Serrano Peppers and Krug Merlot? #MerlotMe #WinePW

Keep a Light Hand With the Serrano Peppers
As long as you don’t go crazy, Merlot can pair nicely with dishes with a bit of heat and spice. In our month-long celebration of Merlot, we try standard pairings and we try to stretch the boundaries a bit. Flank steak is a normal pairing with the wine, but what about serrano peppers in the dish?

Meredith Deeds' honey-garlic beef wraps

Merlot makes a great pairing for the garlicy steak wraps, just be careful with the serrano peppers.

I’m always careful with red wine and spicy foods, especially American red wines as they tend toward higher alcohol. Pick a nice fruit forward wine with moderate tannins and you have a match, luckily, that’s a great description of American Merlot!

Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot 2014 (sample, $25 SRP or here online)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with purple lightly stained edge and legs
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, deep dark blue fruit, ripe blackberries followed by a bit of smoke, cocoa, and an herbal touch far in the background, tomato leaf
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity, medium- tannins. Medium intensity flavors, medium body, medium alcohol (14.2% abv). Dark, ripe fruit flavors, but not overly fruity, ripe or implying sweetness. Quite restrained for Napa Valley.

This wine paired beautifully with the mildly spicy flavors of the steak wraps. It had plenty of fruit to handle the red pepper in the sauce and it loved both the beef and the herbal/vegetable notes of the lettuce wraps.  Julie noticed the wine paired very nicely with the lettuce flavors.

Spicy Beef-Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from Meredith Deeds in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Taste section here. If you want to prepare the dish indoors, Meredith’s approach will work great.  My wife Julie’s advice? Make extra sauce, it’s delicious! I cooked the steak on the grill, and substituted tri-color quinoa for the rice.


  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil to coat the steak
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cups (finished) tri-colored quinoa, prepared to the instructions enclosed in the package
  • Large butter or boston lettuce leaves
  • Green onions, thinly sliced
  • Serrano peppers, sliced paper thin
  • Fresh mint and fresh cilantro


  • Prepare the quinoa according to the standard instructions and set aside
  • Preheat the grill on high
  • Lightly coat the flank steak with sesame oil
  • Prepare the sauce, whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl: soy sauce, honey, Worcestershire, ginger, garlic, red pepper
  • Cook and reduce the sauce to a medium-thick consistency in a large skillet over medium heat. Turn off the heat and leave the sauce in the skillet
  • Grill the flank steak to medium rare, bring inside and slice into 1/4″ thin slices across the grain (as you normally would for flank steak)
  • Return the skillet to medium heat to warm up the sauce.
  • Place the flank steak strips in the skillet to coat with the sauce.
  • Scoop 1/4 cup (or so) quinoa into a lettuce leaf wrap, fill with a couple slices of beef and top with mint, cilantro and serrano pepper slices.
  • Note: Julie grew cucumbers in the garden this year, so we served some fresh slices as a palate cleanser (and to try to reduce the pile of cucumbers in the kitchen!)

One Response to “Serrano Peppers and Krug Merlot? #MerlotMe #WinePW”
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  1. […] for a fun dinner! A link to the recipe and tasting notes on the Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot are here (sample, $25 SRP or online […]

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