If you find yourself in need of a lift right about now, you could do worse than our Wine of the Week, Saint Gregory 2009 Mendocino County Pinot Noir ($19). It's a pretty wine, with a bright acidity that tastes, at least to me, like a promise. It's an optimistic sort of wine, with a refreshing delicacy that feels like morning sunlight on your tongue. Chilly temperatures will fade, the current flu virus will ebb and spring will be here soon.
Rivulets of dried herbs and spice meander through ripe fruit flavors, especially black plums, Bing cherries and black raspberries. There's an earthy quality, too, like cool topsoil, licorice root and new black leather. Tannins are long and soft so that the wine has that lovely satin-on-velvet texture that makes pinot noir the most food-friendly of all the major red varietals.
At the table, think earthy and gamy: The wine is outstanding with duck, goat, lamb and wild boar and delicious with potatoes, celery root and mushrooms. It goes well with wild salmon, is a great match with oil-cured black olives and is a lovely accompaniment to grilled sardines. It is also a good match with onions, especially French onion soup or an onion galette.
For today's recipe, I've taken inspiration from the classic Boeuf Bourguignon, a perfect dish for this time of year. In this version, I use maitake mushrooms instead of white mushrooms, as both their texture and flavor are extraordinary with the wine. I also use celery root instead of potatoes or egg noodles to further enhance the match. If you can, begin making the stew two days before serving it. Once it is fully cooked, cool it and refrigerate it overnight. It's one of those dishes that is best the day after it is cooked.
Beef Stew with Maitake Mushrooms and Celery Root
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 pounds beef chuck, shoulder or shank, cut into medium chunks
6 medium shallots, peeled
1 2 small cippolini onions, peeled