Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Knife + Cork: Gluten Free Lasagna and Cote du Rhone

Attention, students, Knife + Cork is back is session! We’ve rolled up our beach towels, put away the sunscreen and are back from summer vacay to bring you all-new recipes and wine pairings for fall. You missed us, didn’t ya?

The Dish

Gluten Free Lasagna

Butternut squash “Noodles”
2 Butternut squash peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (tops only, reserve the bottoms for another use)

olive oil

2 ounces of parmesan cheese (for topping)

  1. Set oven to 400 degrees 
  2. Toss the squash strips in just enough olive oil to coat and arrange in a single layer on sheet trays lined with parchment paper.
  3. Roast 15 minutes or just until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool

Balsamic caramelized onions

3 Tablespoons of Olive oil

3 yellow onions, thinly sliced

Pinch of salt

2 sprigs of thyme leaves

1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pan, add the onions gently toss to coat them in the oil
  2. Add the thyme and reduce the flame to a low and cook covered for about 30-40 minutes
  3. Once completely tender add the balsamic and cook covered for another 10 minutes, they onions should be caramelized and syrupy
  4. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside

Garlic spinach/Ricotta filling

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 clove of garlic, sliced thinly

1 pinch of chili flake

15 ounces of baby spinach leaves

20 ounces of part skim ricotta

1 Teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pan, add the garlic and chili flake and sauté until golden, remove and discard the garlic but not the oil
  2. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted, remove from the heat and squeeze out the excess moisture
  3. In a large bowl, fold together with the ricotta and set aside

Turkey sausage ragu

1 pound of Italian turkey sausage

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, sliced thin

36 ounces of your favorite store bought tomato sauce
  1. Remove sausage from the casing. 
  2. Brown sausage in medium saucepan grently breaking in apart.
  3. Remove the meat from pan and drain onto a plate lined with paper towel, 
  4. Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned, 7-8 minutes. Return the turkey sausage to the pan and pour the sauce over, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes or nice and thick

  1. Using a 13x9 pan, spoon a thin layer of sauce, then the butternut squash slightly overlapping, add half of the caramelized onions, followed by a thin layer of the spinach ricotta mixture, repeat until the pan is full. Finish with a layer of sauce. 
  2. Lower oven to 350 degrees and bake covered with foil or 30 minutes 
  3. Remove from the oven and grate the parmesan on top
  4. Allow to stand at room temp 5 minutes before cutting

Bonus! Watch Dean cook this recipe on The Couch on CBS This Morning:

The Wine

With this lasagna, the sweetness of the squash and onions call for something really fruit-forward to complement their flavors. So, here’s where my main philosophy of “drink what you love” comes into play. A red zinfandel would work really well with this dish; however, I don’t really drink red zin so I can’t give you a solid recommendation. As an alternative, I think a Cote du Rhone, a wine that I love, would pair nicely; the ripe berries would match those sweeter veggies and the medium to medium-minus body ensures the turkey doesn’t get lost in an uber-rich red. One solid option is Gallician Costieres de Nimes Prestige 2010 (approx. $14). The nose on this particular wine had ripe berries of cherry, raspberry and strawberry, but a bit of blueberry and a hint of earth also come through. The palate had the same fruit flavors but the spiciness of Syrah comes through. which can give a little edge of interest, especially with the turkey sausage. A bit of acidity keeps the tomato sauce in check.

Welcome back, class!

Knife+Cork: Grilled Octopus and Rose

They eat, they drink, they work out. Meet Knife + Cork, a chef and wine guru brought together by their love of the Reformer. What started as a miniseries for their Pilates studio turned into this healthy recipe and wine collaboration.  Every week we're featuring a brand new dish with an incredible (and affordable) wine pairing.  We'll keep you full and slightly buzzed all summer long! 
@deansheremet  @shanaspeakswine

The Dish

Grilled octopus with squid ink pasta

I’ve been behind the grill for years, but when it comes to cooking octopus, I’ll always default to a Greek. That’s why I’m including my friend Peter Minakis advice from over at to walk you through the pre-grilling steps that will insure an octopus that is perfectly crisp on the outside and buttery tender on the inside. 
Another addition into the braising liquid is the wine cork. Afficionados of octopus are divided on the cork’s tenderizing effects on octopus. It is said that an enzyme in the cork helps the process along. I’ve tried braising octopus with and without the cork and I believe the octopus becomes more tender with the cork add into the pot.
Cork is a natural product, untreated with any chemicals and if it’s good enough to bottle your favourite  wine, it shouldn’t and won’t do know harm for you to try it out when braising/tenderizing your octopus. My final say on the cork issue is that both Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich swear by the “cork technique”. I’m happy to be in good company.

