1. Pour about 1/2 cup of Merlot to beef stew as it simmers. This will give a nice, tart flavor to the cooking liquid.

2. Add a big splash of Syrah to your favorite tomato sauce as it simmers. (Don't worry if it's a commercial brand that you just dumped from the jar into a saucepan. This is one way to make it your own!)

3. Sauté minced onion in butter or olive oil. Add a drizzle of dry vermouth, and simmer until reduced by half. Serve over beef or polenta with cooked greens.

4. Add a splash of Port to the braising liquid (vegetable broth and/or water) for cabbage, carrots, and onion for a warming winter dinner side dish.

5. Use Sauvignon Blanc to deglaze the pan after you've roasted a chicken: Remove the chicken from the pan and add about 3/4 cup wine to the pan. Scrape and swirl it around, so the wine picks up all the tasty pieces that have adhered. Transfer this to a small saucepan, and simmer over low heat for 5 or 10 minutes, then spoon over the chicken as you serve it.

6. Use about 3/4 cup Marsala wine, to deglaze the pan after roasting root vegetables and use as a sauce.

7. Use sake or mirin, (a sweet cooking sake) to thin some light colored miso. Spoon this delicious sauce (room temperature) over freshly grilled or broiled vegetables (eggplant, thick rounds of onion, halved small zucchini, portobello mushrooms.)

8. Sauté mixed mushrooms with onions and a little garlic in butter. Add a big splash of dry sherry halfway through and cook until the mushrooms absorb it. Salt, pepper, and a light sprinkling of minced dill will finish off this mixture. Serve over strips of grilled steak or tofu arranged on a bed of cooked noodles.

Wine Pairing Primer [note: can add to this with beef, fish, options]

Sometimes all it takes to bring out a vegetable's star quality is the right wine. Here's a primer on picking a perfect bouquet.

Serving wine with vegetables can make the whole experience even more colorful. All you need to do is try to keep the flavors of the wine and the food in the same taste palette.

An added bonus: Research suggests that an occasional glass of wine itself may decrease the risk of some diseases. But to get the best of both you also need to choose your wine carefully to match the vegetable you're serving.

* Unadorned vegetables tend to have a lighter flavor, so you should avoid pairing them with wines with overpowering characteristics.

* Earthy vegetables, such as members of the cabbage family, can easily handle the robust flavor of a red wine, while vegetables with more-delicate flavors, such as asparagus and salads, go best with white wines.

* Balance is key. For example, baking concentrates and intensifies a tomato's sweet-acid tanginess. The Grüner we picked to go with the Tomato Cheese Tart is crisp with an edge of sweetness and acidity -- a perfect partner for those heightened tomato flavors.

* Your best resource can be a wine shop with a knowledgeable staff. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most importantly, no wine is right or wrong, if you enjoy drinking it.