Friday, February 18, 2011

Stick a cork in it!

Today is National Drink Wine Day? Well, don’t mind if I do!
Back in my college years and even into my early 20s, I knew nothing about wine. If we felt like being classy, we would serve up those cheap boxes of Franzia at parties or order the occasional glass of White Zinfandel at the bar. Yeah, I know...sad. Fortunately, I eventually grew older and wiser when it came to all things wine-related. While I’m still predominantly a beer girl, I love going home and curling up with a glass of Malbec or Cabernet after a really stressful day. Or cooking a nice dinner for friends and pairing it with the perfect wine. So you can bet I’ll be raising a glass of vino tonight in honor of the big day. For those who are still learning the basics of wine, here’s a little cheat sheet for you.

Chardonnay - The lemony and unoaked styles are great with fish and chicken dishes.
Sauvignon blanc - Its distinctive aroma and flavor with various hints of gooseberries and grapefruits make good partners to goat cheese salads or grilled fish.
Pinot blanc - This is one to drink with shrimp cocktails or ceviche.
Pinot grigio - Pair a light and crisp, peach variety with vegetable pastas and fish lasagna.
Riesling - The versions with an exotic fruit flavor are great with spicy fish dishes and curries.

Cabernet sauvignon - Rich, complex with ripe fruity flavors make this magic with red meats.
Merlot - Another wine packed with fruity berries, this tastes great with meaty pastas and casseroles.
Shiraz/syrah - This peppery, heady dark fruit wine is perfect with steaks and grilled meats.
Pinot noir - Good with tomato-based pastas, chopped liver and duck.
Zinfandel - Packed with fruits, spice and pepper, this is the wine to serve with cheese.
Rosé - Light versions are good with paella and seafood.

If you want more of a twist, here are a few low-calorie, Sangria recipes that have scored high grades at some of my parties in the past.

HG’s Sangria-Seltzer Twist
Hit up the bar for slices of orange, lemon, and lime. Give your favorite fruit wedges a little squeeze before dropping them into your glass. Add 1 oz. of liquor (rum or vodka is yummy) and top with calorie-free seltzer. If your party-throwers are winos, top your glass with a splash of red or blush wine. Now you’ve got a fancy, signature drink that only contains around 100 calories!

George Stella's Sangria
2 cups Burgundy wine
2 cups club soda or seltzer water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
1 lemon, sliced into circles
1 lime, sliced into circles
1/4 cup diet Tang or any Crystal light fruit drink, optional
Mix all ingredients together in a punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, pour into glasses over ice.

And my own little Red Sangria concoction which includes:
1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, etc.)
1 sliced orange
1 sliced apple
1 sliced lime
½ cup brandy
½ cup triple sec
2 cups diet ginger ale
Six packets of low-calorie sweetener

For white sangria, use the same ingredients but replace the red wine with a white such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc. Also consider adding peach, mango or kiwi to sweeten the recipe even further.


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