Not a drop of wine has passed my lips since New Year, but in order to keep the blog fed and watered, I decided to cook with red wine as a legitimate excuse to open a bottle.
Choosing red wine for a stew is a tricky business. Do you go cheap because, after all, it’s only going in the food and you ‘don’t want to open the special stuff‘ or go expensive because all the celeb chefs insist you only use good ingredients? Since you are feeding the stew liquid nourishment (much as I try with Sozzl’d) of wine and stock, surely you want to go with a decent choice, right?
To be honest, the decision was pretty much made for me. We have wine at both ends of the spectrum sitting in the cooler, from the really expensive (Domaine de Chevalier rouge 2008) to the really quite cheap…. I couldn’t face opening a bottle of Penfolds Bin 8, which would ordinarily retail for about £16 in the UK (but more like £50 out here), so I settled for the cheap stuff and kept my fingers crossed that it would add something of substance.
Juno – daughter of Saturn, sister (and, ooh errr, wife) of Jupiter, mother to Mars and Vulcan – bustily adorns the bottle I used to make a hearty Italian beef stew; the kind that my wife and I would’ve killed for during the UK’s wintry snap. Given to us by our landlady, this bottle was one automatically consigned to the scrap-heap of my mind; my opinion of it was certainly prejudiced by the label whose hideous pastel shades made me instantly fearful of the contents.
But, as is the way out here with crap labels, it turned out to be OK.
Juno Wine’s 2007 Shiraz was cinnamon spice and chocolate on the nose and in the mouth it was firm and quite tannic which was counter-balanced by a thick blackberry jam. Not long enough to occupy my thought processes for more than a minute or so – it was nonetheless fine and as such added some grip and steel to the stew.
My search will obviously go on for a definitive answer to the stew-wine question. In fact I’d be particularly interested to know if there are particular kinds of red that fare better in stew than others. How does grape variety, oak or terroir affect a stew, I wonder? If you have the answer, let me know.
Whilst I can’t say I’ll be rushing to buy another bottle of Juno, I’ll remember her for the dodgy label, as a protector of women and the goddess of marriage and conception (we’ll ignore her own dodgy relationships for the moment…). Hopefully Juno will feed my wife and me with some good marital vibes in 2013…!