Splash some green wine next to Portugal’s green soup
Green soup and wine. It sounds like something Dr. Seuss might have come up with, but it’s actually a delicious seasonal soup. Now is the time for it: Portugal’s famous green soup, caldo verde, depends on good kale and not a lot else. Kale is plentiful right now, and cheap and good for you, too. It’s an easy soup to make and reheats very well, so you can make a big potful. And it likes wine of all colours.
Here’s the soup, what and how. The wine comes a little further along.
6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups (1.5 litres) cold water
1/2 cup (125 millilitres) Portuguese olive oil
2 or 3 chorizo sausages or similar Portuguese sausages with a bit of bite
5 cups (1.25 litres) de-stemmed and finely shredded kale
Boil the potatoes in a big pot with salt and water, then simmer with the lid off for 15 minutes or so. Take the potatoes out with a slotted spoon and mash them in a big bowl; do not pour off the water. Beat the oil and pepper to taste into the potatoes. Stir the mush back into the pot of water.
Meanwhile, simmer the chorizo sausages, pricked a few times with a fork, in another pot of water for about 15 minutes. Slice into whatever size pieces you like. Bring the potato mixture back to a boil and toss in the kale. Boil for 5 to 8 minutes, to whatever level of crunchiness you like in your kale. Add sausage slices and boil for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve hot or warm with crusty bread or Portuguese yellow corn bread. (The bread, oil, and fabulous house-made chorizo can be had at the Bernardino family’s Union Food Market [810 Union Street]). Skip the sausages and it’s a quick and hearty vegetarian soup.
On to the wine. Vinho verde—white and cheap—is best in my book. This is the ubiquitous Portuguese “green wine”, although it isn’t green; rather, it means, in this case, young or fresh. My sources tell me there’s also vinho verde red and rosé, although I’ve not tasted either one, or even seen them, here or in situ. My favourite is Gatao Vinho Verde ($11.99). If you want pink, you can’t go amiss with good old Matoose (Mateus Rosé, $9.99). If you want a nice, light red from Portugal, try Setubal Fonseca Periquita ($9.99).
Or help yourself to any of the newly labelled Cono Sur Bicicleta wines, the ones with the bicycle. These Chilean winners have created a large and loyal following as great-value dinner wines. They’re the same popular varietals with a new look but still featuring the trademarked bicycle that stands for the company’s organic style of winemaking.
All five are general listings in the B.C. LDB. The two whites—Viognier and Gewürztraminer—cost a reasonable $10.99 each, as do the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s also a Pinot Noir, which works best with the caldo verde if you’re going for red, priced at $11.49. Great green-soup wines, all.
And the winners are… I didn’t judge the B.C. Wine Awards this year, so I saved myself the futile argument with other judges about the Road 13 sparkling wine, which should be—one of these years—ranked as best white. It is white, after all. Oh well, they did name it best bubble.
Here are the five top winners, chosen from among the more than 200 awards given out; details are at The Wine Festivals website.
Best new winery: SpierHead Winery
Best sparkling: Road 13 Vineyards
Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2009
Best white: Lang Vineyards Farm Reserve Riesling 2008
Best red: Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery Syrah 2009
Best dessert wine: See Ya Later Ranch Hunny 2011