#Halloween Pulled Pork and #MerlotMe for the WIN!

On an evening when nobody wants to cook, but everybody wants to party, it is a great time to pull out the instant pot to make something fun, easy, and yummy — and paired with one of these easy drinking Merlot, you know you’ll have a winner of a dinner!

For us, it’s The Dodgers in the World Series, Sue home late from working in the Cantara tasting room, and we all have a Halloween party to go so we just told people to show up in their costumes and get ready with us for the evening’s events!

Super simple dinner of pulled pork that cooked quickly in the instant pot plus a super simple salad for game day already washed bags of arugula and bitter greens – dressing as simple as olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. easy cleanup too!

(Looking for something to do in Ventura County? How about these Halloween activities — like the Ghost Walk which is pictured at top of this post? And next week, check out these for Day of the Dead!)



2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Merlot Chile – 13.5% alcohol – around $10
sample for my review consideration

This label offers affordable wine that is consistently good; every time we have sampled the Casillero del Diablo wines we have always enjoyed them.

Very spicy on the nose, chai and baking spices including black pepper. Edie (aka Bonnie) got smoke and floral on the nose. So interesting what different individuals can pick up on wine!

Kind of smooth for a minute, then a little jammyness in the beginning then there is a bit of grassiness and finishes with tannic notes and minerals. Spice on the palate as well, red chili pepper, herbal notes. Barrie (Clyde) stated that he could taste the fruit, but there was definitely more herbs in this wine. Sue got herbs and smoke. Edie felt there were tannins on the back palate. As the wine opens up the herbal characteristics come out more

It went really well with the pulled pork!


2015 -J. Lohr – Paso Robles CA – 13.5% alcohol –  $16
sample for my review consideration

Impressive hearty bottle.

Nose is more subtle, more fruit, oak.

On the palate tons of oak on this wine, with plentiful fruit and minerals. The oak recedes upon opening, in a few years after laying down, the oak will become more integrated into the wine.

The pulled pork brings out some very interesting mocha qualities in the wine, like a cherry cordial, lots of cherry fruit and chocolate, so very good with the pulled pork, and went surprisingly well with the crab cake and salad. So fun when we discovered how well it went — we had to keep going back for more.

Subtly of the fruit makes Merlot a great blending grape, but can definitely stand on its own as a varietal. It is so versatile with food, going so well with so many different flavors!

Vegetal characteristics on the palate, bell pepper, jalapeño, not so much on the nose.

Helen the Nun felt that it was great on its own, a bottle you could take to watch the sunset, didn’t need food!

J Lohr is a sustainably farmed vineyard family owned since 1974.

Edie took a sniff and said “Oh, this smells earthy, earthy mossy, maybe a bit like perfume.”

2014 – Mercer – Merlot – Horse Heaven Hills WA – 14.5% – SRP $15
sample for my review consideration

The Mercer resonates – Helen got bored with this wine before we brought in the food, when revisiting the wine with the food she again started appreciating this wine.

We found that with rich, fatty food, this wine really shined.

Lots of oak and minerals

Okay with the crab cakes, not as great as with the J. Lohr . Didn’t like this one as well with the pulled pork as the Casillero or J. Lohr, this wine did however, go beautifully with the goat cheese smothered in oven roasted tomatoes and garlic.

This is a big wine that needs a bigger flavored meal. braised beef, osso bussco, a fattier richer fare. so so yummy with the roasted garlic.

Seared Ahi Tuna with salad – love with Washington Merlot – convinces us that it is the wonderful greens that marries so well with the grape of Merlot

The Mercer was the first wine to be finished this evening so clearly we loved it!

As Helen and I got into our outfits, Edie and Sue continued trying to taste through the wines and get some more notes

Edie stated that she was most impressed with the J. Lohr tonight, Sue told her afterwards that it was also the favorite by all tonight.

Bonus merlot:

2014 – Canoe Ridge Vineyard – Reserve Merlot – Horse Heaven Hills – Walla Walla Washington – 15% alcohol

color – super pretty purple, dense

nose – cherry cola, sarsaparilla, caramel, vanilla coke, lightly herbal, alcohol

palate – mint and sage on the front of the palate, mocha on the back of the palate, nice round mouth feel

nice balance between rich fruit,

surprised that alcohol was 15% because so balanced acidity with fruit, not overly oaked

Looking for more? Here are a few more wines to enjoy for Halloween that I wrote about a few days ago.

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