The choice of which wines you serve at Easter or Passover sometimes succumb to the dilemma of I don’t have enough wine for 25 people and your Uncle Ernie, who you know will drink a bottle or three on his own, as well as the need to keep the cost of the event under the price of a new car.
That’s when you buy whatever is on sale and hope it doesn’t taste like mouthwash. Other times you want to splurge.
The uncomplicated explanation for the difference in wines is that red wines are made from black (red) grapes fermented with the skin in the mix. The red skin is what gives the red color to the red wine. White wines are made from either black (red) or white (green) grapes, fermented without the skin in the mix. Sparkling wines (which can be made with either white or red grapes), like Asti and Champagne, contain carbon dioxide that add the bubbles that we all expect in a sparkling wine. The preferences as to which you will prefer takes time and tasting.
Since you don’t want to waste even one drop of the wines you serve, I suggest that you take any leftover wine and pour into ice cube trays (one cube is about 1 tablespoon) or into plastic cups in 1/4 cup amounts and freeze them for when you want to add a big dollop of taste to your recipes but don’t want to open a new bottle of wine to get it.
The following recipes all use a little bit of wine in them and can be used anytime you want to add a little kick to your recipes.
White Wine and Mushroom Sauce
8 ounces sliced mushroom
1/4 cup minced onions
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons potato starch or flour
1 cup whipping cream or non-dairy substitute
3/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions and mushrooms in the butter just until they start to soften. Add the potato starch; mix to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream, wine, salt and parsley. Stir all together and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened. Makes 1 1/2 cups sauce.
Use whatever mix of berries you like; it doesn’t have to be this particular combination.
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 to 2 cups raspberries
1 to 2 cups blueberries
3/4 cup sugar or honey to taste
1 1/2 cups white wine
Zest of 1 orange
Place the berries into a glass bowl. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and then pour the wine over the top. Mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Let the berries come to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving. Divide between 8 dessert cups and spoon the remaining sauce over the berries. Sprinkle the zest over the top of the berries and serve. Serves 6.
Cranberry Wine Sauce
2 cups red wine
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
Zest of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
Pinch of salt
Place wine, sugars and cinnamon in a medium pot and stir to combine. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries, orange zest, pomegranate juice and salt. Stir occasionally and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes until all cranberries have popped and the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and cool. Great warm or cold. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups.