By Maggie and Aaron Walters

It's often assumed that with a juicy grilled steak comes a hearty, unctuous, bold Cab. We're here to tell you, it goes so much deeper than that! We're going to talk about how the cut, temperature, and cooking technique figure into choosing that perfect wine. 

Food preparation by Aaron Walters.

Wine pairing by Maggie Walters.


I only cook steaks in one of two ways: cast iron skillet or over a charcoal grill. For cast iron cooking, heat your skillet with 2 tablespoons of high heat oil, such as peanut or sunflower oil. Once hot, but not smoking, place the steak in the pan and sear it, without moving it, for 2 minutes. Then, flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes more. At this point, I toss in a few cloves of smashed garlic and some fresh rosemary and place it in a 350 degree preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place back on the stovetop. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and baste for another minute. Remove from heat and let rest for at least 5 minutes, or up to 10, before enjoying. 

If grilling is your preference, sear the steak for 2 minutes then rotate 90 degrees on the same side and grill for 2 minutes more. Flip, and cook for 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and place a pat of butter on top of the steak. Let rest 10 minutes.

When slicing steak (any cut or preparation) I like to prepare an herbed-butter board. To do this, take 1 stick unsalted butter (room temp), minced fresh rosemary and 2 cloves garlic, minced and stir together until combined. Spread the butter mixture on your cutting board. When ready to slice, place the steak directly on top of the butter mixture and there you have it.

Temperature wise, I personally never go above medium rare. If you are unlike me and prefer your steak cooked a bit longer (not that there's anything wrong with that) know that this will have an effect on the wine pairing. When cooking a steak above medium temperature you can lean toward the heavier side of the wine spectrum. See the pairing for rib eye below. Additionally, steaks cooked longer definitely benefit from the assistance of a sauce. Chimichurri and Malbec are a fantastic example. A classic demi-glace and Napa Cab is one other.


There is an ongoing debate among professionals over the use of sauces accompanying a perfectly cooked steak. I was taught to always have a sauce on the plate. Sauces add complexity and take dishes to a whole other level. However, I can definitely see the point of not having/needing anything else. Whichever route you choose to take, it is a must that you take this into account when choosing a wine. 

Basics for Pairing Wine with Steak:

A very basic rule of thumb that is a big help when pairing wine with steak is knowing the toughness and fat content of the cut of steak you wish to enjoy. Believe it or not, it makes a big difference! The heavier and higher in fat a cut of steak is, the heavier the wine should be. There's a very scientific binding that happens in your mouth when you consume steak and red wine together: the tannin of a wine will bind with the fat and body of the steak. That's where the classic 'steak and Cab' pairing comes from, a big juicy piece of meet needs a big chewy Cab to accompany it. That's all well and good, but there's more to life than a gigantic, heavy T-bone on your plate.

Here are some more in-depth pairings to make your steak dinner even more enjoyable! They're sure to make you look like a pro at your next dinner party! 


Steak Cut: Filet Mignon

While it may not be the most flavorful cut, it is without question, the leanest and most tender. You have to be a little cautious when choosing a wine for a filet. Anything too bold and tannic and it will overpower the steak. Béarnaise is a flavorful, delicious sauce to pair with a filet. Béarnaise is related to the mother sauce hollandaise. It is comprised of egg yolks, clarified butter, lemon juice, tarragon and chervil. This tangy rich sauce is a perfect complement for a tender filet. 

Wine: Soft and Smooth

Because this cut is so tender, a hefty dose of tannin is actually not necessary. You'll find a higher content of tannin in wines like Cabernets and Syrahs. So this steak would not call for your classic big Cab pairing at all. I recommend trying this steak with a more elegant wine like a Pinot Noir that will compliment this delicate and tender cut. You heard me right, you can totally pair a steak with a Pinot Noir! I highly recommend trying the Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon or the Fulcrum 'On Point' Pinot Noir, the grapes coming from 3 single vineyards (one of which is Gap's Grown) from the North Coast of California. Both of these just excel in quality for their price point. Their elegance and finesse will make for a great pairing!   


