Red wine-marinated beef fajita, Spanish rice and peach mango sangria
I want to make something very clear… I know NOTHING about wine. In general, I rarely drink alcohol so I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination but I do know a good wine can make a huge difference when cooking and so I am going to begin learning. If you already know about wine, this post may drive you crazy with my ignorance. Feel free to correct me in the comments! If you also want to learn about wine and food from the very beginning, welcome!
Where to begin?
So how do I go about choosing a red wine? Over the past two years I have tried buying all sorts of reds and hated each and every one of them. They always say cook with what you would drink and I would not drink any of them! Too harsh and boring at the same time, I turned to my Facebook friends for help.
Many fantastic suggestions flew in (you guys rock!) but one stuck out. My friend Fran has worked in wine stores and suggested that maybe the reason I was disappointed with the wines was because they were all Canadian? Mon dieu! She wrote, “If I know your palette (and I think I do) Canadian reds just don’t have enough to offer you. You need full body and full flavour with a lot of character. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great Canadian wines! Just not a lot of red ones.”
Now I am very, very Canadian so I did not want to believe this but… it felt true damn it! I knew she could be right. So I tried to find Castillo De Monseran, a Spanish she recommended but my store had never heard of it before. They recommended an Australian wine, a 2009 Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon. I sighed. I had no idea what any of that meant but it was on sale from $16.99 to $13.99 and I thought, OK, I will give it a shot.
Next, I wanted to make a sangria. I may not be a big wine drinker but I do adore the occasional sangria and thought it would go perfectly with my fajitas.
I drizzled in a tablespoon or two of the red wine. I love how it stays separated, just looks very cool, but make sure to stir together. Throw in some orange slices and you are done!
Delicious! A very fast and easy sangria that my husband and I LOVED!!! I have made sangrias in the past and we both found the wine too strong, too potent and a little painful. This was smooth and fabulous. We are in the cold heart of winter right now and this dinner complete with festive cocktail cheered us up immensely! I also used the red wine when I made spaghetti and it was one of the best batches I have ever made.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED
Number 1: a good wine does make a big difference
Number 2: Shiraz refers to the kind of grape used in the wine and can be so dark it is almost black. The flavour is supposed to be reminiscent of blackberry, plum, chocolate… (no wonder I like it!)
Number 3: This is where it gets confusing. Apparently cabernet sauvignon is also a kind of grape. Maybe a shiraz grape falls under this category? Help me out people!
I am thrilled that I found a red wine that I like that was a big success in my kitchen! Do I stop now? Heck no! There is still so much to learn, to try, to experiment with… I would love to hear your thoughts, insights, recommendations. I have a tiny liquor store but I will write down suggestions and see if I can find it at my store. Please note, my spending cap is $20 a bottle.