Recipe: Chambourcin Drizzle

I was trying to create something to add to a salad, when I came up with the idea of trying to use James River Cellars’ Chambourcin as the star ingredient… as luck would have it, a reduction of this sweet wine was just what I had in mind.


I started with 1 1/2 cups of James River Cellars’ Chambourcin wine.  Since our winemaker creates ours as a sweet wine, rather than a dry one, it seemed like the obvious choice to me.  I simmered the wine in a medium saute pan until much of the liquid had evaporated and the wine had thickened significantly.  I didn’t want to do a quick/hard boil on this, so it took about 40 minutes or so for this thickening to happen.

Once the wine was thick, I added 1/2T butter, 1t sugar, and 1T heavy cream to the mixture.  When the butter had melted and the sugar and cream had incorporated thoroughly, I poured the wine drizzle back to the glass measuring cup, where I was able to see that the mixture had reduced down to 1/4 cup of drizzle.   It was tart, yet had a bit of sweetness in the background that I thought would pair beautifully with some blue cheese and chicken in a salad.  Adding some crunch (some nuts, perhaps?) would have been nice touch, but I was more concerned with assembling a simple salad that would be filling and delicious.  The drizzle was relegated to the fridge until it was time to put my lunch together.

When lunchtime rolled around, I was more than ready to dig into this yummy salad.  NOTE: Since butter was used in creating the drizzle, you may want to allow the drizzle to warm ever so slightly so you don’t have any clumps in your drizzle.  Beating it lightly with a small whisk will accomplish the same task.  I sliced some romaine lettuce and used that as the base for my salad.  I thinly sliced a cooked chicken breast, use as much as you’d like and laid the slices in a pleasing array atop the lettuce.   NOTE: I used a breast that I had roasted the night before, but could have easily used pieces of a pre-roasted chicken from the local market. I crumbled some blue cheese over the chicken and lightly seasoned everything with 1T olive oil, salt, and pepper.  

Now was the time for my Chambourcin Drizzle to shine.  I used approximately 2 teaspoons of drizzle to “glaze” my salad, so there was plenty to use for a few servings.  Once I tossed the salad, the entire salad became slightly pink in color… it would have been wonderful with some crusty bread, but I loved all the flavors that combined to create something fun and tasty.

Hope you’ll try making something unique for your next luncheon.  A port wine would have been delicious in this recipe as well… maybe I’ll have to try that version next time.

Enjoy your taste tests… I know I do!



Recipe: Pinot Noir and Black Bean Salsa Dressing

I was trying to make my lunch early this morning when I stumbled onto something pretty tasty. I’m generally not a fan of packing my lunch, but it really is the simpler option when I’m working at the winery. Bringing in something to heat in the microwave might seem easier, but since my meal might be interrupted at any moment, I really do like to have something that won’t spoil. A salad or sandwich is fairly quick to throw together before I leave but this time it became inspired.

I decided to put together a salad for today’s lunch. I cut up a head of romaine lettuce, sprinkled some freshly frozen corn kernels around and then spooned in a small amount of taco meat from last night’s dinner. I had pulled out the last of a jar of Spicy Black Bean Salsa that I had left in the fridge, but I didn’t feel inspired to create a multi-ingredient dressing. Instead, I pulled out a bottle of Acrobat Pinot Noir that I had left in the fridge… and that’s when inspiration hit me. What would happen if I added wine to the salsa?

It was nothing short of wonderful. 1/4 jar of the salsa, combined with about the same amount of the red wine and a packet of equal, became a fabulous concoction that was thick, without being too thick… Spicy, but not too spicy… In the language of The Three Bears, I had unwittingly created a dressing that was “just right”.

I would love to say that it was the most amazing thing I’d ever made, but that would certainly be overstating things a bit. It made a unique and “oh, wow” sort of flavor that blended with my salad ingredients beautifully. The lunch that I had grudgingly packed that morning turned into a meal that made me happy….and any meal that can do that for a person is one worth sharing.

Feel free to share my blog with you friends… Maybe my sense of whimsy in using wine for cooking will inspire others to make something new from the mundane. It certainly has livened up many of the meals in our household.

Wishing you all a renewed sense of the unique and the strange…. it can be quite tasty!