Pink Peppercorn Beurre Blanc

After that title, you may be thinking, "Wait, did I read that correctly? Is this becoming a food blog?" Answer: No, it's not. BUT when I make a recipe that is oh-so-delicious, and I happened to have a well-paired wine with it, I just have to share. This recipe was sent to me by my dad, but is courtesy of a great restaurant in Highlands, North Carolina -- Wild Thyme. If you're ever in the area, be sure to check them out!

So back to the Pink Peppercorn Beurre Blanc... what's not to like? Shallots. Butter. Pepper. All things I love, so bring it on. The recipe is super easy with the most difficult part being keeping your arm from cramping with all of the whisking. The recipe is below, but if you prefer to download and print, you can get the recipe here!

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Pink Peppercorn Beurre Blanc

  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 8 tbsp unsalted, cold butter
  • 2 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Lemon juice, if desired (I recommend!)

Get your mise en place together! Mince the shallots. Crush the pink peppercorns using a mortar and pestle, or a ziploc bag and a mallet works just fine, too. Cut the chilled butter into tablespoon-sized pieces, and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the shallots, vermouth, white balsamic vinegar and crushed pink peppercorns. Bring mixture barely to a simmer, and allow the mixture to be reduced by about two-thirds, stirring the mixture constantly, until it reaches a syrupy consistency.

Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and whisk in the cold butter cubes, one piece at a time, to slowly form the emulsion. Once all of the butter has been incorporated into the peppery-vermouth mixture, season it generously with salt and white pepper. If needed, add a few dashes of lemon juice to tweak the flavor of the sauce.

Keep an eye on the completed beurre blanc while you prepare the rest of your meal, making sure to keep the sauce warm to the touch and whisking often to prevent the smooth sauce from splitting.

The sauce works well on any white, flaky fish (halibut, sea bass, snapper, etc.), but would also be great on scallops. Pair it with a medium to full body white wine that balances a creaminess with acidity (Chardonnay -- maybe even with a little bit of oak, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, etc.). What wine did we have? This white, or vinho branco, from the Dão region of Portugal found in my Spain & Portugal Weekly Tasting pack. 

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Dão is certainly more well known for its reds, but their dominant white grape is Encruzado, which is also the main grape in this Prunus wine. Encruzado was described as being similar to Viognier, and I definitely agree. It was very aromatic, which is so characteristic of Viognier. To me, the wine smelled and tasted of white peach and had a great mouth coating quality. It was buttery in texture but the apple notes and acidity kept it from feeling too heavy. This creamy texture went so well with the weight of the sauce. Weekly Tasting said it'd be a crowd pleaser, and I can certainly tell why. Easy drinking with different features that could appeal to every type of white wine drinker. Plus, it has a pretty label! Gotta love wines that are pretty AND taste good. While it's definitely different than the whites I typically go for, Prunus Vinho Branco gets three bunches in my book!

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Tasting Notes: Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet

Kevin and I were lucky enough to receive a couple of giftcards to Total Wine for our wedding, and we just so happened to come across one a few weeks back. I thought it would be a great opportunity to stock up on some inexpensive, every day wines since our stash of mid-priced wines seemed to be growing due to all the tastings we've done recently. I also wanted to pick up some new whites because we've both been trying to expand our palate. I had heard of Picpoul as being a great summer wine and I came across this bottle in the France section of the store. Since French wines have been my favorite recently, I thought why not?!

The Facts

  • Producer: Hugues de Beauvignac
  • Region: Languedoc-Roussillon region of France
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Picpoul de Pinet
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $11.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a pale yellow color with maybe a hint of green. Not sure if my eyes were playing a trick on me based on the bottle color, but it was pretty typical of what I would expect of a light-bodied white that would be refreshing in the summer.
     
  • Nose: This wine smelled great and like summer. Citrus, specifically lime and maybe some grapefruit, and minerals. Picpoul is often compared to Sauvignon Blanc, and while this one had citrus aromas, it was not as potent as a Sauvignon Blanc.
     
  • Mouth: We chilled this wine pretty well, and my first thought was "refreshing". That seems to be the buzzword of the summer, but I'm okay with it! It was light-bodied and the citrus flavors came through as well. Good acidity... not too acidic where it stung or too flabby either.
     
  • Thoughts: We both really enjoyed this wine and thought it paired especially well with our dinner, which was spicy shrimp with sauteed kale and parmesan quinoa. The recipe was easy and DELICIOUS, and you can find it here. I wanted a white to pair with the shrimp, and with spicy foods, you want a low alcohol wine since alcohol heightens the spicy sensation. I looked at my whites on stash, and this one came in the lowest at 12.5% ABV. The milder citrus flavor (when compared to Sauvignon Blanc) and the hint of minerals made this a great pairing with various aspects of dinner. This wine also has a screw cap which makes it perfect for taking to a BBQ or picnic!

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Tasting Notes: Höpler Riesling

Kevin has declared that he loves Riesling. I think we had it at a tasting once and he was surprised by the dry Riesling, so ever since then he has tried to find good Rieslings by the glass when we go to restaurants with respectable wine lists. When we were in Highlands about a month ago, the wine shop had an Austrian Riesling on their machines. I tasted it, liked it, and bought a bottle to do a more official tasting at home. 

