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January 24, 2018
I was buried in year-end and inventory work last week.  No time to write so I decided to bring back one of my favorite recipes and funniest stories...

Raccoon Tales
A lesson in cooling your spaghetti sauce
A few years ago I received this note from reader Laurie W. about our spaghetti sauce recipe. After reading it, Linda suggested that I relate the real reason why we start our spaghetti sauce at about noon...  

"Hi Doug...thanks for the re-recipe for the spaghetti copy is pretty splattered up so I will print it out again!  We call this "Midnight Spaghetti" because - no matter what time you start it - you're still dinkin' around with it at midnight!"

About ten years ago we decided to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce on a Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, we didn't get it under way until almost four o'clock.  At nine o'clock, when the sauce was finally ready, it was way too hot to split into freezer bags or even put into the refrigerator.   It was about 40 degrees outside, so we decided to cover the pan and set it on the deck to cool.  Then we retired to the living room with a glass of wine to watch a little TV while we waited for it to cool so we could bag it before we went to bed.  

It was about 7 am when I woke up, remembered the sauce and thought "Uh-oh"... A glance out the kitchen patio doors confirmed my worst fears.  The deck resembled a set from a "B" horror movie, maybe the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The door windows were splattered red, our stock pot was on its side half way down the stairs licked clean, and the entire deck was covered with lots of bright red raccoon prints.  We still have no idea how many raccoons it took to consume nine quarts of  spaghetti sauce, but I do know I had to power wash the deck to get it clean.  That's why we always start our sauce at noon.  

The Recipe Exchange
I have run this recipe once a year since 1999, but it is perfect for this time of year.

 Real Spaghetti Sauce
Serves more people than you can fit at your table
Dried basil or preferably, fresh

Dry Italian seasoning
Red pepper flakes
4 Tbs. sugar
Olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 lbs. Roma tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 lb. sliced white mushrooms
1 lb. sliced Crimini (brown) mushrooms
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. (real big) yellow onion, chopped
4 oz sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. mild Italian bulk sausage
1 lb. hot Italian bulk sausage
1 750-ml bottle of wine
8 15-oz cans of tomato sauce (I like Red Gold)
3 15-oz cans of diced or whole tomatoes
1 12-oz can of tomato paste
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
A 12-quart stock pot

Use a large frying pan to brown the meat. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. of Italian seasoning, a couple of good shakes of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Be sure to break it up as it cooks so you have nice even, granular texture. Drain and set aside. Pour about three Tbs of olive oil in the pot, add the garlic, 1 Tbs. of Italian seasoning and 2 or 3 good shakes of red pepper (one of the keys to good sauce is to season everything as you go). Over medium high heat, sauté until the garlic is fragrant. Add the onions and red bell pepper and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Add another Tbs. of Italian seasoning and salt and ground pepper at this point. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until they soften. Lower the heat to medium.

Add 8 cans of tomato sauce, the can of tomato paste and stir in the meat. Pour two glasses of wine, sip on one and add the other to the sauce. Quarter the Roma tomatoes and place them in a food processor and puree with the 4 Tbs. of sugar, the sun dried tomatoes (leave the oil in, it has lots of flavor and this is a big pot), a couple of Tbs. of dried basil, or better yet 7 or 8 large leaves of fresh basil, and a big shake of salt. Add the pureed mixture to the pot.

Place the 3 cans of diced tomatoes in the food processor with a tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Purée and add to the pot. Top off your wineglass with wine and add the rest of the bottle to the pot. Keep the heat at medium until it begins to bubble, then reduce to medium low. Cook for about an hour, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.

Now you need to taste it and add any additional salt or pepper it may need. If you like it spicy, add some more red pepper flakes now. Reduce heat to low and cook through at least 1 football game (we only have time to make this on Sunday) stirring every 20 or 30 minutes. We generally consider it done after about 4 hours total. However, additional simmering doesn't do it any harm. Just be sure to stir periodically as you don't want the bottom to burn. We bag this in meal-size portions in freezer bags and have quick meals available for months. Last Sunday's batch made 10 meals worth.

Wine Guy Reviews

I complain a lot about the price of Napa Cabernet but after having this one I decided that $56 is a bargain!

