Let’s face it—we all want wine that tastes great and doesn’t break the bank. I don’t care if you work at UBS or UPS, everyone wants more wine for their dollar.
Good news: In this economic downturn that has spread throughout the world the wine drinker wins…imagine that. There has never been a better time than right now to experience wine under $15. I can never write enough columns about all of the value wine that is out there in the marketplace. The only thing that you need is an adventurous spirit and a wine store that is constantly tasting and sifting through the mediocrity to find the coolest, tastiest wines under $15.
The table is set for some great wine. I’ve done my homework so feel free to look over my shoulder and cheat off my test. Of course all of these wines will go superbly with this week’s recipe which is my very own creation. I love Riesling because it is so versatile and fits so well with so many different food flavors. The high acidity cleanses the palate of spice and gets you ready for another bite.
Pacific Rim Riesling $14.99 from Columbia Valley Washington is made in the off-dry style from organically grown grapes which means that it has some light sweetness which I think shows this varietal off best. Don’t let a little sweetness scare you away, this wine is very refreshing especially on a hot day, make sure you open the bottle as to assure you get the biggest pour, because it will be empty within minutes.
For the next wine I would suggest the Culley Pinot Noir from Marlborough New Zealand, and at $13.99 it actually tastes like a Pinot Noir with notes of raspberry along with good acid. It isn’t some slopped together Pinot Noir imposter that you usually find at this price point. Ok class, keep your heads up and pay attention the recipe is just around the corner.
One more wine that is under $15 by just one penny but worth every one of them is red Zinfandel from the Peachy Canyon Winery in Paso Robles. This wine is so food friendly with medium acid and bright fruit with a touch of spice that it should always be present at the barbecue, unless you want to greedily horde it in the house so you can sneak inside to fill up your glass while your friends drink Yellowtail. That’s ok too. There are too many great value wines to talk about in this column so feel free to stop by my store and take a look around and talk to me about them. I’m constantly bringing new under $15 wines in every week.
Now my friends you shall be rewarded for your patience with this weeks rockin’ recipe that was created in the space between my ears over many years. Although I have to give credit to my long-time friend Rob Ardigo for sharing his secret on how to cook a crispy-skinned baked potato. Thanks bro.
Thai Peanut Teriyaki Marinade Flank Steak with Baked Potato
- 1.5lb-2lb Flank Steak
- 4 Idaho Potatoes
- 12 Tbl–Soy Sauce
- 1 ½ Tsp–Thai Fish Sauce
- 3Tbl–Teriyaki Sauce
- 2 ½ Tsp–Red Curry Paste
- 2Tbl–Chili Paste
- 3Tsp–Fresh Grated Ginger
- 3Tbl–Thai Fruit/Vegetable Concentrate
- 2 ¼ Tsp–Crushed Chopped Garlic
- 2 ½ –Lime’s Juiced
- 4 Tbl–Peanut Butter (Chunky)
Put ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. All the ingredients can be bought at the any Asian market.
Place flank steak and marinade in a ziplock bag and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Pre heat oven to 500 degrees
Poke holes in the potatoes unless you want an explosion in the oven. The potatoes should cook for 1 hour 10 minutes. If it stays in a few minutes longer it’s no big deal.
Now this is important part for getting and maintaining maximum crispiness. Take the potatoes out right before you are ready to sit down and eat. Cut them in half immediately this will assure a crispy potato. When the potato sits uncut out of the oven it steams itself soft. Hopefully that makes sense.
While the flank steak is cooking pour the marinade into a pot and reduce by ¼ over medium high heat and reserve for the table. This tastes great over the potato.
When slicing the flank steak remember to slice across the grain of the meat and on a slight angle. Don’t slice thick pieces.
Walking through my wine store, I’ve noticed that one particular style of wine doesn’t seem to move quite as briskly as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Yet it is quite possibly one of the finest wines out there. I’m talking about Meritage/Bordeaux.
You may be asking yourself, “What!?” Quite simply when you read or hear Meritage/Bordeaux what you want to be thinking is a red blend. To get more technical (which I hate) classically a Bordeaux blend hails from the left bank of the Gironde River in the Bordeaux region of France. Such famously expensive first-growth Chateaux like Margaux and Lafite Rothschild hail from this region and when we talk Bordeaux blend we are talking about five main grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc that are blended in different percentages to create these expensive wines.
Alas, they don’t always have to be expensive, and the rich aren’t the only part of society that gets to enjoy these magnificent blends because there are Bordeaux in every price range. I hope you are all taking notes—there will be a test. However, France doesn’t have the monopoly on expensive Bordeaux blends.
Tuscany is another region that has famously expensive, almost out-of reach for us regular folk wine. In that region is a beautiful town located in the province of Livorno on the western coast of Italy called Bolgheri. It’s most famously known for the crazy-expensive Sassicaia, which is a Bordeaux style blend; and the town is lesser known for bird-watching, which I guess is fun as long as you have a glass of wine in your hands.
So we’re all experts on the five grapes that get blended to create Bordeaux for left bank first-growth Chateaux. Excellent, let’s move on to Meritage, America’s version of the Bordeaux blend without getting into a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo including cease and desist letters from Bordeaux and a possible international wine incident for infringing on their legal right to the term “Bordeaux blend”. Anyway, Meritage being an American blend is not relegated to only five grapes to blend with no wiggle room. No sir—we have the wine freedom to interpret and be creative with the Meritage blend. Quite simply it can be any blend of red grapes as long as it totally rocks taste wise. Doesn’t that sound like a wine you want to drink? There are too many taste profiles to explain. So I’ll leave you with the invite to come taste some great Meritage wines this Friday and Saturday from noon-8pm at my wine store Off the Vine in Norwalk.
Of course I have three great Meritage recommendations to pair with Westport-based Splash Restaurant Executive Chef Dave Repp’s recipe below.
Whitman Cellars 2003 Narcissa Red blend Washington State, $12.99 two for $22.99, 2004 Buzzard Tree Meritage Paso Robles California, $15.99, and 2005 Spann Vineyards Mo Zin red blend, $21.99.
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO
serves 4 as a side or 2 as an entree
- 2 cups mixed sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms roughly chopped
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- ¼ lb unsalted butter
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
1)in a medium sauce pan add the dried porcini mushrooms to the chicken stock and bring to a quick boil turn of the burner and let sit
2) in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté and season the onions and mixed fresh mushrooms
3) using a wooden spoon stir in the Arborio rice and add the wine and season with kosher salt , keep stirring
4) When the wine is ¾ absorbed stir in 1 cup of the hot mushroom stock. When the stock is almost fully absorbed, stir in another cup of hot mushroom stock. Repeat the process until the chicken stock is gone then stir in the parmesan cheese and season with kosher salt and pepper. If the risotto is too thick you can thin it down with hot water.
Use a wooden spoon. It won’t cut or mash up the rice
Constantly stirring the risotto pulls out the starch that gives risotto its creaminess.