21 November, 2011

A Port for all Seasons - Review of Terra D'oro Zinfandel Port

 Port seems to say special occasion without having to do much.  And for these days of holiday entertaining, the phrase "any port in a storm" can easily mean busting out a reliably effortless end of the meal treat in the form of ruby port and blue cheese.  The most die hard blue cheese naysayers can often be persuaded to give it a try and the combination of the palate cleansing alcohol with perfect matching converts the haters right and left.  Or to make a festive vinaigrette, equal parts port, olive oil, sherry vinegar, a little salt and finely minced shallots and you will easily produce a zesty, ruby hued dressing that will go well with pears, winter citrus, nuts, etc.  I recently received a sample of some very yummy port from the folks at Terra d'Oro.  Tucked away in the Sierra Foothills in Amador County, the 400 acres have been worked for the last 150 years.  Today the folks there work hard producing award winning wines, but still have time to be friendly.  Click here to find out more about instructions to visit:
As for the Port, Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port, Amador County, USA ($17.99) starts out like the rest of the zins, but is carefully monitored till it reaches the state when it is ready to be fortified with unaged grape brandy. It's processed to harness the alcohol and sweetness to produce a higher alcohol, yet still balanced fortified wine.  The color is an opaque, almost inky ruby.  The wine is smooth with subtle flavors that belie the 19% alcohol level.  The flavors were black cherry, woodsy spice, hint of chocolate, with a finish of celebration soaked sultanas  Serve with blue cheese for a yummy finish to a meal with a little cranberry sauce and some hazelnuts.  However, I wanted to push the envelope a little and adapted a recipe for Meatballs in Red wine sauce to come up with a very tasty:
Zinfandel Port Glazed Meatballs stuffed with Blue Cheese:
To make the meatballs
1 lb 95% ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Bell's Poultry seasoning
2 tbsp milk
salt and pepper
Mix well, form into meatballs around 1 inch in diameter.  Stuff each meatball with 1/4 inch cube of blue cheese taking care to pinch meat tightly to completely enclose the cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Let sit while you combine:
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Zinfandel Port
1 1/2 cup beef broth in a small bowl.
Then dredge meatballs in flour. Melt 2 Tbsp butter, then combine with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non reactive skillet, dutch oven or pan (enamel or glass) over medium heat taking care to turn meatballs on all sides (about 6 minutes). You may need to work n batches.  Remove meatballs.  Brown and soften 4 Tbsp chopped shallots in the butter and oil about six minutes.  When the shallots are done, add in the broth mixture.  Then place meatballs back in pan.  Cover and simmer over med-low heat stirring occasionally till done about 40 minutes.  Whne finished you will have a yummy first course with some sliced, crusty bread or add toothpicks for a delicious hors d'oeurve.  
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