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Jan 9, 2018
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WINE WITH…Beef and Barley Stew

The middle and eastern sections of the country were hit last week with what seemed like truly arctic conditions. During frigid winter days and nights like the ones we braved, we want warm, comforting foods such as hearty soups and nourishing stews, which are perfect when temperatures plummet, the wind howls and icy snowfall keeps us indoors. This stew, for example, and an accompanying red wine, is guaranteed to warm the body and soothe the spirit.

Beed and Barley Stew

Serves 4

You could add turnips instead of, or along with the potatoes.
Like all stews, this one is even better if made a day before serving.

2-3 pounds chuck roast cut into generous bite size pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in large dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
2 cups beef or chicken stock
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
2 cups cooked barley
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered or sliced
sour cream for garnish (optional)

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large, sturdy pot and heat it. Add the meat and sear it over medium heat, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Make sure to brown the meat on all sides, adjusting the heat as necessary. When the meat is a rich, dark brown, stir in the onion and cook it for a minute or two; then stir in about half the garlic, reserving the rest. Add the carrots. Pour in the wine and cook over medium-to-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the wine has reduced by about half. Stir in the thyme, oregano and bay leaf and pour in the stock. Add the potatoes and barley, then cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add the other tablespoon of olive oil to a small skillet. When it is warm, add the mushrooms cook them until they begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the remaining garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Stir them into the stew and simmer for another five minutes or so.

* * *

This is clearly a red wine dish, but since weight is as important as color when pairing wine and food, what sort of red works best? Our tastings provided a clear answer. Choose a wine with plenty of heft and at least a modicum of noticeable tannin. This is a very hearty and satisfying dish. The wine needs to offer a similar profile.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com


Approx. Price


Ross Andrew

Columbia Valley


“The Huntsman”



Big and bold, this Bordeaux blend tastes unabashedly American. It’s marked by ripe red and black fruit flavors, sweet charred oak, and echoes of chocolate or mocha in a secondary role. Perhaps overblown when tasted alone, it mellows and becomes much more harmonious when paired with an energetic dish like this stew.

Calabria Family Wines,

Barossa Valley (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon


(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


Made in a similar style, this Cabernet is spicier than “The Huntsman,” with savory notes that temper the more overtly sweet ones. Which wine you prefer is a matter of personal preference, as both accomplish much the same thing with the dish.

Casal Da Coelheira,

Tejo (Portugal)

Reserva Tinto


(Imported by Banville Wine Merchants)


There is nothing remotely sweet about this wine, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Cabernet, and Touriga Franca. Instead, it tastes dry and almost dusty, with echoes of anise and dried herbs undergirding its dark fruit.

Kendall Jackson

Sonoma County



“Grand Reserve”



This winery has been on quite a roll lately with its “Grand Reserve” line, and this Merlot only adds to an already strong track record. Lush on the palate, it nonetheless has plenty of stuffing, so is never in danger of becoming overpowered by a meaty dish. Delicious stuff.





“Reserva de Familia”


(Imported by Dangerous Import Group)


Given its affinity for beef, Malbec is an obvious choice to pair with this wintry stew. Just be sure to choose a wine that does not taste either too soft or too sugary, as many value-priced offerings do these days. This particular wine avoids those pitfalls. It’s instead broodingly dark, with firm tannins, and an exciting because multi-layered finish.