Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday June 2, 2012
If you ask the average wine drinking woman in Indiana what her favorite Indiana variety is you may hear a few different answers. They may range from the super sweet Reggae Red from Easley Winery in downtown Indianapolis to the Traminette at Oliver Winery in Bloomington. No one’s palate is the same and like anything else, everyone has an opinion.
I know that when I first tried wine several years ago I headed straight for what I considered to be just a step above Boones Farm. It was an over sweetened, syrupy concoction that only resembled wine in that it came in a wine bottle. I thought I was real hot stuff and I think it was my first real purchase the day I turned twenty-one years old.
But like a fine wine, my tastes have matured. Gone are the days of a cheap wine headache and a sour stomach. Find a good bottle and you can be happy with that one good pour with dinner. It took me a long time to find a few that I like, though. Even though the market is flooded with labels. I do mean flooded. Vinters capitalize on the naivete of the consumer. People assume that if the label is worded in another language or has a high cost that it is fit to drink. Many may not know that some are blends but as long as it has a high percentage of one particular grape that they can call it as such.
This was all brought home to me a few weeks ago when I had a 20 minute conversation with a stranger at my local Meijer grocery store. As I stood there looking for a particular Chardonnay that is hard to find, the woman standing beside me was in a sheer panic. This panic was brought on by her need to quickly find a bottle of red wine to cook with. She , not being a regular wine drinker herself, did not know where to begin. She asked me where the cooking wine section was. After I gave her the look of death at such a question, I explained to her there wasn’t one because cooking wine was disgusting. I felt I had to follow this comment up with an explanation and so started my rant on cooking wine with a complete stranger.
Luckily she did not think I was a lunatic and walked away with a bit of information, my business card and a recipe. Not to toot my own horn but she walked in thinking she was going to make pot roast and left with the makings of beef filet with red wine reduction. It only has a few ingredients and is one of the few recipes I can recite verbatim. If you know me then you know this is a feat of superhuman metal ability!
I admit, I am not afraid to talk food with strangers in the grocery store. No, I do not walk up to them to scold them for the cheese food or puffed potato products in their cart but if someone looks lost in an isle I will volunteer my expertise, so to speak. I can’t help it. I don’t have a chance to talk food in my house. My family is all been there done that when I want to talk food to them. I saw an opportunity to teach one person that cooking wine is not the way to go in a recipe, so I took it. When I think of the taste cooking wine I envision what wine may have been like in biblical times. Watery with a vinegar taste.
When you are looking for a bottle of wine meant to use in a recipe, I can not over state that you should buy what you like to drink. You will most likely not use it all and will at some point drink the rest. I think a lot of people think that the only wine worth drinking is expensive. Not true at all. My top 5 wines are all at the ten to twelve dollar price point. It doesn’t matter if this wine is destined to be a gift or to share with company, you can find many, many great selections in this price range.
A friend of mine, who is the proprietor of Mass Ave Wine Shop in Indianapolis, gave me a real education on what makes a good wine, truth in advertising and how to read a label. Her shop boasts a wall of wine with only a few bottles priced over fifteen dollars. It can’t hurt to ask someone at your local retailer for suggestions and advice. I have included a recipe today that uses a whole bottle of wine. What I bought cost around eight dollars. I bought this on the suggestion of a clerk at the new Payless near Greenwood Park Mall. It is very drinkable and reduced to a very nice sauce for my beef.
If you want a little more exposure to Indiana wines then a great even going on Saturday June 2 in Military Park in downtown Indianapolis is the Vintage Indiana Wine Festival. This is the largest gathering of Indiana wineries in Indiana. Combined with music, food and a kids zone there is a little something for everyone. You will have the chance to sample many of the over 200 award winning Indiana wines , browse through artists booths, listen to live music from Jennie DeVoe and American Idol alum Casey James and sample some fantastic food from Indiana producers.
This event is the signature highlight on the Indiana Wine and Grape Council’s calendar. The next big event coming up is the Uncork the Uplands dinner event which promises to be fun. Indiana wineries offer the wonderful opportunity for a weekend excursion for family and friends. Several are within an hours drive of Johnson County. Mallow Run on Whiteland Road boasts many tasty varieties along with an exceptional outdoor area for relaxing with light snacks while listening to music. My other favorite is still Oliver Winery. I am a local Bloomington girl, but their scenic outdoor seating and beautiful tasting areas are hard to beat.
So next time you reach for a bottle of three buck chuck from Trader Joe‘s or a bottle of tepid cooking wine just remember you get what you pay for. If you enjoy thin, watery consistency, metallic flavor or a headache then go right ahead. But trust me, if I see you plunking it in your cart I will probably give you a look.
|A thick, rich sauce perfect for a tender filet….|
Red Wine Reduction for Beef
Inspired by Bon Appetite Magazine
2 TB olive oil
6-8 LG shallots, diced
1 C sliced mushrooms
2 TB sugar
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 bottle (750 ml) of a dry red wine like Merlot, Cabernet or Pinot Noir
1 14 oz can of low sodium chicken broth
1 14 oz can of low sodium beef broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tsp of whole black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
2 TB butter
1 TB flour
salt to taste
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms, sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over, sauté until mixture is deep brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add vinegar, stir until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add wine, boil until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Add both broths, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer uncovered 35 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.