  • 2 octopus tentacles
  • 1 wine cork
  • ½ pound squid tentacles
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 long red chili, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Pint baby heirloom tomatoes, larger ones halved (cherry are fine as well)
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound of squid ink pasta
  • 1 bunch Fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil for finishing

  1. Place your octopus (throwing in the cork is optional) in a pot over high heat and cover. Allow the octopus to boil for about 5-8 minutes. Take the lid off and have a look to see if the liquid has been released (the octopus should be almost covered in liquid). Place the cover back on and reduce the heat to a medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes (checking occasionally to see if there’s enough braising liquid). You may add some more water and continue to braise until the octopus is fork-tender.
  2. While the octopus is braising, marinate the squid in the olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and the chili
  3. Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill to a high heat. You may cut your octopus now or after it’s grilled (your choice) Grill on all sides until nicely charred and crispy, about 5 minutes per side. Do the same with the squid being careful to pull them off before they overcook.
  4. Toast the bread in the butter until golden brown, drain and set aside to cool
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, drain and set aside reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid
  6. Set a large pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, once the oil starts to shimmer add the tomatoes and cook until they are charred. Add the garlic a pinch of salt and a few turns of black pepper and toss for another minute
  7. Add the pasta and half of the breadcrumbs and the squid to the pan, toss to coat in the sauce
  8. Once the octopus is done, remove it form the grill and slice it into large pieces
  9. Serve on top of the pasta in a large bowl or plate garnished with lots of fresh mint, lemon zest, pepper, a good squeeze of lemon juice and the remainder of the breadcrumbs

The Wine

Cooking with wine?  Common kitchen practice.  Cooking with the cork?  Now that’s some skill.  Well played, Dean.  :-)

It wouldn't be summer without rose and there is definitely a rose for every palate.  This pink-hued sipper can run the gamut from light and crisp to full-bodied and fruit-forward. I urge you to try a wide variety so you can see the differences in styles.  (I know, it's a tough homework assignment).  I actually drink rose year-round as some of the richer styles, especially from Spain and Italy, are a great option in the cooler months. 

These wines are perfect to drink on their own but more complex ones pair well with a variety of lighter dishes, such as this octopus dish.  So think pink!  

One that I have a massive crush on at the moment is  Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre Rose, 2012 (approx. $26).  Red berries waft up from the glass when you first take a whiff.  On the palate? Kir-soaked cherries.  Balsamic-glazed strawberries. Lime zest.  Stone-licking, mineral-saturated deliciousness. The fruit is a great match for the octopus but more savory, acidic notes balance the umami of the squid ink.

Or, if you're looking for something a little off the beaten path, the Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina (approx $22) is a fun little wine.  Txakolinas can have a very light effervescence which gives them a complex mouthfeel.  Blush in the bottle, this wine is brighter in fruit than the color would lead you to believe, but still finishes dry and briskly acidic.  


Knife + Cork: Spicy Shrimp and Riesling!

They eat, they drink, they work out. Meet Knife + Cork, a chef and wine guru brought together by their love of the Reformer. What started as a miniseries for their Pilates studio turned into this healthy recipe and wine collaboration.  Every week we're featuring a brand new dish with an incredible (and affordable) wine pairing.  We'll keep you full and slightly buzzed all summer long! 
@deansheremet @shanaspeakswine

The Dish

The devil called….And he wants his weather back!
It’s crazy hot right now, so this pairing is here to keep you cool. The spice of the shrimp will make you break a sweat, which in turn will keep you cool. Don’t believe me? I learned this trick from a dear Thai friend. She and the rest of the people of Southeast Asia have been doing for centuries to remain sated and cool!

Spicy Fried Shrimp


For the Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (such as sambal oelek) 
  • 2 teaspoons honey 
  • Kosher salt 
For the Shrimp
  • Vegetable oil, for frying 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 1 1/4 pounds small shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving 
  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish 
1. Make the sauce: Mix the mayonnaise, chili sauce, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon water in a large bowl; set aside.
2. Prepare the shrimp: Heat about 2 inches of vegetable in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl. Whisk the flour, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in another shallow bowl.
3. Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, dip in the beaten eggs, then return to the flour mixture, turning to form a thick crust. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.

