Archive for April, 2011


Cooking with Wines

Wine Selection:

The first and most important rule: Use only wines in your cooking that you would drink. Never, never use any wine that you WOULD NOT DRINK! If your do not like the taste of a wine, you will not like the dish you choose to use it in.

Do not use the so-called “cooking wines!” These wine are typically salty and include other additives that my affect the taste of your chosen dish and menu. The process of cooking/reducing will bring out the worst in an inferior wine. Please promise yourself never, never to stoop to such a product!  Linda’s rule of thumb is: I do not cook with something I will not drink.

An expensive wine is not necessary, although a cheap wine will not bring out the best characteristics of your dish. A good quality wine, that you enjoy, will provide the same flavor to a dish as a premium wine. Save the premium wine to serve with the meal.

How to cook with wine:

Wine has three main uses in the kitchen – as a marinade ingredient, as a cooking liquid, and as a flavoring in a finished dish. The function of wine in cooking is to intensify, enhance and accent the flavor and aroma of food – not to mask the flavor of what you are cooking but rather to fortify it. As with any seasoning used in cooking, care should be taken in the amount of wine used – too little is inconsequential and too much will be overpowering. Neither extreme is desirable. A small quantity of wine will enhance the flavor of the dish.

The alcohol in the wine evaporates while the food is cooking, and only the flavor remains. Boiling down wine concentrates the flavor, including acidity and sweetness. Be careful not to use too much wine as the flavor could overpower your dish.

For best results, wine should not be added to a dish just before serving. The wine should simmer with the food, or sauce, to enhance the flavor of the dish. If added late in the preparation, it could impart a harsh quality. It should simmer with the food or in the sauce while it is being cooked; as the wine cooks, it reduces and becomes an extract which flavors. Wine added too late in the preparation will give a harsh quality to the dish. A wine needs time to impart its flavor in your dish. Wait 10 minutes or more to taste before adding more wine.

Remember that wine does not belong in every dish. More than one wine-based sauce in a single meal can be monotonous. Use wine is cooking only when it has something to contribute to the finished dish.

Sulfites in Wine – All wines contain at least some small amount of sulfites. They are a natural result of the same fermentation process that turns grape juice into alcohol. Even wines that have not had any sulfites added during the winemaking process contain some amount of sulfites. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is used by winemakers to keep freshly pressed must from spoiling. It keeps down the activities of native yeast and bacteria and preserves the freshness of the wine.

When cooking with wine containing sulfites, you do not concentrate them as you would flavor, but rather they evaporate like alcohol. The sulfite goes through a conversion in the liquid of the wine to produce sulfur dioxide. This is actually the compound that prevents the oxidation. It also is a gas, and when subjected to heat, it dissipates into the air. All that remains is some salts, but they are so minute in quantity that they have no affect on flavor.

Storage of Leftover Wine Leftover table wine can be refrigerated and used for cooking if held for only one or two weeks. If you have at least a half bottle on wine left over, pour it off into a clean half bottle, cork it, and store in the refrigerator. without air space at the top, the rebottled wine will keep for up to one month.

Wine Reduction for Pan Sauces:

1/2 to 3/4 cup raw wine = 2 tablespoons of wine reduction

For ultimate flavor, wine should be reduced slowly over low heat. This method takes more time and effort, but will achieve a superior sauce because the flavor compounds present in the wine are better preserved.


Cheese: cablanca cheese

Cablanca Cheese

Cablanca Cheese

Cablanca is an excellent ‘entry level’ goat’s milk cheese if you want to try something different but are not so sure about the usually assertive taste of traditional goat cheese. Cablanca has the characteristic of goat milk but is milder than traditional unpasteurized goat’s milk cheeses. This cheese has a delicate, citrus tanginess and firm but creamy texture and a snow-white color.

This gourmet cheese is perfect to serve on a cheese platter, in salads, melted on toast, and tossed with cooked vegetables. Cablanca is also very low in cholesterol.


This cheese pairs beautifully with a light pinot noir, nero d’avola, or a crisp sauvignon blanc.


