Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paired Up: Red Blend and BBQ Pizza

In our Paired Up posts, we review a wine and the food we wisely (or foolishly) paired it with. 

The Wine

2007 Zerba Cellars Wild Z (Walla Walla Valley)

We did a different spin on the pizza/wine pairing this time in that the pizza was homemade and the toppings were different. Since our last red blend with pizza pairing was such a rousing success, we figured there was no need to mess with that aspect this time.We wanted something that was new but a bit familiar and we wanted to keep the price around the $20. We have been out to Zerba Cellars, yet had not had a bottle of this wine - perfect! Familiar yet new, just like this pairing!

Wild Z is a blend of mainly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with a splash of Cabernet Franc. We bought this one at Metropolitan Market and gave it about a half hour in the decanter before we were ready to taste. We didn't notice the nose being tight at all, so that seemed to be enough time.

The Food

Hunter helped on this one by staying out of the way. In Katy's words:

Is there anything more satisfying than having a piping hot, melty, awesome pizza delivered to your door? Well, no. In my opinion there's not... but I did find a small measure of joy and accomplishment making my very own. Yes, from tossing the dough with my own hands to artistically arraying the toppings I was able to add everything that I wanted to taste with this bottle of wine, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the end result. This was one of the easiest things to make, and it made a HUGE impression with Hunter (who is even more pizza-obsessed than I am). I did decide that I needed to have the exact right tools in order to make this go off without a hitch however, i.e. a mesh pizza baking sheet and a really good pizza cutter, and from previous attempts at homemade pizza, I do highly recommend these specific items to ensure that your crust will actually cook and get crispy, and that you won't destroy it with a cheap and dull cutter.

To begin with, I can't take total credit for the crust. While I was at the store, I stumbled across a bag of fresh made pizza dough (by the cheese case at Metropolitan Market) and it was just too tempting to turn down, so I urge you to do the same.

The next item to get the ball rolling was to get the chicken done ahead of time. Once again I used my technique of boiling the chicken (1 chicken breast in the boiling pot for about 20 min), so that I could very easily shred it. Only this time, after it was shredded, I mixed in a little bit of the red wine we were tasting, and also a little bit of BBQ sauce. To finish the chicken I sauteed that on the stove for a few minutes, just until it was well and dried out, even a little crispy in some places. I have found that the biggest trick with pizza is to limit the amount of extra moisture that gets onto the pie.

Heat up the oven to 350, and onto the fun! You're going to need a little bit of elbow room on a clean, slightly floured counter surface to toss out your dough (you CAN use just a rolling pin... but don't be afraid to live a little!)  Turn the dough out on the counter, and lightly coat your hands in flour, then begin pushing out the dough in a circular rotation (I use my left hand as a sort of focus, pushing down on the dough, while I use my right hand to make a sort of "wax-on" motion that stretches the dough into a bigger and flatter radius). Once it gets to around a 6"-9" diameter, gently roll the dough up and onto the palm of your right hand and then quickly slap it onto your left hand and forearm (step back from the counter). Keep this going in a good rhythm until you get to about a 14" diameter, then very carefully get the thicker edge of the circle onto your knuckles, do any last minute stretching if needed, and drape it onto your pizza rack. At this point, try and fix any holes you may have by gently stretching the thicker areas of dough over to the thinner areas. And there... you did it, like a pro!

Next you get to decide which type of pizza you want to make. We had decided to go with a taste that we would never order from any of our favorite places: BBQ. This was also extra simple as we had some extra BBQ sauce already in the fridge. Just pour out a few tablespoons, then use the back of a spoon to smooth it over the crust; the closer you take it to the edges, the less crust you'll end up with. You are really limitless when it comes to the toppings... just always remember to try and cut out as much moisture as possible. Our toppings were:
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Red onions
  • Red pepper
  • Crimini mushrooms (sliced)
  • Shredded BBQ chicken
  • Fresh pineapple chunks (I cooked out the juices along with the chicken)
  • Fresh, hand rolled Mozzarella (from Metropolitan Market) (shred/tear this cheese into small sizes)
  • Parmesan-Reggiano grated over the top.
Once you get your toppings in place, stick it in the oven for around a half-hour; keep an eye on it though, as different toppings may increase/decrease the desired cooking time.

And there you go... it's not delivery, but it's delicious. 

Hunter's Gatherings

The wine is a deep ruby-red. The aromas of pepper, red fruit, earth, licorice and cherry cola run around and pop up at various times, though the pepper, fruit and earth are especially present. The wine is quite fruit forward on the attack with a kick of red fruit, then eases its way through cherry cola and pepper before smoothing out with a chocolate finish. It has a bit of a chewy mouthfeel and ends up being a nice drinker. 88

What can I say? It seems that you can't really go wrong with a red blend and pizza. This one again worked well. It wasn't quite the absolute brilliance of The Buzz with Super Awesome, but the fruit flavors in the wine picked up on the sweet barbecue sauce and pineapple, the mushrooms got in on the earthiness game and garlic was great as always. Chicken did its chicken thing of tasting like whatever it is in, so it just gave more body to the flavors of the sauce, cheese and other toppings. 

Katy's Take

It was an enticing ruby-red, dark and clear pour, a moderate youthful aroma with an eye on graduation. The bouquet was pleasant, the Syrah being very easily identified, with a lot of black fruits, cherry, and hint of smoke and a semi-sweet chocolate whiff that showcased the oak and presented a very masculine scent. It was enormously pleasing on the pallet, with a very balanced, fruit forward, not too sweet attack. The Merlot was fairly prevalent in the structure, which overall was very smooth, and creamy, with a surprising mid-palate re-attack of pepper, and a strong finish of cherry. In the end it left a great impression for a table wine. 91

They were made to taste together! The garlic and brown-sugary BBQ sauce, combined with the slightly tart wine seemed to work to caramelize the pizza right on the tongue. There wasn't any outshining of the wine vs. food, in fact they both brought out and showcased even more of each other's flavors. The onions and salt of the pizza also rounded off the sweet cherry finish of the wine into a bit more tangy-tart finale that left me smacking my lips and going back for more! 

The Conclusion

Another great pairing! We won't be dropping the local pizza joints from our phones by any means, but being able to pull a pizza like this together gives another solid option. Once again, the many flavors of a red blend did wonders with the many flavors of the pizza, taking turns propping each other up and making two great parts into an excellent whole. We can agree that the red blend + pizza = awesome hypothesis has taken another step toward solid theory, but fear not, we will not stop here. There will most definitely be more experiments performed on this front!

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