Dedicated to the Enjoyment (In Moderation) of All Things Alcoholic and the Food It Accompanies
This page is going to be a labour of love. It will trace my enjoyment of wine and hopefully give you the reader the opportunity of buying and tasting the wines that I enjoy. Why would I do that you might ask? Well how about unbiased opinion, 20 years of wine drinking and study, and the desire to empower those who are just testing the waters, to know what they like and to be able to explain why they like it.
Wine has a history of about 8000 years. Debate still continues about whether wine or beer was the first brewed beverage. Whatever the outcome of that debate it is now clear that wine reigns supreme as the alcoholic drink which is most written about as well as most drunk today.
The first wine was likely to have been produced by a women, in what is now Kurdistan and Georgia. She probably left wild grapes in a clay pot then drank the resulting fermented liquid. The drink would not have much resembled our modern day wines, but its after effects created an immediate interest, and supply driven wine making began. As demand began to outstrip supply, wine began to become an article of trade, initially locally and then as civilsation became more organised, further afield. The spread of wine drinking was largely to the West. Countries such as Egypt, Greece and later the Roman Empire all became proficient makers of wine, which in those days was sweeter and lower in alcohol. It is said that the red "Recioto" and the white "Retsina" are modern day equivelents of wines drunk during the time of Jesus. (More to Come)
My Journey With Wine
My journey with wine began in the sixties as I made my way across France and Spain as a young "traveller". The water was often risky to drink and most of us, in those heady days, drank the local wines, which were often rough and always very inexpensive. My diet for many weeks, if not months was apples, cheese and wine. I finally arrived in New Zealand in 1968 and found a country with a embryonic but exciting wine industry. My experience was still limited to "chateau cardboard", which is what we called cask wine, as well as a carbonated and very cheap sparkling wine. As my wine drinking developed I began to drink bottled white wine, Moselle (More to come)
Tuesday January 2 2001
Today I shared with my partner, Jocelyn, a bottle of 1997 Reserve Chambourcin by Cassegrain Vineyards. Chambourcin is a French/Amercian Hybrid recently introduced to Australia because of its resistance to mildew. It is being produced normally as a light summer red that can be chilled and drunk at the BBQ. However Cassegrain has chosen to produce a full bodied wine, deep red in colour, with an aroma intense in ripe plums, spices and the hint of oak. It has a full palate with a long finish. The wine was produced from bio-dynamically grown and hand picked fruit, but does contain sulphar as a preservative. We drank this wine with a meal of Pork Tikka MasalaIn my opinion this was a wine well worth experiencing and one I will return to. Talking of Tikka Masala I thought you might like some links to pages on Indian Cooking and Indian recipes. So here are some of my favourites, if you have others especially any with authentic indian recipes for Pork Tikka Masala, I would appreciate hearing about them.
No sooner had I spoken than the chef from Hot Dishes.Com had writeen to me with an authentic recipe for the dish. Here it is.
Pork Tikka Masala
Pork. 500grams of fillet or boneless pork, after cutting off excess fat.
ginger paste - 2 tsp
garlic paste - 2 tsp
tumeric powder - 1/4 tsp
chilli powder - 1 tsp
garam masala - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
salt to taste
curd - 1/2 cup beaten well
Take the beaten curd and mix all the above powders together and add salt. Cut the pork into medium size pieces and add it to the curd mixture, close the vessel with a lid, foil or cling wrap and let it to marinate for about an hour.
Onion - 1 chopped
Tomato puree - out of one small tomato
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tumeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 8 tsp
Garam Masala powder - 2 tsp
Ground almond - 2 tsp (optional)
Fresh Cream is optional to garnish
After the pork pieces are marinated, take them and bake them well in a pan on a low heat or flame setting. Or you can put the pork on the grill and cook it until well done but still juicy.
Heat oil in a pan, fry onions till they turn golden brown. Add ginger & garlic paste and let them fry till the oil seperates. Add all the masala powders to the mixture, and then add the tomato puree. Add salt to taste and then add little warm water and the ground almond paste if you wishd and let the sauce to come to a boil. Then add the cooked pork pieces, and let the gravy come to a boil again. Remove the dish from the stove and add the coriander leaves , and the cream ( optional ) to garnish.
You can serve this hot with chappathi and roti
Ground Almond just adds a little more flavour but its not required.
Fresh cream is also optional.