The Blue Ridge (international) Wine and Food Festivel

I’ve been to far more wine festivals and wine competitions than I care to count. Seven years ago, before we dreamed of Christopher’s Wine & Cheese we initiated an effort in conjunction with the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce to develop a local wine festival to bring people into our community to experience the wonder and delight of Blowing Rock during the month of April. It was then decided the concept was viable and a committee was formed to develop and execute The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival.

It began as a very small, intimate affair with wine education seminars, a local wine competition, and a cooking competition among local chefs. It has grown beyond measure since that point and time, mostly in good ways. The festival has grown from something small and local into something much more exclusive and international with promise of great things to develop yet.

The first year it seemed that we had to absolutely beg for 4 local chef-types to participate in the Fire on the Rock Chef’s Challenge; today there are preliminary competitions that begin in February leading up to the festival because so many of our local culinary experts are participating.

Our first year of  the festival, we had to seek out and beg for facilitators to direct our seminars and bring in a chef to do cooking demos and classes. Today, we have culinary talents that ask to join in and our seminars span the course of multiple days bringing in talents from culinary universities, university level professors, trades professionals, and just down right interesting people.

Our first year, we were barely able to fill the grand tasting with local, North Carolina Wineries. This year we have wine makers from around the world wanting to know how they too can participate in our festival. We have wines from North Carolina, Virginia, California, Washington, Oregon, Chili, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Uncorked! has grown from a small gathering of locals into a festive party themed from a wine region around the world in which people gather to celebrate and get primed for the festival. Wine Maker’s Dinners have become a huge affair that chef’s dream of the rock star wine maker of their choice and what they would prepare for a pairing with the wines from that wine maker for a year.

Our lodging partners are always stocked and ready to help guests of Blowing Rock not only with accommodations, but with plans and packages to simplify the matter of getting into the programs you’re interested in. Give them a call and let them help you make a long weekend of wine festivities this year.

All of the improvements and growth of our international Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival is because of one single factor- you. You come and participate and wine makers from around the globe have watched, listened, and been captivated by you and your interest in high quality wine and food, and they’re seeking to get into a position to have you in their audience. This year, I think we have one of the most exciting line ups in the nation for a wine festival, and I bet you are going to love it!

So, check it out and make sure to get here next weekend!


Quotable Wine Notes-

“We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. ~ Benjamin Franklin


Two Angels Petite Sirah

Two Angels Petite Sirah

Two Angels Petite Sirah

The Two Angels Petite Sirah is “dark as the night” and boasts savory aromas of dark berry, violets, pomegranate, tamarind and roasted game. Abundant fruit flavors are nicely integrated with toasted oak and roasted coffee undertones. What is especially alluring, given the dark color and ample, rich tannins, is the round, almost silky mouth feel and the pleasing, lingering finish.

Serve at room temperature with robust dishes, including beef, venison, turkey, game birds and semi-soft or hard cheeses.


Recipe: Avocado Fries

Avocado Fries

Avocado Fries


  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1/4  cup  flour
  • About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • about 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2  large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/4  cups  panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2  firm-ripe medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/4-in. wedges, or medium slices if you prefer.


1. Preheat oven to 200°. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 in. oil until it registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.

2. Meanwhile, mix flour with 1/4 tsp. salt in a shallow plate. Put eggs and panko in separate shallow plates. Dip avocado in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, then panko to coat. Set on 2 plates in a single layer.

3. Fry a quarter of avocado slices at a time until deep golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining avocados. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairing Recommendations: Carmenere, Sauvignon Blanc, or Bonardo Wines.


Cheese: Appenzeller

Appenzelle Cheese


Appenzeller is a classic Swiss “alpage” cheese that receives its unique flavors from the herbs, liquors and wines that comprise the solution in which the wheels are bathed. The wheels are washed frequently and aged for a minimum of four months until they develop an herbaceous, nutty flavor and a smooth, milky finish. Appenzeller, Emmenthaler, and Gruyère form the classic Swiss fondue trio. Our Appenzeller is selected and ripened by Maître Fromager Rolf Beeler. We recommend that you try pairing this cheese with Merlot or an Alsatian white wine.

RSS Upcoming Events

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


Recent Tweets


April 2011
« Mar   May »

%d bloggers like this: