Our Wine of the Week, Arrowood 2011 Saralee's Viognier ($30), is a cornucopia of fruit and flowers, a perfect mirror of the holiday table.
The wine doesn't unfold in the glass, it slowly blossoms, reflecting the cool region of the Russian River Valley where it has all the time it needs to ripen, developing those compelling flavors as the sugars rise leisurely.
Specific flavors suggest stone fruit and plenty of it, especially peaches, nectarines and apricots, along with honey, honey suckle, orange blossoms and, in the aromas, a bit of mango.
The wine goes beautifully with turkey, and the match is enhanced when the turkey has dressing with a bit of sweetness from cornbread, dried fruit or chestnuts.
It's outstanding with winter squash and ideal with sweet potatoes. And you'll want to have some left at the end of the meal, as it is a very happy companion with pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake.
For today's recipe, I've chosen a warm sweet potato salad. I usually use a molasses and honey vinaigrette, but I've made an easy adjustment to make the dish vegan-friendly. Vegans don't eat honey; I've replaced it with marmalade, but there are other possibilities, including apple jelly, chipotle jam or something similar. Just be sure to taste and adjust as needed for a good balance of sweetness and acid.
<strong>Warm Sweet Potato Salad with Molasses & Marmalade Vinaigrette</strong>
<em> Makes 6 to 8 servings</em>
2 to 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
— Molasses Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 red onion, cut into very thin half rounds
1 cup shelled pecans, lightly toasted
1/2 cup pitted olives (see Note below), cut into thin rounds
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into fairly wide (3/8-inch) rounds. Set the cut sweet potatoes in the basket of a steamer and set the basket over simmering water and steam until tender, about 11 to 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette.
Put the steamed sweet potatoes into a wide shallow bowl or platter and pour about half the dressing over them. Let cool slightly.
Add the onion, pecans, olives and half the parsley; use two forks to toss gently. Add the remaining dressing, toss again, top with the remaining parsley, season with a little salt and pepper and serve.
Note: Use the olives you prefer. Sometimes I like a nice green Picholine; other times I prefer the large Castelvetrano, either black or green. Oil-cured black olives work quite well, too.
<strong>Molasses & Marmalade Vinaigrette</strong>
<em> Makes about 1 cup</em>
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon marmalade (lemon or orange) or honey
— Hot water
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put the molasses and marmalade or honey into a wide-mouth Mason jar. Set the jar in a bowl and pour an inch or so of hot water into the bowl; let rest a few minutes so that the molasses and marmalade warm slightly, which will make mixing easier.