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An unexpected wine tasting, carbon neutral wine and butternut squash risotto

December 14, 2010

A delightful and easy, summery dish, which I had planned to make for my very most awesome foodie friend – Hazel. Creamy risotto will always go well with a nice, buttery chardonnay, so en route to buy dinner supplies we stopped at “wine concepts” our fantastic, local wine shop off Kildare Road, Newlands. We were overjoyed to see the chalkboard outside advertising wine tasting from Vrede en Lust. I have been to a wine tasting at wine concepts before – so I think it’s a fairly regular occurrence, but anyway, it was a nice surprise. The representative guided us through the 3 wines they had to taste – a beautiful, pinotage and shiraz blend rose – “Jess”, a very pleasant Sauvignon blanc and the star of the show – their almost Bordeaux blend – “Boet Erasmus” which recently won several awards. Each wine was paired with a little nibble of something nice: strawberries with the rose, snoek pate with the sauv blanc and rich, dark chocolate with the Boet Erasmus. We also tried their viogner – a wine type which I have never tried, but really enjoyed. I am told that the grapes used are the same as the grapes used to make champagne – but champagne is a regionally designated product so even if you make “champagne” with these grapes, you cannot call it champagne. I quite like the idea of these regionally distinct products though, Plus I get the impression that calling something champagne automatically makes it more expensive, but not necessarily any less good. Anyway I digress, but the result of this little detour, the nice man and the fabulous wines was that we bought a bottle of the rose for dinner (and also a bottle of the Boet Erasmus each for ourselves!).
So onwards to pick n pay – where were once again side tracked by wine! This time by a big bucket of bottles for only R39.99! We picked a bottle up only to find out that its made of plastic!? Very odd, but upon reading the back we discovered this was just another effort of Backberg wine farm to become carbon neutral. Now, whether I believe this whole “carbon neutral” thing works, or whether its just another fad and excuse for rich folk to carry on their activities, I was still impressed to see environmental thoughts and practices reaching into the industry! I also like the idea of plastic bottles, because I’m really clumsy and who really wants to break a bottle of wine they were waiting to enjoy! So we grabbed a bottle of their sauvignon blanc and merlot too!
After arriving home in a giddy fit of wine influenced joy, this is what we had for dinner!

Roast butternut squash risotto
Serves 4.

1 small-medium sized butternut squash
Arborio risotto rice – enough for 4, depends how hungry you are, the packet usually has a fair guide to portion size.
Large glass of white wine
Jug of stock – I make it up in 500ml batches, if I need more, I make a little more.
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
Balsamic reduction


Chop the butternut squash into sizeable cubes and toss in olive oil, season and roast in a medium-high oven.
After the squash has been in the over for around 15 minutes, start the risotto.
Dice the onions and garlic and fry lightly in a little olive oil.
Add the rice and coat in oil.
Add wine and stir until liquid is nearly absorbed.
Add stock gradually and stirring until rice has absorbed enough liquid to make it tender but with a slight bite left to it.
To serve: Place the rissotto in a pasta bowl, top with the roast squash chunks, place a handful of rocket on top and sprinkle parmesan shavings over the top. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction (I recommend the Ricketty Bridge – Smoked white balsamic) and serve with a nice Sauvignon Blanc or even the rose previously mentioned.


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