I’m hit or miss when it comes to vinaigrettes. Making a good one only requires technique (Michael Ruhlman’s ratio comes into play here) and quality ingredients. But even when armed with both, I can still screw it up. The best vinaigrette I’ve encountered so far comes courtesy of food writer Jeff Allen, who sends his wife out to the yard to pick fresh greens and then dresses them in the most delicious mustardy vinaigrette ever. They don’t even put a tomato or a cucumber in the salad. It’s just lettuce and vinaigrette, yet I find it most delicious.

Speaking of vinaigrette, Hank’s Chef de Cuisine Tim Richardson won a contest with a recipe he created using Los Osos Merlot. I might see about making it, but someone needs to send me a bottle of that merlot first.

J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot Balsamic & Shallot Vinaigrette
* 1 large onion, rough chopped
* 1 bunch thyme
* 15 garlic cloves
* 1 oz. canola oil
* 2 large tomatoes, chopped
* 2 qts J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot
* 1 qt balsamic vinegar
* 1 Tbsp chicken base
* 1/2 qt finely chopped shallots
* 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
* salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, thyme and garlic in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, red wine, balsamic vinegar and chicken base. Simmer and reduce to 1 quart. Strain through a fine colander and cool to room temperature. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper to taste, and finally add the extra virgin olive oil.