Wine and Food
Dinner with wine used to be simple. The rule was white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. With modern fusion cuisine and wines from new regions around the world, the choices – and confusion – are great. It helps to start with the basic principles of food and wine pairing, as they still provide a good foundation for experimenting with new world cuisines. One of the most important elements to harmonize between wine and food is flavor. Flavor encompasses spices, cooking technique, sauces and type of protein. With that said, Little Raven Vineyards offers a monthly wine and recipe pairing.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Marinated in Berry-Cherry Mostarda   
A mostarda is an old Italian concoction, a truly all-purpose product, which can be used as a marinade or reduced and used as sauce for game, chicken, or even fresh fruits. You can make it in the summer when fresh berries are inexpensive or use individually quick frozen fruits.  

The mostarda is a classic mirror for berry and cherry flavors in red wine, and you can adjust the recipe to suit the wine, e.g.: Add more blueberries to link it to Merlot; add more cherries to link it to Cabernet; add more raspberries to link it to Zinfandel.

Prepare the mostarda first. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, wine, sugar, mustard seed, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Remove from the head immediately and stir in the fruit. Cool. The mostarda can be used at this point or it can be stored, covered and refrigerated, indefinitely. If you marinade meats in the mostarda, you can use it again – be sure to bring it to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes and then cool before reusing.

Once the mostarda is cooled, place the pork tenderloin in a non-reactive bowl or pan and add enough mostarda to just cover. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 4 hours overnight, turning the pork occasionally.

Prepare a charcoal fire. Remove the pork from the mostarda and gently pat off any excess marinade. Lightly brush the tenderloin with oil and grill over medium coals until just done, about 10 minutes per side.

If you marinade meats in the mostarda, you can use it again – be sure to bring it to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes and then cool before reusing.

Reprinted from, From Earth to the Table, by John Ash, Penguin Books, USA



Here’s a basic red-wine marinade for beef, venison, duck, buffalo, turkey, tuna and heavy-oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.  Feel free to improvise, personalize, and add ingredients to make this the foundation for your own signature barbecue marinade!


In a non-reactive bowl, combine the following:

  • 2 cups of a dry and fruity red wine like Beaujolais, Chianti, New World Merlot or New World Pinot Noir;
  • ½ cup of olive oil;
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped;
  • ½ teaspoon of salt;
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper; and
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh seasonal herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, cilantro) to taste.

To tenderize the meat, directly salt and pepper the beef, venison, duck, buffalo and turkey before putting into the marinade. For the fish, salt and sprinkle with lemon. Beef, game and duck can marinate in the refrigerator overnight; fish should marinate no longer than 1 hour. Rosemary pairs well with beef; basil and cilantro goes well with salmon.

Yield:  2-1/2 cups for approximately two pounds of meat.





 1 750ml bottle                      Albarino

1 750 ml bottle                       Rioja

1 cup                                      Cointreau

1/3rd cup                               sugar

1                                            green apple, cored, sliced thin

1                                            orange, sliced thin

1                                            lemon, sliced thin

1                                            lime, sliced thin

1                                            pear, cored, quartered lengthwise, sliced

6                                            star anise, whole

3                                            cinnamon sticks

                                              Ice cubes


 This sangria needs to be made a day ahead so that it can chill in the refrigerator over night and “marinade” the fruit.


In a large pitcher, mix the first three ingredients. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar. And to be somewhat faithful to the original recipe, we have left in a 1/3rd cup of sugar. You could leave it out if you feel strongly about no sugar. It does help soften the acidity of some of the fruits. Next prepare all the fruit and mix in. Last of all, add the cinnamon sticks and the star anise. If you are having trouble finding the star anise, try Savory Spices on at 1537 Platte, just one block over to the west from LRV. That’s where we purchase them. But good luck getting out with only the star anise…that store is amazing!

Guidelines for Selecting Wines for Cooking:

Young, full bodied red wine

Red meat, red meat dishes

Young, full bodied, robust red wine

Red sauces

Earthy red, full bodied red wine

Soups with root vegetables and/or beef stock

Dry white wine or dry fortified wine

Fish/shellfish/seafood, poultry, pork, veal

Dry white wine or dry fortified wine

Light/cream sauces

Crisp, dry white wine

Seafood soups, bouillabaisse

Sweet white wine or sweet fortified wine

Sweet desserts

Dry, fortified wine (i.e.: sherry)

Consommé, poultry, vegetable soups

Regional cuisine

Regional wine

Select an entrée.

Cooking With Wine

We go to great lengths to match the perfect wine with our favorite dish. We consult a knowledgeable waiter in a restaurant, we talk to our trusted sommelier in our favorite wine shop (like Little Raven Vineyards), we Google it and read books. When food and wine are mentioned together, we usually think of pairing. But what happens when a recipe calls for a cup of dry white wine? There is more to cooking with wine than grabbing a bottle of white that’s been left in the frig for a week.

Intensified Flavors

Wine is a complex beverage and its use in cooking has many implications. The characteristic flavor of a wine is intensified during the cooking process; in other words, as the alcohol evaporates, flavors concentrate. Alcohol evaporates at 178 degrees, well below the boiling point of water. By the time the sauce or dish is done, most of the alcohol will have evaporated and only the flavor of the wine remains. So a fruity wine will concentrate those flavors and give an intense, fruity flavor to the finished dish.

Wine can be used throughout the cooking process. Marinades are a popular starting point. The alcohol and acid in the wine serve to tenderize the meat before cooking. Both act on the tough fibers in meat, effectively "softening" them, so they take less time to cook and develop the succulent rich flavor of braised meat. Tannins also help to break down the toughness of meat.

The most common use of wine is in the making of sauces, either by “deglazing” or “reducing.” The amount of time to spend reducing wine is more dependent on the color of the wine than anything else. White wine needs to be reduced just a small amount, to burn off most of the alcohol. Red wine should be reduced until it is almost gone. Red wine needs more reduction or your food will be ... well, purple. By reducing the color compounds, the result is a deeper, richer red that will blend better with the browns of a rich stock.

Wines are also used at the very end of the cooking process to "finish" the sauce.  Often fortified wines such as Marsala and sherry are added near the completion of the dish so their sweetness and flavor is not overpowering, but the subtle aromas are heightened by the heat of the dish. For the same reason, sherry is added to a cream soup right at the very end.

Tips for Cooking with Wine:

  • Do not cook with aluminum or cast iron when cooking with wine, stick with non-reactive cookware such as enamel.
  • Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of a full-bodied red into brown gravy. Let simmer to create rich brown gravy for red meat.
  • When a recipe calls for water, replace the water with wine.
  • Wine needs time to impart its flavor, wait 10 minutes or more to taste before adding more wine. Too much wine can overpower a dish.
  • Don’t worry about the sulfites in wine when cooking; they evaporate just like the alcohol. They actually convert go through a conversion to produce sulfur dioxide, a gas, when heated dissipates into the air.
  • Avoid bottles labeled “cooking wine” from the supermarket. They contain salt among other ingredients, and will end up concentrating the salt, making your food saltier.

The most important rule of thumb is don’t cook with any wines that you wouldn’t drink. We often hear, “just use the cheap wine for cooking.” Well if it tastes like vinegar in the glass then you can bet it will taste like vinegar in your food!