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Tips for a Great Red Sauce

The foundation of any delicious, homemade red sauce is easy: quality ingredients. Whether you’re picking items fresh-from-the-garden, or purchasing in-store, quality ingredients will ensure mouth-watering red sauce that will highlight any pasta dish (homemade or store-bought)!

 

Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are you best bet. We may be bias, but we love heirloom tomatoes because they’re a variety that has been passed down, generation to generation. Roma tomatoes, also known as plum tomatoes, are small in size but mighty in flavor. Grab a can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes – another variety of plum tomatoes, with the convenience of being peeled and chopped. These tomatoes are from the San Mrazano region of Italy, grown in volcanic soil from Mount Vesuvius, giving these tomatoes a unique flavor.

Russo family tip: when using canned tomatoes, drain the tomatoes out of the juice before adding into your sauce.

 

Herbs

If you’re using dried herbs, add them in early in the process to really pick up on the flavors in your sauce. We have a full-range of dried herbs for you to choose from, so you can stick with your traditional flavors or take a walk on the wild side with some new and exciting flavors! If you choose to use fresh herbs, they should be added in towards the final minutes of cooking. Because of their subtle flavors compared to dried herbs, you’ll risk losing the flavor of fresh herbs if they’re added in too early.

Russo family tip: add in basil after the sauce has cooked and has been taken off the flame.

 

Wine

While you’re picking up a bottle of wine to enjoy with your homemade pasta sauce, use some to cook with. Better yet, pick up a separate bottle! The type of wine you pick up can depend on the type of sauce you’re making and the foods that are being paired with it, but the most important factor is what makes your taste buds dance! Visit our wine section to get advice for our experienced wine department.

Russo family tip: If you choose a Chianti, you may see two kinds available – Chianti, and Chianti Classico. A Chianti Classico is produced from grapes that are harvested in what are considered the best vineyards in the region. But, we don’t play favorites!

If you’d like to use a less expensive, but flavorful wine, try Tavernello Vino Rosso in your pasta sauce!

 

At the end of the day, you have one rule: enjoy yourself! A red sauce can take time and practice, so turn on your favorite album, pour yourself a glass of wine (or two), and have fun! 

 

Sources:

https://www.tomatofest.com/what-is-heirloom-tomato.html

http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html

http://vinepair.com/wine-101/chianti-italian-wine/

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Straight from the Russo’s: Our favorite dessert wines

Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 every year, but sharing and enjoying a delicious bottle of wine can – and should – happen all year round. We carry lots of options to keep things sweet for dessert or anytime you’re craving something different than your ordinary go-to wine varieties. Below are some of our favorite picks for wines to accompany dessert at the end of a meal. Or, just let the bottle be dessert!

 

RED

Pedro Ximenez 1983 Gran Reserva Bodegas T Albala

Stored in oak barrels, this red wine is aged to perfection. The vintage has a rich mahogany color which plays well with the flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and smoke. A dense red, you’re left with notes of spice and caramel that linger, leaving you with a sweet bite in the after-taste.

 

Six Grapes Graham’s Reserve Porto

Fruit with chocolate is a dessert that will never go out of style. This wine will pair perfectly with an aroma of fruits including plums and cherries mixed with chocolate notes. It’s full-bodied and complex but leaves a satiny, long finish on your palette. If stored in a cool, dark place the wine should stay fresh up to two months, giving you more time to enjoy!

 

Trentadue Chocolate Amore red dessert wine

This is decadence at its best. Produced from Merlot grapes, neutral grape spirits are added to stop fermentation. This act blocks a percentage of sugar in the wine from escaping. When the wine is finished aging, a small amount of natural chocolate extract is infused. The chocolate flavor is exceptional with a simple vanilla bean ice cream.

 

WHITE

Hores de Climens Barsac 2010 grand vin de sauternes

If you love desserts with a hint of honey, don’t pass up this wine. The palate is layered with honeysuckle, apricots, and grape. A French Bordeaux wine with great maturity, you’ll love the delicate but strong nature of this vintage.

 

Petit Guiraud 2011 Sauternes

Peach cobblers and pies are great all year round but especially when they are in season. Get a head start on testing your peach wine pairing with this wine. A forward and open taste that combines the flavors white peach, apricots, toasted almonds, and piecrust, you’ll notice a slight hint of freshness and sweetness. The finish is creamy, with the slightest trace of ginger to add a little zing to your taste buds.

