Wine Punch, Not Just Sangria

While normally called Sangria, a wine punch is more than just the Spanish classic drink of fruit and red wine. Breaking this thought can create some tantalizing wine punches that are suitable for occasions all year round. Instead of sticking to the traditional ingredients, add things based more on whim and season to create succulent wine punch that goes with anything. Wines punch really only needs to contain wine, added flavors from fruit and fruit juice, and hard liquor. That leaves the specifics up to personal preference.                 Good wine punch has a more complex flavor than the wine originally used in it, and while good wine is essential to a good punch, and using an extraordinary wine is not a guarantee for success.  Instead go for seasonal flavors, like in fall use apple and darker fruits like cherry to make a distinction from the summer favorite. Versions of wine punch can even be made with two bottle wine carriers full of white wine; it doesn’t have to be a red wine and fruit concoction. Experimenting with different flavors like cranberry or raspberry juice and fruits like apricot or pineapple  that are usually not included in sangria could make for a wine punch more suited to the season of occasion.  

The Pleasure Of Homemade Mulled Wine

                Mulling is the method of adding spices to a drink by heating it slightly and infusing it with other flavors. While cider, mead and many other beverages than wine can be mulled, they all bring to mind warmth and comfort. Mulled wine is very popular in colder climates because of this warming characteristic. But mulled wine isn’t just one drink; there are as many varieties of mulled wine as there are varieties of wine.                  In fact picking the right spices to go into mulled wine takes some thought. Different wines will make distinctive mulled wines if made with spices that suit the wine.  For example a strong red benefits from the perk of citrus, in particular orange. But each wine will have unique tastes that could benefit from the addition of unconventional spices like rosemary or anise or even sugar. Two bottle wine totes seem to be more filled with more warmth already than the refreshing roses of the summer. But even more warmth and holiday feeling can be found in a good mulled wine. But always remember that it is better to steep the spices in the wine for a long time than heat the wine too much.

Pork Loin in White Wine

There is something about cold weather that makes well cooked pork tenderloin even more enjoyable.  But getting a pork loin to its tender and still juicy perfection can seem like more work than a simple weeknight meal is usually worth.  Really though, a succulent pork loin can be just as easy as any other imaginable meal. All that is needed is some crisp white wine, a pork loin, seasonings of choice and a couple of varieties of vegetables.                  Start by browning the pork in a pan with the seasonings, just enough to keep the juices sealed in when it is cooking. In an oven pan add a little bit of oil and a cup and a half of the white wine. Thinly slice some onions if desired and add them to the pan with the pork. Cover all this foil and put in the oven on a low setting. Every now and then check the pork and pour some of the juice at the bottom the pan on it, adding the vegetables during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. The wine helps make for a succulent and tender cut every time.  Serve the meal with the remaining white wine showcased with wine accessories; it is after all, the star this meal.

Oysters For the 4th

Something for those tired of the usual, here is a great unique idea for Independence Day food; fried oyster sliders. Crispy fry good sized oysters and put them on little hot rolls or petite hamburger buns along with sharp tasting condiments like pickled onion or lime juice for contrast. To get the oysters extra crisp, make sure that they are dry before putting on the flour and cornstarch coating. Also dredging them in only egg whites instead of whole eggs keeps the food from absorbing as much of the oil that gives frying its bad name.  These adorable little sandwiches pair quite nicely too with the wine of summer, juicy and fruity rose wine.                  The oysters go with the rose because the saltiness of the sandwiches perks up the fruits in the rose, just like people who like to put a little salt on their slice of watermelon. Also the myth about oysters not being good in summer is a thing of the past, making this unusual 4th of July meal a good new tradition. Oysters can now be produced in more controlled conditions, making them good quality all year round. So break out the wine accessories this 4th instead of the beer bottle opener for a more sophisticated holiday.

Summer Wine Punch

                Sometimes in the summer it is just too hot for a simple glass of wine, cooling off with some wine based drinks is another great option. Punch and cocktails based on wine are a wonderful and unique to beat the summer heat. Try a pink lemonade punch made by blending ice with pink lemonade and adding a juicy rose wine. There are many versions of these chilly adult drinks, and they are well loved in the summer. Sangria is one of the best known summer wine punches. Try two bottle wine totes filled with good Spanish red wine or burgundy and rose to start the best sangria ever. Add to it no more than four different fruits to keep the flavors uncluttered.  Good fruits to put in sangria are melon, citrus, mango and pineapple depending on the wine going into it.                  Other good wine drinks are out there and just waiting to be invented, so experiment with adding ice, fruit and other flavors to find personalized ways to refresh. Maybe what once started as a simple mix could become a well-loved summer favorite with friends and strangers alike like the wonderfully fruity May Wine. All May Wine is is dry white wine and strawberries halves, so don’t be too intimidated to get creative.

Quick Pan Sauce with Wine

 One of the marks of a great home cook and professional chef alike is the ability to make a good sauce from the pan drippings, as they are called, and wine or stock.  While the idea is a bit intimidating to some, it is actually the very simple to master pan sauces.  The pan drippings that are a lot of the flavor in this pan sauce come from the bottom of the pan after roasting or sautéing the chicken, fish, beef or vegetables that this sauce is going to put on.  These little brown, caramelized bits are usually stuck to the bottom of the pan pretty good, but there is an easy way to get them all off, right after the pan comes off the heat add some wine and scrap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  The hot pan will heat the wine so that the alcohol evaporates immediately but it also unstuck the roasted bits from the pan.   This is now a delicious pan sauce made with wine and pan drippings. Of course the sauce can be added to with herbs or citrus or thickened with flour but it is still the same basically.  Of course things still may need a bit of getting the hang of and it sounds like too much of a culinary stretch than maybe it is best to stick with Will Bullas Wine Art. But for those who want to make their own style of wine art can try again. If the first sauce was bitter than the pan drippings were burnt, this is the most common problem so just try again.

Cooking with Wine

This is a little bit different than pairing wine to go with the finished meal because wine tends to change just slightly when it is cooked. For starters the alcohol evaporates and the sulfides dissipate into the air too; also the flavors are concentrated.  A slightly oaked wine may taste lovely when drank with a fish dish, but trying to add that wine to the sauce of the fish may result in the oak flavor ruining the lemony lightness of it.  In general though picking a wine to cook with isn’t a fine art; it just is as simple as picking a wine that tastes good and than giving a try. Sometimes cooking ventures don’t work, but a lot of the time a person’s mouth knows what it wants and will guide the making of the dish.                  Cooking with wine does have a few little rules, or rather hints that should be followed to make the meal go smoothly.  Only use wine in one dish, making all of the sauces and marinades in a meal from wine can get very monotonous, even if different wines are used.  The wine used in the dish being served does not have to be in the wine decanters on the table, it is okay to drink a different wine than what was cooked with.  But above all it is about flavor and enjoyment, so follow recipes at first than get a feel for cooking with wine; than impress people.

Try Fisherman’s Spaghetti For A New Twist On Italian

When most wine lovers think of Italian food they instantly think of cooking with wine since many of the classic dishes use either red or white wine in the process. The Italians have truly mastered the art of incorporating wine into their foods as well as paring it with them on the dinner table. While there are several dishes that are typical for when many wine lovers want to have Italian food a new twist they might want to try is Spaghetti del Pescatore or Fisherman’s Spaghetti. This classic Italian recipe is not as famous as others but for those who have had the chance to visit the Western coast of Italy have seen it featured in many restaurants.

This version of spaghetti uses a dry white wine along with any shellfish from shrimp to clams to create an enticing dish with the catch of the day. Of course as with most Italian cooking the meal will pair well with the same wine that is used in the dish so serve your spaghetti featuring shellfish and white wine with the same vino in your Bacchus White Wine Glasses for a perfect meal.

Making Beef Stew With Wine

As fall is setting in on many parts of the country, temperatures outside are falling and more people are thinking about those comfort foods for this time of year.  One popular comfort food for many is the classic beef stew loaded up with plenty of tender beef with lots of vegetables. For the most part many chefs use the same basic ingredients such as carrots and potatoes but the base will vary from person to person. It seems most recipes call for a stout beer or some just use a beef broth but there is another option out there that will add an amazing taste to the stew; a full-bodied red wine. Red wine pairs beautifully with beef and makes for an excellent base for beef stew that many cooks do not stop to think about since they are so focused instead on using beer.

By using some red wine from your crystal decanter in the stew you can add flavor that is just too good to be described. Plus this makes paring your wine to serve with your stew that much easier since the same kind that went into the stew will be the ideal compliment to serve with the meal whether it is just you by the fire or a group of friends enjoying this classic fall comfort food.

Easy Red Wine Sauce For Steak

While The Last Shiraz by Will Bullas is an artistic use of this powerful red wine, the aspiring chef can create an easy but just as artistic red wine sauce that will impress their dinner guests. To make this red wine sauce that is the perfect accompaniment to steak start with a full bodied Shiraz red wine. After cooking the steaks in a frying pan until done to your tastes remove them from the pan and add a half of glass of Shiraz. When this bubbles add 100ml of beef stock along with salt and pepper to taste. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar if desired and serve this delicious sauce along with your steak for a juicy main course.

Of course remember to reserve plenty of Shiraz to serve all the guests along with their steak for a perfect dinner party that will tantalize the taste buds. The guests be impressed with the artistic culinary delight they are served and how perfectly the wine and food accompany each other. There is no art better than a perfectly prepared meal with friends or loved ones!

Treat Yourself To Some May Wine This Year

As children most of us remember the first of May and many the special little rituals that accompany this day. While the reason behind these fun games may be forgotten, to many the act of dancing around the May pole and surprising someone with flowers are still things to do on May 1. Many wine lovers may have heard about May wine, but few have actually enjoyed this amazing concoction for themselves, but it is actually very easy to make. May wine is actually a wine punch of sorts that is infused with herbs for added flavor.

To make May wine three simple ingredients; light German wine, fresh woodruff, and a fruit garnish. A wine such as Moselle or Riesling will suffice to make your May wine and once you perfect your personal mix you can use them as personalized wine gifts for celebrating May Day with friends. To make simply allow the woodruff to steep in the wine for several hours in the refrigerator.

While the woodruff does not have much of an aroma alone once it steeps the wine will gain a whole new flavor that can best be appreciated when tasted alongside the original none steeped wine.

Cooking With Your Leftover Wine

As much as we like our wine the chances are once in awhile a bottle will not be finished in the evening leaving the problem of how to store it and what to do with it. If you plan on drinking the wine the next evening with your meal than there is no problem. But often the wine will be stored longer and this will make it less the values that make it a great wine to drink. But this does not mean that it cannot be used for something else. Store that leftover wine in sealed containers such as the original bottle with a wine stopper or in a wine decanters inside the refrigerator. This will slow the aging process and keep oxygen away to keep the wine ready for use in the kitchen. Many cooks make the mistake of keeping their cooking wine on the stove but the heat from the oven will quickly turn the liquid into vinegar.

These leftover wines make much better wines for cooking than the cheap versions labeled for this purpose. Wines labeled as cooking varieties are often too sweet and high in acids and tannins making them have less of a quality flavor for adding to food.

Paring Meat & Fish With Wine

For those hosting a dinner trying to pare a quality wine with the menu can sometimes be a challenge. Of course there are those general rules of thumb for paring food and wine. Generally wine enthusiasts know it is best to serve red wine with red meats and to serve white wine with fish. Of course there are exceptions to these rules and science recently tackled the question of why in particular red wine should not be consumed with a fish dinner. Of course any wine enthusiast who has ever tried having a red wine with fish will tell you that the taste the two create is less than desirable. Recent research has shown that wines with high amounts of iron are those that do not go well with fish. Iron levels in red wines are closely based on the soil the grapes are grown in as well as the steps taken in the fermentation process.

While the general rules of thumb will help a host find a suitable wine to serve with their food, there are books on the subject to help them find just the right combination. These books make excellent personalized wine gifts for those you know who aspire to be the perfect wine party host or hostess.

Try Cooking With Wine For A New Taste Of Your Favorite Vintage

We all know that fine restaurants not only serve fine wines with their meals but they also cook with them. Even though many wine connoisseurs know this for some reason they are reluctant to try this at home. While for many just finding the perfect accompanying wine for your meal is enough others want to try wine in a whole new way and experiment cooking with their favorite vintages. An easy way to get started is to choose a favorite red or white wine and pare it with meat of fish for cooking. Of course just as when you are drinking your red wine it is still best to remember to pour them into your wine decanters first to remove the sediment and increase the flavor. Wine is ideal for those who are looking for a more intense, dark flavor from their foods. It can be used either as a marinade for something such as beef or a for creating light sauces for accompanying something such as a seafood dish.

As with most anything there are some excellent recipes online that include wine, which can be easily prepared at home. Experiment with your favorite wines and bring out a new flavor in your foods.

Herb Roasted Turkey with Wine

Looking for a new twist on your Thanksgiving bird this year?  We came across this recipe that incorporates white wine into a sweet and citrusy glaze.

Herb Roasted Turkey with Wine

1 15 pound fresh or thawed turkey 2-3 tblsp olive oil 3 large lemons - juiced 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 large limes - juiced 1/4 cup dry white wine 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper fresh marjoram fresh sage fresh thyme

Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and reserve for gravy.  Rinse the turkey with cold running water and drain well. Soak all the water with the help of paper towels and blot it dry.

Mix brown sugar, wine and all the citrus juices in a small mixing bowl and reserve it for glazing.

Place the remaining lemons and limes in the cavity of the turkey and  sprinkle 1 tsp salt in the cavity.

Without totally detaching the skin from the breast of the turkey, loosen it and place 1 tblsp each of sage and marjoram under the skin. Fold the neck skin and hold it to the back with the help of the skewers. Return the legs to the tucked position and fold the wings behind the back. Rub the turkey with salt, pepper, and olive oil and put it in a large shallow roasting pan. Place it on the wire rack sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.

