Pairings: Raise a glass of meritage with this yummy wild rice salad

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Dry Creek Vineyards 2016 Meritage ($30), our Wine of the Week, is supple, complex and engaging. Aromas are suggestive of blackberries warmed by the sun, a quality that also unfolds on the palate, along with black currants, Bing cherries, black raspberries and a whisper of milk chocolate.

These elements come together around a core of sweet spice and a foundation of rich, almost silken, tannins. The wine is absolutely luscious.

At the table, you’ll appreciate how lamb, especially grilled leg of lamb, flatters the wine. The match soars when the meat is served over a bed of naturally creamy white beans.

White beans, in general, are a good match. Meats, including chicken, pork and beef, work well with the wine, especially if you add a sauce or condiment with either Dijon mustard or black olives.

It is also good, of course, with spaghetti and meatballs, pot roast, Coq au Vin and roasted root vegetables.

The wine engages beautifully with wild rice, chick peas and walnuts, too, and I’ve combined those three ingredients in today’s recipe.

If you happen to have some smoked duck breast around, add it to the salad, as described in the instructions, and you’ll be delighted by how the complexity of flavors in the salad resonates with the complexity of flavors in the wine.

Warm Wild Rice, Walnut & Chick Pea Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

— Kosher salt

— Walnut Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

½ cup red walnut halves, lightly toasted

1 14-ounce can chick peas, drained

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, if available

1 smoked duck breast, optional, at room temperature

Put the wild rice into a medium saucepan, add 3½ cups water and a generous tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer gently for 45 minutes, until the rice is tender and has begun to split. Remove from the heat, drain well and tip into a wide, shallow bowl.

While the wild rice cooks, made the vinaigrette.

When the rice is done, pour about half the dressing over it and toss gently.

Add the walnut halves, chick peas, parsley, and tarragon, if using, and toss again. If using the duck breast, cut it into thin slices and arrange them on top of the rice mixture.

Spoon the remaining dressing over everything and enjoy right away.

Walnut Vinaigrette

Makes about ½ cup

1 small shallot, minced

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon dry red wine

1 tablespoon toasted and minced walnuts

6 tablespoons unrefined walnut oil

Put the shallot into a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, add the vinegar and red wine, and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the walnuts and whisk in the walnut oil. Taste, and correct for salt, pepper and acid. Use right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Oil & Vinegar.” Email her at

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