Steak Cut: New York Strip

What has been heralded as the best of both worlds (the tenderness of the filet with the marbling of the rib eye) the New York Strip is definitely a crowd pleaser. The strip comes from the short loin of the cow, which is the same as the porterhouse and famed T-Bone. This section has fewer muscles and is worked less, meaning it is inherently more tender. This meeting of just the right amount of marbling and tenderness make this a highly sought-after cut.

Wine: Happy Medium

Since we're increasing in fat content as well as structural heaviness (this is a more used muscle than the tenderloin so it's a little tougher) we can increase the heaviness of the wine, in both body and tannin structure. A nice, middle-ground that adds more umph, but still doesn't overpower the steak, would be a Merlot or a plummy Malbec. Try the Keenan Merlot (from a renowned second generation wine-making family) or the Pascal Toso Reserva Malbec (which is from the oldest winery in Argentina, over 500 yrs old!). These wines will be able to hold up to a steak with a heavier build, but still won't overpower your dinner. The goal is for the food and the wine to complement each other, you want the wine to make the food taste better and vice versa, not for one to outshine the other. 


Steak Cut: Rib eye

Probably the most flavorful cut and definitely my favorite, the rib eye! Look for one that is thick cut and has good marbling throughout. A rib eye with these characteristics just begs to be cooked medium rare and served with some flaky sea salt and a thick pat of compound butter. Definitely a more "hands off" cut, there isn't a whole lot that needs to be done to this type of steak. A variation of your standard rib eye is the Delmonico. This is where the whole rib eye loin is cooked, usually roasted, and then sliced to your desired thickness and seared on a hot grill. 

Wine: Big and Bold

Here's where the classic pairing comes into play. You have a big, unctuous and decadent piece of meat, you need a wine with equaling characteristics. A classic direction like a Napa Cab/Bordeaux Blend, or an off-the-beaten-path with a Super Tuscan would both play very well together. Check out the Chappellet Mnt. Cuvee (from the highly regarded Prichard Hill terroir) or the Ca' Marcanda Promis Toscana (showcasing a hefty dose of Syrah from one of Italy's highly renowned winemaking families) for all of your heavy red needs. The full body and grippy tannin structure with the fattiness and heaviness of a rib-eye are what steak lover dreams are made of.   

I will leave you with one request: if upon reading this you are inspired to try any or all of these pairings please take a second and snap a picture and upload it to social media tagging Colonial Wine and Spirits! We would love to see your pairings!



By Maggie Walters

Hello All!  It’s me, Maggie, your resident ‘Wine Geek’ at Colonial. If you haven’t realized it yet, Thanksgiving is just over a week away! (Oh My!!)

On that note I thought I would talk (via blog) all things wine and pie. I feel like turkey, stuffing, and appetizers get all of the glory with wine pairings, but let’s not forget the last course; dessert! There are SO MANY dessert wines out there with so many different flavor profiles that will elevate your pie experience in ways you never expected. It’s always great to try new things, and, hey, your new favorite wine and food pairing could be just a sip away.


Whether you’re making a pie from scratch or ordering a pie from a local bakery like Honey Pies (they’re kind of amazing), these wines will make a great accompaniment to your ‘Turkey Day’ desserts.
Foreword: Most of these wines I’m featuring are fortified dessert wines. This means that they have had a form of brandy added to them during the fermentation process. This keeps the wines rich, sweet, higher in alcohol, and gives them a longer life allowing for a longer aging process. For example, the longer a tawny port ages, the nuttier the flavor profile. Pair a ‘nutty’ wine with a nutty pie (like pecan) and you’ve got one heck of a pairing!

I compare drinking these wines to drinking a spirit at the end of a meal. Sometimes a little pour of Cognac or Bourbon just hits the spot, but all you need is a little, right? You’re not going to top off your glass to the brim (well, typically wink, wink). The same rule applies to these dessert wines. They’re so much higher in alcohol than table wines, so a little goes a long way. Which can be nice if you’re winding down after a big feast!

