No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Venta Morales 2007   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday I will write-up a wine that I feel delivers good value for drinking in the middle of the week.  Aside from quality, my only other criteria is price.  To start, less than $15, but ideally less than $10, for a 750 ml bottle. 

I will also add any recipes that I paired with the wine.  I hope to leave you with a recipe that you can use to match up with a wine of your choice if you can’t locate the one I recommend.

No-Guilt Wednesday is not about compromising on quality.  It’s about all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank, eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.  

"Excuse me, do you know the way back to the Alhambra Hotel?"

Venta Morales 2007 ($8).  From La Mancha, Spain, a 100% tempranillo.  A savory note on the nose which carried over to the palate where is mutated into ripe black plum flavors, finishing with initially drying tannins that softened as the wine opened up.   Having said that, the wine lacked any real complexity and it was not the most balanced wine I have ever had.  Still, in this price range, that’s OK, though better values abound.  Rated *1/2

Tonight got me to thinking about Spain again.   I was last there at the end of October, 1985.  My new bride and I were in Granada on our honeymoon.  Following a tip from the Let’s Go Spain guidebook, we ended up in this little outdoor cafe in the hills that rise above the Alhambra.  To get there, we took a 10 minute cab ride.  My spanish is decent enough that we were able to order a pitcher of beer and a fish dish.  While waiting for the food to arrive, we were admiring the view of what appeared to be a castle on top of a nearby escarpment which was bathed in the light of a full moon.  We could have been in Romania.  The fish arrived– in a basket and deep-fried.  Not exactly what I thought we were going to get.  But too hungry to complain and too “not from there” to send it back.  We dug into the basket.  Best part was the little baby eels that had been turned into deep-fried “rings” by stuffing the tails into their mouths.  These were truly delicious and the meat was delicate and sweet.  Not the kind of thing I would make at home, but a great culinary memory.  After the meal, close to midnight, we decided to return to the hotel.  Of course, there wasn’t a cab in sight.  Thus, we decided to– correction– we had no choice but to walk back.  Anyway, we had bellies filled with beer and fried fish and the glow of the full moon to help light our way.  Making our way down from that little neighborhood, through the ancient, secluded and deserted maze of streets, we began to wonder if we would make it back.  All we knew was that we had to travel downhill to get back to the hotel.  Being young, stupid and clueless, we also had no map.  As we were passing one of the many narrow side streets we crossed paths with this dude dressed in classic Bela Lugosi style peering at us from one of the dark narrow side streets.  I don’t want to say he scared us, but he definitely startled us.  El Español Dracula fixed his freakishly bulbous eyes on us as we passed.  he did not utter a single word.  There was no one else on that side street with him which made the situation all the more weird and uncomfortable.  Just after that moment, I realized that it was Halloween and that the next day would be All Saints Day–  not a big deal here in the U.S. but a more significant holiday in Christian Spain.  So I thought to myself, “This dude could be trouble.”  Or maybe this was the Spanish version of “Trick or Treat” and this was part of his Halloween pranksterism.  Or maybe, just maybe, he was the real deal who had descended from that castle on the tor.  We didn’t linger over these philosophical-cultural questions.  And I sure didn’t want to have a cameo appearance in the horror film running inside his head.  Let’s just say that our pace quickened and we kept looking behind us as we beat it back to the hotel. 

What does this story have to do with this Wednesday’s meal?  Probably nothing and perhaps everything.  Here is a riff on paella.  Only no rice this time.   The Bulgur Wheat Pilaf is an easy and quick thing to make once the Bulgur has been softened in boiled water.  And because of its nutty and more bland character, I find that it makes a perfect counterpoint to the Chicken Braised in a Bewitching Saffron Infused Broth.     


Pollo Azafran Brujo with Bulgur Wheat Pilaf


For the Chicken

  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 5-6 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 4 Chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 small 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 White Onion diced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper diced

For the Bulgur Wheat

  • 2 cups Whole Grain Bulgur Wheat
  • 6 Cups Boiling Water
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 cup of frozen petite peas
  • 3 Tbsp. Peanut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter


  1. Start to prepare the Bulgur Wheat Pilaf by pouring boiling water over the Bulgur Wheat in a heat proof bowl.  Set aside to let Bulgur Wheat absorb the liquid and soften.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper
  3. Heat up a pan and add EVOO.  Brown the chicken in small batches so as not to crowd the pan with too much of the chicken at one time.
  4. While the chicken is browning, place the chicken stock in a pan with the saffron and bring to a boil.  Add the tomato sauce. and turn down heat to a simmer.
  5. Once all the chicken is browned, remove to a platter and add the diced pepper and onion and cook till onion is softened.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan, add the simmering stock to cover the chicken and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 45 minutes or until chicken easily pulls off the bone.  Turn off heat and set aside covered.
  8. Drain the Bulgur Wheat in a colander or strainer
  9. In a clean pan, saute the garlic in the Peanut Oil until aromatic, but not but burned/browned.
  10. Add the Red Onion and Petite Peas and saute over medium heat until the onion is softened.
  11. Add the Drained Bulgur Wheat and the Unsalted Butter and fold the ingredients together
  12. Plate the Bulgur Wheat Pilaf and serve chicken over top.  Make sure to spoon the saffron broth over both.

Serves 4

But just like Bela Lugosi in Return of the Vampire, this meal also has a second act.  If you end up with more of the broth than you need, like I did, you can bring it to a boil on the stove top one night and toss in some seasoned uncooked prawns for about 3 minutes and serve with some warm garlic bread that can be used to soak up the broth.  This will definitely be a better sequel than Return of the Vampire!

Sybarite Sauvage ©


Posted June 30, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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