The New Year brings new ambitions, or rather renewed longings for resolutions forgotten. Either way, with holiday festivities quickly fading and Old Man Winter slumping on your stoop, I picture you clutching your wallet, foregoing those desserts, dining at home, and passing on the wine. I must confess the first two weeks of January call for frugal routines, lean-mean exercise machines, and ultra-value sales at every retail venue imaginable. But when those initial two weeks leisurely pass and the temptations rise stealthily to the forefront of your mind, don’t deny yourself the pleasures of a healthy, satisfying diet and a reasonable entertainment budget. As the old adage goes, everything in moderation from fiscal fun, wines to splurge on, and bountiful dining habits homespun.
The trick to managing a healthy diet is consuming delicious wines (in moderation, of course) with heart-healthy, mouth-watering foods that don’t put a dent in your wallets. For instance, last night we went to deplete the pantry and fridge eliminating a trip from the store; after some thought, I whipped up some cauliflower mac-n-cheese with baked panko-breaded chicken breasts (recipes all sourced from the click of Google search). I uncorked a hearty little gem, Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel, that only set me back $10 (on-sale at Trader Joe’s!). Just the other night, we roasted a pork loin rubbed in whole-grain Dijon mustard, with some lemon juice sprits to liven it up (a recipe I plucked from Food and Wine magazine http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/alexandra-guarnaschellis-healthy-wine-pairings), and we paired it with Catena Malbec—another whopping delicious wine for $10 at your local grocer and around-the-corner wine shop! Just waiting for me in my basement is a $7 Chardonnay from Rex-Goliath that I can pair with asparagus and fettuccine tossed in a black-pepper chardonnay sauce.
You see, the beauty of eating healthy and taking that last bite right at the moment of being full (and not after two or three servings), is that you get to quaff down a wine that makes the meal ever-so-more fulfilling. Quenching the hunger cravings for sweets, heavy starch, and rich dishes proves challenging in this curl-up-beside-the-fire weather warming your toes. But resist the urge to fall victim to a case of the gimme gimmes. Mind control empowers everyone, and taking less from the wallet can only brighten your mood. Regularity and moderation in every habit you develop is the key to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eating fresh, eating less, more wholesome foods is a trend overtaking America. Drinking wine in moderation is now proven to increase longevity, reduce heart-attack risk, lower the risk of heart disease, and more. The point is, the time is right, the time is now—in a skeptical stock market with an election year ahead—to be fiscally responsible and eat right. Great wines for under $12 are out there! Seeking them out enhances the fun.
Due to the call for heart-healthy wines and the never-ending search for healthy food and wine pairings, I am launching a new tasting/eating series at Red, White & Bleu Gourmet Wine Shop in Falls Church this month, dubbed A Year in Wine. Every last Monday of the month, you can join a group of neighbors (all wine-lovers at heart) and learn how to eat and drink seasonally for a nominal fee of $25. We will present mouth-watering recipes that are friendly on your waist-line, easy to prepare in your home, and sourced from local, in-season ingredients. The wines to pair will be pocket or purse friendly (whatever your gender), and most importantly, boasting body and flavor profile appropriate to the weather and current month! This is a new form of book club, inspired by Dr. Vino’s A Year in Wine. Come learn how to make your homespun experience all the more heart healthy and fun!