Fortified wines also stay fresher much longer than table wines. Pop them in the fridge after opening and they’ll stay fresh for a month! (Just in time for the next holiday feast.)
Now to the good stuff:

The Pairings


Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
with Sandeman Rich Cream Oloroso Sherry

This was by far the most difficult pairing for me to make. I had to do a lot of research and a lot of tasting (it’s a hard life y’all). So, let’s talk oloroso sherry. Oloroso is a style of sherry that has been aged in a semi-filled barrel. The prolonged exposure to more air (oxygen) causes some serious development in flavors. This wine is rich, dark in color, nutty (think walnut) and smells of caramel. To me, this wine interacts well with the sweet potato pie; the sweet potato takes on caramel notes, and the baking spices in the pie are enhanced. Whether you’re buying this pie meringue style from Honey Pies or using your grandmother’s traditional recipe, this wine is a great addition!


Fudge Brownie Pie
with Rosa Di Rosa

Rosa Di Rosa is a half sweet, half sparkling red wine from northern Italy. Think of this wine as Moscato’s red step sister. It’s light, bright, low in alcohol and very refreshing! This wine smells of juicy, stewed berries, almost like a fruit pie filling. Do you know what goes well with stewed berries? Chocolate! Think of this wine as an accompaniment. Kind of like that strawberry sauce that you find at the bottom of your chocolate cake plate at a nice restaurant that has been swirled into a beautiful design that you just don’t want to mess up by digging in. This accompaniment comes in glass form, so no plating necessary!  This wine pairs very well with a variety of chocolate desserts. So if you’re looking at making a chocolate mousse, cookies, or cream pie, this is a great pairing!  

Classic Pecan Pie
with Taylor Fladgate 10yr Tawny Port

This is hands down my favorite classic pie and wine pairing. It will definitely be featured at my personal dinner table this holiday season! Oh tawny port! A delicious aged sweet red wine from Portugal that smells and tastes of roasted nuts, dried fruits, and toffee just to name a few notes. Similar to the oloroso sherry, this wine has been aged for a longer period of time to allow nutty and toffee notes to come to fruition and the fruit notes to fade away to dried. Somehow the wine makes the pie taste better and the pie makes the wine taste better, it’s like they were made for each other! Add a little tawny port to your pie filling instead of vanilla extract, and wow! You’ve got quite a pairing! You can think me later! 



Pumpkin Salted Caramel Cheesecake
with Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry
AND Sori Gramella, Kermit Lynch Moscato d’Asti

Cheesecake. One of the most versatile desserts out there! (I’ve even had it made with goat cheese – super interesting). Right now, however, we are talking pumpkin, salted caramel cheesecake. Executive Pastry Chef, Anne Wood from Honey Pies really knows her stuff. This is one heck of a dessert! To go along with the versatility of this cheesecake I’ve even come up with two options: a sherry and a moscato! So this sherry, which is very different in style than the oloroso I talked about with the sweet potato pie, is a fortified wine. For some, fortified wines are a little more difficult to get into. As I mentioned previously they are rich, sweet, high in alcohol, and only meant to be sipped in small pours. Others may prefer a low-alcohol, light wine that can be drunk by the glass, or maybe you want to try them both! Either way, here are my two offerings!

Pedro Ximenez Sherry: Pedro Ximenez is actually the grape name. It is a Spanish grape, sherry of course being made in the south of Spain from a town called Jerez. This grape is typically used as a blending grape to make other sherries sweeter, but when made on its own produces an almost syrup style wine. The first tasting note that is expressed is the flavor of raisins. This is created from the grapes being dried before fermentation, traditionally on straw mats in the sun. This ‘raisin’ wine also expresses notes of toffee, caramel, fig and dates. These notes play really well off of the salted caramel drizzled on top of this cheesecake. Honestly, if you were doing a plain cheesecake this wine would be delicious used as a sauce, just drizzle a little over the top. It’s AH-MAZING over vanilla ice-cream too!

