Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote

Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote
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About This Recipe

Ah, the scents of a Napa summer - the lingering perfume of blossoming vines, the aromatic zephyr from the orchards, and the unmistakable aura of wine country. These sensory experiences were the guiding light that led to the creation of my Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote.

In my earlier years as a valley chef, I'd journey through local farms, chatting with growers, inhaling the fragrances of ripe produce, and soaking in the sun's warmth. It was on one such adventure that the sight of gleaming red cherries, plump and inviting, sitting next to a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon struck inspiration. The marriage of the two seemed as natural as the confluence of the region's valleys and hills.

This compote isn't just a dish; it's a tale of Napa's rich agricultural tapestry. When you think of what to serve it with, imagine a table set under the open sky, surrounded by vineyards. The compote drizzled over a wheel of local Brie or Camembert is a dance of creamy and tangy flavors. Thinking of main courses? A pan-seared duck breast or a roasted lamb, with its own inherent sweetness, complements the compote's rich depth.

But if it's dessert you're musing over, imagine a chocolate fondant, its molten center oozing out, only to be met with a spoonful of the compote. The cherries, with their subtle tartness, beautifully offset the dark richness of the chocolate. Or perhaps a cheesecake, its dense creaminess finding a perfect partner in the compote's wine-infused flavor profile.

Now, if you're donning the hat of a home chef and wish to recreate this in your kitchen, the ingredients aren't far from reach. While cherries from Napa are my top choice, any fresh, juicy cherries will do. As for the Cabernet, while the vineyards of Napa, such as the sprawling Robert Mondavi Winery or the quaint and historic Schramsberg Vineyards (Davies Vineyards), produce some world-class options, you can also explore a bottle from the neighboring Sonoma County. Whichever you choose, remember, it's the spirit of wine country you're bottling in this compote.

Wine pairing? A topic dear to any Napan's heart! With this compote, I'd suggest a Pinot Noir from Duckhorn Vineyards. Its light, fruity undertones mirror the cherries' freshness. Or, for a white option, an aromatic Viognier from the terraced slopes of Darioush winery could be the perfect match.

This compote isn't just a recipe; it's a journey through California's wine country, a snippet of the history, culture, and beauty of Napa Valley. The rolling hills, the babbling brooks, the golden sunsets, and the silvery mist of dawn - they all come alive in this dish.

So, the next time you're searching for summer dinner ideas or any recipes to transport you to a far-off land, let this compote be your ticket to Napa. Let every bite tell a story, every aroma evoke a memory. And as you share it with loved ones, raise a glass to the spirit of wine country, to the traditions that have stood the test of time, and to the culinary adventures that await.

Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon isn't just a wine; it's an embodiment of the region's sun-kissed vineyards, the meticulous hands that cultivate each grape, and the aging process that transforms those grapes into a world-renowned wine. With its rich, full-bodied flavors, Cabernet Sauvignon brings a depth and complexity to dishes that few other ingredients can. Its ability to merge seamlessly with the sweetness of cherries in our Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote stands as a testament to its versatility and the richness it can introduce to culinary creations.

How to Pit Cherries Like a Pro

  1. Using a Cherry Pitter: This tool makes the process efficient. Simply insert the cherry, press down, and the pit pops out.
  2. Using a Straw or Chopstick: Place a cherry on top of a bottle. Push the straw or the thinner end of a chopstick through the cherry, and the pit will fall into the bottle.
  3. Using a Knife: Slice the cherry in half, rotate the halves apart, and use the knife tip to pry the pit out.

FAQs About the Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote

  1. Can I use frozen cherries for this recipe? Yes, you can. However, fresh cherries are recommended for optimal flavor. If using frozen, make sure to thaw and drain any excess liquid before cooking.
  2. Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for Cabernet Sauvignon? A combination of grape juice with a splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar can replicate the rich taste of Cabernet Sauvignon in cooking.
  3. How long can I store the compote? Store the compote in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen for longer storage, up to two months.
  4. I'm allergic to cinnamon. What can I use instead? Nutmeg or allspice can be a good substitute, but use them sparingly as their flavors can be quite potent.
  5. Do I need a special saucepan for making compote? A medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan works best as it distributes heat evenly and reduces the risk of burning.

Tips for Success

  1. Monitor Your Heat: The key to a perfect compote is a gentle simmer. If the mixture boils too rapidly, the cherries might break down too much and the compote can burn.
  2. Taste and Adjust: The sweetness of cherries can vary. Halfway through cooking, taste your compote. If it's too tart, you can add a bit more sugar.
  3. Serving Suggestions: While this compote pairs beautifully with cheeses and roasted meats, don't hesitate to experiment. It can also be a wonderful topping for pancakes, waffles, or even toast for a wine country-inspired breakfast.

Happy cooking! Embrace the spirit of Napa Valley with each bite and let this compote be the centerpiece of your culinary masterpiece.

Recipe Overview

Napa Valley Cabernet and Cherry Compote
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 cup Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine cherries, Cabernet Sauvignon, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla seeds (or extract), cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the cherries are soft and the sauce has thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool. The compote will continue to thicken as it cools.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, depending on your dish. This compote pairs beautifully with cheeses, roasted meats, or even vanilla ice cream.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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