Having enjoyed our Wine of the Week, Alamos 2015 Mendoza, Argentina, Malbec ($10) at the winery, I can attest to its transportive qualities. It is a trip to South America in a glass, sip by sip, and an inexpensive one at that. The wine is gorgeous, approachable and quaffable, with a smooth yet supple texture, restrained fruit, and suggestions of the high elevations of the vineyard, thousands of feet above sea level. There is a clarity to the wine, an inner brightness that is infinitely engaging. Think of standing high up in the mountains with a bright yet cool sun and a crisp breeze: That’s this wine.
There is plenty of dark fruit but not too much; you’ll pick out blackberries, black cherries, and black plums, with threads of spice woven in between.
At the table, you’ll enjoy it with sweet potatoes, black beans, slow-cooked tomato sauces, all manner of stews, and red meats, and certain cheeses, such as smoked Gouda. A rich risotto with, perhaps roasted beets, is a good match, too. If you have the time to make empanadas, serve this wine alongside and your guests will swoon.
But if you’ve ever been to Argentina, you know their specialty is beef, especially rare steak with chimichurri sauce. It’s extraordinary. To get close in your own kitchen, choose a well-marbled ribeye, grass-fed if you can find and afford it, and do not cook it too long. If you must have it medium rare, simply add 1 minute of cooking time per side.
Pan-Fried Ribeye Steaks with Butter, Chimichurri, & Spinach
Makes 4 servings
— Classic Chimichurri (recipe follows)
— Kosher salt
2 large ribeye steaks, at least 1 to 1½ inches thick
— Black pepper in a mill
1 tablespoon butter
8-10 ounces spinach
First, make the chimichurri and set it aside.
Set a heavy pan, preferably of cast iron over high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with kosher salt.
When the pan is very very hot, add the steaks and set a timer for 3 minutes. Season the top side of the steaks with salt and several turns of black pepper.
After 3 minutes, turn the steaks over and set the timer for 2 minutes. Divide the butter between the steaks.
After two minutes (or 3 if they are more than 1 1/2 inches thick), transfer to a plate, cover lightly with foil, and let rest three minutes.
Meanwhile, put the spinach in the pan, turn with tongs until wilted, and divide among 4 individual plates.
Cut the steaks in half, set on top of the spinach, and enjoy right away, with chimichurri alongside.
Classic Argentine Chimichurri
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups, loosely packed, Italian parsley leaves, chopped
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into very thin rounds
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Black pepper in a mill