Cooking With Marcassin

May 10, 2006

If you cook much, you know how important it is to use good wine (and it’s crucial not to use bad or spoiled wine).

No one would expect you to pour Montrachet into your soup, but I came close a few weeks ago.

After the Marcassin tasting, we split up some of the leftovers, and I took home the 1998 Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay and the 1998 Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir. (My previous post contains full notes from the verticals of the estate wines.)

A day later, at a dinner party where I cooked porcini risotto, I used a cup of the Chardonnay. Once it hit the simmering pan. a wonderful crème brulée aroma filled the kitchen.

Eventually the wine worked itself into the core flavors and the porcini mushrooms had a strong aromatic earthiness (perfect for either a Pinot Noir or mature Chardonnay).

I debated writing about this, but then, a couple of weeks later, while tasting with Helen Turley at Blankiet in Napa Valley, we talked about cooking with wine, and Helen shared one of her culinary secrets for oxtail soup.

“My marinade is pretty simple,” she said, with a laugh. “Three gallons of wine.”

What wine did she use the last time?

“Some very expensive red and white Burgundies,” she replied. “They were undrinkable.” She and her husband, John Wetlaufer, are big Burgundy fans, but the wines they'd bought for a comparative tasting left them both nonplussed.

And into the oxtail soup marinade they went.

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