 

Chateau La Tour Blanche 2010 sauternes

Take a trip somewhere warm and exotic without leaving the comfort of your home with this sauternes wine. Enjoy aromas of kiwi, apricots, and minerals work surprisingly well with a smoky palate that includes orange marmalade, ripe citrus, and saffron. Even if it’s cold outside, let your mind drift to a sunny beach.

 

ICE

Ice wines are dessert wines are made by freezing the grapes while they’re still on the vine. The sugars don’t freeze but the water does, creating a more concentrated grape that makes for a very sweet wine.

 

Frost Bitten Ice Riesling

Cookie fanatics will love this wine. Combining the flavors of vanilla and butter cookies, you’ll feel indulgent without a high price tag. You’ll also note honey and peach tea that softly settle on your tongue as a gentle reminder of this smooth wine.

 

Black Star Farms Sirius Cherry Dessert Wine

Nothing screams ‘Michigan’ like a cherry dessert wine from a Traverse City winery! Black sweet cherries strengthened with Black Star Farms cherry brandy and sweetened with a tart cherry juice. Barrel-aged for nine months to get a slight toasted oak mixed with the warmth of brandy. The ultimate wine for cherry lovers!

 

Chateau Chantal Ice

Incredibly sweet and delicate like a traditional Riesling wine, but provides a balanced of flavors of apricot, toasted caramel, and baked apple to delight the palate. For political junkies, this wine was served at the 2016 White House Canadian State Dinner for the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!

Source: Detroit Free Press

 

42 Ice Wine – Sweet White Wine made with frozen grapes from Michigan’s 42nd parallel

This sweet wine is made from grapes frozen at Michigan’s 42nd parallel. A wine that is best enjoyed by sipping, you’ll pull flavor notes of peaches, mango, apricots, honey, and raisins with the slightest hint of violets. The sweetness of the fruit marries nicely with the sweetness of the ice wine without being overpowering.

 

Bowers Harbor Vineyard Ice Cider

Think outside the box with this sweet ice cider. Using the same technique as traditional ice wines, frozen apples are pressed to create this sweet treat. This sweet and slightly tangy ice cider is made with Michigan apples, and best paired with any apple-based dessert. The perfect gift for an out-of-town guest or to keep all for yourself!

 

SPARKLING SPIRITS

Rosa Regale Banfi Sparkling Red

The luscious scent of rose petals meets the delicate flavors of raspberries and strawberries. This sparking red is a great alternative to champagne, there are less bubbles to tickle your nose but you still get to enjoy some bubbles for a special occasion or a special treat on an ordinary day.

 

Codorniu Anna Blanc de Blancs

Enjoy the tastes of apple pie without using up your manpower on homemade dough. You’ll quickly find a nutty personality that goes well with the flavor of apple. Top it off with a finish of clove and nutmeg. This is a dry drink but if soft and smooth, due to its composition being 70% Chardonnay.

 

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava Seleccion

Sparkling wine with a clean palate of ripe pear, apple, and citrus that flow into a long, smooth finish. You’ll notice a touch of ginger in its finish to bring a little more excitement to the experience. It’s extremely versatile and can be easily paired with any dessert.

 

J.P. Chenet Ice Edition

Small, delicate bubbles fill your glass of this lovely drink. Your nose will fill with the scent of white flowers, citrus, and tropical fruits. An energetic palate with classically smooth creamy makes a refreshing delight that’s ideal for summertime, or anytime!

 

VIN SANTO

Belcaro Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2008

This Belcar Vin Santo has an amber color that will make your mouth water and warm your heart. Delicate notes of honey dance with a hint of almond, tied together by the slightest touch of spice. Perfect with a carefully cultivated cheese board with a mixture of nuts, fruits, and cheeses.

 

A.D. MDX Vin Santo Lanciola 2008

Luxuriously gold in color, complex notes of dried apricots blend with acacia honey and orange peel. A bouquet of yellow flowers enhances this dessert wine. Sit back and relax while you enjoy the aftertaste of candied fruit.

 

Fattoria Il Lago

Deeply intense in color with a dark yellow base and amber undertones, the aromas are equally intense with honey and dried fruits. Somehow this dessert wine is both complex and delicate at the same time. The finish is nutty and has a long-lasting taste. Best served slightly chilled.