Winter wines and dishes? When the thermometer plunges, the cookers light up to fill the house with the flavorful aromas of a hearty stew and it’s good to know which Argentine wines go best with which ingredients to ensure you’re feeling warm and cozy with every mouthful.
Argentine wines are an ideal accompaniment to a range of winter meals. The country’s many different styles and grape varieties mean that you’ll always have the right label to hand (from different regions, terroirs and wineries) to pair with your home cooking.
Here we select three hearty stews (two of them vegetarian; one mild, one spicy, and one classic beef recipe) to introduce you to the different possibilities available when choosing the right Argentine wine to go with a warming meal.
Wine tip: something to bear in mind when accompanying the dishes we enjoy the most at this time of year is that the wine should contrast with the fattiness, calorie-content or temperature of the food. It’s never a good idea to opt for a potent wine if the dish comes out of a steaming pot.
In these cases it’s best to choose a light, fresh red that hasn’t been aged for too long with a low alcohol content, or even a white, although they do need to be on the potent side.
Winter wines and dishes
Bean and chard stew
Energizing, nutritious and super healthy, beans are the fuel that feeds millions of people across the world every day. It’s a little-known fact that Argentina is one of the globe’s top ten bean producers and exporters. They’re mainly grown in the north of the country (Salta and Jujuy) and 90% are exported.
Of course they go perfectly in stews, bringing creaminess and substance. Here, we’ve mixed them with chard and tomatoes in a warming vegetarian casserole.
2 bunches of chard (cut into strips), ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, ¼ teaspoon of sweet paprika, 1 can of chopped tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes with their skins removed), 300g of pre-soaked and cooked or canned beans, salt.
What’s the method?
Blanche the chard in boiling water, drain well and set aside. In a pan, warm the oil before adding the garlic and paprika, cook on a low heat until the garlic is golden; about a minute. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking. Add the cooked beans and chard and stir well. Season and serve.
Suggested pairing: a young Bonarda is ideal for a meal like this, try: Lamadrid Single Vineyard Bonarda, Chakana Sobrenatural Bonarda Sin Sulfitos or Laborum Bonarda de los Valles Calchaquíes. A perfect example of winter wine and food.
Beef and red wine stew
Without doubt one of the classic French stews, Boeuf bourguignon, slow-cooked from a base of beef, garlic, onions, carrots, salt and aromatic herbs, is the daddy of casseroles. Initially a rural dish from the Burgundy region in France because local peasants only got the tough cuts that required lengthy cooking before they became tender, today it’s seen as a delicacy. Here, we share a modern version that’s easy to make at home.
Red wine is the star of this sauce, rounding out the ingredients to provide a rich, exquisite flavor.
Serves 2: 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 kg beef (chuck steak or brisket), salt and freshly ground pepper, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 bottle of red wine, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 strip of bacon, 4 quartered onions, 1 tray of mushrooms, 3 chopped carrots, sugar and fresh parsley to taste.
In a large casserole dish melt the butter in the olive oil. Chop the meat into strips, season and brown in the dish. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook on a mild heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and stir. Cook for a few minutes and add the wine, bay leaves, and thyme, season and let it simmer on a low heat until the beef is cooked and vegetables tender (between 40 minutes and an hour).
Meanwhile, fry the diced bacon in a pan, add the quartered onion, mushrooms, carrots and a drizzle of olive oil, ¼ cup of water and a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper. Cook down to an emulsion and simmer on a low heat until the water has evaporated and everything is cooked.
Mix the two together, and rest for a while before serving with chopped parsley.
Suggested pairing: today in Argentina, an ideal variety for meats is Cabernet Franc. Lighter options include Barrandica de Bodega Antucura, Benegas Estate and Domaine Bousquet Organic.
Jalapeño and corn stew
This thick, smoky stew is given a wonderful kick by the jalapeño chilis. Corn, always a welcome ingredient in stews, is the star of the show.
1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 diced large red pepper, 1kg sliced carrots, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, salt, 1 can of tomatoes or 500g of peeled tomatoes, ½ chipotle chili (or less depending on how spicy you like it), 1 ½ cups of water, 1 cup of boiled and drained corn, 1 cup of red beans (cooked or in a can), brown rice, chopped red onions, cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips or toasted bread to serve.
Heat the oil in a medium-sized casserole dish, fry the onion and garlic. Add the pepper and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally until they’re lightly golden, for about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Cook for another minute.
Put the tomatoes, chipotle chili and water in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the mixture to the dish together with the corn and red beans and bring to a boil.
Cover partially and cook on a low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add more salt to taste, and serve with rice seasoned with chopped red onions, cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips.
Suggested pairing: white wines are a good option here, something with good body and character such as Escorihuela Gascón Viognier, Perlita Chardonnay from Diamandes or Tomero Reserva Semillón.
What are your favorite winter wines and dishes?