It isn’t often that I get excited about $10.00 bottles of wine, but I have a fondness for Washington State wines. I admit that a $10.00 bottle of wine might not suit a wine snob, for the rest of us, Red Diamond wines are something to get excited about. As Valentines approaches, its nice to give our loved ones little gifts. One way to show your affection to someone special, whether it’s a best friend, or a romantic partner, is a nice bottle of wine, served with a great meal. And if you’re trying to really enhance romance this Valentine’s Day but you really can’t afford a big ticket gift, a “Red Diamond” might be just the thing to win that special someone’s heart.
Red diamonds are very rare bur Red Diamond wine is something most everyone can afford at around $10.00 per bottle. Red Diamond is a subsidiary of Chateau St. Michelle, Washington State’s largest producer. Under this packaging, the company produces a full range of varietals, that are distinctively Washington State, in that they are friendly, fruit forward and very approachable wines, ready to drink right now. Having toured the region, we were quite taken with how Bordeaux grapes in particular are fruitier, and much less tannic when produced in Washington.
In my work as the unofficial wine reviewer for the Advice Sisters Beauty and Style website, I sampled two of Red Diamond’s offerings. Since the Editor of The Advice Sisters is also the Editor of Leather and Lace Advice and Leather and Lace Spice (and in full disclosure, my wife), she asked me to write this review for bothadvicesisters.net and for the new relationship advice web site she writes with her partner Tony called: leatherandlaceadvice.com.
While my reviews for The Advice Sisters web site are usually more straightforward, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and if you want to enhance romance, you probably know that a home-cooked meal is going to trump anything you can get in a fancy restaurant not because of it’s gourmet quality, but because the effort came directly from the heart. When you cook for someone special, you show you care in an intimate way that now store-bought gift can do. So dim the lights, set the mood with some music, and pour the wine. Then get into the kitchen and cook something, even if it’s just grilled cheese sandwiches (we have some more advanced but still easy recipes that pair with the wines we are reviewing below). Just do the cooking yourself, and enhance romance in the most lovely way possible!
And choose the right wine!
The first Red Diamond wine we tried was a 2012 Chardonnay, extremely approachable, with some citrus and butter notes on the nose. However, the butteryness on the nose was not reflected in the palette of the wine itself. While this was very much a California style of Chardonnay, with a lot of oaky vanilla, it was not too buttery for my** taste . In fact, there was some wood and even some resin – like a Greek Retsina – on the finish that made this a clean and crisp example of a Chardonnay. While we did not receive any notes with the 2012 vintages, the 2010 was produced with 96 percent Chardonnay with just a touch of Semillon. About 60 percent of that wine was barrel fermented in French and American oak and the rest in stainless steel.
Overall, the wine was friendly, ready to drink and would make an excellent pairing with with all sorts of salads and seafood. Why not serve this wine with Chateau Dungeness Crab Cakes With Washington Apple Slaw or Grilled Copper River King Salmon with Citrus Beurre Blanc & Fresh Herbs for your special Valentine’s Day dinner? These are just two suggestions (from Chef John Sarich, Culinary Director at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) we are recommending to enhance romance this Valentines’ Day (recipes below).
(**Editor’s note — wine like fragrance, is a highly personal choice and there are no wrong ones. While John Dunham, our resident wine reviewer for advicesisters.net, is not a fan of buttery Chardonnay, I like it very much, and so do many, many other people. Your tastebuds tell you what to love! — Alison Blackman, Editor. The Advice Sisters).
The second wine that we sampled was Red Diamond’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (*the photo is for illustrative purposes only, of a 2010 vintage bottle). We are huge fans of Washington State Cabernet’s as they are extremely fruit forward while still having some good structure. What is great about these wines is that they don’t require aging and are made for food. The cabernet was very representative of its appellation, with very soft tannins and a smooth mouth feel. The nose was a bit rubbery but this was not reflected at all in the palate which was fruity and a bit tart. There were the expected berry notes and plums that one gets from the bit of Merlot blended in. The tartness came from some very distinct black and red currant notes that gave the wine a bit more complexity than one would expect from such a moderately priced offering.
This is an excellent food wine, ready to be drunk now with lots of delicious, hearty food pairings. A classic for Valentine’s Day is a succulent steak, perhaps a filet mignon, but we’re suggesting two other dishes that will be special, but still easy to prepare: rack of lamb or a duck roulade (see recipes below).
Duke Orsino famously said (in William Shakespeare’s play, 12th Night): ‘If music be the food of love, play on.” But while music is a mood maker, food and wine are the way to a man’s (and woman’s) heart. Whether it is for Valentine’s Day, or just to make any night one to enhance romance, The Advice Sisters are suggesting four fabulous recipes, two each to pair with the red diamond wines we have reviewed above. Set a pretty table, dim the lights and light the candles, add some mood music if you wish, and pour one of these red diamond wines for someone special. or for your family and friends. We are suggesting four recipes, two to pair with the Red Diamond Chardonnay we have reviewed above, and two to pair with the Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon. As a bonus, for more Wine & Food pairings and recipes visit: http://www.ste-michelle.com/wine-and-food/recipes
Chateau Dungeness Crab Cakes With Washington Apple Slaw
Style: Pacific Northwest
Ingredients: 1 lb. Fresh Dungeness Crab, pick through to remove bits of shell, and squeeze the liquid out 2 Tbs. fine diced apple 2 Tbs. fine diced red pepper, squeeze to remove liquid 2 Tbs. fine diced yellow pepper, squeeze to remove liquid 3 Tbs. minced red onion ¼ c. mayonnaise ¾ c. plus 2 Tbs. bread crumbs 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon 3 Tbs. vegetable oil Washington apple slaw, recipe follows
Instructions: Mix the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Add chopped tarragon and mayonnaise, mixing until completely incorporated. Add ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. If the mixture doesn’t hold it’s shape, add a little more mayonnaise. Divide into 24 equal portions and form into patties. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then coat with remaining bread crumbs. Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium heat, add oil, and place the crab cakes in the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on heated serving plate. Top each crab cake with some of the Washington apple slaw to serve.
