Several weeks ago, my phone rang and I was pleasantly surprised to hear one of my favorite marketing types on the other end. After the exchange of pleasantries, she asked me if she could send me a wine to sample. Normally that is really not an issue, but this time there was a bit of a twist—she wanted me to open the bottle and create a recipe that would compliment the wine.
As I was pondering her proposal she mentioned the name of the wine:
Fergalicious as in Fergie, the member of the Black Eyed Peas, who also has a solo career of note:
Now, I have had a few “celebrity” wines, and although I admit that most of them have been pretty good (Barrymore Pinot Grigio, Miraval Rosé), I am always suspicious—it just seems too gimmicky to me—a wine should be good enough on its own merits and not need the added attention that the celebrity provided.
Plus it is called Fergalicious for Pete’s sake.
As I mentioned, the marketing type in question had never steered me wrong before, so as I agreed to her pitch, I alerted her that I might not be able to avoid taking a few shots–at least at the name of the wine. She assured me that the wine was actually very good and she was sure that I would like it.
But the name of the wine is Fergalicious, for Pete’s sake.
Nonetheless, I decided to play along and tried to figure out what I would serve with the wine. In the end, I decided to pair it with Korean barbecue. Why? Good question–I have yet to find a wine that is a “perfect” pairing for Korean BBQ, but we have it all the time (my wife is Korean), so I am in a constant struggle to find a good wine pairing. Korean food is often rich, spicy, and sweet, all at the same time. There is the “Kimchi Factor” to address as well. For those of you unfamiliar with Kimchi, it is a fermented cabbage laced with copious amounts of spicy red pepper. Traditionally, the cabbage would be buried underground for six months as it fermented.
In my opinion, it is nasty–I am willing to go all-in on most Korean food, but I draw the line at Kimchi–I mean most “real” Koreans have an entirely different refrigerator for Kimchi so that its flavors do not infiltrate everything else in the fridge.
Yeah, scary stuff.
Other Korean food? I am all in. My favorite, though, has to be Kalbi (also spelled “Galbi”–the Korean “K” is pronounced halfway between the English “K” and “G”). Bulgogi is perhaps more widely known, but Kalbi, made from beef short ribs, is a more substantial cut and more flavorful, and thus gets my vote.
I finally, after considerable concessions on my part, finally got my wife to give up her Kalbi recipe. (I passed on the Kimchi recipe, naturally.)
Korean Shortribs (Kalbi)
Marinade Ingredients (For every 2 lb meat):
5 Tbsp soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp Chinese rice wine (Mirin)
2 tsp Korean toasted sesame oil
2 stalks green onion, minced
3 tsp chopped garlic (1 to 2 cloves)
2 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp water
1 small pureed onion
Mix all marinade ingredients together. Marinate short ribs for 8 hours or overnight. BBQ in gas or charcoal grill preferably. May broil if no grill available.
2012 Ferguson Crest Fergalicious: Retail $40. 56% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 13% Grenache, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Initially a bit odd. A bunch of fruit and some mess. After the slightest bit of time this made a complete 180. Brambly red fruit and earth with a hint of vanilla. On the palate this might come close to a “whoa”. I love the Black Eyed Peas. I moderately like Fergie’s solo efforts. But this wine really rocks (or maybe it “hops”, or perhaps “hips”). I do not know if I have ever been more pleasantly surprised by a wine. Ever. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
As a pairing with the Kalbi, this was as solid an effort as I have found–plenty of fruit to match the bit of sweetness in the marinade, but also plenty of tannin to cut through the richness of the meat.
But keep it away from Kimchi. Please.