Charles Krug Generations Red 2014 Napa Valley California $56
What the Wine Critics Thought: Wine Spectator 93 Points
Supple, plump and juicy, with mouthwatering plum, cherry, currant and blackberry flavors evenly dispersed, maintaining focus and charm, ending with silky tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Drink now through 2032. –JL

What We Thought:
Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, cedar and vanila combine in this smooth Cabernet blend from the Peter Mondavi family.  We took this elegant steakhouse Cabernet slumming with beef vegetable soup and it paired beautifully. 
This is classic "Old School" Rioja, find food!
Ramón Bilbao Limited Edition Rioja 2013 Rioja, Spain $19
We Bought a Bunch $15.99

What the Wine Critics Thought: Wine Spectator 90 Points
Black cherry and red plum flavors are fresh and lively in this bright red. Tangerine acidity and light, firm tannins keep this focused. Spice and floral notes add interest on the finish. Drink now through 2023. 7,500 cases imported. –TM

What We Thought:This wine displays all the classic characteristics of Rioja with plenty ripe blackberry along with notes of saddle leather, licorice and vanilla all supported by some serious tannins.  Don't even attempt this without food, roast pork was perfect!

New Arrivals
More big scores for two new vintages from, in my humble opinion, Australia's best Shiraz producer....

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2016 Barossa Valley, Australia $29

What the Wine Critics Thought: Wine Spectator 93 Points
Gorgeous purity and silky tannins set the stage for kirsch, blueberry syrup, white chocolate and espresso flavors. Complex and generous, with an epic finish, where the harmonious flavors linger. Drink now through 2030. Smart Buys. –MW

Two Hands Angels’ Share Shiraz 2016 McLaren Vale, Australia $29

What the Wine Critics Thought: Wine Spectator 92 Points
Rich and fleshy, with ripe and round plum and cherry flavors, offering hints of cola, sage and green tea that linger on the finish. A fresh, juicy quality keeps everything in focus. Drink now through 2027. –MW

Seminars International and Dr. Linda Elman are repeating their Spanish wine tour next fall. A number of our readers made the trip in 2016 and it sounds like a good time was had by all. 

Sí Spain Gourmet is an exploration of the Ribera, Rioja and Basque regions that coincides with the grape harvest festival in Logroño. The experience starts in Madrid and culminates in the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastián with a Basque cooking class.

Dr. Linda Elman, an emerita professor of Spanish from DePauw University, has traveled extensively to Spain doing research over the years and has developed a love for Spanish art, history and especially wine.  She is leading this intimate (no more than 25 guests) twelve day tour September 15th through the 26th focusing on Spanish art, culture and of course wine.

You can contact Linda at for a complete electronic brochure and enrollment instructions.

Pick Of The Week
Something Really Different!
A Spanish Petit Verdot Blend....
Wine Advocate 90 Points

This is the first Spanish wine that I have ever seen with Petit Verdot in the blend.  In combination with the Syrah it makes for a big, highly structured wine.... 

Marqués de Griñón Caliza 2012 La Mancha, Spain $22
We Bought a Bunch $15.99
What the Wine Critics Thought: Wine Advocate 90 Points
Caliza is a blend of 40% Syrah and 30% each Petit Verdot and Graciano. Most of these reds mature in newish French barriques for some ten months. The oak is nicely integrated and there is a core of ripe black fruit and balsamic notes. The palate is soft and juicy, with fine-grained tannins. Very pleasant. Drink 2016-2018. —L.G.

What We Thought: Inky dark with a brambly dark fruit nose, this unusual hybrid blend is full-bodied  and filled with ripe blackberry fruit, dusty tannins and bright acids that make it a perfect pairing for anything from a grilled ribeye to Tapas.  
To order just use "reply to sender" to return this form or just give me a call. And, be sure to let us know at which store you would prefer to pick it up.

As always, the Wine Guy Guarantee applies.  If you buy a case of wine and don't like it, just return the other bottles for an exchange or refund. 

The case discount is 10%. Case discounts do not apply to items with .99 sale price endings. However, sale wines do combine with other wines to make non sale wines eligible for case discounts.

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Wine Guy Recipe Exchange & Wine Review Society Newsletter

Issue 934 Vol. 19 No.
January 24, 2018
The Wine Guy @
The Grapevine Cottage

Grapevine Cottage • 61 South Main Street
Zionsville, Indiana 46077 (317) 733­-1010
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Grapevine Cottage • 8235 East 116th Street
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Fishers, Indiana 46038 (317) 288­-5316
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