The Facts

  • Producer: Höpler
  • Region: Burgenland, Austria
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Riesling
  • Where I purchased: Mountaintop Wine Shoppe*, Highlands, NC
  • Price: $19.99

*Mountaintop Wine Shoppe in Highlands, North Carolina. If you're ever vacationing there, check it out! They are the nicest people with a GREAT selection and great prices. Bobby, the owner, is super knowledgeable and friendly. It's difficult for us to leave without a case to take home.

  • Eyes: This wine was a clear, pale yellow color and almost had a greenish tint to it. It was not very viscous which implies lower alcohol. This is normal for Riesling since they tend to have more sugar content. Most people associate Riesling with sweet wines, but in fact, there can be (and this particular one is) a dry Riesling. This wine had about 11% alcohol, so the viscosity did not lie!
     
  • Nose: This white smelled very good. There were notes of lemon citrus, green apple, and peach. Doesn't all of those flavors sounds awesome? It was like spring or summer in a glass.
     
  • Mouth: This wine is super refreshing! I served it "refrigerator" cold and it was perfect for the warm evening we were having. The fruitiness that was on the nose definitely came through when I actually tried it, and I could especially taste the apple. It was tangy and acidic and everything I like in a white wine.
     
  • Thoughts: This is a great choice! As I mentioned above, it's everything I want in a white wine... fruity, acidic, and refreshing. I liked the apple notes a lot and the smell was delicious. I know Riesling gets a bad rap in the United States for being a super sweet wine, but that doesn't have to be the case. I am going to have to agree with my husband on this one and say that dry Rieslings are definitely a wine I will have to start drinking more of! 

As a random side note, I came across this post about the winemaker of Höpler (a Höpler himself) on Wine for Normal People. Check it out if you'd like to read more about the winery!

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Tasting Notes: Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner

I recently read this article on the wine of spring, Grüner Veltliner, and it sparked me to stop by Total Wine and pick up a bottle. I came across this wine by Winzer Krems that was recommended by a Total Wine employee, and I actually visited this winery when I was in Austria over Christmas so win-win! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Winzer Krems 
  • Region: Kremstal, Austria
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Grüner Veltliner - A white grape primarily grown in Austria, Slovakia, and Czech Republic. Click here to read more about this grape varietal at a favorite source of mine, Wine Folly.
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $13.99
  • Eyes: This wine was an extremely pale straw color. I daresay it was almost clear. It was definitely a change from the reds we typically drink! Based on the color, I would guess that this wine is a light bodied wine.
     
  • Nose: This wine had a strong citrus aroma. The citrus was more lemon than other types, which is very appealing to me since lemon is one of my favorite flavors in cooking and otherwise. Besides the citrus, the only thing I could really pick up on in the nose was acid. I know that seems bizarre since you usually taste acid, but there was a certain tang or tinge to the nose when I smelled it.
     
  • Mouth: The citrus and acid that came through on the nose definitely showed up when I tasted the wine. The wine was very light and crisp, but I would actually consider it a more medium body (think 2% milk vs skim or whole). Other flavors that came through were lime and maybe a hint of green apple with some minerality. 
     
  • Thoughts: I think this wine is a great choice, especially as we head into spring and summer! It's so crisp and has a good acidity to it which makes it easy to drink in warmer weather. The acidity also lends itself to pairing well with a lot of lighter foods like fish, chicken, and even veggies. As mentioned in the article, Grüner Veltliner is actually a good pairing with asparagus which is notoriously difficult to pair with. I will definitely pick up another bottle the next time we have asparagus as our side! If you like a lighter Pinot Grigio or the citrus flavors of Sauvignon Blanc, I think this would be a great choice to expand your horizons!

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Tasting Notes: Ecaana Pinot Grigio

With our trip to Italy happening later this year, I have been on an Italian wine kick. Tastings, research, looking at bottles... it was getting me very excited to travel there! The weather in Charlotte this past week or so was very warm, so I wanted to try a white. I thought this would be a good place to start since we'll be traveling there in the summer time, too. I was grocery shopping at Whole Foods, so I thought I'd just check out their Italy section to see what they offered!

The Facts

  • Producer: Ecaana
  • Region: delle Venezie IGT (Northern Italy)
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Pinot Grigio
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $10.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a very light, pale yellow color. I think I've seen this referred to as "pale platinum". The photo above almost makes it look more yellow, but next to the other white wines in the store, it was definitely very light. The color definitely gave me the impression that it would be a light bodied wine.
     
  • Nose: Apple. Just straight up apple. Then maybe some hint of pear, but I was overwhelmed by the scent of apple. It smelled good!
     
  • Mouth: As I would expect based on the nose, there was definitely some apple taste coming through. I think I told K that it tasted like apple juice, but significantly less sugary (as it should be). There was also some lemon or citrus notes that were very refreshing. 
     
  • Thoughts: First off, I want to be honest in that I chose this wine based on two things: (1) price point and (2) the label. It has such a cute label! I am a firm believer in that cute labels don't always result in the best wines, but I was limited on time, so it was a deciding factor for me. Ultimately, I thought this wine was very crisp and refreshing! I liked the apple flavors a lot and found it to have some good acid. This made it very easy to drink, in my opinion. I haven't had a lot of Pinot Grigio recently, but I think this is a great choice as the weather gets warmer, especially if you're looking for a less expensive choice. Plus, it's a screw top! Perfect for any picnic or outing you have where you don't want to carry a wine opener. 

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