Our February Wine Time party fell on Valentine’s Day and I was very happy to be celebrating at home with good friends, an incredible selection of wine and a table full of small bites. Beats fighting crowds at a restaurant any day.
The usual suspects were there, Tom, Kathy, Dan, Teri, Bob, myself, the dogs and the Cheetos.
Self-appointed sommelier, Bob chose an incredible wine, an Italian Amarone. Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006. It was luscious and decadent with aromas of black licorice and blueberry and juicy round tannins.
Wine Spectator tells us: From the region known as the Veneto, stretching from the shores of Lake Garda in the west to near Venice in the east. Its best terroirs lie among the valleys and rolling hills, with many of its more distinctive vineyards cultivated in the traditional pergola canopy style.
Select bunches of the local Corvina, Corvignone, Rondinella and Molinara grapes are dried in a fruttaio, a room designed to maintain the proper humidity and temperature levels to remove moisture from the grapes without allowing mold or fungus to spread. The drying period begins immediately after harvest and lasts until late December or January, after which the dried grape bunches are fermented into wine. The higher sugar content of the dried grapes increases the wine’s overall alcohol level. This process is used for Amarone production across the board, but may also be utilized for other of the region’s reds.
It was perfect for a Valentine’s Day Celebration.
As usual we were spoiled with a great line up of appetizers to compliment the wine that we sipped.
Tom and Kathy brought an impressive cheese and salumi plate from a cheese restaurant they recently discovered. Bin 1884 Cheese Bar is located at 1884 S. Pearl St. in Denver. We enjoyed a sampling of Pecorino Sardo Medora, an Italian semi-firm and a Compo de Monteban, a Spanish three milk cheese and Nepolitana sausage. The plate was garnished with a baguette, some flatbread and crackers. Impressive and unique flavors.
A simple bowl of some not so simple in flavor pickles. These are the cumin-lime pickles that I made for the Chicken Chorizo burgers a few days before wine night. Stand alone, these pickles were a really nice snack.
And look at these chocolate cupcakes Teri brought. And no, she didn’t pick them up at the local bakery. She made and decorated them herself. Beautiful treat for Valentine’s Day. She even made those little sugared hearts that decorate the top, and yes they were very edible.
Bob suggested I make a lamb meatball recipe that he found in Wine Spectator Magazine. As I’ve mentioned before, every recipe I’ve tried from that magazine has been impressive. These were easy, tender in texture and spiced just enough to be interesting.
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
- ½ C. panko bread crumbs
- ½ C. Italian bread crumbs
- ¾ C. milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add a little more milk if needed for consistency. Mix well. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls, and place them on a greased baking sheet 1 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake the meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are no longer pink in the center. Remove, and serve immediately. Makes 30 meatballs.
Spicy Lamb Meatballs…It’s What’s for an Appetizer.