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Wine and Food Wednesday
Why I Could Drink Pinot Noir Forever

By Charles Olken

Some wine and food combinations are born in heaven, and I know the secret that could make me drink Pinot Noir forever.

It is the veal chop with cognac mustard cream sauce that Mrs. Olken prepared as an accompaniment to tonight’s Pinot Noir tasting. It is one of those combinations of great ingredients that become better for being partnered on a plate, and just the thought of one of those bone-in, pan-grilled beauties topped with the luscious sauce makes me salivate. Never mind that some scientist thinks he has proven that people do not salivate at the thought of food, he obviously never tasted Mrs. Olken’s veal chop.

About the only thing that would make this story even better would be if this were an old family recipe. The truth, however, is that Mrs. Olken turned to one of the more reliable sources of great recipes for her inspiration—Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Now, I am no cook, but I love reading Cook’s because it explains why things work and how it worked out the recipes it gives us.

For tonight’s meal, she downloaded first the recipe for Pan-Seared Veal Chops and then she followed with the recipes for Cognac and Mustard Pan Sauce and Tarragon-Sherry Cream Sauce For Veal. By combining the two sauce recipes, and don’t ask me how she managed it, she came up with a rich, thick, tasty sauce that was every bit up to partnering with the flavorful bone-in veal rib chop.

Admittedly, these were not some mild, innocuous pieces of veal but tasty yet delicate hunks of protein that are now the best thing that veal can produce since we no longer get milk-fed veal from slaughtered baby cows. It wants a rich yet nuanced wine, and no better wine exists for that job than a fine Pinot Noir. It did not hurt that this evening we were tasting two flights of eight Pinots that included the new 2009s from Freestone. Not only did the Freestone bottlings from its Quarter Moon Vineyard and from its Pastorale Vineyard walk away with top honors in the tasting, but so good were they that they will be retasted for Connoisseurs’ Guide’s highest ratings.

It is nights like this, with wonderful Pinot Noir on the tasting table and dishes like Veal Chops in Mustard Cream Sauce, that make me glad I am in the winewriting business. And if you follow the recipes and pair the results with great Pinot, you will be as satisfied as I am now as I sit here and writing this column.


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Veal Chop
by Marlene Rossman
Posted on:12/7/2011 2:32:50 PM

Charlie, can you provide the recipe?

Thanks, in advance!

Pinot Noir
by Mike Dunne
Posted on:12/7/2011 8:53:14 PM

Charles, are you in the doghouse with Mrs. Olken? Has she again caught you exceeding your wine budget? The sauce you've described sounds heavenly, but as a mate for pinot noir? Maybe from California, perhaps not from Burgundy, New Zealand or Oregon. Then again, I wasn't there, and don't sincerely question your judgment or your enthusiasm. It's actually quite refreshing to read such joy in wine commentary.

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