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Texas Connections, Beef Flautas, and Bending Branch's Tannat #TexasFineWine #WinePW #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the November #WinePW Texas event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

When Michelle of Rockin Red Blog announced she was hosting at Texas wine event for #WinePW, I was excited for the virtual adventure. You can read her invitation here.

And I was doubly excited that she had lined up Texas Fine Wine* as an event sponsor since I have had trouble getting wines from Texas shipped to me in California. Something about reciprocity. Yada yada. 

In any case, I received two bottles of Texas wine from Bending Branch Winery* ahead of this event. If you are reading this early enough, you are welcome to join in the live Twitter chat we have scheduled for Saturday, November 9th at 8am Pacific time. Follow along with the hashtags #WinePW (our usual) and #TexasFineWine (a special)...and be sure to use those if you chime in so that we can see your comment. 

The Texas Wine Pairings
I was born in Texas many, many, many moons ago, but my parents left the state when I was an infant and I haven't spent much time there since. I did spend a week there when one of my childhood friends bought me a ticket as a graduation present from high school. We stayed at her family's house in San Angelo and drove all over the state for daytrip adventures. But that was long before digital cameras, so I am not sure what photos might exist from that trip. One particular day was emblazoned in my brain - when we drove hours to have lunch in Fredricksburg and then back. Our mission: eat peach pie. The taste of that pie and the smell of the bluebell fields that we drove past are forever in my mind. Those peaches were the embodiment of summer sweetness and I have never had any pie that good since. Trust me, I've tried to replicate it...and I'll keep trying. But, maybe, I just need to plan a trip to Texas for that pie!

Back in April, my boys and their robotics team traveled to Texas to compete in the robotics world championships in Houston. It was a huge deal for the team, but Jake and I couldn't go with them, unfortunately. Still, between social media and the other parent chaperones, we received pictures multiple times a day and felt as if we were there. 

One of the team dinners was at The Pit Room and I was jealous of the trays that would make a dedicated omnivore drool. Oh, and the beer was on one of the dad's trays...not a kid's tray!

My parents recently flew to Texas to attend a friend's memorial and I asked my mom to bring home a bottle of Texan wine for me. She asked me what I wanted; I replied, "just whatever is a representation of Texas wines." She brought me this - a Texas sweet blush. I paired it with some homemade queso.

Sweet, sticky, syrupy. Yikes. Though the queso was superb, the wine was definitely not my cup of tea. But, as Michelle had lined up Texas Fine Wine to provide wine samples to several of the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers, I was hopeful that I would receive something more to my liking! And I did.

In My Glass

Texas Fine Wine wineries pride themselves on producing high quality wines from 100% Texas grapes. The same Texan friend who sent me that plane ticket to visit when I was 18-years-old is now back in the States - and Texas - after decades traveling the world with her husband. She recently posted: "We haven't had a single really good wine while here in Oregon & Washington-- not for lack of trying! Maybe because we are in Columbia River valley and not Williamette... Still.... I KNOW there must be some good wines here, but will be happy to return to my Texas tannats, viogners, and tempranillos...."

I asked her to tell me more about her Texas Tannats as I had just received a bottle from Bending Branch. She replied immediately that Bending Branch was one of her favorites! "They use an interesting technique of cryogenic freezing (of some of the varieties) of grapes and then crushing them, to get more juice. As far as I know, they are one of the leading developers and proponents of tannat wines in Texas. Tannat is still in the 'experimental' stage, but gaining a strong following. Bending Branch's winery is about 35 minutes from me. :)" I'm jealous! She added, "I'm no expert, just a consumer, but I think I can safely say that winery is a decent representative of our wine industry here."

This Tannat was sourced from four vineyards in Texas Hill Country AVA and Texas High Plains AVA before being aged for 18 months in American and French oak barrels. Then it was bottled in April 2019 with just over 950 cases made. It retails for $30 and has garnered two awards so far: Blue Ribbon at the 2019 GO TEXAN / State Fair of Texas and a Silver at the 2019 Lone Star International Wine Competition.

This wine poured a bright garnet color. After a vigorous swirl, aromas of spice, smoke, and red fruits wafted from the glass.It's full-bodied with rich flavors and firm tannins. I could easily see this wine paired with Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Lollipops or Spaghetti and Meatballs.

