The wine. And the meal.
A little over a year ago, I bought a bottle of wine at a retail wine store, and it tasted a bit of cork taint. I took it back to the store and spoke with the manager. He gladly took my bottle back and in compensation, offered me a bottle of one of his favorite reds the store offered: Mas de la Garrigue from Força Réal in Côtes du Roussillon Villages in France. He gave me these words of advice: "Don't drink it with someone who'll say, 'Mm! This tastes like grape juice!' because you'll be sorely let down."
Taking these words to heart, I tied a checkered red and white ribbon around the bottle and saved it for the appropriate person. This individual would have to appreciate the nuances of a fine vintage. This individual would have to have a discriminating palate. This individual would have to be a bit of a wine snob. This individual would have to be... Meg.
So we set a date for "French Red Wine Fest," and I set to researching this particular wine and winery. Time on the internet put me in touch with Cyril, the son of the man who bought the Força Réal vineyard in 1989 and who trained at the Chilean winery Villa d’Este and in the Côte-Rôtie. He recommended a grilled red meat with the wine, and a red fruit salad for dessert. He also laid my fears to rest that the wine from this particular year would be fine to drink after its recommended date of three years.
So here, my friends, is what you'll need for tonight's meal (first the basics, then the details):
~ A spectacular vintage from Força Réal. Mas de la Garrigue is a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir and Syrah varietals. I got this one from Colonial Wine and Spirits in Orchard Park.
~ Red meat: I chose lamb tenderloins from Wegmans (naturally)
~ Cheese plate
~ Fruit salad
For the starch:
~ Tiny red potatoes
~ Olive oil
~ Fresh (or dried) dill
I got a bag of tiny red potatoes. At Meg's suggestion, I quartered them, salted, peppered, and tossed them with olive oil and fresh dill. Put them in the oven on 425. Stir a few times while you cook everything else.
For the meat:
~ Lamb tenderloins (one of the only cuts of lamb that actually seems to expand as you cook it, so three per person is ample)
For the glaze:
~ Cherry preserves
~ White wine (I used some Blanc de blanc from Vieux Papes)
~ Olive oil
~ Dried cherries
~ A hint of balsamic vinegar
Start about a tablespoon or so of olive oil heating in a stick-free pan. Add some white wine. Add a good couple tablespoons of cherry preserves. Pass the jar and a spoon back and forth between you and your sous chef. Add a touch of marjoram and a dash of balsamic and let simmer. Talk about your days at work.
In a separate pan, brown the lamb tenderloins with a bit of oil. Once the sauce has started to meld, add the lamb. Turn frequently and take out of the sauce just as the juices start running clear. Set the lamb aside and let the sauce cook down while you make the veggie.
For the veggie:
~ Snap peas
~ Olive oil
~ Garlic cloves
Sautee some crushed garlic and olive oil in a pan. Add the snap peas, salt and pepper. Sautee until just tender.
For the cheese plate and fruit salad (optional, but highly recommended)
~ Vintage gouda (aged 3 years, Holland)
~ Dried cherries
~ Slices crisp, tart apple
~ Dark chocolate (Hershey's pure dark chocolate and pure dark chocolate with cranberries, blueberries and almonds, as per Meg's impeccable taste = perfection)
~ Red fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries for color and sweetness, tossed with some honey)
The wine. Ahh, the wine.
We decided to pour part of the bottle into a decanter to let it breathe for a bit while we finished cooking dinner. The first taste was reminiscent of the bright red fruit salad recommended by Cyril: tart, fresh, full-bodied. The finish was sweet and lingering. It paired beautifully with everything we ate this evening: the lamb brought out its Old World earthiness, the fresh herbs highlighted its bright, sweet notes, the carmel-smoothness of the gouda enhanced its crisp "biting into an apple" taste, the red fruit showcased this wine's full-bodied texture and flavor. What a wine. What a meal!
Over four and a half hours we dined, we chatted, we drank, we dined some more, we discussed; we even watched a chick flick (the video store didn't have our original pick: French Kiss, so we thoroughly enjoyed Under a Tuscan Sun instead!). I've said it before, but it merits repetition. Good food, good wine, good conversation between friends: This is the merry triumvirate on which life can ever turn in its momentum of happiness.
Yours in the love of all three,
The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.