Category Archives: wine

A Cup of Hot Christmas Cheer: Vin Brule

Vin Brule

Old-fashioned mulled wine has always intrigued me. But the complexity of the ingredients has scared me away. And I just don’t like cloves that much.

I found this simple recipe for Vin Brule that only has 4 key ingredients:

– 1 bottle of dry red wine (burgundy is best)
– 4 cinnamon sticks
– the peel of 1 orange
– 3-4 tablespoons of sugar

Put all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cover and cook on high. When it starts to boil, remove lid and light with a match. Be careful: A beautiful large blue flame will burst out.

When the flames dies down, ladle into mugs. Serves 4.


Don’t forget to spill a little wine to the gods.

Wine Find – Mas de Gourgonnier

Mas de GourgonnierMas de Gourgonnier, a red Provence wine, is good for sipping or with food. I buy several bottles at a time. Inexpensive, this delicious wine is under $20.

Tonight I paired this wine with what I like to call a frying-pan pasta. I had some leftover brown gravy and a meat cake made with ground beef. I put the leftovers into a deep frying pan, chopped the meat cake into little pieces, added some peas, about a 1/4 cup of wine, some red pepper flakes and boiled the wine away. I cooked some fresh linguine then added it to the fying pan and heated through.

Then I enjoyed this quick meal with a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier.

From the label:

Tucked into the southern flank of the Alpilles, a short distance from the famous village of Baux de Provence, our vineyards benefit from an exceptional soil and climate. All wines produced at Mas de Gourgonnier are made without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. For generations, we have worked the land with respect for nature and tradition. Only lightly filtered, this wine may throw a light deposit, which is consistent with its naturalness.

Try some soon. You won’t be disappointed.

What To Eat In The Heat

Pasta with tomatoes

Oh! We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising
–Irving Berlin

It’s hot and you just don’t feel like cooking. Salads and fruit are the obvious choice. But sometimes, you gotta have warm food.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a one-dish pasta meal that minimizes time spent at the stove.

pasta, any shape you like
1 large tomato or two vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 small Chinese eggplant
Spices: we recommend salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and dried oregano

Put a pot of water on to boil. Keep the lid on so the steam doesn’t escape and heat up the kitchen.

Hint: If you use fresh pasta, it takes less time to cook.

Chop tomato, garlic, onion, and eggplant.

Open a bottle of chilled dry Italian white wine to keep you cool while you chop.

While you wait for the water to boil, put a little olive oil into a frying pan and sauté the onions and eggplant until soft. Spill in a little wine, add the tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and oregano.

When the pasta has cooked, drain and add to the frying pan. Add a little more olive oil, or a pad of butter if you prefer, and toss over the heat until all ingredients meld together. This should only take a minute or two.

Divide into serving bowls and enjoy with the white wine.

Backyard Picnic With Summer Wine

Rose Sparkling Wine

This weekend I finally finished the Harry Potter book and could emerge from my house without fear of someone telling me the ending.

I celebrated my freedom with a mini backyard picnic. On the menu was a light cheese encased in apricots, a selection of cream crackers and a chilled, sparkling rose wine.

Bugey Cerdon is a light, refreshing cooler for a hot summer afternoon and so pretty in the glass.

Try some. It was only $15.99 for the bottle.

And Cheers to J.K. Rowling for a great series of books.

Mugey Cerdon

Apricot Enrobed Cheese

Summer Wine – Chianti Classico

Nozzole Chianti Classico RiservaDuring the summer months, my favorite weekend lunch is a homemade pizza, a little salad, and a glass of Chianti Classico.

My current favorite is Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva. It is a consistently delicious and fairly inexpensive wine. On the label, it states that the Nozzole estate was first cultivated in the 1200s. There is no substitute for centuries of experience.

Try a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.

Wine Tasting Bars

Vin Rouge, Red Wine
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of California wines. Sacrilege, I know. But I’m much more partial to the French and Italians.

Whenever I buy a Napa or Sonoma valley wine, I’m disappointed. They don’t have the same subtlety as the older countries.

But tonight I went to a wine bar and sampled small amounts of properly chilled California wines and was pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of good California wines out there. You just have to go someplace where someone who knows wine puts a few choice selections in front of you.

Wine bars are a great place for sampling without putting out the money for whole bottles. At the place I went tonight, you could get a taste (2 oz.), a half glass (4 oz.) or a full glass (6 oz.). They also had complimentary appetizers to enhance your palate.

What are your favorite wines?

Champagne Cocktails and Kir Royale

champagne cocktail
‘Tis the season to make merry. The most elegant drinks are made with champagne or sparkling wine. Here are two of our favorite recipes:

Champagne Cocktail
Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute. Pour in a few drops of Angostura bitters. Fill the glass with champagne. It’s a classic. Simple and quite tasty.

Kir Royale
Pour a half ounce of cassis, raspberry or strawberry liqueur into a champagne flute and fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Adjust liqueur to taste. Makes a lovely rose-colored cocktail.

Looking for an inexpensive substitute? Try Prosecco. It’s a sparkling wine from Italy that generally runs from $10-16 a bottle. Most already have subtle hints of pear or apple flavoring. But they also work well as a base for a Kir Royale.