The venue that once hosted some of the summer’s greatest moments is now, in many cases, enduring its death rattle. Literally, the rain of horse chestnuts and moldy leaves is the signal that it’s time to move the party indoors. But really, are there any complaints? Candlelight, crackling birch-wood fires, a serene complexion… what’s not to love?
Just as Choucroute Garni is an excellent, time-honored dish to slowly cook and serve with an under-the-radar, value white, there are many rich, hearty meals that can make red wines sing. And sometimes, an indoor-based weekend is an inspiration to start a culinary project at the stovetop, before moving the morsel(s) to an oven set for a temperature well south of 300 degrees. Soon, the house will be filled with an enticing aroma. Bring out some red wines that are real conversation starters.
Sure, a beef tenderloin and a California Bordeaux-style blend are a delectable combination. Only a couple of problems: a battered credit line and a now-anorexic wallet. Not to mention, there’s an intense pressure not to ruin such a fine piece of meat. Then there’s the hand-wringing angst over whether the Cabernet/Merlot/Petit Verdot blend is corked. A glass of liquid gym sock with a modest helping of a $100 muck boot, anyone?
Didn’t think so. Instead, try one of northern Italy’s most famous braises, such as Osso Bucco. Find out how much more flavor beef short ribs have than a filet mignon. And, if perusing the reach-in aisle at the supermarket (yes, Chicago Budget Wine Examiner admits to this culinary faux pas), get a slab of chuck or what’s called a Seven Bone Roast, and get creative with a Dutch Oven.
Here are a couple of value-priced red wines (value, not cheap) to pair with dishes that will ward off all forms of anorexia: that of the waistline and the wallet:
Rocche Costamagna Barbera d’Alba 2006: Many chefs and gourmets believe that the ideal Italian red to serve with Osso Bucco is a Barolo. No argument here. But consider this Barbera, which Mike Moran of Chicago’s Wine Discount Center says “has a little more body, as it’s a ‘d’Alba’, and therefore will complement the many flavors in Osso Bucco.” Enjoy the lively, yet balanced, dark berry flavors. Great structure, and nice acidity distinguish this Barbera d’Alba. $13.
Domaine de Piaugier Sablet Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2007: Rhône wines from the 2007 vintage have gotten their fair share of ink and page views. Although not the multi-year ager like some of its regional cousins, this Sablet tasted great a few months ago, and is only getting better. It should be fine all the way until next fall, but why wait? Fruit-forward, with Grenache leading the way. But, firm tannins perfectly restrain any excess. This wine is truly exceptional for the price, one of the best that Value Wine Chicago has tasted all year. $15.