Wine…It’s What’s For Dinner

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Feat. Merlot


Merlot originated in Bordeaux, France and is the most widely planted grape in France, even ahead of the ever so popular cabernet sauvignon (with whom it shares a father – cabernet franc). The first merlot grape was used in a Bordeaux wine blend with cabernet sauvignon in the 1700s. Though the grape blends well with cabernet sauvignon to produce world-class Bordeaux blends, it is also great as a single varietal. It was American growers in California who first discovered and appreciated the blend as a stand alone varietal. Merlot is an easy to drink wine with low tannins. It has flavor profile consisting of cherry, plum, licorice, and hints of chocolate. Merlot is a perfect wine for people wanting to cross over into drier wines without diving right into a smack-you-in-the-face-with-tannins cabernet sauvignon


Food it pairs well with: Pork; Chicken; Beef; Red Sauce; Charcuterie; Roasted Vegetables


Recommended Recipe: Grilled Pork Chops with Orange Barbecue Sauce from Food & Wine


  • 1 quart plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, preferably blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder, or other pure chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 bone-in pork chops, about 1 inch thick (10 to 12 ounces each)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 jalapeños, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • Salt
  • 1 orange, preferably a blood orange, sliced crosswise (8 slices)

How to make:

  1. In each of 2 large resealable plastic bags, combine 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of chile powder and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. Seal the bags and shake to mix. Add 4 pork chops to each bag, seal and shake again to coat the chops. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.


  1. Light a grill. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1 quart of orange juice with the ketchup, garlic, jalapeños, vinegar and fennel seeds and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes. Season the barbecue sauce with salt.
  2. Season the pork chops with salt and grill over a medium-hot fire until nicely charred and just pink in the center, about 12 minutes per side. Brush a thick layer of barbecue sauce on each chop, cover the grill and cook until the pork is nicely glazed, about 3 minutes. Top each chop with an orange slice and serve.


Recommended CO Wines: Balistreri Colorado Little Feet Merlot; Mesa Park Vineyards Merlot; Grande River Vineyards Merlot; Wild Women Wine (Raspberry White Merlot and Blackberry Merlot)


If you are interested in trying the wines from Balistreri and Wild Women Wine, join us for a tour!

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