The holidays are a cocktail of excitement and panic. First, there seems to be months before the date – then suddenly, it’s next week! Herewith, are three gifts for wine lovers, plus a 15-minute recipe for an evening of wine, music and romance!
Top Picks of Wine Books of 2014:
- For the American Wine Adventurist – An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir ($35). Here’s the best part of the book: “what’s most important is the shared experience around the table that is defined by the culture of food, wine, friendship, ideas and heart.” Her wine label: La Garagista (from Vermont).
- For the Wine Naturalist – Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally ($24.95). This book names names, so the wines can be found easily.
- For the trend-setter – Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best-Kept Secret ($24.99). Informal and accessible to the both the curious and experienced in sherry via the cocktail-culture as well as the classicist.
A Holiday Evening at Home:
Riffing on the Sherry idea, here’s a recipe to ready in 15 Minutes. This will turn up the heat on a romantic evening. Chicken tenders can be substituted for shrimp.
The two secrets to this recipe are the richness of the Oloroso Sherry and smoked Pimentón. Ingredients that may seem exotic but are all readily available at well-stocked grocery stores and specialty shops.
Pimentón is made from pimentos, dried and hand smoked over logs that burn 24 hours a day. This method of creating El Pimentón dates back to the 16th century monks and their precise recipes still remain secret.Oloroso (translates as ‘scented’) sherry made from the white Palomino grape. It’s allowed to oxidize as it ages turning the color to warm amber. Aged in oak casks, it takes on a nutty character. Oloroso is also a wonderful sipping wine, served very slightly chilled.
Shrimp, My “Sherry” Amor
• Fresh, raw, peeled/deveined large shrimp (or chicken tenders) – plan 4-5 per person
• ¾ tsp large grind sea salt, or kosher salt
• 3T virgin olive oil (since you’re heating the oil, it’s not necessary to use extra virgin)
• 8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
• ¼ heaping tsp smoked Pimentón
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• Few grinds of white pepper
• 4 T of Oloroso sherry
• 2 Lemons, juiced (preferably Meyer)
• 1 T chopped, flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- Toss shrimp with sea or kosher salt. Let marinate at room temperature, in the salt, for 10 minutes or refrigerated for an hour.
- Heat the olive oil on high heat in a 12-14” sauté pan or skillet. Pat the shrimp dry. Sauté the shrimp in the oil until just pink, about 1 minute. For chicken about 4 minutes per side.
- Spread garlic, smoked Pimentón, red pepper flakes over the shrimp (or chicken), and continue cooking, gently moving the shrimp, until light pink — one minute.
- Add the Oloroso sherry and stir gently. The sauce will turn a nutty brown and begin to bubble, slightly. If the sherry evaporates too quickly, add a bit more, so that you have some juices left in the pan.
- Remove from the heat. Ladle the shrimp (or chicken) and all their juices into a decorative serving dish or pasta bowl and squeeze lemons, liberally. Sprinkle with parsley and a few grinds of white pepper.
As an appetizer or tapa, serve with heated, crusty bread for sopping up the juices. As a main course, serve over rice or pasta.
The wine — available at local wine shops such as Du Vine Wine & Spirits and grocery markets:
White: Albariño from northwest Spain, with aromas of citrus and tropical fruits which are a perfect foil for the smoky flavors (about $13.00) or
Rosé: The handsome Marqués de Cáceres Dry Rosé or other rosé from Rioja, near where the Pimentón is made, (about $10.00).
Sparkling: Bodegas Muga ‘Condo de Haro’ Brut Cava.
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(Photo credits: 1. www.bagsoflove.co.uk 2. www.foodswinesfromspain.com 3. wwwepucurious.com)