I love to cook with wine almost as much as I love to drink wine.
The latter is for pure pleasure, of course. But the former is very satisfying for me because it involves creativity, attention to detail and using my hands.
It also involves a little bit of decision-making, because the typical recipe that calls for wine is non-specific about the type of wine to use. It will indicate “white wine” or “red wine,” but what type of white or red? It’s an important decision because it will absolutely impact the flavor of the dish.
One thing I never do is to use “cooking wine.” In my personal opinion, that’s nasty stuff – sometimes bitter, and almost always real salty. Better to go with the “wrong” real wine than with cooking wine.
I have the most fun with wine recipes that complement main dishes, rather than wine recipes that are main dishes. I’ll share two of them with you – a Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce, and a Late Harvest Cranberry Relish.
For the Zinfandel Sauce, you’ll need a tablespoon of butter, a half-cup of minced onions, a tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of brown sugar, a quarter-tablespoon of salt, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a cup of catsup, and a cup of Zinfandel (red – not white!).
In a medium saucepan, saute the onions until they’re soft. Then add all of the remaining ingredients and stir over medium heat until thickened. This will take about a half-hour, and it’ll make about two cups of sauce.
The rest is up to you: Choose your favorite meat or fowl, and brush the meat with the sauce while barbecuing, or pour the sauce over the fully-cooked meat at the table.
The wine to serve? The same (red) Zin you used in preparing the sauce.
Next, I’d like to share a recipe for a relish that goes great with turkey, ham, pork roast or even roasted chicken. This Late Harvest Cranberry Relish has become a holiday tradition in the Montgomery household, and it’s really easy to make.
You’ll need two cans of whole cranberry sauce, one can of crushed pineapple and one cup of your favorite late harvest dessert wine. Personally, I prefer Late Harvest Riesling, but you could also use Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer or Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.
The preparation? Simply mix all the ingredients together, then pass it around the table so your family or guests can spoon on as much as they’d like. What could be easier?