Two new books bring wine into the kitchen in ways other than drinking. Both Wine Country Cooking from Glenora Wine Cellars (Side Order Books, Ithaca; 156 pages; $14.95/softcover) and Home Winemaking Step by Step (Stonemark Publishing, Medford, Ore.; 237 pages; $17.95/softcover) could be included in a gift basket for the wine-lover on your holiday shopping list.
Glenora Wine Cellars, on stunning Seneca Lake, is one of the best-known Finger Lakes wineries, mostly because its principals understand the value of publicity. On the Dundee campus sits the winery, the vineyards, the award-winning restaurant Veraisons and a 30-room inn. The winery is also known for hosting some of the finest jazz musicians in a favorite summertime series. And now, a book.
Wine Country Cooking features 80 recipes from chef Orlando Rodriguez, conveniently grouped according to wine pairing suggestions by winemaker Steve DeFrancisco. “Our restaurant menu changes with the growing season to allow us to select the best local ingredients at the peak of freshness,” says Rodriguez. “The book is a collaboration with our winemaker, matching the diversity of our wines with locally sourced ingredients.”
As a result, each chapter focuses on a specific wine—Seyval Blanc, Niagara, Syrah, sparkling wine and fruit wine, for example—with a brief description of that vintage and some recipes that use it. So you’ll find Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs, Spiked Butterscotch Pudding and Merlot and Tomato Lamb Stew (see accompanying recipe). Alternatively, recipes that complement specific Glenora wines are outlined as well. The handy recipe index is alphabetical with the complementing wine listed alongside.
At the bottom of each recipe, a snippet of trivia adds some flavor. So you can dazzle your friends with such knowledge as “Chardonnay is the most widely planted wine grape in the world,” “Our apple cider is sourced from Red Jacket Orchards in nearby Geneva” and “Riesling’s original home is Germany, where the Romans made their most eastern outpost, and the waning empire’s country estate for their waning emperors.”
And Glenora knows its Riesling, the fast-growing star in the Finger Lakes wine constellation. Its 2007 Semi-Dry was recently voted the best Riesling in the United States for less than $20 by the Beverage Tasting Institute.
If you’d like to try winemaking at home, Home Winemaking Step by Step could be the book for you. Writer Jon Iverson is himself a winemaker with more than 30 years of experience fermenting grapes from Washington, Oregon and California. This is the fourth edition of the book, which applies to both beginner and advanced amateur winemakers. At points it waxes a bit technical, but, hey, that’s why some folks make wine. . . we think.
Those of us who prefer to drink it will find interesting the explanations of how white, red and sparkling wines differ in the fermentation process. The “All About Oak” chapter is a compelling read, explaining the lore of the barrels seen at many a Finger Lakes winery, how to select and break in a barrel and how long to age the wine inside the barrel. And what’s interesting, Chardonnay needs more than oak to achieve its happy level of mellowness.
Speaking of mellow, here are a few recipes from Wine Country Cooking to make, serve and enjoy with a Finger Lakes glass of wine.
Essence of Beet Soup
Serve this richly hued soup hot for an instant cold-weather pick-me-up.
2 pounds raw beets, peeled and chopped
40 ounces chicken stock (use
vegetable if you’re feeding a vegetarian)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces Glenora Semi-Dry Riesling
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
In a stockpot, simmer beets in the stock and vinegar for one hour. Strain through a paper coffee filter, then add the sugar and the wine. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with sour cream and julienned beets. Makes 4 servings.
Merlot and Tomato Lamb Stew
3 pounds lamb stew meat, large dice
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Glenora Merlot
2 tomatoes, seeded and small diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh thyme leaf
1 bay leaf
6 red bliss potatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 carrots, chopped on the diagonal
12 pearl onions, peeled
1/2 cup green peas
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large stockpot, add oil and sear the lamb on medium-high heat. Add garlic, bay leaf and pearl onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and Merlot. Cook for one hour. Remove from oven and add the potatoes, carrots, thyme and tomatoes. Stir all together. Return to oven and cook for another hour until lamb is tender. Just before removing from oven, add the peas for about 5 minutes. Makes