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Perfect warm-weather pairings

Serve up the best while entertaining

Family Features | 4/18/2014, midnight
For your next al fresco gathering, complete the menu and satisfy guests by pairing a flavorful meal with wines to ...

Family Features

For your next al fresco gathering, complete the menu and satisfy guests by pairing a flavorful meal with wines to celebrate sunny days and warm evenings

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, choose fresh, vibrantly colored vegetables and a flavorful meat selection, such as tender lamb. Take your fare to the next level by uncorking one of the many delicious wines from Sterling Vineyards, all of which are perfect for celebrating warm evenings and special friends. Whether your event is an elegant Mother’s Day meal or a casual summer brunch, Sterling’s wide portfolio of wines at a range of prices ensures there’s something for everyone. Carneros Pinot Noir offers a dark red fruit profile and toasty oak complexity, making it the perfect wine to pair with lamb.

Sweet Endings

When it comes time to dish out the finale to your meal, pair those yummy desserts with a sweet and lightly-flavored wine, such as Butterfly Kiss Moscato. This well-balanced, sweet white wine is loaded with stone fruit and citrus flavors and tastes delicious after a hearty lamb dish.

For other delicious entertaining ideas, visit www.SterlingVineyards.com and www.TheWineBar.com

Pinot Noir-Braised Lamb Shanks with Porcini and Cannellini Beans

Yield: 4 servings

4.12- to 14-ounce lamb shanks

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 bottle Sterling Carneros Pinot Noir

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

10 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 can (14 ounces) cannellini beans, drained

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 servings of soft polenta

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Trim skin and tendons from lamb shanks. Season meat with salt and pepper.

Rinse porcini mushrooms and soak in 2 cups of wine.

Brown shanks in 1/4 cup oil in large Dutch oven or heavy, oven-proof pot over medium heat until browned on all sides. Transfer to plate.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pan, adding more oil if needed. Cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown, about five minutes. Add garlic, cooking and stirring for another 2 minutes.

Remove mushrooms from soaking liquid, squeeze, and chop into medium pieces. Add them to pot along with soaking wine, remaining wine, tomatoes, cannellini beans, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.

Return shanks to pot, cover, and transfer to oven until shanks are very tender and meat has shrunk back to expose an inch of bone, 2 to 2-1/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and season again to taste.

To serve, mound a serving of polenta on each plate, top with a lamb shank, smother with sauce from pan, and sprinkle with chopped parsley