Posted by: Orlick | January 4, 2010

Host, Toast and Post – The 2009 Nine Vines Holiday Challenge

I was approached by a marketing company, Bieler Communications, for my opinion of how their client’s wines paired with food. They sent me 3 Angoves Nine Vines wines, Shiraz viognier, Viogner, and Grenache Shiraz Rose, and I was to create some recipes and serve the dishes with the wines, photograph the occasion with friends and post it. I have no problem posting my opinion, especially when the food is free and they give me an excuse to get together with my friends for an intimate party.


First of all, I want to get this out of the way: I don’t know shit about wine. But I do pay attention to what I’m putting in my mouth. The challenge was for a holiday experience, but I was never one for Christmas, Hanukkah or birthdays; I believe the holiday experience is about new and old friendships and the warmth around the table, which should happen as often as possible. Why do we need an excuse to be merry?

I cook simply. I like to see every ingredient and keep them basically whole. I can’t follow recipes and I find measuring cups superfluous in my kitchen. This night, I took a trip to Fairway, put on the music mix from the Forking Fantastic site, and worked on some simple creations with some pals for a fun night in.

Dene and Phil’s Bruschetta:

– Baguette cut to half inches or less
– Diced tomato and onions
– Fresh mozzarella
Mix T&O over the slice, put a slab of mozz on top of lil’ open sandwich, bake in oven until mozzarella spills over the edges. We didn’t have basil this time, but it’s recommended to add. Maybe a dash of salt too.

This is a great mix of ingredients counteracting each other. And it’s one of the few things Phil can make. The Viognier white wine went well with the Phil and Dene Bruschetta, it let the onions and tomatoes do their thing and was a good wine to start off with because it didn’t overwhelm the tastebuds.

Jeff and Ang’s Eggplant
Slice eggplant in quarter to a third inch slices.
flour dust, egg it, put it in a panko bread crumb/garlic salt/thyme mix.
We baked these, but you can also fry them in the pan.

Angela likes the eggplant slices to have a uniform coating of breadcrumbs. I liked variety in my slices, to give each their own character. So I basically slopped them in each and let the good lord take care of deciding the coverage.

I thought the Grenache Shiraz Rose was good by itself, but added some sweetness to the Jeff and Ang Eggplant.

Jeff Prepared Hangar Steak
First, let the meat chill out the counter for a while. I prefer to get it fresh from the store so you don’t even put it in the refrigerator on hold. Waiting on the counter, it should be open and staring at you. After some time, it will get jealous and want to join your table. At this point, rub into the flesh a mixture of Kosher or sea salt, cayenne pepper, celery salt. I sometimes add coriander, chili powder, red pepper flakes and/or some leaf like savory, marjoram or thyme or even some Worcestershire sauce. Whatever smells the way you want the steak to at the end. Don’t be afraid. Rub on some olive oil and get the pan to a nice temperature so the olive oil slides smoothly throughout.

It’s a challenge to crust the steak with high eat and cook all the way through sometimes. I either cook on the pan halfway covered, drain some juices, then sear it uncovered, or sear it initially and then put it in the oven at a med/high heat to cook it through. The good rule of thumb is that when the meat is as soft as the area between your, umm, thumb and forefinger hung loose, that’s med/rare. When it’s as hard as that same area with a closed fist, this is well done.

When the steak feels right and looks nice and crusty, remove it from the pan and let it sit until you cannot take it anymore, this once again creates some hungeral tension between the table and the food.

Finally, let the knife cut the steak. I cut this one in pieces for the group.

The Shiraz Viognier deep purple bottle is the classic drink to go along with “a steak”, but I thought it made a good topper to an overall fun experience. It has full flavor and works well ending a dinner.

The Wine
Based in the Riverland region (near Adelaide) of South Australia, Angove Family Winemakers is one of the oldest family-owned Australian wineries. Its Nine Vines brand has made a splash here in the U.S. and includes three wines: Grenache-Shiraz Rose, Viognier and Shiraz-Viognier. For more information, visit

Angove wine



  1. I love how you paired one wine with cards. A creative and delicious combo 😉

  2. Try this recipe: a slice of french bread with a slice of tomato, slice of havarti cheese … sprinkle with garlic salt and toast.

  3. oh you do pay attention to what you put on your mouth?

  4. fuck, i meant in, FUCK

  5. Hi Guys,
    Tried out the eggplants over the weekend witht he team – cooked them in my outdoor woodfired pizza oven – they are fully in season over in Oz at the moment and tasted fantastic.

    Tony Ingle – Chief Winemaker Angove Family Winemakers

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