Monday, February 16, 2009


To celebrate Valentine's Day, we had supper at home which included candle light and wine. Because it was beef, we chose red. We don't drink a bottle a year although I use some for cooking.

In the kitchen, hanging from the ceiling near the north wall , is a wine rack, purchased mostly because that space needed something, and wine, as we know as mellow colors and fit the decor.

Over the years, Old Trunks has replaced a bottle or two because the rack hangs crooked if not full.

And it came to pass that we looked up to the rack for a red wine for supper. We picked a bottle and without reading the label, opened it and Tom poured two glasses to breath while the rib eye cooked.

At first sip, it was obvious it was not a good selection for our supper. Several sips later, it appeared better. :). Tom read the label, it was plum and blackberries with an oak taste. Imagine me thinking red wine cleaned the palate of a well marbled steak. It did not happen.

Now it is said that when you serve wine with beef, it depends on the sauce on the food. We aren't big on sauces here, except gravy with roast;--Yes, Juanita, we know you want the gravy salted--. This piece of beef was way to pretty to sauce up.

We have since learned:

We were to consider the strength of the flavors and aromas in the dish. Pair powerful flavors and aromas with a powerful wine. If the flavors are more delicate, choose a wine with more finesse.

Pair full-flavored dishes such as steak au poivre with a wine that has lots of black pepper aromas and flavors. The best are made with grenache, especially those from the Gigondas region of France's Rhone Valley, Chateauneuf du Pape and Spain's Rioja.

For a delicate beef carpaccio or steak tartare, choose wines with subtle red-meat aromas, such as cabernet sauvignons and merlots. Wines from the Napa Valley floor and Bordeaux exemplify this style. There was a bottle of merlot we could have chosen.

For "beefy" dishes such as grilled steak, choose intense, smoky wines, such as Barolo or Barbaresco. Big, tarry cabernet sauvignons from the Napa Valley and mountains can also stand up to a juicy steak. I will take this list to the bottle store for the next wine and candle meal.

Choose a less complex wine to go with complex sauce. You don't want your wine to compete with your sauce, and vice versa.

For hearty beef stews with heavy spices and herbs, pick spicy syrah-based wines from the Rhone regions of Hermitage and Cote Rotie or California's central coast. Obviously I would need to take the list with me and show it to the clerk at the bottle store rather than to try to pronounce the names.

Old Trunks should read the labels and hope the clerk at the bottle store knows what to buy to go with what. If all else fails, bring a list.

Whining...which wine. What about chicken?


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