Another visitor comments that you can make Pork Tikka Masala in exactly the same way as the Chicken dish, but to remember that Pork takes longer to cook, so spend that little extra time (10 mins).
Now back to the Indian Cooking and Recipe Pages
Dont stop scrolling after the links there is more on the page
Wednesday and Thursday the 3rd and 4th January.
I enjoyed a bottle of Cedar Creek Shiraz 1997 over these two evenings. This wine is produced by one of Australia's leading wine exporters Cranswick Estate. Cranswick Estate is about a kilometre from where we live and it's wines are our regular everyday drinking, as they match quality at a reasonable price. On the first evening the wine was accompanied by baked fish, and despite its delicate flavour I found the cherry and plum flavour of the wine integrated well with this meal. On the next night I had the same wine with grilled chicken drumsticks, again a feast that melded the elements of food and wine together and suited my taste.I guess that neither fit the text book ideal of complimentary food but as I said this is about what I enjoy, not what someone says I should.
Shiraz, also known as Sirah in the US. If you want to try it with the dishes that I did I've include some fish and chicken recipe sites for you to explore.
Friday 5th January
McIvor Creek Wines is a very small winery situated near Bendigo in Victoria. Today Jocelyn and I shared a bottle of their 1993 Shiraz. We bought this wines as skins, that is without labels. It is a deep purple wine with a mellow bouquet, and a distict but very pleasant earthy taste on the front of the plate. Jocelyn felt that it was like "lolly water", whereas I felt that although the finish was limited in its complexity that it was full of typical Shiraz spiciness, and a suprising amount of acidity for an eight year old wine. Maybe we should leave it a little longer. The grapes were not grown at Heathcote but at Nathalia, also in Victoria. For you Aussies or those intending to visit, the part of Victoria where McIvors is situated is really beautiful, and there are many more wineries to visit. The Shiraz accompanied a beautiful meal of Lamb shanks. For those of you that fancy a lamb meal I've included some pages that specialise in lamb recipes, try one.
Saturday 6th Jaunary
Today there were four of us for dinner, Jocelyn and my daughter Robyn and her friend Glenn. Robyn cooked us a Ham Laska, which was divine. We opened a bottle of Cruickshank Callatoota Estate 1994 (CF$)Two Cabernets. This full berry rich wine is a 60/40 blend of the cousin Cabernets, Sauvignon and Franc. This wine was fairly rough on first taste, but by the time we sat down to dinner and I poured a glass each it had softened considerably. We love the wine from this vineyard which only crushes grapes grown on the property.
Usually Cabernet Franc is added to Cabernet Sauvignon to smooth out the Tanin found in the Sauvignon, but the 60/40 split leaves me thinking that the winemaker had other things in mind with this blend
Cruickshank Callatota Estate is situated in the Upper Hunter Valley near Denham and Muswellbrook, and is an area of New South Wales that is full of vineyards and great wine. It is really worth a visit at the vintage when the festivities go on for several weeks.
For those of you who would like to try some Ham or Laska recipes I have include some pages that highlight these dishes
Sunday 7th January
Tonight I prepared a Chicken Casserole with cooked vegetables. Plenty of garlic a touch of seed mustard,some coriander and balsamic vinegar, thickened with cornflour made up the sauce. We had a Deen De Bortoli, Vat 2, Sauvignon Blanc 2000 to accompany this dish. Of all the white wines I find Sauvignon Blanc to be the most consistently appetising. Deen De Bortoli, the son of the founder of De Bortoli's, has developed a range of varietals that he believes truly reflects the essence of each. De Bortoli's Vat2 Sauvignon Blanc 2000 though still young has strong characteristics of the best of its kind. I especially like the long finish that tastes to me of ripe gooseberry, with a hint of pineapple, which is very refreshing.
As De Bortoli's is situated only about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from where we live it is a winery that we visit often and is the souce of many of our daily drnking wines. Of course for those of you into dessert wines it is also the home of the world famous Noble One
In this day of cosmopolition dining a meal is often differentiated by the sauces and gravies that the meat and/or vegetables are served with. For those of you who would like to expand your repetoire of sauces and gravies I've included some links to pages that specialise in them.
