Dallas’ average high temperature in October starts at 83 degrees — and, thankfully, drops to 72 by the end of the month. Which means it’s time to enjoy red wine again.
This summer’s record heat made it especially difficult to drink red wine, what with its higher alcohol levels and bigger tannins. Unless you kept the air conditioning at 68 degrees, just looking at a glass of most red wines was enough to make you sweat. And drinking it was even worse.
But in October, that shouldn’t be a problem. The cooler weather pairs with red wine like red wine pairs with most cuts of beef. Think backyard barbecue, with steak on the grill or brisket in the smoker, and you’re in business. Here are several reds to get you started:
• Firriato Branciforti 2010 ($9): This Sicilian red is made with the native nero d’avola grape, which produces a solid, winning wine with a bit of red fruit, a little acid and a full mouth feel.
• Santa Julia + Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($10): I’ve yet to taste a wine from Santa Julia, Argentina’s top green wine producer, that didn’t offer value and quality. Look for black cherries and blueberries.
• Fluer Carneros Pinot Noir 2009 ($15): Well-made pinot noir in the fruit-forward California style, which means lots of ripe cherry and cranberry flavors. Quality pinot at this price is difficult to find, which explains the Fleur’s popularity.
Ask the Wine Guy
Q. What are tannins?
A. Tannins come from a chemical found in grape skins and seeds. Since red wine is made with the grape skins and white wine isn’t, red wines are more tannic than white wines.
Pull-apart cornmeal yeast rolls
Fall also means baking, and what better kind of baking then rolls for dinner (to pair with your red wine main course)? These rolls aren’t difficult to make, especially in a food processor with a dough blade or dough speed setting; just allow yourself enough time for the dough to rise twice.
Makes eight rolls, about 2 hours
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 c water
1/4 c shortening
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 to 1/2 c water
1 package yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
2 1/2 to 3 c flour
1. In a saucepan over high heat, mix the cornmeal and the water, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, keep stirring, and add the shortening, salt and sugar. When mixture is thick and well-blended, remove from heat and let cook to room temperature.
2. Put the cornmeal mixture and the rest of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and mix according to the processor’s directions for bread dough. You’ll get a soft and somewhat sticky dough.
3. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball, adding more flour if it’s too sticky. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for an hour or until doubled.
4. After dough has doubled, punch it down and divide into eight pieces. Form the pieces into small balls, and place them in a greased 9-inch cake pan. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Don’t worry if the balls have risen into each other.
5. Remove the towel and place the pan into a preheated 375-degree oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.