No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Celler El Masroig – Sycar Red Montsant (2004)   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday (though it could be Tuesday or Thursday) 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 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.  

Celler El Masroig Montsant Sycar (2004)Celler El Masroig – Sycar Red Montsant 2004 ($13.50).   As I was perusing the racks at one of my local suppliers the other day, this one caught my attention.  Not because it had great reviews.  It had none, other than some generic tasting notes from the wine merchant’s staff.  But, Montsant is a favorite appellation of mine and at $13.50 from a 7-year-old vintage, it was hard to pass up.  According to Espavino, the 2004 vintage in Montsant is considered an excellent vintage– though I did not know that at the time.  This wine, like most wines from this part of the world is a blend, in this case, Syrah 50%/Carignan 50%.  Thanks to the syrah in the blend, this starts off with earthy notes leading to brooding black fruit blending with a hint of chocolate and a tempting ripeness and jamminess.  If that were all, the wine would be just OK.  But the carignan steps in to  deliver a punch of acidity and brightness that conspired with a peppery finish offset by sweet tannins.  This is a wine of its place at a good price.   Rated ** 1/2

Growing up, I remember the flour-coated deep-fried eggplant disks that were among my favorites.  As soon as they were out of the pan, I would generously salt them and revel in their crunchy exterior and their hot fleshy interior.  These days, I try to stay away from deep-fried anything.  But I still love eggplant.

A tip on cooking eggplant.  Make sure to sweat out any bitterness it may have by salting the chopped eggplant for about 30 minutes before cooking and ensuring that any liquid released is properly drained.  Also, once this dish is fully cooked, the eggplant will start to break down, so any stirring of this dish needs to be gentle so as not to mangle the eggplant.  

Sometimes oddest combinations jump out at you when need to make dinner with whatever happens to be in the fridge.  It’s kind of like going to a college mixer and checking out who is hooking up with whom.   Hello, fennel and red bell pepper!  This is all good stuff and it made a hearty sauce with the whole wheat penne I had on hand.  The eggplant took on the role that meat usually does and the other ingredients purred along like back up singers at a Bob Dylan show. 

Penne with Eggplant Refrigerator Sauce


  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 fennel bulb cut in half, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper chopped into medium-sized bits
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsps chopped fresh parsley


  1. Heat up a large frying pan and saute the garlic till it becomes aromatic, but does not brown
  2. Add the eggplant cubes, fennel, red pepper and artichoke hearts, and crushed red pepper.  Season with salt.  Once the eggplant is cooked but still firm, add the tomato sauce and the red wine vinegar.  These can be combined ahead of time in a measuring cup.  Bring to light boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  3. While the sauce is simmering cook your pasta in salted water (whole wheat penne works well with this sauce).
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce.
  5. Mix pasta with the sauce and add the pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce up.

Serves 4

© Sybarite Sauvage

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Posted September 21, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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