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Wine and Dine: Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir with Spinach and Arugula Salad

Cindy Rynning, Grape Experiences - March 23, 2018

Wine and Dine: Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir with Spinach and Arugula Salad

When days become longer and winds have lost their bitter chill, I anticipate the spring season in all its glory. Trust me, I’m ready to ditch that down coat and don a light-weight jacket! (I’m in Chicago, you know!) I’m also primed to switch my food and wine pairings. Hearty soups and stews, sauce-laden casseroles, or rich pasta dishes with a glass or two of bold, red wine are perfect choices for snowy days or cold nights. But now? I’m making the transition to food and wines that herald a new season. You?

One of my cookbooks, The Vineyard Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman (click the image at the end of this article to purchase), offers a bounty of recipes that are just as flavorful as they are a snap to create. I found a wonderful recipe for Spinach and Arugula Salad with Warm Mushrooms, Olives, and Pancetta that appeared to be a tasty change from the lasagna the family enjoyed a few nights before. I wasn’t disappointed (and neither were my guests).

Mouthwatering flavors offering layers of texture in every bite. The blend of pancetta, mushrooms, garlic, olives, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and greens prompted more than a few “Ahhhhh!” moments from the crowd…as did the wine. I chose a delicious Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 2015 ($15) (sent as a sample) from the vineyards of Mt. Beautiful in North Canterbury, New Zealand. Somehow, I knew that the delectable flavors of both the salad and the wine wouldn’t eclipse the other, that they would be complementary. I was right.

Generous aromas of luscious red fruit, blueberries, blackberries, violets, and vanilla were a dazzling entry. On the palate, I discovered elegant and sophisticated notes of zesty spice, red and black fruit, and a touch of earth, all framed with bright acidity and gentle tannic structure. The lingering finish was incredibly satisfying. Aged for ten months in French oak barrels, the Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 2015 is from a vintage year that, by all accounts, was sterling in New Zealand.

A food and wine pairing to help transition your palate from one season to another? This duo may be exactly what you’re looking for!

Spinach and Arugula Salad with Warm Mushrooms, Olives, and Pancetta:

Ingredients

6 slices of Pancetta, about 1/8 inch thick or 4 slices of thick-cut bacon
7 tablespoons olive oil
1/2lb shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2lb domestic or cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Nicoise olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cups spinach or baby spinach, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry
2 cups trimmed arugula, rinsed and dried
freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: In a skillet or saute pan, fry the pancetta or bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, cut into small pieces, and set aside.

Step 2: Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the garlic, olives, lemon juice, and vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Step 3: Meanwhile, toss the spinach and arugula with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with pepper. Add the warm mushroom mixture and the bacon to the greens and toss until well blended. Serve at once from the bowl or arrange on individual plates.

 

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