Cooking with Wine · Washington Wines

Arbor Crest Merlot – A Terrific Pairing and Ingredient

It was a cool, rainy June day, so my husband put a 7-bone roast into our slow cooker. When we go home from work, the house smelled delicious and dinner was ready.

I had a bottle of Arbor Crest 2008 Merlot (Four Vineyards/Columbia Valley) that I had been wanting to try, and this was the perfect opportunity.

To be honest, I was a little wary of the Merlot, so far, the Merlot’s I have tried have an earthy palette (like a mouthful of mushrooms and dirt), which is not something I prefer.  I was pleasantly surprised with this bottle.

The wine was a dark red – almost like black cherries, and the nose had hints of dark cherries, blackberries, with a slight earthy undertone.  The palette was surprising to me and was not at all as I expected, but was tart, spicy and had the slightest hint of cherry.

The wine paired nicely with the roast and made for a complete and comforting meal.

We had some leftover Merlot from our meal and I did not want it to go to waste.  In my eyes, it was the perfect opportunity to make marinara.  I had been wanting to make homemade sauce for quite some time, so the leftover wine forced the issue.

My husband went to culinary school, so I had him do all the cooking, while I observed and tried to take it all in (with the goal of making marinara on my own next time).  We chopped and sautéed onions and garlic, and then added tomato paste before de-glazing the pan with the Merlot.

What struck me was the smell when the Merlot hit the hot pan and began to mix in with the tomato paste and onion and garlic – it actually had meaty smell – and smelled quite delicious.

We finished off our sauce with crushed tomatoes, herbs and a little bit more Merlot. And after the sauce had simmered about an hour, we poured it over hot pasta.  A wonderful meal and a great way to finish off a bottle of good wine.

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