Red is the color deeply entwined with some of our strongest feelings—passion, love, rage, danger. It even symbolizes good luck. What better wine to bring to you next family gathering?
For many reasons, the holidays are a great time to stock up on wine—to enjoy, to gift, and to collect. Like the color itself, red wines offer a spectrum of bold and dazzling varieties to enjoy. The Cabs tend to work nicely with most red meats, lamb, and a flavorfully prepared ahi tuna. We love Pinot Noirs for their versatility—most are both smooth and bold enough to work well with lighter fare such as roasted salmon or game fowl and heavier, classic dinner fare like Beef Wellington.
Speaking of Beef Wellington and family gatherings—this is one of my family’s traditions! Many years ago, I gave my husband The New Basics Cookbook by Silver Palate authors Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. We’ve had decades of fun exploring so many cuisines and cultures through the recipes and informative anecdotes. Once beyond the chicken-nugget rite of passage, our kids joined us on the journey. While we each have our distinct preferences, we all look forward to Beef Wellington as our Christmas Eve tradition. In fact, my oldest—now living on that other coast—has asked for the recipe so many times that she’s receiving her own copy of The New Basics as a gift this year. Based on how tattered that original paperback is, I’m even springing for the hardcover edition.
You can find that hallowed Beef Wellington recipe below. And if you want to find some great red wines, here are a few favorites we’re featuring this week.
Cheers to holidays and family traditions.
Smoked walnut and juicy black cherry aromas lead to ripe plum flavor and a satin mouthfeel in this Cabernet Sauvignon from California. This is one of those Cabs that can hold its own as a soloist—but it also brings synergy to the equation when paired with a simple dinner of beef burgundy, crusty French bread and creamery butter.
This classic full-bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant and smooth, with layers of rich bramble fruits. A sophisticated blend of cool mineral elegance and abundant dark berry character, ideal for pairing with American fare, such as grilled chicken or a rack of barbecued ribs.
Pierce Canyon Trio
This Cabernet from California’s central coast has deep and balanced acidity with aromas of dried cherries, cedar cigar box and a hint of black plum. On the palate, flavors of blackberry jam and toasted walnuts balanced out the vanilla notes acquired from the French oak aging.
California Cabernet Trio
Can’t decide? Or maybe your new to the big-jammy-cab band wagon. Consider a mixed trio. This is a great way to do your own wine tasting and find out what it is you love about each Cabernet. The California Cabernet Trio includes Istro, Tesca, and Pierce Canyon.
The Pinot Noirs
Founders Vine Trio
A notably smooth and versatile Pinot Noir for those who enjoy the complexity of a red wine and a clean finish. Soft, dried-plum, ruby-red grapefruit and juicy strawberry flavors come to light in the deep magenta rim of this garnet pour. Topped with notes of vanilla and nutmeg—and maybe even a hint of warm cocoa—this is truly a four-season Pinot. Light enough for a summertime picnic but with enough character to stand up to hearty winter fare.
La Crema Monterey Trio
Deep red cherries and black plum accented with fresh red raspberries set the stage for this sophisticated La Crema Pinot. The subtle notes of sassafras and baking spice round out this complex and medium-bodied pour. Enough panache for spicy garlicky fare, but also pairs nicely with a simply prepared roast chicken.
West Coast Pinot Noir Trio
This lush trio of Pinot Noirs explores the west coast, from southern Napa-Sonoma up into the elevations of Oregon. The West Coast Pinot Noir Trio includes:
Aged in new French oak, this premium Pinot from the Columbia Gorge opens with wood violet and cocoa aromas, uncovering flavors of black cherry and spice. Framed by chewy tannins and lingering impressively, this Pinot Noir pairs exceptionally well with grilled vegetables, herb roasted pork tenderloin, blackened chicken or oven baked salmon filets.
Adelsheim Breaking Ground
From the hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains, Oregon comes the silky smooth Adelsheim Breaking Ground Pinot. The balanced black cherry and earthy foundation is tempered to a supple finish with 11-month aging in French oak barrels. Committed to the long-term health of planet Earth, Adelsheim is a LIVE-certified sustainable winery.
Smooth and elegant, this Pinot from Etude hails from Carneros—the southernmost point of Sonoma and Napa valleys. The topography is well-suited for growing Pinot Noir as the bay winds and rolling fog keep temperatures cool. The layers of dark cherry, sweet earth, and poignant spice in this Burgundian-style pinot conjure a perfect garnet hue to pair with fine-dining classics such as Rack of Lamb, Lobster Thermador, and Beef Wellington.
Beef Wellington for Two
From The New Basics Cookbook
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried thyme leaves, crumbled
2 tournedos of beef (6 oz each)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBS unsalted butter
¼ cup Potted Mushrooms (recipe follows)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, 10 x 8 inches, 1/8 inch thick, thawed
1 tsp milk
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Toss the pepper, salt, and thyme in a small bowl. Rub the tournedos on all sides with the mustard, then sprinkle the spice mixture over them.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet, and sear the tournedos on all sides, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
- Arrange the tournedos on a small baking sheet, and cover them with the potted mushrooms.
- Cut out two 4- to 5-inch circles of pastry. Drape each over one of the tournedos, and pinch the edges in four or five places to enclose the tournedos. Blend the eggs and milk, and brush this glaze over the pastry. Decorate the tops with cutouts made from pastry trimmings, if desired.
- Bake 15 minutes for medium-rare. Serve immediately.
From The New Basics Cookbook
Their note: Make this the day you plan to serve it—it will not hold longer than a day.
My note: I bracketed off the steps related to this dish as an appetizer. The recipe yields 2 cups. The Beef Wellington recipe calls for ¼ cup. Try halving or quartering the recipe. Better yet, make it a dinner party and multiply the Beef Wellington recipe accordingly!
5 TBS unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
1/3 cup minced leeks, white part only
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cultivated mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
10 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (reserve for another use), finely chopped
1 TBS finely snipped fresh chives
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
[Toast points, for serving]
- Melt 2 TBS of the butter in a 10-inch skillet. Stir in the shallots, leeks, and garlic. Cook over low heat until translucent, 5 minutes.
- Add the cultivated mushrooms and the thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mixture is just moist, 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
- Add the remaining 3 TBS butter to the skillet, and stir in the shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until they are just beginning to stick to the pan, 5 minutes.
- Pour off any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, and add the shiitakes to the mushroom mixture. Stir well, and season with the chives, salt, and pepper. [Serve at room temperature accompanied by fresh toast points.]