Tag Archives: wine

Red Wine Sauce for Beef

This is a relatively simple wine sauce to accompany the less flavorful cuts of beef (things like filet mignon, though I served it with flat iron steak).  You could serve it with any type of beef that has been grilled, broiled, or roasted.  I got this particular recipe from the Food Network but I’ve made similar sauces before.  This recipe makes a LOT of sauce, enough to serve at least 6 people.

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • beef juices
  • salt & pepper to taste

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat in a deep skillet.  Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and oregano, mix, and cook for a minute. Mix in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Mix in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing the vegetables to extract all the juice. Discard the vegetables and return the sauce to the skillet.  Bring to a low simmer and add any juices that you may have from cooking the beef as well as the remaining 4 Tbsp. of butter.  Cook until the butter melts, season with salt and pepper and serve over beef.

Marga’s Best Recipes

The Vine Wine & Tapas Bar – San Leandro – Review

July 2011 Update

Mike and I had a quick “date night” a couple of weeks ago.  We had an hour sans kids before a meeting, and while we would have usually headed to Boulevard Burger (my favorite cheap place in town), I wanted something nicer – so we headed to The Vine instead, armed with a restaurant.com coupon.

We got there around 5 PM on a Tuesday, and the place was deserted, though people started coming soon enough and taking advantage of their outside seating during such a lovely day.  Service, needless to say, was very prompt and good.

We were both hungry so we decided to sample several items on the menu. Most of the stuff was good but not exceptional, and definitely overpriced at their non-discounted prices.

We started with their Parmesan Cheesecake ($5), which was basically a cheese log mix to be eaten on crackers.  It was very subtly flavored and, while not unpleasant, not particularly compelling, I wouldn’t order it again.  The meatballs ($6) were more flavorful, but I found them rather dry and a bit overseasoned. Again, not something I’d bother with again.  The Gorgonzola crusted filet mignon ($13) was better, though the meat is prepared medium which means the beef is nowhere as juicy as it should be. It was very tender and it had a pleasant flavor, though it didn’t taste very blue cheesy.  It was a pretty small portion given the price, but I might order it again.  The patatas bravas ($6 regularly – but $3 during Happy Hour) were nicely seasoned and steaming hot, and I enjoyed them more than most of the other dishes.  The real winner, however, was the Point Reyes Blue cheese platter ($7). It came with a nice portion of absolutely delicious, creamy cheese, bread slices, dried fruit and caramelized walnuts. The whole combination was great.  I’ll definitely order this again.

For dessert, Mike and I shared the chocolate lava cake ($6), which again was pretty tasty but not extraordinary. I might have it again, but would try something else first.

We had some complimentary rose wine with dinner (“like” The Vine on Facebook for occasional promotions), which was just sweet enough and very refreshing.

In all, it was a very nice meal. We paid about $35 total, including tax, tip & the restaurant.com coupon price which was a good deal, but regular prices are too high.

December 2010

I’ve been to The Vine several times in the last few months. I find it a nice place to have something light to eat and a reasonably priced glass of wine. Their tapas menu has expanded somewhat and they now serve desserts (which we haven’t tried). Most of the tapas I’ve tried are good to very good. I particularly enjoyed the croquettes ($7) and the Spanish omelet ($5). However, my half-Spanish friend Paz wasn’t as complimentary. Their wines, though, are almost universally good. They seem to no longer be open on Sundays, by the way.

August 2010 update

Well, I finally went to The Vine with a few friends a couple of nights ago and we had a very nice experience. The Vine has a limited selection of wines – two sparkling wines and no more than ten white and red wines – but what we had was good. I had a glass of the Cava and a glass of the Malbec. The Cava was light and bubbly, not too dry and easy to drink – I quite enjoyed it. The Malbec was very nice balanced, substantial without being tanic, a very good all around red.

A couple of my friends had the French something or other, it tasted like a cab and was deep and earthy. Also very enjoyable, though better with food, I’d think.

We only had a couple of their few tapas. The garbanzos were an all around favorite, I enjoyed them even though I’m not a garbanzo person. I thought the patatas bravas were fine, they basically were large chunks of country style potatoes served with a tomato-based sauce and a light creamy sauce. Other people were less impressed

The room is very nice, quite sophisticated for San Leandro. Service was attentive and the waitress told us that they will be expanding their menu (and hopefully serving desserts) and may expand their hours as well.

The Vine Wine & Tapas
135 Parrott St
San Leandro, CA
(510) 969-7477


Tu – Sa 4-10 PM
Su 11 AM – 6 PM

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

July 20th, 2010 blog post
The Vine, the new venture from the owner of The Englander, has finally opened. This cute spot is located next to The Englander (they displaced an old-time hair salon to do this, which is not very nice at all), but it’s quite a bit classier. I stopped by to take a look, but I haven’t eaten there yet. I’ll report when I do.

For now I can tell you that they offer a variety of wines by the shot (2 oz, about $4), glass (around $7) or bottle (in the 20’s) as well as beers. To eat they have pizzas ($5), a couple of cooked tapas (such as Spanish tortilla, $5) and simple things such as cheeses, cold meats and olives. Clearly they are focusing on the wine, not the food. No desserts, as far as I can see, which is a bummer as it’d be nice to have a place for dessert in San Leandro
They have limited hours, they’re open 4 – 10 PM Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM – which is a further bummer as I like having places to go late. But it’s definitely a good addition to the San Leandro culinary “scene” .

