Fruit Salad with Balsamic and Red Wine Reduction

Serves 12


3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Pedroncelli Merlot or Sangiovese
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
3 cloves
1 tablespoon grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise (about 4 cups)
3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed in 1-inch squares
9 ounces large seedless red or black grapes, each grape halved pole to pole (about 2 cups)


Simmer vinegar, wine, sugar, and salt in small, heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over high heat until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in cloves, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla; steep 1 minute to blend flavors, and strain. Cool for 15 minutes. Combine strawberries, watermelon, and grapes in large bowl; pour warm dressing over fruit and toss to coat. Serve immediately at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate up to 4 hours. Our Dry Rosé of Zinfandel is a nice pairing.

Gourmet Magazine Note: Good fruit salad shouldn't taste like a sugary dessert. We prefer to use sweet-tart dressings that brighten flavors rather than cloaking them. Dressing the fruit with a "gastrique," a sauce made by means of a quick acid-sugar reduction, creates complex layers of flavor along with dazzling color and sheen.