Monday 8th January
Tonight Robyn and Jocelyn prepared peppered Turkey steaks, with cranberry sauce glaze potatoes and salad. I just love turkey and was a bit dissapointed that there was not more when I cleaned my plate. Our next door neighbours work for another local winery, Miranda Wines and brought over a bottle of Mirrool Creek Merlot 2000 for us to try. We duly observed their wishes and shared the bottle with this meal.Merlot is sweeter, smoother and has less tanins than Cabernet Sauvignon and is most often used to blend with other varietals to make them more palatable. Lately we have noticed an increasing number of straight Merlot vintages and have until now not tried them. What a surprise I got, this is a very fine wine. Although young it had good deep crimson colour and a distict and pleasent spiciness on the palate. This wine is no stranger to you North Americans but I'm glad I have found the treasure for myself now. If you haven't tried it before, it is an admirable lighter alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. For those of you who would like to try some turkey recipes I have put some links to pages displaying turkey recipes next.
The next few days were so hot, over 40 degrees Celsius, so we had a change of Alcoholic beverage with our meals.
Tuesday 9th January
Today I prepared a Vegetable Casserole, shocking our meat eating family with my audacity. Broccolli, Brown Onions, three colours of Capsicum, green beans, fresh garlic, carrots and pumkin were steamed to bring out the vibrancy of their colours. Then placed in a casserole with a gravy of red and white wine vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, basil and ground black pepper. I then put a tub of fat free cottage cheese into the mix and cooked it for 10 minutes in an already heated oven. Then added grated low fat cheddar as a covering and left for a further 15 mins. Delicious with a side salad or over rice, but we had it on its own. Robyn and Glenn had a Shandy - Generally lager and lemonade. However, bitter shandy and cider shandy are also popular, especially with drivers or at lunchtimes. (Hint for Brits - when explaining to a US barman how to make a Shandy - don't ask for lager and lemonade - he won't have any idea what you are talking about and the result is likely to be disgusting. Ask for beer and sprite, then wait for the laughter and funny looks). Jocelyn had a Scotch and Dry Ginger Ale, our North American Cousins call this a highball, and I had a Light Ice which is our premier Australian Light Beer,
For those of you who would like to try meatless meals occasionally I have included some links to meatless meal pages as well as some pages on Shandy, Scotch Whiskey, and Light Beer.
Wednesday 10th January
Tonight we had Chicken Sausages with Potatoes and a Mixed Green Salad, which included Young Spinach Leaves. The Freezer yielded two types of chicken sausage, a BBQ sausage and what was labelled as a country style sausage. The only difference I could see or taste was that the country style were thicker. The weather was once again hot and beer was again the order of the day. Tonight I had a pleasant little stout by Guinness. Of all the beers I drink it is my favourite.
Arthur Guinness bought the Rainsford brewery in 1759, and proceeded to brew ales before specialising in a popular English drink then called porter after the porters of Londons fish market, Billingsgate. Arthur historically made the well known porter his own some 60 years later calling one of his products "Extra Stout Porter".
A quarter of a million wooden barrels once stood in the cooperage yard at St. James's Gate, every one was handmade by a cooper. The first export shipment of Guinness, 6 1/2 barrels, left the port of Dublin in 1769 on a sailing ship, part of a regular shipping line bound for England.
By 1838 the historic Guinness Brewery had become the largest in Ireland. Annual production had risen to one million barrels in 1881 and by 1914 the brewery was the biggest in the world. No longer the largest the Guinness Brewery is now the most modern brewery in the world.
That first modest trickle was soon to become a profitable flood, so much so that by 1913 Guinness would need a ship of its own solely for the purpose of handling Guinness exports. Two Guinness ships the Lady Patricia and the Miranda Guinness became historic landmarks on the Dublin quays, before being decommissioned in 1992.Guinness is a great mixer with other alcoholic beverages which produce a number of very refreshing drinks. However it is not only a drink but a cooking ingredient. I've included some links to pages for both Guinness and Sausage Recipes. Hope you enjoy!
Thursday 11th January
Tonight we got a little boring in the drinks department: beer again. Accompanying it was a Bacon Korma that I made up from some leftovers in the fridge and some very lean bacon. For Those of you who would like to try click here just add bacon to this recipe.
Friday 12th January
Fridays is often a do it yourself type tea at our house. Robyn grilled some chicken Snitzel and we had green salad, cheese and sesame buns. From that we made up some very tasty chicken burgers. To add to the meal we opened a bottle of WestEnd Wines 3 Bridges Cabernet Sauvignon, 1996 is a multiple Gold Medal winner. Does that mean I have good taste as well? To me the wine was smooth with a hint of sweetness coming through the tannin and blackcurrent flavour. It was a delight to hold this wine to the nose as ita aroma gave a true indication of the richness to come. The folk at Westend Wineries have a committment to producing high quality wines and in this case they certainly suceeded.
