Let’s face it; red wine has been all the rage since biblical times. After all, Jesus wasn’t turning water into gin or Diet Coke, was he? I learned how to drink this elixir of the God’s beginning with the tiny tipples served at communion. During college I broadened my horizons and graduated to the cheap-boxed variety and, in the last several years I’ve blossomed into a bit of a petite-connoisseur. While I’m certainly no expert, I do live in California where the wine flows as freely as water so by osmosis, I was bound to learn something.
The good news is that not only is red wine the ideal beverage to sip in front of a roaring fire, and the perfect accompaniment to almost any meal, it is also chock full of healthy goodness. The French are huge red wine drinkers. Their diets are also very heavy with cheeses and red meats. Why is it then that they have lower instances of some cancers and fewer occurrences of heart disease than Americans? The answer is what scientists refer to as “The French Paradox.” Voila, the French drink more red wine!
Researchers have discovered a chemical in the skin of the red grape called Resveratrol. Resveratrol has also been linked to having other beneficial properties that include being a natural antioxidant, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and a cancer fighter. So now that you’re on your way to the liquor store, let me tell you, Cabernet and Syrah have the highest levels of Resveratrol. If you were drinking for you health perhaps you’d like to try one of these first.
In addition to sipping your vino with a bit of cheese, or an elegant meal, consider including it in your recipes. I like to add some to my pasta sauces and well as stews and marinades. It adds complexity to the flavor of your cuisine, which you and those you nourish will greatly appreciate. The rule of thumb amongst chefs is, “Cook with wine of the same quality that you enjoy drinking.” I don’t quite share that philosophy, as I like to drink relatively expensive wine. I say, cook with a bottle in the $7.00- $12.00 range. Your gastronomic fair will not suffer. Spend the extra money on the spirits that you pair with your meal.
When shopping for the perfect wine, I suggest that you ask questions of the buyer at your local winery. They are very knowledgeable folks who love to help you find the perfect vintage that suits both your price range and menu. Also, try picking up a copy of “The Wine Spectator.” Every month they critique a wide variety of wines from all over the world, in every price range. Bon Appetit!
Beef Bourguignon w/
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 ½ pounds of stew beef, cut into 1 ½” chunks
1 ½ pound of mushrooms cut in half
8 slices of bacon diced
1-pound small white onions
3 small carrots, diced
1 medium-sized celery stalk, diced
1 cup of dry red wine
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 beef flavored bouillon cube
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- In a 5-quart Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook meat ½ at a time until all sides are brown. With a slotted spoon, remove from oil and set aside. In the pan drippings (adding more oil if necessary) sauté mushrooms for five minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl.
- In the same Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook bacon, onions, carrots, and celery until browned. Stir in wine, sugar, bouillon, and ½ cup of water. Return meat to Dutch oven; over high heat, heat until boiling. Reduce temperature to low; cover and simmer 1-½ hours until the meat is almost tender.
- Peel potatoes and start a large stockpot of water to boiling. Once the water boils, salt it; add the peeled garlic cloves, and quartered potatoes. Boil until potatoes are tender. Strain and return to pot.
- When meat is ready, stir in mushrooms. Continue to cook until the meat is tender; about 15-20 minutes.
- Skim fat from the liquid in Dutch oven and discard. In a cup, mix ½ cup of water with ¼ cup flour. Gradually stir into the beef mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.
- Mash potatoes with cooked garlic cloves, salt, butter, and enough cream for the perfect whipped consistency. I leave the amount of butter you use up to your discretion. If I told you how much I use, you’d faint!
I like to serve this with a bottle of 1995 Marques de Caceres Grand Reserve Rioja. This full-bodied Spanish red offers the perfect accompaniment to a hearty dish and won’t break the bank at around $25.00 a bottle.
about whitney dineen
Whitney Dineen is the "cookie maker to the stars" in Hollywood, as well as being a plus size model with the Ford Agency. Her delicious treats have been features on NBC's celebrity show, "Extra" as well as "The Other Half" and HGTV's "Smart Solutions." She is currently putting the final touches on her first cookbook, "Sweet Things" so you'll soon be able to make her favorite goodies for yourselves.