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.

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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.

Limoncello
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!