Protea a ‘Great Red Under $20′

newsdayVeteran Newsday wine writer Peter M. Gianotti focuses his palate this week on great reds “at prices within the realm of reality” – under $20. Lo and behold, one of his finds is the protea Red blend. Here’s his review:

From South Africa comes the 2012 protea Red ($18), a juicy, husky blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that makes no demands and delivers plenty of flavor. You’ll enjoy the decorative design on the bottle, too. Try the protea with burgers, flank steak or milder chili.

You can see the entire article online here, and learn more about how we put together the protea Red blend here.

Chef Shares Amazing (and Easy) Spicy Steak Rub

For some beef cuts – like flank or hanger steaks – marinades can be the perfect way to tenderize the tough meat while also adding some great flavor accents. But what to do with a tender, juicy filet or thick ribeye? That’s where dry rubs come in, and we’ve got a killer recipe to share with you.

This Spicy Steak Rub recipe comes from Chef Colin Crowley, who has cooked for an endless list of wine luminaries in his position as Executive Chef at Terlato Wines International. The beauty of the rub is that you get big flavor with a minimum of effort. (Bonus benefit: It pairs beautifully with the protea Red.)

colin

Beyond the meat – any tender cut will do, and you could also use this rub with pork or chicken – here are all the ingredients you’ll need:

1 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon each:
• fennel seed
• cumin seed
• coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/4 teaspoon each:
• garlic powder
• onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

The easiest way to make your rub is to throw all these ingredients into a spice grinder – in other words, a blade coffee grinder. A mortar and pestle can also do the job, with the help of a little elbow grease.

Grind or work the ingredients to a powder, rub it on both sides of your steaks, and then stash the steaks in the fridge. You want to give the rub a minimum of an hour on the meat – but no more than two hours – before cooking. Plenty of time to get your sides in order.

Cook the steaks over hot coals or on a gas grill, or throw them on a very hot cast iron skillet. You know how you like your steak; our preferences is for medium rare, so we get if off the grill or pan before the interior temperature hits 130 degrees. No thermometer? Try the finger method.

What makes the protea Red a good match for this steak? It’s a best-of-both-worlds thing: The Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend gives you intensity and depth that a grilled piece of beef demands; but with a healthy does of bright and supple Merlot, the wine more than accommodates the spice and heat from the rub.

Bon appétit!

How to Cut a Wine Bottle in Mere Minutes

cutting glass cropped

OK. You read our earlier post and have successfully removed the back label from your protea bottle. And now the prospect of cutting the bottle to make a stylish glass or candle or herb planter has you quivering in fear.

Relax. We come bearing guidance.

It’s not a perfect process (for that, you’ll need one of these), and it takes some practice, but after scouring the Internet and testing methods, we’ve arrived at An Inexpensive Technique that Consistently Delivers Well-Cut Bottles.

To get started, beyond a protea bottle with its back label removed, you’ll need one Ephrem’s Original Bottle Cutter Kit, available on Amazon for 30 bucks or less. From there, the process unfolds like this:

1. Set a pot of water – enough to cover the length of the bottle, ideally – to boil, and fill a bowl or pitcher with ice water. You’ll need these things in later steps.

2. Place the bottle horizontally on the cutter with the bottom of the bottle up against the cutter’s “backstop” and the top of the bottle closest to the small gold cutter.

glass cutting 3_smaller3. With one hand, apply moderate downward pressure on the bottle. With the other hand, turn the bottle toward you.

3. Complete one or two revolutions around the entire bottle’s circumference. Note that the cutter will only score the bottle – the indent will not be very deep. It just marks where the break will happen.

glass cutting 4_smaller

4. Submerge the bottle in the boiling water, making sure the scored part of the bottle is covered. Spin the bottle in the water a few times.

glass cutting 5_smaller

5. Remove the bottle from the boiling water, place it in a sink, and pour the ice water over it. Sometimes the bottle will separate during this step, but we found the bottle was more likely to separate by going hot-cold-hot.

6. So if you’re bottle remains intact, do another dunk in the boiling water. This should do the trick.

7. Allow the bottle to cool, then use progressively finer sandpaper to smooth the cut edges.

glass cutting 6_smaller

If you poke around the Web, you’ll find other ways to skin this cat, such as using a candle to heat the bottle along the score, and rubbing ice on the bottle to cool it. But the process described above is what worked best for us. It took about a half hour on our first try, but after that, we were cutting bottles in five minutes.

From the Vineyard: Sneak Peak at the 2014 protea Chenin Blanc

This past harvest, protea was thrilled to welcome Mark van Buuren to the winemaking team led by Dawie Botha. Mark is a veteran South Africa winemaker who also has experience in Australia. In this video, Mark takes you to the breathtakingly beautiful Western Cape vineyards where our Chenin Blanc grows alongside stunning protea flowers, and shares his approach to making a wine that emphasizes “a lovely elegance of fruit,” with “pear, citrus and honeysuckle characters.” The wine will be available in the new year.

Making the Perfect Wine Gift Even Better

protea_whiteIt’s a classic gift: a bottle of wine. For the host or hostess of a dinner party, or the couple who just moved into a new house, or in honor of a colleague’s or client’s corporate success, you can’t lose with a good bottle of vino.

No argument there.

But maybe it can use a little spicing up?

That’s our thinking with the new protea Gift Cards.

These cards recreate protea’s dazzling designs, and their letterpress printing shows the same attention to detail as the unique, environmentally friendly process we use to “paint” our bottles.

Of course, what really makes the gift sing is the bottle the card is attached to. Whereas your pedestrian bottle of wine will need some kind of wrapping to dress it up, the protea bottle makes a statement au natural.

And the protea Gift Cards have space on the back for you to personalize your gift.

These cards are free with every bottle of protea at participating accounts. If you don’t see the cards at your local retailer, don’t be shy – ask! We want everyone to be able to give the gift of protea wine.