September 14, 2007
Vintage Martha Stewart

Resurgent Martha Stewart struggled to make zucchini fritters alongside an uncooperative David Letterman last night, but she's back under a more flattering spotlight this morning as officials of E. & J. Gallo Winery of Modesto announce a new line of wines bearing the label "Martha Stewart Vintage."

But don't dash out to the supermarket in hopes of grabbing a bottle. Just 15,000 cases of the three varietals in the initial rollout will be available, and they will be distributed in only six markets, none of which is in the Sacramento area. (They're Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and Charlotte, N.C. Those cities were chosen because "each represents a good geographical cross section of the country," says Gallo spokesman John Segale.

The $15 wines are a 2006 chardonnay, a 2006 merlot, and a 2005 cabernet sauvignon, all with a Sonoma County appellation. Martha Stewart didn't stomp the grapes herself, but she worked with Gallo winemakers to come up with a style meant for entertaining meals, whether they be simple or special, say Gallo representatives.

"As a former caterer and a lifelong hostess, I understand the important role wine can play at a gathering. The wines were crafted with great care and attention to every detail. This venture is a natural outgrowth of the friendship I've enjoyed with the Gallo family based on our mutual passion for food, wine and entertaining," said Stewart in a prepared statement.

Here, incidentally, is her recipe for zucchini fritters from last night's show:
Zucchini Fritters
Serves 4
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (1 lemon)
10 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed and leaves finely chopped, plus more sprigs for garnish (optional)
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini into a medium bowl. Add salt, lemon zest, chopped parsley, garlic, pepper, and eggs. Mix well to combine. Slowly add flour, stirring so no lumps form.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high meat until oil sizzles when you drop a small amount of zucchini mixture into the pan. Carefully drop about 2 tablespoons zucchini mixture into pan; repeat, spacing fritters a few inches apart.
Cook fritters until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Turn fritters, and continue cooking until golden, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer fritters to a plate; set aside in a warm place. Cook remaining zucchini mixture, adding more oil to pan if necessary. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired. Serve. Bon appetit.

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