Holiday Wines Part II – The Reds


Red is the color deeply
entwined with some of our strongest feelings—passion, love, rage, danger. It
even symbolizes good luck. What better wine to bring to you next family

For many reasons, the holidays
are a great time to stock up on wine—to enjoy, to gift, and to collect. Like
the color itself, red wines offer a spectrum of bold and dazzling varieties to
enjoy. The Cabs tend to work nicely with most red meats, lamb, and a
flavorfully prepared ahi tuna. We love Pinot Noirs for their versatility—most
are both smooth and bold enough to work well with lighter fare such as roasted
salmon or game fowl and heavier, classic dinner fare like Beef Wellington.

Speaking of Beef Wellington
and family gatherings—this is one of my family’s traditions! Many years ago, I
gave my husband The New Basics Cookbook by Silver Palate authors Julee
Rosso and Sheila Lukins. We’ve had decades of fun exploring so many cuisines
and cultures through the recipes and informative anecdotes. Once beyond the
chicken-nugget rite of passage, our kids joined us on the journey. While we
each have our distinct preferences, we all look forward to Beef
Wellington as our Christmas Eve tradition. In fact, my oldest—now living on
that other coast—has asked for the recipe so many times that she’s receiving her
own copy of The New Basics as a gift this year. Based on how tattered
that original paperback is, I’m even springing for the hardcover edition.

You can find that hallowed
Beef Wellington recipe below. And if you want to find some great red wines,
here are a few favorites we’re featuring this week.

Cheers to holidays and family


The Cabs

Istro Trio

Smoked walnut and juicy black cherry aromas lead to ripe
plum flavor and a satin mouthfeel in this Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
This is one of those Cabs that can hold its own as a soloist—but it also brings
synergy to the equation when paired with a simple dinner of beef burgundy,
crusty French bread and creamery butter.

Tesca Trio

This classic full-bodied California
Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant and smooth, with layers of rich bramble fruits. A
sophisticated blend of cool mineral elegance and abundant dark berry character,
ideal for pairing with American fare, such as grilled chicken or a rack of
barbecued ribs.

Pierce Canyon Trio

This Cabernet from California’s central coast has deep and
balanced acidity with aromas of dried cherries, cedar cigar box and a hint of
black plum. On the palate, flavors of blackberry jam and toasted walnuts
balanced out the vanilla notes acquired from the French oak aging.

California Cabernet Trio

Can’t decide? Or maybe your new to the big-jammy-cab band
wagon. Consider a mixed trio. This is a great way to do your own wine tasting
and find out what it is you love about each Cabernet. The California Cabernet
Trio includes Istro, Tesca, and Pierce Canyon.

The Pinot Noirs

Founders Vine Trio

A notably smooth and versatile Pinot Noir for those who
enjoy the complexity of a red wine and a clean finish. Soft, dried-plum,
ruby-red grapefruit and juicy strawberry flavors come to light in the deep magenta
rim of this garnet pour. Topped with notes of vanilla and nutmeg—and maybe even
a hint of warm cocoa—this is truly a four-season Pinot. Light enough for a
summertime picnic but with enough character to stand up to hearty winter fare.

La Crema Monterey Trio

Deep red cherries and black plum accented with fresh red
raspberries set the stage for this sophisticated La Crema Pinot. The subtle
notes of sassafras and baking spice round out this complex and medium-bodied
pour. Enough panache for spicy garlicky fare, but also pairs nicely with a
simply prepared roast chicken.

West Coast Pinot Noir Trio

This lush trio of Pinot Noirs explores the west coast, from
southern Napa-Sonoma up into the elevations of Oregon. The West Coast Pinot
Noir Trio includes:


Aged in new French oak, this premium Pinot from the Columbia
Gorge opens with wood violet and cocoa aromas, uncovering flavors of black
cherry and spice. Framed by chewy tannins and lingering impressively, this
Pinot Noir pairs exceptionally well with grilled vegetables, herb roasted pork
tenderloin, blackened chicken or oven baked salmon filets.

Adelsheim Breaking Ground

From the hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains, Oregon comes
the silky smooth Adelsheim Breaking Ground Pinot. The balanced black cherry and
earthy foundation is tempered to a supple finish with 11-month aging in French
oak barrels. Committed to the long-term health of planet Earth, Adelsheim is a
LIVE-certified sustainable winery.


Smooth and elegant, this Pinot from Etude hails from
Carneros—the southernmost point of Sonoma and Napa valleys. The topography is
well-suited for growing Pinot Noir as the bay winds and rolling fog keep
temperatures cool. The layers of dark cherry, sweet earth, and poignant spice
in this Burgundian-style pinot conjure a perfect garnet hue to pair with
fine-dining classics such as Rack of Lamb, Lobster Thermador, and Beef

Beef Wellington for Two

From The New Basics Cookbook

½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp dried thyme leaves, crumbled

2 tournedos of beef (6 oz each)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 TBS unsalted butter

¼ cup Potted Mushrooms (recipe follows)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, 10 x 8 inches, 1/8 inch thick,

1 egg

1 tsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss the pepper, salt, and thyme in a small
    bowl. Rub the tournedos on all sides with the mustard, then sprinkle the spice
    mixture over them.
  3. Melt the butter in a small skillet, and sear the
    tournedos on all sides, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Arrange the tournedos on a small baking sheet,
    and cover them with the potted mushrooms.
  5. Cut out two 4- to 5-inch circles of pastry.
    Drape each over one of the tournedos, and pinch the edges in four or five
    places to enclose the tournedos. Blend the eggs and milk, and brush this glaze
    over the pastry. Decorate the tops with cutouts made from pastry trimmings, if
  6. Bake 15 minutes for medium-rare. Serve

2 portions

Potted Mushrooms

From The New Basics Cookbook

Their note: Make this the day you plan to serve it—it will
not hold longer than a day.

My note: I bracketed off the steps related to this dish as
an appetizer. The recipe yields 2 cups. The Beef Wellington recipe calls for ¼
cup. Try halving or quartering the recipe. Better yet, make it a dinner party
and multiply the Beef Wellington recipe accordingly!

5 TBS unsalted butter

1/3 cup minced shallots

1/3 cup minced leeks, white part only

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz cultivated mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

10 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (reserve for
another use), finely chopped

1 TBS finely snipped fresh chives

½ tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

[Toast points, for serving]

  1. Melt 2 TBS of the butter in a 10-inch skillet. Stir
    in the shallots, leeks, and garlic. Cook over low heat until translucent, 5
  2. Add the cultivated mushrooms and the thyme.
    Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the
    mixture is just moist, 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 3 TBS butter to the skillet,
    and stir in the shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until they are just
    beginning to stick to the pan, 5 minutes.
  4. Pour off any juices that have accumulated in the
    bowl, and add the shiitakes to the mushroom mixture. Stir well, and season with
    the chives, salt, and pepper. [Serve at room temperature accompanied by fresh
    toast points.]

2 cups


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