I love Italian food. I especially love pasta with a really great Bolognes ... and for years I have struggled to figure out why my very best attempts failed to have the amazing depth of flavour that one experiences at the best Italian restaurants.
Most people summed it up with "it's the quality of the ingredients". If I asked friends what was missing from my sauce, tye looked at my funny and said "it's fine."
And it was "fine." There was noting inedible about my sauce...but it wasn't quite right.
I used the best of ingredients, herbs fresh from the garden, home canned tomato sauce... everything I could think of. Nothing made that difference. I read book after book and tried recipe after recipe. Almost...but not quite right.
And then, on one of the many winter evenings that we relaxed with Alton Brown's good eats, we happened upon an episode about tomato sauces. Alton was quite firm about the necessity to add wine to the sauce. The next time I started a tomato sauce, Rod recommended that I try it. I did. I put a little splash of sweet vermouth in the sauce.
It was much closer to what I was trying for. The next time, I tried red wine instead...and it was good.
Tonight, I happened to have almost a cup of wine left from a bottle my friend Helen brought to dinner last night. I shrugged and threw the whole thing in. Then I turned down the heat and let it simmer while I went pout to pick the herbs...and got distracted by a "slug search and destroy" mission! (It was cool and damp and they were out in force...I think we got 500 or 100 of the little devils! )
When I came back in with the herbs in hand, the sauce had cooked down to a deep, rich red and it smelled heavenly! It even made the insipid pseudo-pasta taste like food!