First of all, let me say Happy Holidays to everyone. This is a great time of year to celebrate with friends and family. At Unionville we are celebrating another successful year. We just had our 21 Port release and the winery is hopping.
While we’re in a celebratory mood, we need to get the party started. For this I offer our Gold Medal winning Riesling. (2010 Riesling, Gold Medal, Beverage Tasting Institute 2012). This Riesling is a semi-sweet take on the Riesling grape, showcasing a great balance of fruit, sweetness and acidity. This is a wine of finesse, featuring Granny Smith apple, Bosc pear and honey. Perfect for any occasion.
Also remember, that Riesling is great for brunches and lunches. It’s naturally low alcohol means your guests can enjoy a glass or two and not head for the sofa when the meal is over for a nap. It is also great with spicy hot foods. Low alcohol wines reduce the heat; high alcohol wines exacerbate the heat. How do you not love Riesling?
What’s even better, is we have a dry style as well; same fruit in the nose and taste only fermented dry. If there is one wine that’s a true party animal, it’s Riesling. Its versatility is unparalleled. Recently, when we held our Wine and Food pairing class, I featured both versions of the same dish, with one slight variance, sugar.
Our semi-sweet Riesling is fantastic with Asian foods-especially if there is any sugar in the dish. Think of Thai lettuce wraps, Orange Beef or even General Tso’s chicken. All these dishes have sugar in their sauce. One of the first rules I learned during my Sommelier training was that sweet foods need to be paired with sweet wines. If you eat a sugary food with a dry wine, the wine will just taste like lemon water. Yuck. If the sugar in the wine matches the sugar in the food, you have a perfect and seamless harmony. That said, the dry version is equally great with Asian foods, sushi, and Indian as long as they aren’t sweet. Sorry Teriyaki.
Knowing this, I present my Chicken Wings Adobo recipe two ways. The basic ingredients are soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions and vinegar. You can vary it from there, but let’s stick with the basics. Now, let the chicken marinade for 3 hours in the mixture, and pull the chicken out and throw it on a grill. During this time, reduce the marinade by two thirds and add sugar. When the chicken is cooked, half is arranged on a plate and the other half of the chicken is tossed in the sugary sauce, then plated.
Now we bring in the wines. For the dry wings I serve the Unionville Dry Riesling and for the sweet version, the Unionville Riesling. It’s the same chicken wings and wine, the only difference is the sugar. Last Saturday night I was at a holiday gathering and I brought both wines and both chicken dishes. I made sure that the right wine was placed next to its counterpart and watched the crowd. What was so great, is that people didn’t realize the wine changed with the food. They just knew both dishes were balanced. I obsess a little about food parings, but this is fun and it’s also a neat lesson to teach your guests at your holiday parties. This can also be mostly made in advance so you don’t have to stay away from the festivities too long.
The following recipe feeds about 10 as appetizers, or 4 if they are going to sit down and devour. If you do serve it as a meal, may I suggest pairing it with coconut rice. The recipe is below.
If you want to prepare this ahead of time, marinade the chicken first thing in the morning. Remove from the marinade and place back in the fridge, then reduce the marinade as directed and place in fridge. Right before the party starts, grill the chicken, reheat the sauce and toss together. Easy.
Chicken Adobo Wings
Except for the sugar, throw everything in a large bowl and toss in the fridge for three hours. Every hour rotate the chicken to make sure all pieces are well covered.
After three hours, fire up the barbecue, remove the chicken from the marinade-keep the marinade, and toss the wings on the fire. Chicken wings cook fairly quickly, about 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile take the reserved marinade and pour it into a large sauce pan set at medium high and reduce by 2/3rds. Stir often to make sure nothing burns. You should end up with about 2 cups. Once reduced, add the sugar and stir to blend in.
Once the chicken is finished, place half on a platter and toss the other half in the sauce. Remove the sweetened version from the sauce and place on a platter. Top both with the reserved chopped scallions and serve with their respective wines.
Mix all ingredients in a small pan. Just as the liquid starts to boil, turn the heat to low, put on the lid and let simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove from the stove and fluff with a fork.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
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Desk or vineyard? This is the question I asked myself when making the leap of faith to leave my corporate life behind to pursue my passion for wine. After working in the medical communications space for 10 years, 2022 was the year of epiphany. It may sound old fashion, but I did have a major realization in the beginning of the new year that I was not meant to work behind a desk and chug along doing work that I was no longer passionate about.
My first notion of my interest of wine came during my frequent business trips to Boston about 4 years ago. For the first time I was immersing myself in the world of wine through client dinners, networking events and a lot of self-exploring through Beantown. During this time was my first encounter with sommeliers and wine experts. I was fascinated and intrigued by the expertise knowledge of wine, wine making and learning about the intricacies that goes into producing a bottle of wine. At this moment, I thought about how amazing it was to witness such passion for the craft of wine.
I enrolled in an online sommelier level one course at the Wine School of Philadelphia and began studying and reading everything I could about wine. This is where my 2nd major epiphany happened – I asked myself, the question that I stated in the beginning “desk or vineyard?”
This is the question that started the major stepping stone to my journey. I no longer wanted my wine passion to be in the background – I wanted to be 100% committed and both feet in. Unionville Vineyards was the first winery that popped into my head when I thought about making my “9:00- 5:00” switch. I attended a wedding at Unionville the year prior and loved the atmosphere, the wine and the people. The position that I applied to was half farm work half hospitality. I was instantly attracted to the idea of being out in the field to where it all begins in wine making. Thoughts of my “office” transforming into the beautiful vineyard was something I desired. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Unionville has multiple vineyard sites with the Coventry site located within Coventry Farm in Princeton being my favorite (love the views there!) Working at the different sites allows you to see how the different micro climates, soil and land impact the vines and fruit cluster growth. Also working in the field to me was the perfect learning opportunity to understand the craft of wine making soup to nuts. Being surrounded by vines that produced grapes such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay was eye opening to me. I was so used to seeing the finished product of these grape varietals in their bottled form, but actually being able to perform farming techniques on the vines starts to create another level of perspective and appreciation for wine.
One of my favorite farming tasks to perform in the field on the vines is leaf pulling. Leaf pulling is when you remove leaves from around the fruit clusters. The rule of thumb is to remove leaves that are across and below from the fruit cluster. Removing the leaves creates oxygen flow, openness for pesticides to be sprayed and exposes the fruit to more sunlight. I enjoy seeing the satisfying result of a perfectly balanced vine with the right number of leaves removed. Working in the field creates a huge bond between you and your other field peers. You become a family unit and learn how to work together and communicate as a team. To me, this is a very important factor for having a successful vineyard. My experience with people at Unionville in general has been amazing. You have the opportunity to interact with people from all different backgrounds (teachers, college, corporate, etc.) which makes for some great conversations and comradery.
To anyone reading this, do not be afraid to follow your passion and take a chance on doing what you want to ensure your happiness. It was scary to make such a drastic shift from corporate to farm work, especially since the two are extremely opposite ends of the spectrum, but I have no regrets and I am happy with where my career and focus is going.