Washington Apple Slaw – Ingredients: 1 Pink Lady apple or other favorite Washington apple ¼ bulb of fresh fennel 2 tsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar ¼ c. mayonnaise 1 tsp. chopped tarragon 1 tsp. chopped fennel fronds Salt and white pepper to taste
Instructions: Wash the apple then quarter and remove the core. Julienne the apple and fennel bulb into matchstick sized pieces using a mandoline. Place the apple and fennel into a bowl, toss with the lemon juice, vinegar, mayonnaise, and herbs. Season to taste.
Grilled Copper River King Salmon with Citrus Beurre Blanc & Fresh Herbs
Grilled Copper River King Salmon – Ingredients: 8-Copper River King Salmon portions about 4-5 oz each olive oil salt and pepper Citrus Beurre Blanc, recipe follows
Instructions: Preheat grill to medium high. Lightly oil and season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Remove from the grill and serve topped with the Citrus Beurre Blanc.
Citrus Beurre Blanc – Ingredients: ½ cup dry white wine ½ cup good quality white wine vinegar 2 medium or 1 large shallot, finely chopped 1 cup juice from mixture of fresh orange, grapefruit, lime and lemon 2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional) 10 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature Salt and pepper to taste 3 Tbs mixture of chopped herbs (chives, tarragon, chervil, basil)
Instructions: Place wine, vinegar, shallots and juice in a small non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup of liquid. Add the cream and return to a boil; reduce until slightly thickened. emove from heat and whisk butter in a piece at a time, incorporating before adding more. Return sauce to low heat if necessary, but do not boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in herbs just before serving.
If you want to try something other than the popular filet mignon for Valentine Day’s that goes well with red wine like the Red Diamond 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, try serving rack of lamb or a duck roulade instead.
Rack of Lamb with Moroccan Spice Rub
Yield: Serves 6Prep Time: 30 minutesCook Time: 10 minutes
Rack of Lamb – Ingredients: 2 8-boned racks Ellensburg lamb Moroccan Spice Rub, recipe follows Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper 2 Tbs. olive oil
Instructions: Rub lamb with spice rub; cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°. Remove lamb from fridge; salt and pepper both sides. Let meat come to room temperature.
Heat large saute pan over medium heat; drizzle in 1 Tbs of the olive oil. Sear one rack on each side, taking care not to burn the spices, or the lamb will taste bitter. Set rack on parchment-lined baking tray and set aside. Clean pan if necessary and repeat process with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and lamb rack; set with the other rack on the baking tray.
Bake in oven until internal temperature of lamb reads 125° to 130° for rare to medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Carve each rack into 8 chops and serve.
Moroccan Spice Rub – Ingredients: 2 tsp. ground coriander 2 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp. ground ginger 1/2 tsp. cayenne 1/2 tsp. ground fennel 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 1/2 tsp. ground cloves.
Instructions: Blend ingredients together.
Duck and Bacon Roulade with Chestnuts and AppleStyle: Classic CuisineYield: Serves 4
Duck – Ingredients: 4 Duck Breasts, skin off 12 Strips of Bacon, thick cut 1 Golden delicious apple 1/2 C Chestnuts, chopped 1/4 C Thyme, chopped Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions: To prepare the duck, first butterfly the breast, or have your butcher butterfly them for you. Salt and pepper the inside of the breast. Peel and core the apple. Cut into matchsticks. Divide the apples, chestnuts, and thyme amongst the 4 breasts. Roll the duck breast up as tight as you can. Next lay out 3 strips of bacon next to each other. Place a duck breast seam side down on one end of the bacon. Roll up and seal with toothpicks. Repeat with remaining breasts. To cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a pan over medium heat, and sear the roulades on all 4 sides, getting the bacon browned and slightly crispy. Then place in the oven and bake until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Sauce – Ingredients: 3 C Chicken Stock 1 C Beef Stock 1 Carrot, chopped 1/2 C Onion, diced 1 pound Mixed Mushrooms, sliced 1/4 C Merlot Olive oil for frying
Instructions: To make the sauce, heat a pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and add the carrot and onion to the pan. Saute these until the onion starts to turn translucent, and the carrot starts to brown. About 10 minutes. Pour in the merlot and cook for 1 minute. Next add the chicken and beef stocks. Bring to a boil and reduce until about 1 cup remains. Add the cooked mushrooms to the sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Serve over sliced duck roulades.
For more information and to find out where to purchase these products near you, visit: http://www.reddiamondwine.com/
*thanks to John Dunham, for his help in preparing this feature