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Nine Things Every Wine Lover Must Know How to Make

Every foodie loves wine and every wine enthusiast loves food, but our comfort-level and expertise tends to lean left or right, as opposed to straight down the middle.

Not that it has to be this way, however.  Wine enthusiasts should have a repertoire in the kitchen and foodies should have some pairings down pat.  Or, if you’re like me, marry well to help offset deficiencies.

While I’m definitely more comfortable on the wine end of the spectrum, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about comestibles … foodstuffs.  Stuff you make.  Not stuff you buy.

With the myriad of micro food movements that are fomenting, many people have been getting in touch with a more rooted sensibility about food, harkening back to our Grandparent’s sensibility—before nearly everything could be bought in a package. 

Speaking of our Grandparent’s sensibility, I saw a recent news report that said U.S. credit card debt has fallen to the lowest level since 2002.  Another seven years to go, I suppose.  1995, with the birth of the Internet, is when our consumer culture seemed to go into overdrive, briefly slowed by the economic dip in ’02, incidentally.  If we can just get to 1995 credit debt levels it’ll feel like life has normalized some, I think.


That said, in January of 2009, in the throes of some very bleak economic times, I wrote a post about ‘living well’ not necessarily meaning living beyond our means.  As a sort of homage to that post, an acknowledgement that our consumer credit debt is going in the right direction and a nod to my wife who is excellent in the kitchen with a penchant for sharing recipes with girlfriends like she’s Martha Stewart’s Midwestern ombudsman, I give you a highly subjective list of nine things every wine lover should know how to do / make (and the bonus is they all make for a nice, unified spread for a wine party).  Each of the links are to a representative book or recipe:

Artisan bread
Much easier to do then you might think.  Makes an excellent and tasty bread made tastier when it comes from your oven.

Ricotta cheese
Stupid simple to make (actually many cheeses are easy to make at home).  Drizzle cherry tomatoes with olive oil, roast in the oven at 225 for two hours, smear some ricotta on the artisan bread you just made, layer some roasted tomato’s on top and you’ll think you’re in the French countryside.

Red / White Wine vinegar
This is also stupid simple.  Buy a vinegar mother.  Buy an ice tea jug with a spigot.  Dump old wine with vinegar mother. 

Smoked salmon
Cheaper and tastier than what you can buy, goes great with crackers, cheese and a charcuterie plate

Quick pickles
Speaking of charcuterie plate, I’m not at the level where I can recommend making salami at home with a straight face, but pickles are easy

Condiments:  Mustard, ketchup, mayo and hot sauce
The Saveur web site has excellent recipes for all manners of condiments including Worcestershire, and steak sauce, besides the mentioned mustards, et al

Port wine jelly
Jams are a touch easier, but jellies are sexier.  Is it time consuming?  Yes?  Slightly messy?  Yes.  Easy?  Yes.  Totally worth it?  Yes.  Some brie and port wine jelly and you’re ready to roll.

Spice rub
Nothing ruins a backyard bbq buzz more than having to cop to using Montreal steak seasoning from a shaker.  Man, make your own.  Totally easy.

You know that time at the get together when conviviality is flagging and you sense the call for either departure or ignition for another two hours is necessary?  Pulling out some homemade limoncello and putting some Béla Fleck on the stereo will do the trick.  Actually, any homemade liqueur will do the trick, but limoncello will kick you in the pants, and that’s always nice.

I only provided nine because I figured a reader would have a good suggestion for the 10th item that every wine lover should know how to make.  I’m thinking more food making skill, not necessarily a recipe.  Leave a comment and round out the list! 


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (19) |


On 09/08, Benito wrote:

#10: Fresh pasta.  There’s lots of cases where dried pasta is the better choice, but it’s surprising how many people have never tasted real fresh pasta.  Plus, you can make all sorts of gourmet stuffings for ravioli that you would never find in a restaurant or frozen at the store. 

#10: Mother sauces.  At the very least practice Hollandaise and Bechamel until you can do them by feel rather than by recipe, and you can make dozens of other sauces built on just those two.  Well made sauces are a real show stopper since so many people either skip them or go for inferior powdered/bottled varieties.

On 09/09, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Ok, I’ll add quite a few that everyone should be able to make, and I’m ripping them from an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.  The basics he mentioned are steaming a lobster, making an omelet, roasting a chicken, cooking a hamburger, grilling a steak, and making homemade pasta.  If you don’t know where to start, the Travel Channel website has all the recipes on how to do those.

I haven’t made homemade bread in a while, but I need to make some more soon.  My recipe is stupid simple: 5 parts bread flour to 3 parts water, some yeast, and salt.  Knead, rise, portion, rise again, and bake.

One weekend when I have more time than I know what to do with, I’m going to make an entire lasagna from scratch, including making the homemade pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, and sausage.  One weekend…

On 09/09, Josh Wade wrote:


Thanks for this. I’m a food challenged guy and tend to gravitate toward the easy stuff that I know when parties are coming. My wife, on the other hand, can get pretty creative. I’ll show her this post and I’m sure some of the items will end up at a future party.


On 09/11, Kimberly wrote:

I would add two things:

Every wine lover should know how to make . . . a perfectly cooked medium rare ribeye steak.  Add balsamic glaze, or pomegranate glaze, or parmesan butter and you’ve got a “fancy” meal. Or leave it plain, if you like it simple. And what wine lover doesn’t have at least 5 ideas for a great wine to pair with a perfectly cooked steak?

And every wine lover should know how to make a good tomato sauce. I make Giada’s spicy version from “Everyday Italian” and it never fails to earn compliments, plus, you can use it in so many ways for so many dishes. Pasta with spicy tomato sauce and a nice Italian red wine to go with—mmmm, heaven.

On 09/12, Charong wrote:

Good butter helps too.  Love the site!

On 09/15, Katie wrote:

Agree on butter (as well as ghee) being added, and to what everyone else has said I’d probably add ice cream as well. BTW, made my own limoncello last year with Buddha’s Hand and man was it outrageous!

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On 10/15, Fred J Aliano wrote:

Great Post! I would add: make your own stock and keep some in the fridge at all times! Pick ANY meat or fish you want, sear it then roast at 400 degrees in the pan. While the meat rests reduce a cup of stock in the pan and stir in butter/parsley to finish a great sauce. You’ll never want to eat in a restaurant again.

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I suppose.  1995, with the birth of the Internet, is when our consumer culture seemed to go into overdrive, briefly slowed by the economic dip in ’02, incidentally.  If we can just get to 1995 credit debt levels it’ll feel like life has normalized some, I think.

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