Sunday Supper with Kendall-Jackson Merlot

Sunday dinners are a tradition in my house. My Mamaw always made huge, home cooked meals on Sunday for the family. Sunday “supper” was a requirement if you were in town. Ham, pork chops, collard greens, and soft fried potatoes. Mamaw’s soft fried potatoes were legendary. Must have been that 30 year-old cast iron skillet seasoned with bacon grease!Grandmother

Sunday supper is a Southern tradition that never left me. This past week we decided to BBQ brisket and vegetables. The hubs and I have experimented with several different BBQ seasonings and techniques, but never quite found the right combination. We wanted Franklin’s quality, but kept getting dried out, over seasoned meat. This week we kept it simple: salt, pepper, and 18 hours in the pit over low heat. It was finally hug-yur-Mamaw good! Simple is always better!BBQ Brisket

And of course, Sunday supper in my house is not complete without wine. I’m sure you have realized that I like the Kendall-Jackson brand, but there are three reasons why I keep KJ wines at my house:KJ Wine

1. Affordability-I don’t believe that wine has to be expensive to pair well with food or provide an interesting addition to the table. I like quality and value.

2. Flexibility- I like that some wines can be very complex and distinctive, but they do not always lend themselves to the modern table.  New world wines like Kendall-Jackson are flexible and can be paired with a variety of food. KJ has a good balance of fruit and spice.

3. And gosh darn it, it just tastes good! You should always drink what makes you happy!

I thought the Kendall-Jackson 2010 Merlot would pair nicely with smokey BBQ. I picked a Merlot over a Zinfandel or Cabernet because I thought the mellow fruit would balance out the spicy BBQ. I did not want a smokey Zin to cover up the 18 hours we spent on the brisket! I don’t usually pair bold wines with bold food. With food, as in life, I need balance.

The berry notes and dark cherries of the wine tasted like a light cherry wood smoke added to the pit during the last few hours. Not too fruit forward, but enough to appreciate its fragrant presence. I was afraid the more exotic spice of anise would taste strange, but paired with the wine’s slate minerality, it allowed the brisket to take on a woody flavor. Dark and earthy. Natural and organic. Just the way good Texas BBQ should be prepared. I think the KJ Merlot could also be paired with my Smoked Honey Dijon Rack of Pork!KJ Wine and brisket

I served grilled corn-on-the-cob and yellow squash which provided an interesting dichotomy to the spicy BBQ. The summer vegetables were sweet and the wine enhanced the fresh, garden flavor.

Overall, I think the Kendall-Jackson 2010 Merlot is a great value and flavor for backyard BBQ’s. Because I was serving up Mamaw’s Sunday supper, I thought a reliable wine would be the best choice. Every meal is a feast when you have good wine at the table!Wine and Flowers

*Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. I was not provided samples or compensation so it is all about what I think!

Life’s a Beach

So, after a full 12 hours of driving I arrived in Gulf Shores, AL on Saturday evening. What did I do first? Head out to the beach! My life IS the beach for a whole week!Life on the beach

I have to admit I was very hesitant about vacationing in Alabama. I prefer international beach destinations and thought Gulf Shores was going to be a cheesy, Margaritaville beach experience. Most of my family have never been out of the country so our definitions are very different. While there are places in Gulf Shores that are annoyingly touristy, you can still find really great seafood and beautiful beach spots. Southerners are also extremely polite and my name ranges from sweetie and sugar to sweetheart and darlin’. I’m cool with the Southern charm 🙂 The rents did well!

I haven’t done much except lay on the beach, swim, and eat (three of my favorite things!) Food styling at the beach and restaurant recommendations are coming up the next few days! I will leave you with images of white sand beaches and emerald waters. Until tomorrow…Beach at Gulf Shores

Why does food and wine make you happy?

VINTAGE_FOODWhy does food and wine make you happy? I often ask myself (usually after a few glasses) why some cultures are so obsessed with food/wine. Yes, I often think about random, academic explorations when consuming the vino. Damn you grad school!

But the question still remains. Is it an emotional, familial, religious, political, or cultural attachment? Is it boredom? Is it to stay current on the wave of new social media outlets? Maybe it is a biological reaction.

Let’s explore the history. Food and wine has played a significant role in history by providing basic survival, cultivating societies, and defining cultural and social identities.  Open a random history book and food or wine (or lack thereof) is usually an accompanying theme to any event. Discoveries of new lands introduced new foods. Great victories in war were celebrated with great feasts and copious amounts of wine. Marriage contracts were negotiated with food and wine. Death rites often incorporated food and wine to carry over into the next life. From a historical perspective, it is an integral part of our existence.

However, the modern food revolution of the 1950’s gave way to processed food and allowed the middle-class to dine conveniently; effectively freeing the housewife from the kitchen.  Food became a liberator of women.  The 1960’s brought on our first celebrity chef: Julia Child. It was also a time to explore and innovate. Food and wine started evolving into a diverse sub-culture of its own. The 1970’s introduced more exotic cuisine. The 1980’s was all about nouvelle cuisine and expensive wine. Now we are obsessed with fad diets: low cal, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, organic, etc.

But why does it make us happy?

I think it is a combination of various influences. I think it is in part a social experience and a way to connect with the world around us. The online food and wine social concept has exploded the last few years with blogging, Instagraming, Tweeting, and events. According to the 2012 Nielsen Social Media Report, 163 million people in the U.S. use social media. Even if we can’t travel to another country we can experience the food, wine, and culture on a social level.  This can make us feel connected, informed, curious, and energized. People are happy when they are interacting with like minded individuals.

I think food and wine makes people happy on a primal level as well because we are biologically programmed to seek out the best: best job, best mate, best food, etc.  Some people may not agree, but seeking out food is fulfilling one of our basic needs. When basic needs are met, we are better aligned to be happy.

For me, food and wine is emotional as well as social. I love to feed my family and friends. My Mamaw (the Texas pronunciation y’all) taught me that you can show love through cooking. Food is directly linked to my memories and experiences and that is what makes me happy. Wine represents discovery for me. Trying new things makes me happy too.

What about you? Why does food and wine make you happy?