One of our favorite wine writers, Caitlin Hodges, who authors and curates the Sips N Tips website has done it again: she’s come up with another tasty recipe created specifically to pair with a Bells Up wine. This time, she’s created a Grilled Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad to complement the 2020 Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir. (This isn’t her first Bells Up food pairing rodeo, by the way. She’s also created a recipe for Rhapsody Pinot Blanc.)
We first met Caitlin back in 2019 when she paid us a visit and sampled — among other wines — the 2018 Prelude Estate Rosé. Since that first sip, she writes, “the Prelude Rosé has been a benchmark rosé wine for me.”
In addition to the recipe, she shares her review of 2020 Prelude, writing:
Color: Dazzling and ruby red as ever, the 2020 Prelude Rosé is certainly a standout in appearance.
Aromas: Strawberry distinctively hits your nose on your first whiff of the 2020 Prelude, followed by other red fruits such as raspberry and red cherry. Dried herbs serve as a backbone for the red fruits, along with a hint of baking spice and vanilla—likely imparted from oak aging. These aromas are tell-tale signs of a wine made from Pinot Noir!
Palate: Strawberry is once again the dominant red fruit on your palate, but it is supported by an abundance of other flavors such as cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, baking spice, and dried herbs. The herbal quality of the Prelude truly sets it apart from other rosés and points to its origin in the Willamette Valley—a region known for producing wines with a distinct earthy quality.
Body: The 2020 Prelude Rosé of Pinot Noir is a dry wine with high acidity, a light body, medium intensity, and a medium finish. It is complex in flavor and aroma, and pairs beautifully with food, especially my Grilled Ahi Nicoise Salad recipe that I created specifically for pairing with the Prelude Rosé!
About the recipe (shared below), she says: “As you can see from my tasting notes for the Prelude, the herbal quality of this rosé brings an earthy character that is not only unique, but provides a clear pathway to matching food flavors. In addition, the high acidity in the wine makes it food friendly, especially when paired with a meal that mimics the acidity level.”
Sips N Tips’ Grilled Ahi Nicoise Salad
The fresh ahi, eggs, and vegetables serve as a perfect balancing act and palate cleanser, giving the Prelude time to shine.
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 1 tsp black pepper plus more for seasoning
- 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 10 oz mixed salad greens
- 1 lb fresh ahi tuna
- 4 eggs
- 12 oz mini potatoes
- 8 oz green beans or Haricots Verts
- 3/4 cup kalamata olives sliced
- 2 tbsp capers
- Maldon Sea Salt flakes for garnish
- To make the dressing: In a small mason jar with a lid, combine Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic. Close lid and shake well.
- Add eggs to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Once water begins boiling, set a timer for 6 minutes. At the 6-minute mark, transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water using a slotted spoon. Let eggs cool in ice bath for a few minutes before peeling and set aside.
- Add 12 ounces of mini potatoes to the same pot of water. Add water if needed. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Using the same pot of water (again!), steam the green beans. Place a steaming basket filled with green beans above the boiling water and cover with a lid. No steaming basket? Use a metal colander. Steam green beans until they turn bright green and are tender but still have a crunch (about 4 minutes). Set aside.
- Pre-heat the grill for the ahi. Make sure the barbeque is hot to prevent the ahi from sticking. Coat the ahi with olive oil, salt, and pepper (to taste). Sear the ahi for 1-2 minutes per side. If you have a particularly thick ahi steak, aim for 3-4 minutes per side. When finished, the ahi should be raw inside with grill marks on the outside. Remove from grill and set aside.
- Prepare the salad ingredients. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Cut green beans into 1-inch pieces. Slice the Kalamata olives. Using a serrated knife, gently slice each of the hardboiled eggs.
- Prepare the mixed greens. In a large salad bowl,combine the mixed greens and the desired amount of salad dressing. Toss to combine.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of capers onto mixed greens and arrange the vegetables, eggs, and olives on the salad. Slice the tuna against the grain of the fish. Place your grilled ahi on the salad, garnish with Maldon sea salt flakes, and pair with a glass of Bells Up Prelude Rosé!
One last note from Caitlin: “If you happen to visit the Willamette Valley (which I HIGHLY recommend), stop by the Bells Up tasting room, where you will be guided through a private tasting while overlooking the Bells Up vineyard. One-on-one private interactions are the only way that Bells Up has ever operated, and it is a treat to learn about the wines directly from the family that makes them!”