Toss the shrimp with the prepared sauce. Arrange the lettuce in a shallow serving bowl or on individual plates. Top with the shrimp and garnish with scallions.

The Wine

One of the best summer celebrations is the Summer of Riesling. In case you're not familiar, SOR is a summer-long promotion of all things Riesling, started by Paul Greico at Terroir wine bar in NYC back in 2008. One of the most diverse yet underrated grapes, he sought to change everyone's perception of this varietal by only serving Riesling as the white wine option for an entire summer. The result? Well, four more Terroirs have opened up since and the festival went international, so I guess it worked out ok.

Riesling's a grape that can be produced in a wide variety of styles, from mineral and dry to uber-sweet. Needless to say, it's an awesome food wine and pairs really well with a range of cuisines and flavor profiles. I'd be remiss to not jump in on the festivities and share a Riesling for your drinking pleasure. Just back from a July 4th trip to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, a region known for their Rieslings, I'm keeping it patriotically local and sharing one of the "best in show" (with a full recap on coming soon).

Fox Run Reserve Riesling 2011 (approximately $30)

Fox Run Winery served their 2010 Tierce Riesling at the Presidential Inauguration so yeah, they've got their s*** together. Their 2011 Reserve is lemon 'n lime zestiness married with some ripe orchard fruits on the nose. A little bit of slate also comes through, giving you a lot to ponder and you sniff. On the palate, you notice the juicy peach and apricot a bit more plus a level of acidity to definitely make you salivate. However, this wine is off-dry, meaning it has a bit of residual sugar on it, so there's a lingering sweetness that tingles on the tongue. The sugar balances out spicy foods and mellows out the heat in the dish, creating the ideal quadrant of salty, sweet, spicy and sour that is the benchmark of Asian/Thai foods.

4th of July: Oven-Smoked Ribs and Smoky Wine

 No Grill, No Problem

4th of July is right around the corner and it’s the height of barbecue season. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a grill or smoker, with these easy techniques you can get the same flavor as ribs that have been smoked twice as long!

Cooking the ribs inside will give you more room on the grill for burgers and dogs. Everybody wins!

Follow these simple steps to having a successful barbecue regardless of silly little details like weather or access to a grill.

First things first make your rub. I like to use a brown sugar based rub that has a smoky kick to it. Most of these ingredients are probably already in your pantry, if not they can all be found in any supermarket.

Pork Rib Dry Rub
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (you can use less if you want less heat)
2 teaspoons salt
Using whisk or fork, mix everything together in a large bowl and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

*If stored properly the rub will keep for up to a month.

Making the smoker

Channel your inner MacGyver here and have some fun. I used the roasting pan and rack that is normally reserved for holiday turkeys, but you can use anything that fits in your oven. The main thing we are going for is a setup that will keep the meat from directly touching the chips and is perforated so the smoke can easily come through and flavor the items being smoked. The other very important tip is to get a nice tight seal on your foil to allow for full flavor penetration.
Turn your broiler on to high, turn on the exhaust fan if you have one
Line the bottom of a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Spread an even layer of the chips along the bottom of the pan
Place the pan under the broiler about 6 inches from the flame
Let the chips develop a nice char on them, but be careful not to ignite them
Carefully remove them from the oven and set aside, add 1 cup of water to the pan and give the chips a toss with your hands

Now the main event…..BABY BACK RIBS!

All the heavy lifting is over, now comes the fun (and easy) part.

  1. 2 racks of Baby back ribs, each weighing about 3 pounds each. trimmed of the sinew flap on the back (if you don’t know what this is ask your butcher to remove it) 
  2. Pork Rub 
  3. 1 bag of Hickory smoking wood chips 
  4. 1 bottle of Your favorite BBQ sauce, I prefer Stubb’s 
  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. 
  2. Rub a generous amount of the pork rub over both sides of the ribs, making sure to pat it down with your hands to make a “crust” (you can do this the night before if you really want the rub to penetrate the meat, just make sure to wrap them well in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge) 
  3. Set your roasting rack atop the wood chips and then place your rib- racks on top of that (if they overlap slightly that’s ok) 
  4. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil, making sure that no air will escape 
  5. Place the rack on your stovetop burner and crank it to a high flame 
  6. When you start to see a slight bit of smoke escaping, Carefully slip the ribs into the oven (the pan will be very hot so use the appropriate towels or oven mitts) 
  7. Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes (yes that’s it) 
  8. Gently remove from the oven and carefully peel back your foil tent to let the steam and smoke escape 
  9. Using tongs, remove the ribs from the rack and set onto a baking sheet 
  10. Crank the broiler back to high 
  11. Slather the ribs with your favorite sauce 
  12. Put the sheet tray in the oven about 6 inches below the broiler 
  13. Broil the ribs until the sauce becomes bubbly and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes 

