Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "Summer"

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.