One of the latest trends in red winemaking is partially aging the wine in used bourbon whisky barrels. This process enhances the natural flavors in the grape varietals and brings a subtle note of bourbon from the barrel. It leaves the wine with an elegant complexity and pronounced, yet well-rounded, flavors.
The varietals most commonly used in this technique are Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz and Red Blends. The wine needs to be full-bodied to keep the bourbon barrel-aging from overpowering the flavor profile. The resulting flavors vary between brands and are based on the length of aging and the type of bourbon that was previously in the barrel. Each wine picks up various notes of oak and spice and usually develops a higher alcohol content.
Featured Wine: Cooper & Thief Red Wine Blend
Cooper & Thief is a dark and jammy red wine blend loaded with bourbon-inspired flavors and aromas. Crafted by Cellarmaster, Jeff Kasavan, the wine is aged for three months in bourbon barrels, which gives way to soft, velvety tannins with a subtle heat. The combined result offers warm vanilla flavors and subtle spicy notes. It finishes with a smooth mouth feel reminiscent of a fine bourbon.
The wine is comprised of 38% Merlot. 37% Syrah. 11% Zinfandel. 7% Petite Sirah. 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. 3% Other reds. This wine also has a higher alcohol content with 17%.
Food Pairings: These wines easily overpower the flavors in lighter food. When pairing, pick foods with a strong flavor such as blue cheese, grilled meats, spicy dishes or chocolate.
Blue Cheese Stuffed Portabellas
4 portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Full Circle balsamic vinegar
1 Noonday onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup panko or fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the stems from the portabellas and set aside. Combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the portabellas and place them on a baking sheet.
Chop the stems of the mushrooms. Over medium heat, place the chopped stems and onion in a sauté pan with a tablespoon of oil. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Pour in the broth to deglaze the pan. Turn off the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Divide the stuffing between the four mushrooms and spread evenly across the mushroom. Top each mushroom with a tablespoon of blue cheese. Cook the mushrooms for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.
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