Wine critic Michael Broadebent once said, “Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.” Well, Mr. Broadebent, we think you hit the nail right on the head. When it comes to pairing food and wine, many of us stick with what we know. But with the right information (and recommendations) your palate will soon experience a world of culinary perfection it never knew before. With the help of some local food and wine experts, we’ve collected recommendations for some stellar wine pairings to go with these classic dishes from some of your favorite Lake Minnetonka-area restaurants.
WILD BOAR SHANKS WITH SWEET POTATO HASH
Opening just last October, the Glen Lake Café has quickly become a favorite neighborhood joint where you can grab small plates and burgers, or heartier dinners, and even brunch on the weekends. The local hotspot is owned by Tom Peterson – who also co-owns the 318 Café in Excelsior—and serves up some foodie-centric items courtesy of chef Patrick Moore. Peterson recommends one of the house specialties, the wild boar shanks ($16). The boar shanks are 14-hour slow roasted and then topped with a demi-glaze. They are then served with a sweet potato hash for a complete meal.
As for the wine, Peterson recommends pairing the wild boar shanks with the light-bodied McManis pinot noir, coming from a family vineyard in California. The particular red wine features soft fruit flavors including, strawberry, cherry and black cherry as well as subtle tones of hazelnut and vanilla. ($8/glass, or $28/bottle). 14725 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.229.4989.
WILD RICE STUFFED CHICKEN
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Since 1968, the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has not only been putting on fantastic theater performances, but also serving up delicious fare for theater goers while they enjoy the show. On stage now, The Little Mermaid is making its Midwest debut. So, why not enjoy one of the dinner theatres’ most lauded dishes while you catch a glimpse of Ariel and her magical underwater world? The chicken Chanhassen has been featured on the theatres’ menu since it opened more than 40 years ago. It’s so popular, in fact, it was removed from the menu one time in early 2000, but quickly brought back due to popular demand. “Although the recipe has been changed a couple of times, [the dish] recently returned to the most favorite version, which is topped with a luscious hollandaise,” Chanhassen Dinner Theatres representative Kris Howland says. The dish features juicy, oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with Minnesota wild rice stuffing, topped with a creamy Hollandaise sauce, and served with a medley of seasoned steamed vegetables (dinner included in regular ticket prices of $65 –$82).
Chef Frank Antonicelli recommends pairing this with a glass of the Concannon Conservancy Chardonnay from California. It’s full of crisp apple and pear flavors, leading to rich hints of butter and caramel—an excellent choice for pairing with cream sauces. If you’re more of pinot grigio fan, try the Bolla Pino Grigio from Italy. This well-balanced white gives off flavors of peach, melon, and pear. It’s light, dry, and infinitely satisfying. 501 W. 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.934.1540.
VEAL CHOP WITH CARAMELIZED BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Gianni’s Steak House
Although Gianni’s Steak House is known for its melt-in-your-mouth steaks, the rest of the menu is equally as delicious. For a classic dish that will make your taste buds sing, we love the veal chop. This 14-ounce bone-in veal chop is grilled to perfection, and then topped with a sautéed mushroom sauce that’s simply divine ($40). Gianni’s also features Struass veal from Franklin, Wis., which is humanely raised and hormone free. Manager Terri Humel recommends pairing this with an order of the caramelized brussel sprouts, which are pan sautéed and caramelized ($8). We also love Gianni’s legendary, table-side Caesar spun salad, custom created right at your table from a list of 10 ingredients including bleu cheese, shrimp, olives, banana peppers, anchovies, and the restaurant’s own Caesar dressing made from a family recipe ($7).
Gianni’s also boasts a fantastic selection of Minnesota-based or -related wines. For the perfect complement to the veal chop, Humel suggests the Spell Pinot Noir, a robust red from the Yorkville Highlands in Mendocino County in California (Fun fact: Spell Wines is owned by Bill Spell, who hails from Minnesota.) This wine pairs well with the creamy mushroom sauce on the veal chop, bringing out the earthy, hearty flavor of the wine ($90/bottle). For a wine selection available by the glass, Humel recommends the Brandborg Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which gives off a lovely earthy, smoky flavor ($12). 635 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.404.1100.
MARGHERITA EXTRA PIZZA
Known for its authentic Neapolitan fare, nobody does pizza quite like Punch. Committed to using authentic and high-quality ingredients, Punch Pizza flies them in fresh on a weekly basis. For example, its mozzarella di bufala is imported weekly from the Campania region in Naples. (How’s that for authentic?) But if you could choose just one pizza from Punch’s delectable menu, manager of the seven Punch locations, Jenny Nyquist, would recommend the Margherita Extra pizza ($10.95). “We always want to suggest something that is truly Neapolitan,” she says. This thin-crust pizza is cooked in Punch’s 800-degree wood-burning oven for just 90 seconds to get that perfect level of crispiness. The crust is topped with crushed Mt. Vesuvio tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella di bufala, which is the most popular cheese used on pizzas in Naples.
When it comes to the vino, Nyquist recommends the Barbera from the Vinicola del Sannio vineyard in the Campania region in Naples, Italy. This red is a medium-bodied wine with a nice fullness and a clean finish that complements the flavor of the pizza perfectly ($4.25). “If you’re eating a margherita and drinking Barbera, you’re equaling that Neapolitan experience,” Nyquist says. If you prefer white, try the Falanghina, also from the Vinicola del Sannio vineyard. This light, refreshing wine has hints of green apple and subtle spices ($4.25). 1313 Wayzata Blvd. E, Wayzata; 952.476.7991.
BABY BACK RIBS
Ike’s barbecue baby back ribs have become pretty well known in this neck of the woods. So, what’s the secret to Ike’s version of this quintessential comfort food? First, they coat a full slab of baby back ribs with a special dry rub. They, they house-smoke the ribs for four hours to get the ultimate flavor and tenderness. Finally, they’re finished off on the grill and basted with an award-winning barbecue sauce from a past Twin Cities Rib Fest. And be prepared, Ike’s ribs have a nice zip to their flavor. Served with fries and coleslaw, make sure to savor every bite of this delightful dish ($27).
The goal for the wine list at Ike’s in Minnetonka was to bring in well-known, notable wines at a reasonable price. For the perfect wine pairing, the bartending team recommends a nice, full-bodied red zinfandel like the Edmeades Red Zinfandel from Mendocino County in California ($11/glass, or $42/bottle). Edmeades winery specializes in single vineyard Zinfandels that are dark, dense, and earthy, making its wines one bottle at a time. If you prefer a white wine, try the MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in California with its buttery and oaky flavors ($12/glass, or $46/bottle). 17805 Highway 7, Minnetonka; 952.681.7099.