Some of you may know that I am participating in the Finger Lakes Riesling camp this spring. Wine Camp, doesn’t that sound fun? Wish it could have been in person, but this camp has gone virtual and me and my fellow campers signed on yesterday to enjoy wines with the winemakers themselves giving us the scoop on their *wines. Loved hearing the story of the Finger Lakes, and tasting its history through the wines. I thought I would share my “tastes” with my readers so you all could have the experience as well.

First wine up was the driest, from the Dr. Konstantin Frank winery, a bottle named Eugenia. Meaghan Frank, Konstantin’s great granddaughter led us through the tasting – how awesome is that? Dr Frank is called the father of Finger Lakes wine, at age 52 he was forced from his home in Ukraine and resettled in New York State. He was a winemaker before immigrating, and after seeing the terroir in the Finger Lakes, was convinced that quality wine could be produced in New York.

Eugenia is a special wine, named after Dr Frank’s wife Eugenia. (Especially now, when 10% of the proceeds from sales are donated to the local food pantry.) This wine is a member of the 4-bottle “Helm” series, made from very old vineyard sites and wines from highest quality barrels. All of the bottles are named for great women of the Frank family – because as the website says, “Behind every great man, there stands a GREAT WOMAN.” Do I hear an amen?

I found this wine to be super dry with a crisp acidity. Since we were tasting four wines, I poured each in a different glass so I could taste and compare. At the beginning of the tasting when I had just removed the bottles from the fridge, I found the Eugenia to be delicious but a little lean, (a wine word for thin in texture). (Note to self, remember the 20-minute rule? I didn’t follow it. The 20-minute rule says you take a bottle of white wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before you taste it so it’s the correct temperature.) After I revisited the glass and it was slightly warmer, it opened up and was much rounder and fuller in my mouth – simply delicious with flavors of tropical and stone fruit like peaches.

Of course, I can’t taste a wine without thinking about it with food. Since this Riesling is so fresh and bracing, I thought of my recipe for Cast Iron Salmon. So easy and so yummy, it’s a perfect way to cook up dinner for two (or 4 or 6 – Just double the recipe and use a larger skillet to serve more friends or family), quickly. And don’t we all want delicious, fast and easy for this time in our lives? I’m using ½ Cup riesling in this recipe – of course you can use the Eugenia! Or use a little less expensive wine like the Salmon Run Riesling from the Frank cellars, because it has good acidity, it will still be luscious. My recipe is below.

If you want to try the Eugenia Riesling with the Cast Iron Salmon, here is the website to order, right now they are offering free shipping on 6 or more bottles!

Cast Iron Salmon

  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Brussels Sprouts, quartered
  • 1 Cup Baby Gold Potatoes, quartered
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 1 TB Sweet Smoked Paprika, divided
  • ½  Tsp Each Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus more for sprinkling salmon
  • ½ Cup Riesling (or Stock)
  • 2 (4 to 6 oz) Skinless Salmon Filets

Step One Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the sprouts, potatoes, pepper and onions to the skillet and sprinkle with 2 Tsp of the paprika, salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium high heat until browned on the edges, or about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add in the wine. Place back on the heat and cook and stir until all the liquid is absorbed or about 3 minutes. (Be careful, the pan is hot.)

Step Two Scoot the vegetables aside in the pan and nestle your two salmon filets into the pan. They will sizzle! Sprinkle with the remaining Tsp of paprika and a little salt and pepper.

Step Three Slide the skillet into the preheated oven. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Your salmon will be cooked through, pink in the center, juicy and delicious. Bring your skillet to the table, and serve up dinner. (Just double the recipe and use a larger skillet to serve more friends or family.

*Full disclosure – the winemakers sent me their wines to taste. Lucky me!


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