Eat wine—Okay, I guess when it comes down to it, I don't just like to drink wine, I like to eat it too. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, ingrained since my early days of eating Manishevitz-laden charoset for Passover each year… and loving it. When I think about it, some of my most favorite recipes of all time are made with wine—slow-cooked sauce bolognese with homemade pappardelle, steamed clams with white wine sauce over linguini, wine-poached pears with cardamom whipped cream, or a concentrated, sweet and savory port-reduction sauce over a fine cut of beef. So, in the spirit of eating wine, here’s a recipe for my favorite reduction.
10 peeled shallots, cut in half
3 teaspoons of olive oil
sea salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cups Port (or Port-style) wine
Toss the shallots with the olive oil and seasonings in a large saute pan and roast for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Cover the shallots with the port wine, bring to a boil over medium heat, continue to cook until thickened and reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Strain, cool slightly and serve while warm over practically anything (beef, chicken, pork, potatoes…).
On a side note and possible future tangent, I've been using a fabulous Barnard Griffin Syrah Port. And even though it’s delicious, should they really be calling it Port if it’s from Washington? Just saying.
Pray Wine—When my parents were moving many years ago, I volunteered to pack up their wine
I slowly creaked the box open and peered in, much like Charlie Bucket did when he discovered his golden ticket. But I didn't find a golden ticket. Instead, I lay my bulging eyes upon the dazzling golden label of a bottle of 1990 Dom Perignon—one glance was all it took, I immediately knew that little gem would be going home with me. I placed the revered bottle upon its alter in my shrine (“cellar”) for several years. And then I prayed—giving thanks daily—wondering of its promise. One New Year’s Eve, after a sommelier-friend suggested to me that my wine might be peaking, I carefully took Dom off the alter and prepared the bottle for the festive ceremony. On that holy day, we all made our own silent prayers as we released its cork, and much like an old church revival, we worshipped its heavenly body, singing of its glory, long into the night. Hallelujah!
Love Wine—It’s no secret that I love wine. I’ve sacrificed a great deal in the name of my passion and my commitment to continue down this long and winding road of search and discovery—uncovering something new about wine, myself and my palate at every turn. Wine’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember, first in a religious setting, drinking small amounts at temple and on holidays, then in an early educational one, as I sipped from my father’s glass of house reds and rosés he ordered at the Italian restaurant each Sunday night. Next was my recreational path… [sigh]. Yes, I did include alcohol as part of my weekend schedule of entertainment in high school. But, while my friends were beer bonging from the cheapest keg they could afford, I was the one sipping fruity wine coolers. Years later, when we all got fake IDs and went out to the bars, my friends guzzled pitchers of frosty beer while I proudly ordered white wine spritzers, having graduated from juvenile wine coolers.
Laugh all you want, but Manishevitz, wine coolers and spritzers were like gateway wines for me because it wasn't too long before I was the one confidently ordering bottles of Spanish Tempranillo and Albarino in our local Mediterranean restaurant trying to turn my friends on to real wine, and the rest shall we say is history—or perhaps the future. I guess it boils down to the simple fact that like Elizabeth Gilbert, it’s my complete journey, through the pleasure and the soul searching, which has brought me to this moment where I can both accept and embrace my love of wine that's rooted deep in learning and growing, discovering and enjoying, realizing and appreciating. Until we sip again…