Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

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.