Just a quick story with regard to Tropical Storm Hannah that pounded Fairfield County with torrential wind and rain. I was standing on my floating Pergo-style wood floor in my store thinking about what the topic of my column would be about…which isn’t always easy. Looking for inspiration in my wine bottles, I meander the aisles and BAM!! It comes to me! The Torrontes grape from Argentina. Joy! Elation! Thirst! All these wondrous, witty thoughts rushing around in my head looking to latch on to the alarmingly few memory cells that remain. I needed to act fast…get these ideas wrangled on to the page and organized. Alas, it was not to be. I looked down when I felt the cool sensation of water entering through the small holes in my Crocs. Apparently—and this is just a guess—it seems that while I was patting myself on the back, water had been infiltrating my store. My floating floor was indeed floating as water rushed underneath like high tide coming in during a full moon. How could this happen? Mother Nature’s dastardly storm had interrupted my creative process. It took me four days of deep thought and meditation to remember the train of thought that would lead to this column.
Torrontes and tacos, you read it right. Torrontes is a little known grape that is wholly grown in Argentina and usually at high elevations. It is considered to be the best of its kind in the world. Taco are…well tacos. If you don’t know what they are I really can’t help you.
So we have this Torrontes grape which is so special and different from other whites. Get your whole schnoz into that wine glass—you won’t look silly I promise. The first thing you will notice is that it is outrageously floral in the nose along with some citrus. When the wine rolls over your lips it will envelop your tongue and mouth tasting almost like a Viognier (a white grape from the northern Rhone Valley in France) which is soft and rich tasting. But here’s where it gets interesting: As the wine makes its way toward the back of your tongue it miraculously cleans up to show bright, dry crisp acidity which makes it finish like a Sauvignon Blanc. Are you kidding me!! It’s too good, bordering on sinful.
Torrontes has been a huge hit with my customers this summer. The look on their faces when they’ve tasted it at the store were mostly of pure astonishment followed by joy in finding such a groovy grape. There is a lot going on in this wine in terms of smell and taste. It drinks expensive, but the great thing about this varietal is that it is relatively inexpensive to buy a bottle ($8-$14). You gotta try this grape pronto if you like white wine. If you don’t like white wine this is the grape to bring you over to the “white side” for a short visit. It’s time for this beautiful Torrontes to have its coming-out party…and I’m escorting it the tasting table.
Now, I’m going to go against traditional wine pairing wisdom here with this week’s recipe, which just so happens, to be my very own. Wine for me isn’t about rules; it’s about fun and enjoyment. If you want Chardonnay with steak…go ahead; you want Cabernet with lobster…be my guest. I’m going suggest that you try a bottle of Torrontes with my tacos. It rocks! Torrontes and tacos both south of the border and both delicious!
2lb Ground Beef 80-20 (you can get leaner meat if you wish)
2tbl Olive oil or Vegetable oil
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 ½ Onion chopped on the smaller side
3 garlic cloves minced or pressed
2tbl Chili Powder
¾ tsp Ground Coriander
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 ½ tsp Ground Cumin
Combine dry spices in a small bowl and set aside
3 tbl Worchester sauce
3 tbl Soy Sauce
Salt to taste if needed
Hot Sauce to taste if you want more heat
1 ½ 8oz can of tomato sauce
Heat oil in the pan with red pepper flakes over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and cook until the onions are transparent (3-5 minutes). Add beef to pan and brown, pour off at least half of the fat in the pan. Now add the dry spices that are patiently waiting in the bowl and mix through the beef. Next add the worchester and soy sauces followed by the tomato sauce. Let simmer for about 25 minutes.
Heat up your taco shells in the oven, chop up your lettuce and tomato, shred your cheddar, put out the sliced black olives and sour cream, and crack open that bottle of Torrontes. It’s time to go south of the border.