When to Drink Your Best Wine

There are probably sexier things to mull over on a breezy Saturday afternoon but… Leftovers get a bad rap.  They do.  Some dishes actually improve with time in the fridge or reheated on the stove.  The spices intensify or the flavors muddle together more subtly.  And a great time to drink those amazing bottles of wine you keep cellaring? Is with leftovers.  Or with a “kitchen sink” dinner — i.e. where you make a great salad of whatever is left in your vegetable bin and grill a simple burger patty because you’re out of cheese and buns.  And mustard.

Last night, we had friends over to grill lamb burgers.  Nothing special.  Just a week night with friends who work as hard making a life in wine as we do.  We each brought out some of our best wines to share and I made a hodge-podge salad with a little arugula, some leftover baby kale, older tomatoes nobody noticed had started to whither and half an avocado left from yesterday’s lunch.  And it was killer.  The lamb was delicious (Dean is a master griller) and the salad was good…but it was the GREAT bottles of wine that made our meal of mostly leftovers taste fantastic.

We had our Big Pink open from a tasting and our 2009 Annadel Estate “Anni’s Blend” (below).  We also enjoyed a bottle of Idle Cellar’s new Syrah (thanks Ben!)  Vallerie brought yummy cherries from down the road.

The right time to drink that great bottle of wine? Is now

The right time to drink that great bottle of wine? Is now

So the next time you decide to pass over that great bottle of wine because your meal isn’t 100% perfect or thought out or celebrating something rather… Remember that here in Wine Country, the best time to drink your best bottles? Is tonight.  Or Tuesday night.  Or Wednesday.  Whenever is an average day with a decent meal of leftovers.  Because really, what more are you waiting for?

Wilson’s Salad — your new Summer staple!



Wilson's SaladIt’s turning warm out.  Downright hot for some of you.  And here in Sonoma, the greens are starting to ripen and gathering at Farmer’s Markets is a community staple.  Salads are now the perfect meal.  Here is one that my stepdad Wilson shared with us last month and we’ve enjoyed every week since. Clearly, I have to share this with you!  Sure to be as much of a staple in your house as it is here in the Kitchen.

Takes mere minutes to make and is perfect for potlucks, outdoor Bar B Qs (even if they are a drive away), and dinners any night plus leftovers for lunch…

Wilson’s Salad:

Mix all ingredients in one bowl.  Best to do this in advance (as in an hour or more) and let the flavors all melt together.  The best part about this salad is that it’s all to taste and amenable to what you have in your fridge…

  • Plum Cherry Tomatoes (I like red and orange) — cut in half
  • Kalamata Olives (pitted) course chopped
  • 1 Cucumber — peeled, quartered and course chopped
  • 1 Bulb Fennel — sliced thin and then course chopped.  I add in some of the fronds too (chopped) for sweetness
  • 1 Bunch Scallions — thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks (or more) celery — chopped
  • 1/2 Fresh Lemon Juice
  • your good quality Olive Oil (to taste)
  • Kosher Salt and a few grinds of pepper

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

If you have it, I like adding just before serving:

  • Cubed fresh avocado
  • 1 can Tonno (drained) for protein.  Tonno is the fancy Italian tuna… Divine.

Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar around the edges of the salad.  Serve cold and with a glass of Annadel Chardonnay or iced tea with lemon…!