Carne Asada and Malbec Wine – The Challenge and Experiment

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The Background

Yesterday the idea of going back to a “regular meal” entered into my thoughts after all the elegant Christmas meals. With that, the thought of a nice prepared Carne Asada marinated steak came to mind. So after discussing this with my wife, an excellent cook, and finding a recipe that she had prepared before, I went to the grocery store to find the perfect skirt steak. While talking to the butcher about the meat, I noticed in the meat counter display already prepared and marinated Carne Asada steaks. We seem to always be doing wine comparisons, why not a meat comparison. So this would be a taste off between the meat market prepared steak verses a home marinated steak. That is the background on last night’s meal and this subsequent story.

The Meats

So back to the house to discuss my idea of the challenge of the two meats. The marinated recipe that my wife prepared called for juice from one lime, juice from one orange, soy sauce, garlic, cilantro, Habanero peppers and Chipotle peppers in an Adobo sauce put into a plastic bag and left to marinate for 6 hours in the refrigerator. The bag and meat were turned and shaken about once an hour. The meat counter steak was already marinated and sat waiting in the refrigerator. Curiosity was building as to which was going to be the winner.

One More Twist

Unbeknownst to me, my wife also put a different twist on the challenge. She cooked them both in a different hot skillet on the stove stop. She used a “non-stick heavy duty frying pan” and a heavy throwback cast iron frying pan.

The Food Pairing

Served with corn the two steaks were plated and served with a drizzle of fresh lime. The result was hands down on the home marinated recipe cooked in the cast iron pan!

The Wine Pairing

Went to the cellar before dinner and grabbed a favorite 2016 Malbec from Mendel, Finca Remota from the famous 3,000 foot elevation Uco Valley, Argentina. This wine is full bodied and tannins thick as molasses on the eyes. On the eyes dark coloration and on the nose, floral violets are present. On the palate almost overpowering black and dark red fruits come to the forefront with tobacco, French oak and fresh leather.  On the finish a smoky almost open fire flavor resides in the mouth along with sharp and defined tannins. The wine provides an “old world sense of being” in Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. The wine paired like two old friends shaking hands, firm and with warmth and understanding of each other’s personality. This wine typically gets between 93 to 96 points year after year. Average price is roughly $85.

Also compared this to another favorite Malbec from Crocker & Starr in Saint Helena (Napa Valley) called ‘Casali 9’.  This wine changes year to year but 2016 was 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was aged 18 months in 60% new French oak. On the eyes a dark purple coloration and medium viscosity. On the nose and palate, raspberry, dark plum and floral aromas abound. The acidity is mellow and the tannins were rounded and silky smooth. This turned out to be a much more enjoyable wine to sip standalone with more forward fruit. Only 499 cases produced and the current release ‘Casali 11’ is sold out and was sold at $90. ‘Casali 12’ will be out in April 2021.

So in the end, what started out as a simple meal, ending up being a more developed and detailed challenge and experimental meal with the winning results clearly decided. The wine however was a toss-up: one provided a remarkable glove fitting like experience and the other a contrasting more fruit forward and softer, rounded edges to make the meat stand out. Both wines had great merit in the pairing to the meat.

Hopefully tonight’s dinner will be less complex in constructing!




One thought on “Carne Asada and Malbec Wine – The Challenge and Experiment

    […] Mendel Malbec 2018. From the well-known and respected winemaker and producer in Argentina. This Finca Mendel, wine is spicy and rich. Pairs well with so many foods. See:… […]


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