Recipe: Beef Empanadas and Malbec Wines

Argentinean-Style Beef Empanadas Empanadas Argentinas are beef empanadas that Argentineans serve as appetizers at parties or as a simple, everyday lunch or dinner. Empanadas Argentinas are always baked instead of fried, so your family can enjoy them regularly, too. These beef empanadas—seasoned like empanadas you find in Buenos Aires—will delight anyone, no matter where you are. Makes 24 Empanadas Prep time: 10 min. Total time: 1 hr. Ingredients: For the filling: 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup) 2 tsp. Minced garlic, or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 tsp. Paprika 1 […]

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Recipe: Argentinean Sorrentinos Paired with Malbec

Argentinean Sorrentinos Sorrentinos are round raviolis, filled with ham, mozzarella cheese and ricotta. They’re not from Sorrento – they were invented in the resort town of Mar del Plata. In Argentina you can buy a special type of deep ravioli mold called a “sorrentinero” that is used to make the exact sombrero-like shape of these pastas. If you make these from scratch, you can fill them with ham, mozzarella, and ricotta, and serve them with any sauce. Or buy widely available ricotta-filled raviolis, and serve them with this creamy ham and mozzarella cheese sauce on top – a sort of […]

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Wine Tasting Hackathon: New Way of Social Wine Discovery

Our second team wine tasting yesterday felt like a family reunion. Sommeliers and wine bloggers from Toronto and Montreal flew or drove in to join those from the east to west ends of Ottawa. There was an instant camaraderie among those gathered here who recognized each other as fellow contributors to our online community. What I admire most about these reviewers is that although they have sterling wine credentials and training, they keep it real and conversational — with an effort to connect, not to impress. The tasting also struck me as the wine version of a hackathon. In the […]

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Nicolas Catena: Argentina’s Wine Laureate

This morning, I’m driving to the Bodega Catena Zapata, the winery that changed my opinion of Argentine wine. I remember drinking a Catena red wine one night at a friend’s house and guessing that it was Australian Shiraz. My body hummed with contentment as I let myself down into its berry-decadence. I was pleasantly surprised to find out what it was, and started buying more Malbec. Now, as I follow the long gravel road, a space-age stone temple rises from the vines, framed against the Andes silver peaks. This extravagant architectural statement is the concrete gesture of one man’s desire […]

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First Argentine Wine: Malbec Calling Catena

Continued from Part 1 of Catena Wine That robust work ethic has been in the Catena family for generations. In 1898, his grandfather Nicola left a small village in Sicily for Argentina. He started planting vines in 1902 and raised a family. His eldest son, Domingo, married Angelica Zapata, a daughter of a large land owner, increasing the family’s holdings. By 1973, the winery had become the country’s largest producer of cheap wines, pumping out 240 million bottles a year. Nicolás, the son of Domingo and Angelica, was a brilliant boy and finished high school at 15. At the request […]

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Science and Wine: The Argentine Marriage of True Vines

Continued from Part 2 of Catena Wine That “little project” lasted fifteen years and involved planting 145 Malbec “clones”: the same grape, but from different parent vines, to see which clones would do best in different sites. (“Wine caters to obsessive personalities: it makes you worse,” Nicolás observes with a sigh.) He knew that until the late 1800s, when phylloxera destroyed most European vineyards, Malbec had been one of the most planted grapes in Bordeaux whereas today, it’s less than ten percent of vineyards there. Malbec still thrives in the warm region of southwest France called Cahors, which makes a […]

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Like Father, Like Daughter: Nicolas and Laura Catena

Continued from Part 3 of Argentine Wine The Catena Alta Malbec Cabernet we’re drinking smolders in the glass. Its sultry edge is more enticing than the sweet, soupy international style of many brand name grapes. Nicolás believes that drinkers are shifting away from the herbal flavors of Cabernet and turning more toward wines like Malbec (and Syrah, Tempranillo, and Grenache) that have fleshy dark red fruit and violet flavors. Blending Malbec and Cabernet grapes is still traditional: “These blends give us French elegance and Latin passion,” as Nicolás explains. However, he no longer believes that Malbec needs Cabernet Sauvignon—or any […]

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Argentina’s Wine Visionary Sees the Future Rooted in the Past

Continued from Part 4 of Argentine Wine The 1982 Falklands War with Britain also didn’t help the economy or exports. Then there was hyper-inflation that exceeded 3,000 percent a month, which discouraged foreign investment. Vintners made up for the lost revenue by producing high volumes of poor-quality wines that smelled like bananas rotting in an attic. Meanwhile, neighboring Chile’s economy was much more stable and the country was already producing more wine than it could consume, so it was focused on export in the 1980s. Chile took advantage of this to position itself at the very low end of the […]

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Best LCBO Wines: Vintages Release August 16

You can access the 79 wines that I reviewed for August 16 as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches and the stock for each bottle in their closest LCBO stores. You can also see my wine reviews for August 2. You can add my wine picks to their custom shopping list with one click and access that list on their smartphone. This is one of the benefits of becoming a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before the release based on the LCBO doing so. Here are […]

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10 Best Bonarda Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Bonarda

The most popular Bonarda-based wine in the North American retail market is made in Argentina where it is the second-most planted grape variety, just behind Malbec. You’ll find my most recent Bonarda wine reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Bonarda: 1. Bonarda is a late-ripening grape variety that requires a large shift in temperature from day to night, so that the wine reaches high enough sugar levels without overheating and creating a stewed wine. 2. The Mendoza Valley in Argentina is ideal for creating this climate for the grape and is where the majority of the plantings are. […]

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