Winking Owl Merlot

Let me begin this writing by saying that I am not a wine drinker. I have problems with the tannic acid inherent in wine, though I find the flavors fascinating, My palate was given a good basic education by my father, who has tasted many wines form all over the world in his lifetime. I took his teachings and have applied them to my passion for cooking.

Winking Owl is a small vineyard located in Modesto, California. It does not have an independent website. Winking Owl produces wines for the private label of ALDI (a supermarket chain originally based in Germany). In spite of being offered for under $5 a bottle, Winking Owl produces some decent little table wines. We have found them to be wonderful for cooking!

Our latest experience was with the Winking Owl Merlot. This richly hued wine is soft and smooth on the palate, though without the customary dryness normally found in a good Merlot. The flavor was distinctive, offering hints of berries.

The first half of the bottle was used to slowly cook a piece of pork in a crock-pot. The second was used with beef. In both cases, the wine took a supporting role, offering a nice bouquet and background to the dish without overpowering the flavor of the meat. It blended well with the garlic and herbs used each time.

DSC_0206Any red wine used in cooking will be absorbed by vegetables if they are allowed to cook in it directly over a period of time. With our pork dish, fresh carrots lined the bottom of the pot used. They took on the flavor of the wine without losing their intrinsic flavor, proving the Winking Owl Merlot not exceptionally strong as some Merlot can be.

DSC_0212With the beef, red potatoes were cooked in such a way to allow the wine to be absorbed. The potatoes, served with a bit of butter and a dash of salt, turned out to have an enhanced flavor rather than being totally overpowered by the wine. We were pleased with the result.

Rather that cooking with an expensive wine that you might be better served drinking, give the Winking Owl Merlot a try in the kitchen. You may be surprised by its versatility in enhancing your dishes!

More information on Merlot wines may be found here.

On a scale of 1-5 –
Appearance: 4
Nose: 3
Flavor: 3
Body: 3
Overall: 3

— Ann Cathey

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