How to Make a Silk Purse Out of a ‘Shrug’

wine-on-a-dime

The wine mavens’ mission is to find good wine at cheap bargain prices. With our limit of $6.99, this is not always easy. The good news is, there is a lot available. We are floating on a sea of wine. Just when we think we have tried it all, they drag us back in. Grocery Outlet or Trader Joe’s gets a new shipment, Safeway has a sale, the task is endless. The bad news is, a lot of it is not very good. We give these our “shrug” rating. You can drink them anyway, but why bother? What to do, what to do?

Usually we drink it anyway. Sangria sometimes works, coq a vin is also a good solution. Escoffier recommends a nice Chambertan for this dish. Nowadays even mediocre Burgundy sells north of $40. We prefer using one of our “shrugs” to pour over a chicken.

Conventional wisdom is,” Never cook with a wine you would not drink.” This works for us, as we will drink almost anything. A case in point was a Nobilo Merlot picked up at G.O. $2.99 for a half-size bottle. We had high hopes for this one because a sister wine, their Sauvignon Blanc, was excellent. Sadly, this one is a solid shrug. It seemed a shame to diminish what promised to be perfectly good dinner with it. What to do? What to do?

VIOLA! Boil some prunes in it.

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Winter Fruit in Red Wine

Cup of dried plums or apricots, or both
2 mandarins or other thin-skinned orange,* quartered
4-5 cloves, piece of cinnamon stick (optional)
Brown sugar or honey to taste (we prefer it not very sweet)
Pear or Fuyu persimmon
Dash of limoncello or Grand Marnier (optional)

Place plums and/or apricots and oranges in sauce pan. Cover with wine** and simmer until orange peel is tender (15-20 minutes). Add pear or persimmon and sweetener. Cook a few minutes more until tender. Sauce should be syrupy, if too thick, add water or orange juice. It will thicken as it cools. Add liquor if desired. Serve warm or cold over ice cream, or with yogurt or sour cream.

*If you cannot find thin-skinned oranges, use regular-peel oranges and remove as much pith as possible from skin, cut in julienne strips and cook with prunes. Remove pith from orange, cut in sections or slices, and add at last minute.

** White works as well, especially with apricots.

Don Cohen is a retired commodities trader who has lived in Redding for 10 years. Joy Yoshioka is a retired high-tech exec who has lived in Redding for four years.

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