Roast the turkey for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours in a preheated oven at 325 degrees and baste with the pan juices. During the last 30 minutes of roasting, baste the turkey with citrus glaze and loosely cover with a lightweight foil to prevent excessive browning. Roast till the temperature of the thigh reaches 165 degrees - it will rise to 180 degrees as it sits out of the oven.

Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Pairing Foods With Everyday Wines - Montepulciano d'Abruzzo & Eggplant Parmesan

According to The New York Times, montepulciano d'Abruzzo has a good deal in common with eggplant alla parmigiana. Both the dish and the wine are common staples in low to middle-tier Italian restaurants, and rarely reap raves. But alter the dish somewhat from its traditional preparation (greasily fried and heavily-laden with cheese), and you get a dish that's flavorful and light, which pairs well with an everyday montepulciano. We learned this was true just last night, when we filled our NuVin Goblets from an $11 bottle of montepulciano, and tried the following suggested recipe:

Eggplant Alla Parmigiana

4 small eggplants, each 6 - 8 ounces salt 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 large clove garlic, chopped freshly ground black pepper 2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and diced 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 8 leaves of fresh basil

1. Trim eggplants and slice across 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and place on one or more racks (cooling racks for baking) on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium, add garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. When garlic is golden, add tomatoes and cook down a few minutes. Season to taste. Transfer to a food processor and pulse briefly until nearly puréed.

3. Rinse and dry eggplant slices. Heat half the remaining oil in a skillet on medium-high. Fry as many as fit comfortably until golden, adding more oil and eggplant in shifts. Transfer fried eggplant to paper towels to drain.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a little tomato sauce in a 9-inch casserole. Add a layer of eggplant, then half the cheese, half the basil and half the remaining sauce. Repeat layers. Top with a layer of eggplant. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and allow to sit 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot or at room temperature.

White Wine Poached Salmon

Poached salmon makes for a great light supper (especially when topped with a creamy mustard or dill sauce), and chilled overnight it makes a great simple lunch or salad topping. Here's our favorite method for perfectly cooked poached salmon fillets.

Perfectly Poached Salmon

2 salmon fillets, skin removed (ask fishmonger to do this for you!) 1 1/2 cups dry white wine pinch of whole black peppercorns whole sprigs of fresh parsley or dill water or veggie stock to cover

Add the salmon fillets to a cold frying pan.  Add the next 3 ingredients to the pan, and then add additional water or stock until the poaching liquid just covers the salmon completely.  Turn the heat on medium, and bring to a very low boil.  When liquid begins to boil, remove pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve salmon hot, or chill overnight.

Try a White Wine Fruit Cocktail This 4th of July

Big plans for the Holiday weekend?  We will be headed to a BBQ, and just may have a container of this party-friendly, warm weather treat in tow...

White Wine Fruit Cocktail

1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cantaloupe, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Combine the wine and sugar in a saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil; stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the mint; set aside. Combine the cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries in a large bowl. Pour the wine mixture over the fruit; toss together until all the fruit is covered with the wine mixture; cover and chill. Store in the refrigerator up to 8 hours before serving.

Have a Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Sandra Lee's Blueberry Sangria

Is it wrong that I don't completely hate on Sandra Lee?  Sure, she's likely to still use Tang as an ingredient, and I am still getting over the great "Denim and Diamonds Tablescape" debacle of 2007, but you gotta admit, the lady throws a heck of a party.

I happened to catch an episode yesterday, and I was reminded of one of the reasons I can stand to watch Sandra Lee - she is very pro-alcoholic beverages.  I may skip the Wisteria tablescape that went with the Sangria she whipped up - but the recipe is a keeper.

Sandra Lee's Blueberry Sangria

1 bottle white wine - she used Chardonnay
1/2 bag frozen blueberries
1 container frozen pink lemonade
1/2 cup cognac
1 liter lemon-lime soda

In a large pitcher, mix the first 4 ingredients together.  Allow the flavors to marry in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Add the lemon-lime soda prior to serving over ice.

Giada's Cantaloupe Red Wine Surprise

Its a little hard to imagine enjoying red wine in this oppressive heat we've been experiencing in the Northeast (other than our go-to sangria), but I spotted a recipe this weekend that made me want to crack open another bottle.  Giada's Cantaloupe Red Wine Surprise is a cool and refreshing heat-wave treat.

 

Giada De Laurentiis' Cantaloupe Red Wine Surprise

2 cups light red wine, preferably Pinot Noir
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cantaloupe, halved and seeds removed
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves

 

Warm wine in a shallow saucepan over low heat; it should be steaming but not simmering. Dissolve sugar in wine; remove from heat. Pour into medium glass bowl and allow to completely cool. Using a melon baller, scoop out balls of cantaloupe and add to the wine mixture. Thinly slice the outer peel from half a lemon into 4 strips; add to bowl. Add chopped basil. Stir gently. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Divide between 4 wine glasses and serve chilled.