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Frei Brothers 2011 Dry Creek Valley is succulent, juicy

Our Wine of the Week, Frei Brothers 2011 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($20), is succulent and juicy, with subtle and beautifully integrated flavors. The wine is no fruit bomb, which enhances its relationship with food, despite the fairly high 14.9 percent alcohol. Yet it is not hot on the palate, as higher alcohol wines so often are.

On first sip, the wine fills your mouth with flavors of Santa Rosa plum. Soon, suggestions of black raspberry emerge, along with hints of sweet spices, especially allspice and maybe a bit of star anise. On the wine's long finish, you'll notice licorice root and red raspberry.

The wine is excellent with barbecue, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, pizza, polenta and sausage, grilled sweet peppers, onions braised in red wine and caponata, a classic Sicilian dish of eggplant, onions, garlic, tomatoes, olives and raisins.

Of course, it is excellent with burgers, too.

No matter your preference — burgers made of lamb, duck, bison, venison, ground portobello mushrooms or traditional ground beef — the wine is a happy match. At "Eat This Now," which you'll find at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com, I've posted recipes from previous Burger Red tastings, along with a new recipe for portobello burgers.

For today's recipe, I've taken inspiration from Lynne Curry's "Pure Beef: An Essential Guide To Artisan Meat with Recipes For Every Cut" (Running Press, 2012, $27). The book features a recipe for homemade ketchup from Lardo, a food cart in Portland, Ore.

I like it because it is not too sweet, won't overwhelm a wine, works well on almost any kind of burger and does not contain any of the undesirable ingredients in many commercial brands, such as high-fructose corn syrup, for example, and ingredients from GMO crops.

Lardo's Homemade Ketchup

Makes about 1 cup


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