I love complex flavors. I’m the nerd who smells coffee from all over the world to point out the notes. I geek out over bourbons and rums with a flavor profile that defies the norm. I like bitter. My favorite meals are when the food takes you on an adventure of the palette – spicy, savory, a little sweet. Think true Jamaican jerk chicken, a giant plate of chicken parm, a big bowl of pork ramen, or any number of BBQ styles.
After all, flavor gives life a spark.
Which brings us to every red-blooded carnivores’ favorite night: Steak night. It’s never been easier to have a legendary steak night from the comfort of your house. All you need is a great pre-seasoned cast iron skillet (personally, I love my Made In America Lodge Cast Iron Skillet bought on Amazon), some choice cuts of steak from your favorite butcher, a little oil with a high smoke point, and lots of culinary imagination about how you want your steak seasoned when it sears.
I love garlic, so I keep my steak flavor simple to emphasize the flavor of the cow itself: A little salt and lots of cracked black and white pepper, then spray my cast iron skillet down with avocado garlic oil before dropping it. As it sizzles with the sear, I’ll throw a couple cloves of garlic in the pan to absorb with the heat.
I pull it off when I know it’s exactly how I want it: Purple-pink on the inside. I let it sit for about five minutes before cutting into my juicy medium rare masterpiece.
In the five minutes between searing and eating, I grab a bottle of wine to enjoy.
On steak night, it’s always a Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is my jam. It’s earthier than most red wines. It tastes like how it feels to walk barefoot through the grass in a cool dew, just an hour or so after sunset. Most wine experts say to reach for a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot with steak, but I’ve come to love the bold, dark fruity flavors of Pinot Noir to compliment the richness of grilled piece of meat.
Here in California, there’s an overwhelming variety of Pinot Noir labels in any give grocery store. I’ve wasted precious hours of my life at Ralph’s or Costco starring at the shelf for an entirety, unable to make a decision on a bottle of vino. The quickest thing you learn when experimenting with pairing wine with steak is the difference between a $15 bottle and a $27 bottle.
My recent go-to is the Pinot Noir by Böen Wines, a new California label by fifth-generation winemaker Joseph Wagner.
Wagner’s story is pretty legendary: He grew up at California’s legendary Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley, renown for it’s Cabernet Sauvignons. As a vino-entrepreneur, Wagner started the Meiomi label of Coastal California Wines in 2006, producing a massively popular Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. In 2015, at the age of 33, he sold the brand to Constellation Brands for a reported $315 million.
When winemaking is in your blood, you don’t exactly retire to Palm Springs with that kind of cash: Before the sale of Meiomi, Wagner started Copper Cane Wines & Provisions in Napa, once again focusing on crafting award-winning Pinot Noirs with his new label, Böen.
Böen Pinot Noir producing a variety of Pinot Noirs, including it’s highly-rated 2017 Russian River Noir. Other varietals are made with blend of California grapes from Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties.
Böen Wines Pinot Noir is art-in-a-bottle, with a robust black cherry and vanilla flavor profile. There’s a dash of toast and touch of spice in the glass. You can smell the oak on the nose. Those earthy notes are abundant – a rich and complex glass of wine that pairs well, in my experience at least, with a juicy steak fried up in your own kitchen.
In Joseph Wagner’s own words, “Böen is a translation of ‘The Farm’ and I chose it as a reminder to myself that the wine I make is indivisible from the land it comes from and that first and foremost, I am a farmer.”
Steak night is sacred. Don’t waste it by putting so much time and energy into the meal alone without the perfect glass to compliment it.
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