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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What a difference a year can make. August 2018 through July 2019 was the second rainiest 12 month stretch in the recorded history of New Jersey weather. These records stretch back into the late 19th century, which gives context just to how wet that is. It's not easy growing wine grapes when it rains every other day from August through the end of harvest. As we slogged through a wet May and June, we were making preparations to endure another difficult season. A torrential thunderstorm on July 11th dropped over three inches of rain on most of our vineyards. Todd Wuerker, winemaker at Hawk Haven Vineyard said to me on the phone "it has to stop, it always evens out" and I scoffed at that idea. The weather today doesn't know what happened the day, week, or month before.
Todd was right! An atmospheric switch flipped in mid-July, and high pressure dominated the mid-Atlantic for the rest of the season. There were isolated thunderstorms to dodge through the rest of summer, and Unionville fared particularly well in this stretch. Over the 10 weeks of harvest, less than three inches of rain fell across our vineyards. We went from a historically wet stretch to historically dry, and it came just in the nick of time.
Today, we are picking the first grapes for what is Unionville's 27th harvest. Two years after the first grapes were picked and fermented, they were sold in the newly-opened tasting room- 25 years ago. Although I've been thinking about this moment for about a year, we've started our anniversary celebration and I'm still struggling to put it all in context.
In the past few years I've learned so much that could be shared with you now. I've spent hours at the township building, reading through letters written back and forth between parties involved in the winery's founding in the early 1990's. I've walked the vineyards, pausing with each "King of the Vineyard" as Conor calls them- the craggy, gnarly vines nearly as old as me. I've stared at the black and white photos in the hallway of the 1858 Farmhouse of the family and workers who tended to this property many decades ago.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I know that is cliché to say, but it truly is a great time at Unionville. We’ve got all of our reds pressed and in barrel. Cooler, stainless-steel fermentations are finishing up in tank, I’m finally able to breathe a little easier, and wake up a little later. With the holidays upon us, the wine making team has a lot on the mind, but one thing standing out is the blending, bottling, and release of Vat #23 – the latest rendition of our opulent Port wine.
Port has a storied history at Unionville – the fortified delight has been made at the winery since its first vintage in 1993, Before we delve into that, we have to talk a little about how Port is made and the different styles in which it can be presented. Port, named for its origin country, Portugal, is typically a sweet or medium-dry red wine, fortified with distilled grape spirit, then cellared and bottled at different times and in different ways to present specific stylizations. The two most recognizable presentations of Port wine are Ruby and Tawny Ports. Ruby styles are young wines usually aged for only a couple of years (or less). They’re released early to showcase juicy acidity and fruity characteristics of young wine with fuller mouthfeel and complexity
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