Getting saucy with SIMI

photo: Kenneth Fish

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to take a class from the San Francisco Wine School that would ultimately, provided I passed the weekly quizzes and the 100-question final examination, certify me as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). What this means is that I have a better than average grasp of the rules and regulations concerning the production of wine in the state of California, as well as the sometimes not so subtle differences imparted by the various appellations up and down the length of this great state of ours. Once I received my CWAS certificate, I wondered for what I would use this new set of skills, and now I know. I shall apply this extensive knowledge to writing about wine, of course.

Here in Chubstr-land, as you can imagine, food can play a pretty significant role. With that established as a truth, wine, too, should also play a significant role. Food may be good, but food served with the right wine can be downright outstanding. Food made WITH the right wine, then, must be better, still.

The 2012 Sonoma county Pinot Noir from SIMI in is one of those wines that is fine by itself, tasty as an accompaniment to food, and as the recipe below suggests, great as a food, as well. This medium-bodied, 26-dollar wine is lush with bright cherry and hints of cranberry, and it has a light touch of vanilla and a mild minerality to it. This SIMI Pinot, which is a bit heavier than some of the Pinots from West Sonoma, stands up nicely to the onions, garlic, and tomatoes of the barbeque sauce while adding a tart, fruity zing that plays well with the chipotle, Worcestershire, and allspice. This is a great sauce for chicken, ribs (beef or pork), or as an accompaniment to pulled pork. Splash this sauce around at your next tailgate party and you’ll be the king of the car park.

photo: Kenneth Fish

Barbeque Sauce with SIMI Sonoma County Pinot Noir

by Kevin West

Yields 4 cups


1 medium red onion, chopped

2 whole, peeled garlic cloves

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon grape seed oil

28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

2 cups SIMI Sonoma County Pinot Noir

¼ cup canned chipotle chilies, pureed with their liquids (or more to taste)

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

½ teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons kosher salt (or a generous 1 tablespoon granulated salt)

 1) Using a deep pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, sauté the onion and garlic cloves in the butter and oil over low heat until partially caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes.

 2) Add the tomatoes and their juice, the wine, and the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered. Stir occasionally.

 3) Carefully puree the hot mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Simmer 30 minutes longer, or until thickened to your liking. Bottle the sauce or ladle into airtight containers. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.