Good Wine Cheap

(and good food to go with it)


This month our gourmet group ventured into the cuisine of French Canada. With the simple entry of "Quebec recipes" into the search engine we found numerous and interesting recipes. The result is North Woods cooking with a French flair. This included an extraordinary pea soup, maple glazed carrots, fine sea food and a meat pie to die for. And while the native beverage of choice might be spelled "Labatt's," we did find several wines that also fit well with the meal.

The first wine is the 2001 Cuvee Rouge from the Chateau LaFayette Reneau winery located in New York's Finger Lakes region. This dry red wine is a blend of Baco Noir and Pinot Noir grapes. This blend produces a rich and fruity wine that passes like velvet through the mouth. It is a good food wine matching well pizza, pasta and the recipe given below. I have found it commonly for between $6 and $8 a bottle.

We move from a good wine to an excellent wine with the 2000 Cotes du Rhone by E. Guigal wines of France. Typical of Cotes du Rhone, it is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre grapes. This is a complex wine that layers the taste of cherry, raspberry and pepper with subtle hints of flowers. It has a crispness borne of well balanced acidity and a nice smoothness from its mellow tannins. This truly fine wine is generally available for between $10 and $12 a bottle.

Tourtiere: French Canadian meat pie. (There are probably as many variations to this recipe as there are mothers and grandmothers in Quebec.)

Ingredients: 1 pound ground pork; pound ground veal (or beef); 6 slices bacon; cup chopped onion; cup chopped celery; 1 clove garlic, minced; 2 teaspoons dried sage; teaspoon salt; teaspoon ground black pepper; 1 teaspoon allspice; 2 tablespoons cornstarch; 2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts; 1 cups water.


1. In a deep pan, brown ground veal, pork, and bacon. Drain off fat.

2. Stir in onion, celery, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the water, and bring mixture to boiling. Reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or till onion is tender. Stir frequently.

3. Combine cornstarch and the remaining cup water. Add to hot meat and vegetable mixture, cooking and stirring till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, and cool slightly.

4. Fill pastry shell with meat and vegetable mixture. Roll out top crust on top, seal the edges, and put patterned slits in top crust.

5. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand about 15 minutes before serving.

I hope that you will contact me with your comments and favorite wines. I will be happy to share them with the broader Mensa group.

John is a member of Mensa of Northeastern New York. He lives with his wife Sharon in the Hudson Valley of New York.