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
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white or yellow onion, cut into small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
— Kosher salt
? teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste
? cup packed light brown sugar
? cup apple cider vinegar
1 can (14.5 ounces) can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen brand, drained
Pour the oil into a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the onion and saute 5 or 6 minutes, until soft and fragrant; do not let it brown or burn. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Season with salt.
Stir in the paprika, cayenne, allspice and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring all the while. Add the brown sugar, vinegar and tomatoes, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently until the mixture is quite thick, about 45 to 50 minutes. Stir now and then to prevent scorching.
Remove from the heat and let cool briefly. Taste and correct for salt.
Puree with an immersion blender, pass through a fine sieve or puree in a conventional blender.
Transfer the ketchup to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
This ketchup keeps, stored properly, for about 2 weeks.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM.
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