The Vine Wine & Tapas
135 Parrott St
San Leandro, CA
(510) 969-7477
Tu – Sa 4-10 PM

Wine tasting in Paso Robles

It’s amazing to me how many wine-growing regions there are in California, and in particular, how many I have not visited in the 25+ years I’ve lived in this state. While I know I’ll never be able to visit even a fraction of all the wineries around, I would like to hit the major wine areas, however. So, after our last trip down to the LA area, I asked Mike to take 101 on the way back north and stop at Paso Robles for some wine tasting. I decided on trying the wineries on highway 46E because several of them were free, and they were conveniently located off the Freeway. I would love to try the wineries west of Paso Robles some other time.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the area of Paso Robles we visited. It wasn’t particularly scenic, the wineries were not that pretty or interesting and the wines were mediocre at best. This was a particular disappointment after the unexpectedly good wine tasting trip I had to Amador County. I was hoping that my negative preconceptions about Paso Robles’ wine would have been similarly quashed.

EOS wineryThe first winery I visited was EOS. The tasting room was located in a small Mediterranean style villa, with a very Southern California look, and included a very large shopping area. They offer a flight of 4 regular wines for free, or estate tastings for $10. I decided to go for the free wines.
eos2.jpgI had their 2005 Novella Uno da Tavola ($20), their 2004 EOS Zinfandel ($18), their 2005 EOS Cabernet Sauvignong ($18 or $108 for a case), their 2005 Petite Sirah ($18) and their 2007 EOS Late Harvest Moscato ($22). In general I found the wines to be table quality. They appeared young and unsophisticated, lacking subtleties. None of them had even hints of oak (and I’m definitely an oak person). The Moscato was one of the lightest wines I’ve had. In all, I wasn’t happy with the wines and wouldn’t buy them even at half their price.
EOS sells their wines through supermarkets and BevMo – some are also available at Costco and CostPlus.

chumeia wineryOur second winery was Chumeia Vineyards – a relatively new and small family winery (you can see the owners’ home up in the hill) offering tastes from their steel-barrel room. Even so, it was pretty crowded and the lone attendant had to deal with 9 wine tasters on her own (and did an amazing job of keeping everybody content). Tastings are complimentary.
The owner is a winemaker but has a sister winery in Argentina (which made me eager to like them). Indeed, their not-quite dessertish Silver Nectar wine ($10) is made in Argentina (thus the cheap price). Steel, we found the wine too sweet for a regular white wine and not sweet enough for dessert, and saw little reason to like it.
That, unfortunately, was the case with the other wines as well. We almost spat out their 2006 Barbera ($35). It smelled and tasted like a fortified wine (and I’m not fond of spirits myself) and was somewhat piquant. I truly, truly disliked it – but the people next to me loved it and bought a bottle. According to the attendant, it goes well with tomato dishes.
I also tasted their 2006 Zinfandel ($14), the 2005 Estate Cab ($30), their 2006 Viognier ($16) and 2006 Chardonnay ($12). Once again I found the wines to have young, bold flavors, but not much in the way of finishes. They weren’t for me. One of the big problems may have been, however, that all the wines were served much warmer than they should have. It was a warm day, so it’s understandable, but I think I would have enjoyed them more a few degrees colder.

lauras.jpgAs of today Laura’s Vinyard is no more. We visited it in its last day of existence, tomorrow the tasting room will re-open as Derby’s. The wines will be different and you won’t be able to taste any of what we had. That may not be a bad thing, as while we found most of the wines satisfying and easy enough to drink, none of them was particularly interesting or delicious. We’d drink them, but not seek them out.
We tasted their 2005 Chardonnay ($18), their 2006 Rosado de Syrah ($14), their 2002 Merlot ($18), their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20), Their 2005 Laura’s Vineyard Cabernet ($26), their 2005 Petit Sirah ($22) and their 2003 Cabernet Franc ($24). Their white and rose could have used more fruit and more sweetness, their cabs, more oak (of course). None justified their high price. We wouldn’t buy them.
lauras2.jpgThe small tasting room is located in a double-wide mobile home and lacks charm. They do sell a few products, mostly t-shirts and oils, which seem to be popular with women named Laura and their friends and relatives :-). The attendant was quite knowledgeable and charismatic, and she will continue working there under their new name. Tasting was $5, you get to keep the glass.

eberle wineryWe moved on to Eberle Winery, which has a nice picnic area with a view of rolling vineyards. They also feature a bronze statue of a boar (eberle means small wild boar) spouting water, which kids may enjoy. Inside, there is a large tasting room with a large shopping area – which Mike browsed as I wine tasted yet again. Tasting here is complementary.
I was happier all in all with the wines here – I’m not sure if this is because they seemed more balanced, more commercial or because I was tipsier by then. I’ve noticed that the more I drink, the more I buy.
I found a couple of their wines – the 2005 Cotes du Robles ($20) and their 2005 Zinfandel – too blunt for my taste, but the 2007 Estate Chardonnay ($18) was refreshing and would go well with chocolate. I almost bought a bottle for their NV Full Board Red ($15), available only a the winery, which was a nice, balanced, quiet table wine. Instead we went with the 2007 Muscat ($14), which we found fresh, not overly sweet and light. I think it’d be a good dessert wine for a summer day, and could even go well with appetizers. Let’s see if we actually drink it (we’re very bad about drinking sweet wines).

firestone wineryI was determined to visit five wineries on this trip – after all, taking 101 made our trip much longer and I wanted to make it be worth it – and I still had one to go to. Firestone has some vague (or not so vague) relationship with the tire maker and apparently with one of the “stars” of the TV series “The Bachelor“. It also has a pretty nice tasting room. Tastings are $5 for 6 wines and you get to keep the glass.
Once again, I thought the wines here were nice. Not nice enough to buy, but perfectly adequate for drinking.

So that was it for my brief sojourn to Paso Robles. After all that wine I fell asleep in the car 🙂