Some days ago we experienced a couple of snow days in the plains states. Schools, government and business closed as a blizzard settled into my small town. As a teacher, snow days are something very special. One whole day without plans. They aren’t like other days off, full of errands and activities. A snow day is free.
Snow day food is different, too; perhaps a day of snacking, or a slow, Sunday style meal, prepared on a Thursday. This snow day included a hearty beef stew. I had about six pounds of trimmed rump roast, carrots, onion, garlic, tomatoes (fire roasted, sun dried and paste), and button mushrooms. I also found a few springs of fresh thyme and a jar of crushed hot paprika chilies. There was also red wine.
It has been a busy few weeks and my recent wine club box sat unopened next to the wine rack. I hauled it to the living room and sat on the floor exploring each bottle. It was like the adult version of lining up Hot Wheel cars or Barbie dolls. I settled on the Peterson Il Granaio and what a great choice it was. The richness of the stew complemented the sweetness of the wine in a way that lifted both the beef and the cherry flavors. The heat from those preserved chilies lifted the wine for an amazing compliment. My only regret is that I used a cup of the wine in the preparation of the stew and that was two less glasses to drink. I’m going to drink this wine a lot in the future; particularly with a hearty dish that finishes with a kick.
Photo by Marni on Flickr.
Wine is perhaps my favorite thing to give as a gift. Holiday gifts to colleagues, presents for the host or hostess of a dinner party, house warming presents or a token to celebrate one of life’s surprises or successes, wine has a place in almost all situations where a gift if necessary.
I often find myself culling through the racks of bottles in my cellar trying to decide which wine would best fit the occasion and recipient. For intimate friends, a bottle that tells the story of a road trip, a memorable meal, or a visit to Sonoma County. For colleagues, the bottle they might like best and for family, the wine closest to your heart.
Lately, I’ve been giving the 2010 Gunfighter Eberle Zinfandel. The wine has received many accolades over the last several months, from Gold Medals at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and Houston Wine Competition to a best of class award from the San Francisco Chronicle. It is a dark purple wine that almost jumps from the glass in a fruity explosion. I’ve enjoyed it with Korean style flatbread pizza, smoked pork shoulder, and beef ribs finished on the grill with a spicy dry rub. The beauty of gifting this bottle is sharing a glass with friends.
I’ve written before of my love for the corkage fee. We take a bottle of wine to a favorite spot with a pretty good idea of what we will be eating. The paring is usually predictable and we’ve taken no risk in ordering a bottle outside our knowledge base or comfort zone. It isn’t my only method for enjoying wine at a restaurant, but it is handy for a special meal.
This holiday season I enjoyed a memorable night out. Before leaving I texted my friend and asked if she’d prefer a safe or adventurous wine. Of course, she replied, adventurous. The decision was between a pinot from Eric Ross and the 2009 Syrah-Viognier Blend. I’d tasted the pinot and was happy to have a few bottles in the cellar, but the Syrah was an impulse buy, perhaps thanks to the label. I’d been saving it not quite sure what to expect. It was delicious. We enjoyed appetizers of roasted beets, pickled onions, spicy deviled eggs and rabbit pate. Our entrees were roasted pork belly and a well-prepared rib eye beefsteak. The next day I called Sami to order a couple more bottles of this delightful wine. They should arrive any day!