that I have suggested, but it’s worth looking for. Go to a dedicated wine retailer and you will have a reasonable chance of finding this vintage.
Buy any vintage year that you can find as they are all good. Next, pour yourself a little. What do you smell? Does the scent remind you of leather shoes or handbag? It should because Tempranillos have a characteristic leathery aroma.
Did you catch a whiff of cherries and espresso? Now taste it. Tannins are a byproduct of the grape skins and bring a slight taste of black licorice and strong coffee to the wine. Tempranillos offer the best of both worlds when it comes to wine down and chill. You get the flavor profile of coffee, without the caffeine, and get the joy of a fermented beverage at the same time!
What to eat
Today’s meal suggestion is a chimichanga. Although we are keeping up with the theme of all things inspired by the colors and flavors of Spanish and Mexican cultures, we’re going to spin the dish a little. We will bake it versus deep-fry it to reduce the mess. And the calories.
Tempranillos pair well with hearty flavors like spicy meat. If you are a hot-sauce addict, like my little sister, bring it on! Plus, you need something like a full-bodied wine to wash down all that heat anyway. Otherwise, how do you tame your ulcers?!
Five ingredients and five steps
Of course, before you even get started cooking, pour yourself a glass of that aromatic, full-bodied Tempranillo. It’s an essential component of wine down and chill. Here we go.
One, choose your protein. Chimichangas are typically made with shredded chicken, but shredded beef or the meat-substitute, seitan, also work well here. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the ideal selection here. If you prefer beef, opt for hanger steak. Cook up the protein in a Teflon or cast-iron frying pan. Once it’s cooked through, bring the protein over to a cutting board and use two forks to pull it apart into shreds.
Two, flavor the protein with a package of Fajita or Taco seasoning mix. Either will do. Mix up the flavoring with a little water according to the directions and add to your protein.
Three, add a generous spoonful of the flavored protein down the center “spine” of a tortilla shell. Choose from a corn-based or flour-based tortilla as you like. Corn tortillas tend to be a little drier and harder to work with. If the tortillas seem a little stiff, or even stale (Gasp!), splash a few drops of water on a stack of them and nuke them in the microwave for about 30 seconds under a bowl. Now they will be pliable.
Four, liberally sprinkle some shredded cheese over your flavored protein. I like the four-cheeses combo by Kraft. Roll the tortillas up tightly, burrito style. Then lay them side by side in a greased pyrex casserole dish. Spear each chimichanga with a toothpick if you need to secure them and prevent them from unrolling.
One more step to go
Bake the chimichangas for about 20 min at 350°F. Remove them from the oven and advance to the next step. They will be going back into the oven again.
Five, empty a jar of salsa over the rolled chimichangas. My personal fave is the black bean and corn salsa by Newman’s Own. In addition to tasting fabulous, 100% of the profits go to charity, so you can’t really go wrong with this choice. Bake for another 10 min at 350°F to render the cheese extra ooey-gooey.
If you like, garnish and flavor with cilantro or a sliced scallion. You may want to make this more of a meal by serving the chimichangas with a side of Mexican yellow rice along with refried or black beans. The option is to go hot tamale and further spice it up with whatever flaming sauce you like. Good thing you’ll have your glass of Tempranillo in hand to put out the fire. Remember, this column is intended to help you wine down and chill, not to roast up an inferno!
What to watch
Like many people, I watch movies to escape. To feel something, to be enriched and to be entertained. The movie, Roma, does not disappoint. Despite the theme, which is the drudgery and hardship of domestic life in Mexico in the 1970s, the actresses literally bring you into the scenes with them. The gloomy aura, reinforced by the black and white film, actually amps up the pathos that the highly acclaimed director, Alfonso Cuarón, intended for you to feel.
Alfonso approached the film with the goal of sharing how he experienced his childhood. Nothing particularly unusual about that but he approached it quite unconventionally. First, it was a Netflix flick, not a big screen feature. That said, it is now showing in a number of cinemas around the city. Second, he cast Yalitza Aparicio as the main character. Yalitza had never acted before but took direction from Alfonso like a pro. And just like that, she ascended on a meteoric rise from zero to hero and has inspired the world to dare to dream. Third, the movie was filmed in black and white.
Roma is the film that caught the world by surprise
This low budget, $15M movie was recently nominated by the Academy for Best Movie, but it did not win. As we know from my column last week, I was hoping that A Star is Born would win but that didn’t happen either. However, Roma did win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. Not to mention winning Best Director and Best Cinematography as awarded by the Golden Lion, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Independent Spirit, New York Film Critics Circle, and countless other guilds. In total, the movie garnered an astounding 201 nominations and 113 wins. Those are statistics that Hollywood rarely sees.
Enjoy the colors and flavors of Mexico and Spain from your couch. Tilt your glass of Tempranillo, wine down and chill. And marvel at how late you stayed up chatting given the change-of-time.