Skip to main content

Inspired by Notes of Asian Spices: Braised Spareribs + Brown Estate Zinfandel 2021 #WinePW


This month the Wine Pairing Weekend writers are looking at Zinfandel and sharing their pairings. Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is hosting and shared this invitation. Read about how it's 'America's Grape', that the third Wednesday of this month is National Zinfandel Day, and get to know its other names around the world. Primitivo, anyone?

We actually won't be holding a Twitter chat this month, so you'll have to visit the articles themselves to learn more about our explorations. Here's the line-up...

Brown Estate Zinfandel 2021

I already mentioned that Zinfandel is the same grape as Primitivo in Italy. For the November 2020 #ItalianFWT, I shared Pasta Fra Diavolo Topped with Stuffed Squid + Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2018. And earlier last year, I shared a local-to-me Zinfandel paired with Crab-Stuffed Ravioli.

For this month's exploration, I had tucked away a bottle of Zinfandel with Cal links. Take a look at this post - Celebrating #MerlotME with Mushrooms, Truffles, and a Wine from a Cal Alumna - to see how I became acquainted with UC Berkeley's Graduate Wine Collective. It turned out that a winery with which I was already familiar has deep Cal ties.  I know I have paired their Chaos Theory before, but I guess I never wrote it up. Drat. I will have to fix that soon.

Brown Estate is Napa Valley's first Black-owned estate winery. In 1980 the Brown family purchased the ranch, planted grapes, and began growing fruit for other vintners. In 1995, the Brown children began making their own wine. And here's the Berkeley connection: Siblings Coral and C. Deneen Brown are class of '89 and '90 respectively; Stefanie Kelly, class of '97, is their general manager.

1996 was their first bottling of Brown Zin. This vintage is number 26 after a year hiatus due to the 2020 wildfires. This one - a medium-bodied wine with a velvety mouthfeel and lingering finish - is definitely worth the wait...and worth the almost $50 pricetag! This Zinfandel pours a deep garnet hue with a ruby rim. On the nose, I jotted down heady spices of cloves, ginger, all-spice along with florals of rose petals and dried hibiscus blossoms. On the palate, the wine starts with lots of red fruits and opens up to reveal aromatic laurel leaves and more Asian spices.

Braised Spareribs

I was going to go all-American with a burger or barbeque with my Zinfandel. But when I started, I was intrigued by its complementary with Asian spices. I initially thought I was going to pair the wine with Galbi Jjim, Korean braised short ribs, but the meat market was woefully bereft of short ribs. They did, however, have spareribs. So, I used spareribs in a Galbi Jjim preparation.

I picked up a rack of spare ribs and had the butcher slice them horizontally to about 2" lengths.

  • 1½ to 2 pounds lean spareribs, cut into roughly 1½ to 2" long pieces
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups peeled daikon radish, sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup peeled chestnuts
  • Also needed: steamed rice and a variety of Korean banchan for serving

Place the ribs in a large mixing bowl and massage in the ginger and garlic. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and add in the ribs. Cook to brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the onions and pour in the soy sauce, mirin, apple cider and sesame oil.

Bring to a boil. There should be enough liquid to cover the spareribs. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let braise for an hour.

After an hour, fold in the radishes, carrots, celery, and chestnuts. Cover and let braise for another hour.

Turn the spareribs and veggies to coat in the thickened sauce. 

To serve, spoon ribs into a bowl with steamed rice.

Offer a variety of Korean veggie side dishes on the side. I served a seaweed salad, kimchi, pickled carrots and radishes, spiced bean sprouts, and steamed spinach.

This was a fantastic pairing...and a wrap on my November #WinePW offering. The group will be back next month with a face off between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Stay tuned!


  1. I love this pairing Cam! I used to taste the Brown Estate Zinfandel and Chaos Theory wine when I attended ZAP's annual Zinfandel Festival. Both are winners in my book! Cheers!

  2. I was intrigued by this winery when you showcased it last month. Love the pairing choice. I'll bet the spices of each were very complementary.

  3. I can absolutely imagine the flavors in this wine pairing beautifully with Asian flavors! And this seems so cosy! And how fun to taste wines from other alums of your Alma Mater.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Caulibits Crni Rižoto (Croatian Black "Risotto") #Whole30

Last week, I participated in the Wine Pairing Weekend event 'New Year, New Wine." I paired Crni Rižoto with Dingac Vinarija’s Pelješac...and you can read my post: here . I was pouring a Croatian wine and decided to make a traditional Croatian dish. Every seafood restaurant in Croatia has a  Crni Rižoto  (black risotto) on its menu.  Crni Rižoto  is risotto dyed black with squid ink; I used cuttlefish ink for the same effect. However, since arborio rice is not Whole30 compliant, I made a version for myself that used caulibits instead of rice. Ingredients 1 C fish stock (or a combination of fish stock and vegetable stock) 1 T olive oil 1 medium shallots, peeled and minced 1 cloves garlic, crushed and minced 1/4 lb shrimp 1/4 lb squid tubes, cleaned and sliced into rings 1/4 lb scallops 1/4 lb clams, scrubbed 1/4 lb mussels, scrubbed 4 C caulibits, or chopped cauliflower 1 T fresh parsley, minced juice and zest from 1 organic lemon 1 t cuttlefish ink

Meyer Lemon Custard-Filled Matcha Turtles #BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our  Pinterest board  right here. Links are also updated after each event on the  Bread Bakers home page .  We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month Stacy of Food Lust People Love  is hosting and she wrote: "Your bread can be large, as in one big animal, or small - animal-shaped rolls. Use your imagination! Points for flavor and shape!" If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to Stacy at Here's the animal-shaped bread basket from the #BreadBakers... Beef and Sweet Onion Dim Sum Pandas from Karen's Kitchen Stories Bird Bread Rolls from Ambrosia Easter Bunny Buns from Cook with Renu Ham and Cheese Elephant Rolls from Food Lust People Love Hedgehog Bread from Making Mir

Connecticut Lobster Rolls, Canned Lobster Bisque, and a 2019 Henry Fessy 'Maître Bonhome' Viré-Clessé #Winophiles

This month the French Winophiles group is looking at affordable wines from Burgundy.  Host Cindy of Grape Experiences wrote: "Burgundy, or Bourgogne, is known for its wines of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir... as well as Aligote, Gamay, Sauvignon, César, Pinot Beurot, Sacy, Melon in lesser quantities. Many of the well-known wines are quite expensive, but there are plenty of values to be found." Read her invitation here. And there won't be a Twitter chat for this event, so you will have to dive into the articles themselves to read about our pairings and findings. Here's the line-up... Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life on the Farm enjoys Domaine Chevillon Chezeaux Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits, 2018 Paired with a Maple Pecan Chicken . Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares her love of Connecticut Lobster Rolls, Canned Lobster Bisque, and a 2019 Henry Fessy 'Maître Bonhome' Viré-Clessé. Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick! explains why we should Look t