Saturday 13th January
Poached Fish on the menu the menu tonight with boiled potatoes and Salad. A nice white you might think but not us. We had some young friends around who were returning to New Zealand to be married and broke out a bottle of recently purchased Alambie Wines Salisbury Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. Cranswick Estate now owns Alambie which has recently had a name change to Milburn Park. Alambie was recognised as a producer of state of the art wines. This wine cost just $4.25(AUD) per bottle and is a very palatable red. This red was destined for the Japanese Market and the case we purchased was an export overrun. In keeping with many of the wines now exported from Australia this was a lighter colour than the Cabernet Sauvignon's that I normally drink, however this wine still had an intense fruit palate with lots of spice in the finish.
Sunday 14th JanuaryTonight we are having rump steaks, I ordered a whole rump and had the butcher slice it thick. Glenn is cooking up in the kitchen now and the smells are driving me mad. We will have some more Salisbury tonight and celebrate the beginning of another week.For Those of you looking for steak recipes I've included some pages that have this information for you. By the way these are all Beef Steak recipes except for the Buffalo Steaks. Other meats can be substituted remembering differing cooking times will apply.
Monday 15th January
Tonight I opened a bottle of 1998 First Semillon. Each year Draytons, McWilliams, and Tyrrell's major wine producers in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales; get together to produce the first vintage Semillon, thus the name First. Semillon is the premier wine produced in this area and a number of wineries have excellent examples of this varietal in their cellars. Our wine reflected its age and was full of citrus flavors ranging from lemon and lime to to the tang of orange peel. Left in the bottle the wine will mature to have a smooth buttery taste with undertones of toast. I cooked a pork Korma with scalloped potatoes and a green salad. Tonight I layered the potatoe slices with parmesian cheese, light tasty cheese, garlic, bacon pieces and basil, but the basic recipe is so adaptable that scalloped potatoes can be cooked using a wide range of supplementary ingredients.Here is one from the Cancer Society.
8 medium potatoes, thinly sliced 1 large onion, chopped 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour Salt and pepper 2 cups hot low-fat milk 1 cup shredded fat-reduced Cheddar cheese Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick coating. Arrange one-third of the potatoes over bottom; sprinkle with half of the onion, then half of the flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat layers; arrange remaining potatoes over top. Pour hot milk over. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, in 350 F oven for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Each of the 8 servings contains 213 calories and 3 grams of fat.
If your bored with the ways you prepare potatoes I've included some links to pages that highlight the versatility of that vegetable.
Tuesday 16th January
Tonight I prepared some lamb meatballs and lamb fillets in a red wine sauce, with Jasmine Rice and a green salad. We finished that First Semillon and discussed the origin of that great variety of grape. I've also included some links to pages that feature meatballs for those that want to try the infinite variety of this dish.
Wednesday 17th January
Tonight we had a real treat, camel meat. This rich, gamey meat was accompanied by boiled potatoes and a green salad. A bottle of Alambie Salisbury Cabernet Sauvignon completed a delicious meal. Camels were introduced to Australia by early Afghan immigrants, many escaped and survived in the desert interior of Australia. Recently the camel has been bred for its meat and this has added another delicacy to Australian menus. We had our camel as steaaks, sausages and patties. For those of you who want to explore the possibilities of cooking with Camel I have included links to pages which have have recipes and preparation instructions.There are few recipes specifically relating to Camel as traditionally it was roasted. If you want to be a bit more adventurous then substitute camel for beef.
Thursday 18th January
A cos lettuce, thinly sliced red capsicum, pour enough caesar dressing over the ingredients to wet the leaves evenly, add lean back bacon, strips of crispy skin chicken and croutons to taste. Top of with shredded or thinly sliced parmesan cheese and garnish with anchovies and you have a Chicken Caesar Salad al la Bannister. It is one of the most requested meals at our house and we have it at least once a month. Jocelyn and I finished the Salisbury Cabernet Sauvignon to top off a fabulous meal. Green salads are easy to prepare, light and nutritous to eat and without a lot of effort they can taste good as well. If your interested in widening your salad reportoire I've added some links to pages that have lots of green salad recipes.
You are visitor number to this site.