In preparation for January's #ItalianFWT event - I'm hosting Italian Wines for Cold Winter Nights next month - I decided to push the envelope a little bit, do some recipe testing, and pair a slow-braised meat with a sweeter sparkling wine: Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso +Brachetto d'Acqui.
I thought that the decidedly piquant garlic in the meat would counter the sweetness of the Brachetto d'Acqui. However, the two wine-drinkers at my table - that'd be me and Jake - were split down the middle. I liked it; he gave me a little nose wrinkle when I asked him what he thought. But he happily poured himself another glass as we ate gingerbread and played board games with the boys.
On My Plate
Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso
- 2 pound roast (I used a chuck roast)
- 1 bottle red wine
- 4 T olive oil, divided
- 1 C diced carrots
- 1 C diced celery
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 C beef stock
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground pepper
Heat 2 T olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots and celery and cook until the carrots are fork tender. Add in the garlic and red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third. Let the mixture cool completely.
Season the roast with salt and pepper, on both sides, then place it in a lidded container. Pour the cooled wine over the meat to marinate. Let the meat marinate overnight, turning every 6 hours or so.
When you're ready to cook, heat 2 T olive oil in a large lidded pot or a Dutch oven. Remove the meat from the marinade and cook to give it a nice sear, approximately 2 to 3 minutes on all sides. Once it's nicely browned, place it flat in the pot and pour the marinade and all the veggies into the pot on top of the meat. Pour in beef stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the meat braise for 3 to 4 hours. Turn the meat over every hour or so while it cooks. Before serving, remove the pot from the heat and let the meat rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.
I served the Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso with some beans and a kale salad.
In My Glass
As I mentioned, I was trying to counter the sweetness of the wine with the garlicky-goodness of the meat. I was only partially successful. Jake didn't care for the pairing. Oh, well...I liked it!
A little bit about the grape...Brachetto originates from the Piemonte region of northern Italy though it is known as the Braquet grape of southern France where along with Cinsault, it makes some nice Rosés around the Côte d'Azur.
A little bit about the winemakers...Marenco dates back to the early 20th century when patriarch Michele dreamed of planting a vineyard in the heart of the Bagnario Valley. Giuseppe, Michele's son, gradually acquired land and selected indigenous grape varieties to cultivate. Guiseppe built his winery in the center of Stevi, near the train station, so he could send his wines directly to his customers.
Today, Giuseppe's daughters, Michaela - along with her husband Dr. Giovanni Costa -, Patrizia, and Doretta continue the family business with enthusiasm and dedication. The three women personally supervise and every step of the production process - from grape to glass.
This wine - Marenco's Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui - has a light ruby color that leans more pink than red. It's sweet on the nose and the tongue with heavy aromas of roses and vanilla in the foam. Low in alcohol with delicate bubbles, this wine is easy to drink.
But, since it wasn't a hit for both me and Jake, I'll keep experimenting with Italian Wines for Cold Winter Nights. If you have any suggestions send them my way. Cin cin.