In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Wine Tip Tuesdays: A cheap wine by any other name...

Written by Donna Marie Desfor, Culinary Consultant and Chef | Nov 19, 2012 12:00 PM

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’ve been fielding a lot of calls about doing this year’s extravaganza on a budget.  Really?  The ONE holiday defined by a MEAL and we want to skimp?  I understand this year that it may be a necessity, but the Thanksgiving meal really isn’t too terribly expensive.  Until we factor in the cost of wine with dinner.  Worry no more!  We ran this article last year from, Drink Cheap Wine, by Brian Palmer.  His advice is as timely today as he dispels the myth that it has to be expensive to be good (and that’s just “good” folks, we’re not even talking “great”!).  Palmer points to several studies that validate our choice in the cheap, and then, as if we need one more reason to feel better about slashing our wine budget Palmer adds, “Professional wine critics are quick to point out that they, unlike you and I, can distinguish between high- and low-cost bottles in blinded experiments. Here’s the question they can’t answer for you: So what? The only thing these “successes” prove is that a small group of people have gotten very good at sniffing out the traits that the wine industry thinks entitle them to more money.”

In the end, Palmer’s article suggests that if you like a wine then it’s “good.”  Something we’ve certainly heard before.  So, the only question I have is why, for the love of all things palatable, can someone point me in the direction of those $2 and $3 dollar gems? 

Try this delightful and oh-so-holiday like cocktail.  It’s mostly sparkling water, club soda or ginger ale, so there’s  no need to use an expensive bottle of sparkling wine to top it off!


Recipe:  Spice-Roasted Cranberry Sparkling Cocktail

Makes enough for 6 to 8 drinks

This is a fun beverage that can be made with tequila, vodka, sparkling wine, or just plain ginger ale, club soda or sparkling water.  It’s like a holiday ‘Shirley Temple’!

1 cup whole fresh cranberries
About 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice blend
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup candied ginger
1 cup water
Sparkling water, Club Soda, or Ginger Ale
Sparkling wine, to top off (optional)

Preheat oven to 425° degrees.  Arrange cold cranberries on a small baking sheet; generously sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice blend. Roast 8 minutes, shaking the pan to move the berries around about half-way through roasting time.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make a gingered simple syrup by combining the sugar, candied ginger and water in saucepan.  Heat on medium-high until sugar dissolves completely, and the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.  Add spice-roasted cranberries and let steep at least 1 hour at room temperature.  Strain, reserving cranberries and ginger for garnish; pour infused simple syrup into a serving container.

For each drink:  Pour 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) of syrup into champagne flute, rocks glass or martini glass.  Fill glass half way or more with sparkling water, club soda or ginger ale.  Top off with a bit of sparkling water.  Garnish with reserved cranberries and ginger.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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