Moscato d’Asti: Probably this is one of the most recognized and iconic dessert wines on the market currently. With such a saturated market of this variety comes a lot of varying quality levels. I chose one that is a classic! Anything Kermit Lynch imports is always held to a higher standard. This wine is sweet, but not cloying. Has great mouthwatering acidity that refreshes the palate, and is a little spritzy. Combine that with a low alcohol percentage and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. With a dessert as creamy as cheesecake it’s nice to do a contrasting pairing that lightens the dessert versus being just as decadent.
I hope this inspires some dessert pairings on your dinner table this season! If you are serving any desserts that aren’t listed here but you want to feature them with a pairing, please come see me! I would love to help!

Steak and Bourbon

By Aaron Walters

A little while back we had a steak and bourbon pairing at the Tasting Bar.  It was such a hit that I decided I would post the recipe and bourbons for your viewing and culinary pleasure! 

First off, the bourbons.

We poured:

  • Woodford Reserve
  • Jefferson's Very Old Small Batch
  • Booker's latest release

The Woodford Reserve doesn't say, but it has a 7-year-age profile. It has a great nose of dried fruit, orange, vanilla and tobacco. The finish is pleasant with very little "burn."

The Jefferson's also doesn't state, but it has an 8-year-age profile. On the nose you will notice butterscotch, raisins and vanilla. The palate is filled with tobacco, oak, and brown sugar. It also finishes quite pleasantly with very little "burn."

The Booker's is a whole other story! Coming in at a "hot" 128 proof, Booker's is aggressive and in your face! A drop of water in this one really helps it open and soften a little bit.  The nose consists of sweet vanilla and toasty oak. These are confirmed on the palate and the finish is long and lingering. This one definitely warms you up on the way down!

We paired these fantastic bourbons with, what else but, a bourbon-marinated top sirloin. I marked them off on the grill and let them rest, chilling them down overnight. The result was a sweet and slightly spicy, perfectly medium-rare steak that paired wonderfully with the bourbons.

Here's the marinade recipe. Try it and let me know what you think!

Bourbon-Marinated Top Sirloin

  • 1.5 pounds Top Sirloin (1.5-2" thick)
  • 1 cup Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon
  • 1/3 cup Hoisin
  • 1/4 cup Applewood Smoked Bacon Mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Cayenne
  • 2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 tsp Ancho Chili Powder
  • 2 tbsp salt plus some for serving

Mix everything in a large bowl or lexan and add the steaks. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Take it out of the fridge about an hour before you’re ready to grill it. Once it's up to room temperature and your grill is hot, place them on the grill for 2 minutes. Then, rotate them 90 degrees on the same side for an additional 2 minutes.

Next, flip them over and cook them for 4 minutes on the other side. Remove to a sheet tray and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to serve them, take them out of the fridge and slice thinly on a wide diagonal. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and enjoy. 

Note: You can definitely serve this hot right off the grill. Just let your steaks rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing so they retain that juicy goodness!
Bon Appetite!

Strawberry Recipes with Champagne Pairings

We've got a couple of great recipe ideas to go along with our Guide to Hosting a Strawberries & Champagne Tasting. What a sweet celebration!


Sweet as honey cream

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Mix ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl and chill until ready to use. 


Pound cake with Basil Mascarpone and Strawberries

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 pound cake
  • 16 oz. fresh strawberries
  • 1/8 cup sugar

Slice Strawberries and place in a large bowl. Coat with sugar and let sit for at least 2 hours. 

In a pot of boiling water. Blanche the basil for about 30 seconds and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Once cooled, remove to a towel and dry throughly. Add Basil and Mascarpone to the bowl of a food processor and process a few turns. Add cream, little by little, while processing until well mixed. Remove the cream to a piping bag and chill. 

Slice and toast pound cake in a 350 degree oven until warmed throughout. For plating, place a piece of pound cake on a plate, pipe the Mascarpone cream on the cake and spoon strawberries on top. I also like to drizzle some of the strawberry juice on as well!