On My Plate

When I started looking at Texan foods I put it out to the hive-mind and got some really fun comments about breakfast tacos and Frito pie...
  • Lived in Austin for awhile, breakfast tacos from mom and mom shops were a big deal there with potatoes and beans inside—yum! Migas and good homemade queso also became favorites!
  • I live in VA now, and when I bring up breakfast tacos, people can’t wrap their heads around it. They’re like “so you just eat tacos for breakfast?” No! They’re like a separate thing! Texas is SO a way of life. Soft flour tortillas and various mixtures of innards. My favorites are either bean (refried, of course) and cheese, or bacon, egg, and cheese. And salsa. Always salsa. Tacos are mechanisms for getting salsa in my mouth in my opinion haha
  • Scrambled eggs (in most), bacon, pork breakfast sausage (or sometimes chorizo), diced roasted potatoes, maybe with a bit of onion or bell pepper roasted with them, less commonly offered with refried beans (in place of eggs). Usually beans makes it more of a standard burrito. Plus cheddar cheese and salsa (normal red, green tomatillo, roasted red, green jalapeno, chipotle, pico de Gallo, etc) of course! Small flour tortillas, so we often use the word "taquito" to mean a breakfast taco. I had no idea this was limited to Texas. In my home this is our standard Saturday breakfast. Served at all our fast food joints and taco stands, so many people eat them on the way to work, too.
  • About Frito pie...Fritos are an easy way to add a filling carb/crunch to your chili. Seems like a beer-pairing dish to me. Carne guisada or some kind of guajillo or chipotle chile dish (enchilada, grilled jumbo shrimp, pork) would probably pair well with our big Texas reds such as tempranillo (same grape as in Rioja), as would of course, anything smoky from the BBQ.
  • More on Frito pie...Frito pie is not a favorite of mine. It could have been the recipe, but also the variety of textures was overwhelming. No thanks, and please pass the anything-else-on-table-aside-from-this-casserole.
A friend here in California suggested "Queso. Seriously?" To which I responded I was wondering if that was truly Texan...or TexMex?!?

And I got a definitive nod from one of my favorite Texans: "TexMex is Texan. The best type!" Great!

In the end, I was inspired by Caiti's comment about tacos being a mechanism to getting salsa to her mouth. I could not agree more.  However, I went with a baked flauta...still as a vessel for salsa transportation!

Baked Beef Flautas

Quick note: you might think this looks a lot like a taquito. It does. However, my research found that taquitos are made with corn tortillas while flautas are made with flour tortillas. So, this is a flauta!

Ingredients serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound ground beef, prefer organic, grass-fed
  • 3/4 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • dash of ground turmeric
  • dash of ground cumin
  • 10 to 12 small flour tortillas 
  • 1 C shredded cheese (we used a mixture of colby and mozzarella because that's what we had)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sour cream, for serving (we used Crema Mexicana)
  • salsa, for serving


Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add onion and cook until starting to soften and turn translucent, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add in meat, turmeric, and cumin. Cook until the meat is browned completely. Add in the fresh oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Lay tortilla on a cutting board or flat workspace. Spoon a row of meat into the center of the tortilla.

Sprinkle with a tablespoon of cheese and roll up as tightly as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the tortillas are used.

Spray or brush tortillas lightly with oil and bake until crisp and lightly browned, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. I turned them in the middle of baking time.

They should golden and the cheese melted. Serve immediately with sour cream and salsa.

That's a wrap for #TexasFineWine #WinePW event. Next month the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers will be exploring 'Pet Nat', which is short for pétillant naturel, with Cindy of Grape Experiences at the helm. Stay tuned for more information about that event. 

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*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.


  1. Okay, super hungry now! Looks like you had some great input for your post - I really enjoyed the breakfast taco memories contributed by your friends. Food really does connect us all.

  2. Breakfast tacos - yes! Way back when I speent all that time for work in Texas, I definitely was acquainted with breakfast tacos. And
    Texas BBQ everywhere. I even stopped for lunch once at a combination bait shop and smokehouse!

  3. That Bending Branch Tannat was so amazing. I fell in love with it.

  4. I love all the food comments, and the wine notes from your friend- so fun! And as far as I'm concerned breakfast tacos and/or breakfast burritos (as are probably more common in California), are some of the BEST breakfasts around. The flautas look delicious!

  5. Breakfast tacos -- yes! I remember them from the Austin food trucks. Would be great to visit one and bring your own bottle of Texas wine!

  6. Loving how you described the Tannat and Petit Sirah wines from Bending Branch!

  7. I'm a fan of Tannat wine. It seems to have found a home in Texas. I wish I could have tried the Bending Branch wines. My next visit to Texas, I definitely plan to head over to TX Hill Country to do some tasting!

  8. Wow, you do have some Texas ties! The Tannat sounds good, definitely better than that sweet blush!

  9. Congrats again to the robotics team for making it that far!! Hopefully you can go next time and visit Bending Branch and pick up some more tannat!


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