Fondue with lively merlot
Juicy McManis Family Vineyards inexpensive, with lots of pairing options
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:03 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:03 a.m.
Inexpensive merlots, like our Wine of the Week, McManis Family Vineyards 2011 Merlot ($9.99), are often the best expressions of this varietal.
Some winemakers seem to feel obligated to fuss a bit much with pricier merlots, a practice that resulted in several vintages of over-extracted wines that left your palate feeling like it had been scrubbed with steel wool. That's not the case here.
The wine is bright, lively and juicy, with rich raspberry, cherry and red currant flavors that are followed by threads of allspice, clove and creamy milk chocolate spiked with vanilla and toasty caramel.
The wine is a natural with red meats and it absolutely loves bacon. It is also excellent with many beans and legumes, especially black beans and black lentils. Italian ragouts, slow-cooked stews and pastas with hearty sauces make good matches, too.
But there are other yummy options. You can enjoy this wine with a grilled cheese sandwich, a prosciutto and cheese panini, pizza, a black bean burrito or roasted winter vegetables on creamy polenta. You can even enjoy it with certain Cajun and Creole dishes, like crawfish etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp Creole, provided they're not too hot.
The wine also hooks up wonderfully with cheeses, especially aged cheeses with nutty flavors. It's lovely with Vella Dry Jack, Valley Ford Estero Gold and Weirauch Carabiner.
For today's recipe, I've taken inspiration from classic fondue and have added sweet potatoes alongside the bread that is traditionally served with it. The sweet potatoes enhance the match and are a good option for guests who don't eat bread.
Classic Fondue with Sweet Potatoes
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
-- Olive oil
-- Kosher Salt
-- Black Pepper in a mill
12 ounces (3 cups, grated) Gruyere de Comte or similar cheese
12 ounces (3 cups, grated) Emmental or similar cheese
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
3 cups dry white wine
1 crusty baguette
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Set the sweet potatoes on a work surface, cut into lengthwise quarters and if particularly large, cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Cut these wedges into 2-inch lengths and set on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and turn the sweet potatoes gently to coat them. Season with salt and bake until tender, about 40 minutes; turn once or twice while cooking. Remove from the oven, transfer to a warm serving dish, cover and set aside.
Put the cheeses into a large bowl, sprinkle the flour on top and toss gently to distribute the flour evenly.
Have a fondue pot with its stand and candle nearby.
Rub the inside of a medium saucepan with one of the garlic cloves; discard the clove, pour in the wine and set over medium heat. When the wine just begins to simmer, add a small handful (about ½ cup) of cheese. When the cheese has melted and the mixture is beginning to simmer vigorously, add another handful of cheese. Continue until all but 2 handfuls of cheese remain.
Put the baguette into the oven and turn off the heat.
Add the remaining cheese and reduce the flame as low as low as possible.
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the remaining garlic clove; discard it. Pour the fondue into the pot, light the pot's candle and set on the table.
Remove the baguette from the oven, slice it or tear it into bite-sized pieces and set in a basket, with the sweet potatoes alongside.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM.
E-mail Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com
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