Have we been formally introduced? No? Alright. Hello, my name is Melinda and I'm a wine snob.
I have a problem admitting that. While I do not drink exorbitantly expensive wines as they are not within my budget, I do have more than my fair share of wines in the $50 price range. While many true connoisseurs with basements that have been converted into custom wine cellars may scoff at a $50 bottle of wine, most people of average means would deem that truly excessive for one bottle of wine. And they would not be wrong. Most people cannot afford to be so frivolous with their hard earned money.
While I love my mini wine cellar - fine, wine fridge, I aspire to a full fledged underground cellar one day! But in the mean time, I need to counteract the fact that my wine clubs will send me their higher end wine and the fact that I find my pocketbook sometimes not playing the factor that it should when I purchase wine at the last few wineries when we go wine tasting. Because I do not feel comfortable drinking a $50 bottle of wine by myself on a random Tuesday night, I try to always have daily drinkers at home...unfortunately, even when I am trying to stay away from expensive bottles, my daily drinkers are typically in the mid $20 range because I refuse to drink bad wine. And that can get quite expensive.
While I agree with Cliff Hakim that "Life's too short to drink cheap wine", I truly believe that good wine doesn't need to be super expensive (this belief is fueled by the fact that I've tried some truly expensive bottles that I though were terrible). So, I have been trying to do more experimenting with more affordable daily drinkers. It's not too difficult to find incredibly tasty yet inexpensive whites, such as my favorite Sauvignon Blanc or this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that you can find for less than $10 at Trader Joe's! But finding a good inexpensive red is a whole 'nother story! So, when I was at the grocery store last week, I picked up a bottle of Sebastiani Pinot Noir since I remember having liked a cab from them in the past. But the Pinot? It was...TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!! Bridget had come up for the second to the last episode of The Newsroom and she didn't think it was as bad as I did. When she thought it was a Merlot. This wine was unrecognizable as a Pinot. There was no discernible fruit and I'm not going to get into exactly why it was so bad, you're just going to have to trust me on this one. I tried, I really did, but I simply could not drink this wine, so I went for a bottle of something else and Bridget's words stuck with me. "Looks like you're going to be cooking with wine!"
I came home from work the next day and found that I did not have the main ingredient for what I had planned to make for dinner. I also did not have half of the ingredients I would have needed for my backup plan. And I was hungry. So, I threw on an apron, started pulling stuff out of the fridge, and got to chopping without knowing exactly where I was going with this whole experiment.
With good wine in my glass, it began...
My tofu had excellent self-esteem!
-1/2 large onion or 1 small/medium onion, chopped
-2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 package extra firm organic tofu, cubed
-2 packages baby bella mushrooms, sliced
-1 large bag green beans, cut into relatively even pieces (mine were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long)
-whatever is left in the bottle after you realize you bought bad red wine
1. In a large pan, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent.
6. Cook for a while for the tofu to absorb as much of the flavors as possible. As the wine mushroom sauce cooks down, add more wine.
7. Once you are happy with the flavor of the tofu (and have come to terms with the fact that it is purple), add a little more wine and the green beans.
9. Add more seasoning as necessary and serve with some brown rice and a glass of GOOD red wine.
Somehow I'd never made a mushroom wine sauce before and I have the feeling I will be making this rather frequently going forward. It was divine!! There isn't a whole lot of measuring that went on here because I was just making things up as I went along, but I'm sure you can figure it out. I have faith in you!
Searching for daily (red) drinkers under $20 is going to be significantly less stressful knowing that I won't have to waste bottles that I think are terrible. If I don't like them, I can make a fabulous mushroom sauce with them!
Let's raise a glass to a great bottle of wine, or a fabulous meal as Plan B!