Our Wine of the Week, Bogle Vineyards 2012 California Essential Red ($11), is a great quaffer to keep on hand. You can’t beat the cost. It’s engaging, approachable and can easily hold its own with wines triple its cost.
The wine’s aromas are rich, earthy and rather heady, qualities that transform into flavors of black raspberries, Bing cherries and black plums that in turn give way to little sparks of sweet spice and dried herbs. The lingering finish suggests dried licorice root, vanilla and sweet pipe tobacco.
There’s a surprising elegance to this wine. Although it is a bit burly, it is not the enormous fruit bomb it could have been, given its composition of syrah, old vine zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah. It is soft enough to enjoy with, say, grilled wild Pacific King salmon, especially if you slather the fish with a robust barbecue sauce.
This wine is a great match with pretty much anything off the grill, from burgers and sausages to leg of lamb or goat, skirt steak, tri-tip, New York steak or a juicy rib-eye. Add grilled corn on the cob and roasted sweet peppers alongside and the match soars.
For today’s recipe, I’ve adapted a dish from my book “Polenta” (Broadway Books, 1997) that is lovely in the summer as a light main course or as part of a barbecue.
Summer Polenta with Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Butter
Serves 6 to 8
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 cups coarse-ground polenta
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 sweet red peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
3 garlic cloves, minced
— Black pepper in a mill
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
3 ounces grated Vella Dry Jack or similar cheese
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Pour 8 cups of water into a medium saucepan, add the tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, use a long-handled whisk to stir in one direction, creating a vortex. Pour the polenta into the vortex, stirring all the while and continue to stir, in one direction, until the mixture thickens. Lower the heat and simmer gently, until the polenta is fully tender, stirring it now and then so that it does not form lumps and does not scorch.
While the polenta cooks, make the red-pepper butter. To do so, put the butter into a mixing bowl. Mince one of the sweet peppers as finely as possible, reducing it nearly to a puree, and use a fork to mix it into the butter until very smooth. Add half the garlic, season with salt and mix until very smooth. (Alternately, you may make this in a food processor.)
Cut the remaining peppers into medium julienne, transfer to a small mixing bowl, add the remaining garlic and set aside.
Use a little of the butter to coat the inside of a 2-quart loaf pan, baking dish or decorative mold. Set the rest aside.
When the polenta is nearly tender, add the corn, the cheese and half the parsley. Stir, cook for 3 or 4 minutes, taste, correct for salt and season with several turns of black pepper. Stir in half the butter.