If you have never done so, I highly recommend that you attend a wine pairing dinner. It’s a great way to try new wines, see how they are paired with food, enjoy a very nice meal and meet fellow wine lovers. They are typically held at restaurants, wine bars, wineries and wine events and are often sponsored by fine wine retailers or others in the wine trade.
Some have wines of specific vineyards and will feature the winemaker(s). Some are simply pairing dinners that can be ordered from the tasting menu. I have partaken in both types, the latter primarily when I am in Europe, although these dinners are also popular in fine dining establishments in the US. From my experience, these dinners feature wines from various, non-visiting producers, as opposed to the special occasion dinner featuring a visiting winemaker or two.
I have enjoyed wine tasting dinners here in California as well as in France, Italy and the UK. They can cost anywhere from about $50 to over $1000 here in the US. In Europe they tend to start at about €100 ($135ish, March 2012) for a few courses and wines and go up from there, depending on the number of courses and wine selection.
This week I enjoyed a dinner held at a specialty wine retailer’s restaurant. Wines from two “Outsiders in Burgundy”, Quebecers Pascal Marchand and Patrick Piuze, were featured, and each winemaker spoke about his wines. For $129 per person, we enjoyed 9 wines (a few ounces of each) and 5 courses, including dessert. Patrick’s wines are from Chablis (Chardonnay) and included a Villages (grapes from non-classified vineyards), two Premiere Crus and a Grand Cru. They were paired with a salad course of Spinach and Smoked Trout with Citrus Shallot Dressing and a second course of Poached Maine Lobster, Spaghetti Squash and English Peas with a Sage and Meyer Lemon Confit.
Pascal’s wines are red Burgundies (Pinot Noir) primarily from the Côté de Nuits, with one from the Côté de Beaune. They included a Bourgogne (wine made from grapes throughout the region), two Premiere Crus and two Grand Cru. These were paired with the third course of Black Truffle Risotto with Shaved Black Truffles and Parmesan Broth and the fourth course of Braised Veal Short Ribs, Beluga Lentils, Roast Tomato and Burgundy Veal Jus. The meal finished with a lovely Chocolate Mousse Cake with Bittersweet, Milk and White Chocolate Ganache.
Wine pairing dinners are a great way to appreciate and enjoy fine wine and fine food! …And learn something about both in this wonderful process.
Until next time….à votre santé!