Rest 5 minutes, add another slathering of your favorite sauce and enjoy immediately

What to Drink

Where there’s smoke, there’s super-delicious wines; wines with notes of smokiness and earthiness, often found with Syrah-based wines. These pair very well with ‘cue, especially if the food is prepared with a dry rub. Given that pork is a lighter protein, however, means you don’t want a huge powerhouse of a bottle that will overwhelm the ribs. Plus, you still want to retain some good fruit notes in the wine to bring out the sweetness naturally found in the meat. In this case, let’s take a vacation to the south of France, specifically, the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

L-R wines are based on classic Rhone blends, dominated with Syrah and Grenache, creating fruit-forward wines rounded out with all that savory goodness of spice, earth, smoke and meat. However, the warm Mediterranean weather often results in a lighter-bodied vinification style suitable to the climate. Plus, the region grows a wide variety of native and international varietals, meaning you can find some real fun n' funky blends that go a bit rogue from the traditional Rhone grape combos.

One wine in particular springs to mind, the Chateau Pennautier Cabardes 2011 (approximately $13). This wine incorporates Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are the backbone of Bordeaux wines, with Syrah and Grenache. The result? A wine with deep berries, black cherry, black pepper, soil and smoke on the nose. Then, on the palate, a meaty, almost gamey note comes into play. It has a somewhat velvety texture (probably due to the Merlot) and well-integrated tannins, but there’s also an almost chewy quality that adds an element of intrigue to this medium-bodied red. It’s like BBQ in a glass.

Happy Fourth of July!

Linguine with Cockles and Picpoul de Pinet

They eat, they drink, they work out. Meet Knife + Cork, a chef and wine guru brought together by their love of the Reformer. What started as a miniseries for their Pilates studio turned into this healthy recipe and wine collaboration.  Every week we're featuring a brand new dish with an incredible (and affordable) wine pairing.  We'll keep you full and slightly buzzed all summer long! 
@deansheremet @shanaspeakswine 

The Dish

Do you want dinner on the table in 20 minutes, prep included?
I thought so.
This is one of the oldest of old school Italian meals. This simple shellfish pasta is a no fuss dish that is made mostly from ingredients that you probably already have lying around the house.
My summer meals are all about fresh and fast, so don’t waste precious sunshine time slaving behind the stove!
Soak shellfish in cold, salted water that tastes of the ocean for about 10 minutes as you clean them. This will help the shellfish naturally release any grit or sand they may be holding on to. Don’t like cockles? Mussels or whichever shellfish you prefer will work great here as well!

  • 1 lb Linguine
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 Shallot, diced fine
  • 2 lb Cockles or (Littleneck Clams) scrubbed and cleaned
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 bunch Italian Parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ Lemon

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add garlic, anchovy and shallot and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add wine, clams and red pepper flakes and cook covered, just until clams open, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta according to the package instructions, drain and set aside reserving ½ cup of the cooking water
  4. Carefully remove the clams and reserve them in a bowl.
  5. Whisk the butter into the pan along with half of the parsley, season with salt and pepper
  6. Add the butter sauce, linguine and remaining parsley to a large pan and toss to combine over high heat, adding the pasta water until you have a nice emulsified pan sauce
  7. Add the clams, tossing a few more times and serve at once with a good squeeze of lemon on top
The Wine

Step away from the Chardonnay! (Or, as Dean puts it, “F*** Chardonnay.” ). Summer is a great time to explore some fun and funky whites that may not feel weighty enough in the winter but on a balmy summer night they are perfection.
Picpoul, a white grape native to the south of France, is one at the top of my summer “to-drink” list. Given the climate of its mother region, you can bet this wine is made for long, lazy days spent lounging in a hammock. On the nose, there are notes of honeysuckle and lime but on the palate, the floral tones are replaced by apricot and other subtle orchard fruits. Most interestingly, there is a saline, salty finish, with a few notes of slate, that round out this light-bodied, acidic and zesty wine.
Picpoul pairs extremely well with the briny flavors of the cockles and anchovies in this dish but its light body won’t overwhelm the delicate seafood. And check it out: you need to cook with some dry white wine – well, better pick up two bottles.
This wine is very reasonable, usually around a $12 price point. One I highly recommend in the HB Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet 2011.