Comfort Food (and some wine)

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It’s cold outside and I am pretty sure we are all quite over the Christmas excesses.

Early morning starts in the cold and dark leave us feeling somewhat low and maybe melancholy.

Food is a great comforter at this time of year, something to warm us up, to make us feel content despite the short days and lack of sunshine.

Deep winter brings out the red wine drinker in me. All that deep fruit flavour and rich texture, in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace …

Yet, as we all know, comfort food and good wine easily leads to excess calories – the opposite of what most of us are trying to achieve in January.

The good news is there are low-calorie, comforting and warming options out there.

French beef stew, for one. Just the name itself conjures up an image of that fire in the fireplace on cold winter nights along with fluffy slippers and bulky sweaters.

French beef stew is simpler than it sounds. Essentially it’s a beef stew using red wine as its liquid.

My love of stew has very little to do with beef. I believe it’s all about the gravy or sauce, whatever you like to call it. I confess, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s all about the red wine in the sauce.

Sometimes I make it with beef and sometimes a vegetarian version. Surprisingly the vegetarian version is just as good, which reinforces my belief that French stew is all about the wine.

So compromise. Use more vegetables and less beef in a French stew. Beef is still the calorie culprit in this stew.Increasing the vegetables reduces the calories but still highlights the comfort food aspects of the stew.

The wine you choose to cook in should have earthy flavours alongside deep fruit to support the winter vegetables. Fortunately, we live in an area where the Marechal Foch grape thrives, just the ticket to drink and cook a stew with.

At Lucky’s Liquor we stock some great examples of Island-grown Marechal Foch wine. Two particular Cowichan Valley wines are quite perfect to cook with and to drink while cooking.

Alderlea Vineyards’Clarinet comes from its hand-tended vineyard of old Marechal Foch vines. The Alderlea Clarinet is a rich-bodied wine loaded with concentrated aromas and flavours of ripe blackberry, fig,cherry and plum.Juicy with soft tannins, the subtle smoke and pepper bouquet lends itself well to earthy vegetables.

At Emandare Vineyards, 16-year-old Marechal Foch vines are organically dry farmed and blended with Cabernet Foch to produce a lovely fruit forward wine. Bold and juicy, this blend boasts a complex bouquet of black cherry, currant and earthy herbs. Wild yeast and aging in French Oak barrels contribute subtle smoky cocoa aromas – perfect with beef stew.

As I write, my taste buds are going into overdrive. This weekend I shall make a batch of French beef stew using my mom’s recipe, with maybe more veggies and a little less beef. I’ll grab a bottle of local Marechal Foch, half for the stew and half for my wine glass.

In front of the fire, with my stew and Marechal Foch wine, my slippers and favourite bulky sweater, no winter blues will dare come close!!!


  1. If you are feeling down then I will suggest you get a good bottle of red wine and just relax. There is nothing better than a big glass of red wine to take away all of your worries.

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