Adventures in Eating: Chicken with Zinfandel & Black Cherry Sauce

We have had some really fun wines the past few months, wines that lend themselves well to food. Many sales personnel use the term “this is a food wine” when trying to cover up some unusual charac­teristic. Most of them probably don’t understand what a “food wine” really is. It is much more than a sales pitch when discussing the right wine.

When I tasted this month’s red wine for my tasting notes, I was struck by the rich flavors and berry character that was prominent. I, because of the forthright nature of the wine, would try and match the flavors in a food. Other wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc being crisp and acidic, cry for foods that are almost the opposite in nature, in other words, heavier and thick­er.

This recipe not only uses the wine to be served in the recipe, the other ingredients are complemen­tary and in harmony with the fla­vors of the wine. This is where a wine becomes a “food wine” when it can be successfully integrated into a recipe or it can successfully complement a recipe. Try it and see!

Chicken with Zinfandel and Black Cherry Sauce

(serves 4)

(1) 2.5lb. to 3.5lb. frying chicken (or the equivalent weight of chicken breasts.

(1) (20-oz.) can dark, sweet, pitted cherries (reserve juice)

1 cup 1990 Story Zinfandel

3 Tblsp. lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

1 chicken bouillon cube

1/4 cup shortening or oil

1/3 cup cornstarch


Wash and pat dry chicken. Drain cherries and save liquid. Into large kettle, combine cherry juice, wine, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, oregano, salt, pepper and bouillon cube. Add chicken and simmer un­til tender (about one hour). Re­move chicken, drain, and brown in oil. Mix cornstarch with cold water to make paste. Add to sauce and stir until thickened. Add chicken and cherries to sauce and heat until cherries are hot throughout. To serve, place chicken on platter, top with cherries and sauce. Garnish with lots of parsley. Serve extra sauce on the side.

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