Hollywood has a way of making lasting impressions; having never traveled to California wine country, I’ll admit that visions of Falcon Crest (for those of you old enough to remember the show) painted a picture that wine was only for certain people – the uppercrust.
The movie ‘Sideways’ left a different perspective, but still one of exclusion rather than inclusion. One of the memorable lines from the movie was, ‘No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f-ing Merlot!’
Well folks – I’m drinking Merlot – and it’s really good! If you watch the video below, you’ll hear winemaker James Foster talk about the flipflop wine philosophy. Wine does not need to be serious and pretentious. It can be fun, affordable and taste great – every time!
Pair a merlot with some blue cheese sliders, some mac-n-cheese or a batch of chili you threw together. And you know what? It still tastes really good.
Our visit to Livermore, California was incredibly beautiful and really did look like a scene from Falcon Crest (only in Hi-Def). But the icing on the cake is that the people representing the flipflop brand are some of the friendliest, most laid back and dedicated people who love what they do – make really good wines – affordably and consistently. And I got a little verklempt when I heard about flipflop’s unprecedented partnership with Soles4Souls.
Moved to do something following the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004, founder and CEO of Soles4Souls, Wayne Elsey, watched the news as a single shoe washed up onto the shore and had an idea. He contacted a few executives in the footwear industry and a short time later, one-quarter of a million shoes had been donated to the victims in those devastated countries. The same happened when Hurricane Katrina came roaring to shore in 2005 and now the non-profit is helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Soles4Souls has partnered with flipflop wines who dedicates a portion of the sale of each bottle of wine to benefit the International shoe charity. ‘The flipflop team has taken the mission of Soles4Souls to heart and we are very proud to partner with them to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people,’ said Wayne.
Several years ago, The Professor and I enjoyed a memorable meal that paired grilled salmon and a berry sauce – we recreated that dish at home using the flipflop Merlot and some summer berries I stashed away in the freezer – a perfect meal that comes together relatively quickly, is healthy and still tastes decadent ~
CEDAR SALMON WITH BERRY SAUCE
- 2 food-grade cedar planks (available at kitchen-supply stores)
- vegetable oil for coating the fillets and planks
- 4 salmon fillets (approx 5oz. each)
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup Berry Sauce (recipe follows)
- Preheat grill for at least 15 minutes.
- Brush both sides of the cedar plank with vegetable oil and use a small amount to moisten salmon fillets. Season fillets with salt and pepper.
- Place salmon on planks and arrange planks on highest grill rack. Adjust heat to medium.
- Roast salmon for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until salmon is just pink in the middle.
- Serve with the Berry Sauce.
FOR THE BERRY SAUCE
- 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup flipflop merlot, simmered and reduced to ½ cup
- 1/4 cup raspberry blush vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into cubes
- Place the berries and water in a saucepan. Simmer on low heat until the berries are cooked down, about 10 minutes.
- In medium saucepan, reduce 1 cup merlot by half; add raspberry blush vinegar, shallots and cream into another saucepan. Reduce the mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the thickness of corn syrup.
- Add cooked berries to wine mixture, stir to combine; strain sauce and discard solids.
- Remove sauce from heat and whisk in butter cubes, one at a time, until all are incorporated. Serve over salmon.