The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2010

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Page 102 of 112

WHO’S DOING WHAT Write at Home IN THE KITCHEN WITH CHRIS HANNA, WINEMAKER AND COOKBOOK AUTHOR by Deborah Parker Wong / photos by Liza Gershman T he pleasures of cooking, pairing wine and entertaining converge effortlessly in The Winemaker Cooks (Chronicle Books, $35), a gorgeous volume by winemaker Christine Hanna that is both func- tional and inspiring in its approach to meals based on wine and seasonal Sonoma ingredients. Hanna, who is President of Hanna Winery & Vineyards and a mother of two, conveys her love of entertaining and her recipes with clarity and authenticity. “There’s a rhythm to rural life and to winemak- ing; together they form a wine country style of entertaining that you can enjoy regardless of where you live.” Inspired by Hanna’s success in teaching wine lovers how to entertain with confi dence using reci- pes from her personal repertoire, recipes in The Pan-seared fi ve-spice duck breast with balsamic jus is paired with Hanna Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. “There’s a balancing act that’s achieved when you use restraint in making wine and in composing a dish. By using wine as the basis for the sauce, you’re connecting the fl avors on the plate with the fl avors in the glass.” Winemaker Cooks are grouped by season, in menus that cover a range of occasions. Many include the Mediterranean fl avors of her Syrian heritage, in a fi tting culinary tribute to her father Elias, who founded Hanna in 1985. “Mediterranean ingredients like lentils and cardamom have an earthy quality that Author and winemaker Chris Hanna and THE TASTING PANEL’s Deborah Parker Wong explore wine and food pairings from the pages of Hanna’s new book, The Winemaker Cooks. connects the fl avors in the food to the wine,” she says. Hanna’s recipes are concise; they typically list fewer than ten ingredients and draw upon what is at hand—fresh eggs from her Americana chickens, honey from her hives and luscious fi gs from her trees—giving the reader a true-to-life impression of rural Sonoma. She weaves suggested wine pair- ings and answers to basic questions about wine seamlessly into each recipe. As a winemaker and vintner, Hanna’s hands-on style applies as much to her wine- making as to her cuisine. She has collaborated with winemaker Jeff Hinchliffe since 1998 in making a large portfolio of wines that range from $20 to $65 SRP, prices that are in keeping with their philosophy and represent value for consumers. Well known for her Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a signature varietal for the brand, Hanna has made huge strides in the quality of her Alexander Valley estate red wines. “We’ve achieved a quality leap with our Cabernet Sauvignon by replanting with new clones, farming to reduce herbal characters and, with our 2007 vintage, blending with small amounts of estate Malbec to achieve a blacker fruit profi le.” Just as Sonoma’s vibrant polyculture inspires Hanna’s cuisine, her wine country style has inspired a new series of wine and food events at the winery, including a winemaker dinner with Mill Valley bookshop Book Passage, whose clientele is eager to experience the magic of her book fi rsthand. 102 / the tasting panel / september 2010

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