Ask The Expert: K-J Chef Justin Answers Your Questions

Last week we asked our fans on Facebook if they had a question for Executive Chef Justin Wangler. The response was great, and we got questions about food and wine pairings, best techniques in the kitchen, and favorite recipes.

Chef Justin personally read each question and was quick to respond. But because there were so many questions, we thought it’d be best to compile them here to be a resource for our community. If you have any more questions, let us know on Facebook and Twitter, or below in the comments. Cheers.

1. Chef Justin, my favorite varietal is Riesling (on the sweet side). Usually, I have the urge of drinking it with any and every dish possible. Do you recommend against it? What should I REALLY be drinking it with? Thanks! –Daniella G

If you like Riesling, keep rocking it. Riesling is a great food wine and often lends itself to the dish. I really enjoy the K-J Riesling with spicy food and slightly sweet dishes. It’s always fun to mix it up and try new things. The great thing about wine is there is always more to learn and taste.

2. Chef, which wine do you recommend for a big BBQ beef brisket sandwich? –Larry H.

I would enjoy some fine brisket with a Syrah or Zinfandel. The both have some nice fruit but also a bit of tannins to hold up to the rich, smoky brisket.

3. What is your favorite dish for the holiday family dinner? And what wine would you serve with it? –Lorraine A

My favorite dish for a special holiday dinner is Slow Roasted Filet of Beef paired with our Grand Reserve Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

4. Is there a kind of wine that is best for gift giving? One that is perhaps more popular than others, –Marianne C

I like to give Pinot Noir as a gift because it’s very popular, and also lends itself well to lots of different foods.

5. What is your favorite ingredient to use from the K-J garden? –Jessica R

My favorite ingredients vary from season to season. This time of year we really enjoy using Fuyu persimmons; we like to call it the “winter tomato.” I really like Fuyu persimmons raw & sliced in salads. Overall, my favorite thing is to watch the asparagus grow in the garden. Check out our time lapse video of asparagus growing.

6. What’s your favorite dish to make for your family? –Meredith H

At home in Sonoma county I like to cook wild local salmon when in season. If I sear the salmon I usually serve it with K-J Grand Reserve Chardonnay and if I throw it on the grill and get a bit of smoke on it I like to pair with the K-J Vintners Reserve Pinot Noir. My wife and daughter also love the fatty salmon belly brushed with Meyer lemon olive oil sprinkled with salt and roasted at a low temp in the oven until just cooked.

7. I am always searching for a good wine. I like reds and whites, nothing too sweet or too dry. The best way for me to describe it is smooth, buttery & creamy very little or no bite. I steer clear of anything that sounds like it might have too much oak taste. Any suggestions? –Carol H.

It’s sounds like you are describing our Grand Reserve Chardonnay.  It has great fruit, light on the oak and a wonderful round, rich texture.

8. What’s the hardest dish/food to combine with wine? –Marine R

Extremely spicy foods can be tricky (for example,Trinidad Scorpion Morouga peppers — there are some funny videos online!).  Artichokes are a notoriously tricky one because they can make whatever you eat or drink afterwards taste sweet, but they can be quite good when paired with the right wine.  It’s fun to play around tasting artichokes with different wines, such as a crisp wine like Sauvignon Blanc, a rich Chardonnay or maybe even an off-dry wine that has it’s own sweetness.

9. Chef, is there an easy way to cut the slices from an orange without getting any membrane and ruining most of the slice? –John B

Segmenting an orange is a simple process, but it’s a little tough to explain.  Here’s a great video I found from Fine Cooking on YouTube.