Archive for the ‘Wine Dinners’ Category
I’ve loved attending wine dinners in the Washington, D.C. area (Northern Virginia and Maryland too!) for the past 15 years over at TasteDC . I’m sort of a wine dinner specialist – so what exactly does that mean? It basically means that I understand and consume plenty of wine, and the whole concept of creating a dinner around wine and food pairing just seems natural to me – and quite enjoyable!
My baby TasteDC just got hired to promote a series of wine dinners for a very reputable local Spanish restaurant chain – La Tasca Restaurants. I like both their concept and their willingness to use wine dinners and cooking classes as a smart way to extend their brand. Today’s restaurant goer has so many choices, but what will get her attention in the crowded restaurant scene. How about treating going out to eat as an experience for all the senses and not just an excuse to fill the belly? Just from experience, people who attend wine dinners are generally not only Foodies, but they’re also more intelligent, better paid, travel more and appreciate the nuances of pairing food and wine in a multi-course dinner. Sound snooty? Actually, wine dinners can be really fun, and often the banter and conversations are very interesting and entertaining!
Here’s a series of Washington, DC wine dinners, Virginia wine dinners and Maryland wine dinners that TasteDC is promoting/marketing for La Tasca:
4-Course Torres Spanish Wine Dinners,$75 inclusive of food, wine, tax & tip
Various Dates and La Tasca Locations – See Below
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines * 4 Course Dinner * Prize Trip to Spain * Flamenco Show
La Tasca — Washington, DC 722 7th Street NW, November 13th, Wednesday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Arlington, VA 2900 Wilson Blvd, November 14th, Thursday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca-Baltimore, 201 E Pratt St, November 16th, Saturday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Rockville 141 Gibbs St, November 19th, Tuesday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Alexandria 607 King St, November 24th, Sunday (6-9 pm)
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines | 4 Course Dinner | Prize Trip to Spain | Flamenco Show
An Exciting Evening!
We are thrilled to invite you to join us for an incredible evening, complete with tastings of eight notable wines led by the passionate and amazing folks at Torres Wines. In addition, enjoy a four-course dinner prepared by executive chef Josu Zubikarai, an open bar, an exclusive flamenco performance, and a small gift to take with you. And let’s not forget that, as part of the Torres Wine Festival, all guests will be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona, Spain!
Have you ever thought of wine as art? Now is your chance. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss!
When and Where?
We are hosting Torres Wine Dinners at all of our La Tasca locations. Every event will be held from 6-9pm. If events reach capacity, we will add additional dates.
It’s Cocktail (Half) Hour
For the first half hour, from 6–6:30, a choice of sangrias and signature appetizers will be served. During this time we will also introduce our Torres host, who will lead the wine tasting for the evening.
Wine, Anyone? Oh, and Dinner Too
Paella Square Prepared by Chef Josu, dinner will be served over three courses. At moments during dinner, guests will be led through a tasting (and a fascinating history) of some of Spain’s most interesting wines, stretching across various regions and including popular varietals like verdejo and tempranillo. Not a wine connoisseur? No worries, this is a perfect way to learn and get excited about wine.
Dessert will be served following dinner, along with coffee and teas and a featured dessert wine.
During dessert, watch the passion and the heritage of Spain come to life with a spirited flamenco performance from the most well-known dancers and musicians in the area.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
The cost of the event is $75 per guest and is all-inclusive — the wine tasting, dinner, all beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), dessert, flamenco performance and all taxes and gratuities are covered in the ticket price. Dress is casual and accommodations will be made for guests with any dietary restrictions.
To register for the event, please select one of the event dates shown on the calendar to the right. After selecting a date, scroll down the event details and click on “Book Now”. All guests will be entered for the chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona in 2014. Details on this contest and prize are being finalized, but information will be updated at the link on the right.
I really enjoyed this event with a family member of the Braida Winery in attendance – wine expert Norbert Reinisch, Braida’s Export Manager and Founder’s Son-In-Law. The tasting included Braida’s current releases of Montebruna, Il Baciale, Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui..But we also got to taste multiple vintages of Bricco dell’Uccellone and Ai Suma in a pre-dinner wine tasting that was fabulous! Norbert has in interesting personal story: he’s actually Austrian and began his career as a Doctor..somewhere along the line he fell in love with a member of the Braida Family and changed his career from internist to wine ambassador! As they say – tough job – now he gets to travel the world and promote his wine family’s wines and thell their story – I could think of worse jobs!
Monferrato Rosso Il Baciale 2011, $29.99
A blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir and I think Merlot – beautiful cherry fruit with a touch of pepper from the Pinot and some backbone from the Merlot
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2009, $84.99
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2010, $86.99
These two wines were both 100% Barbera but very different. The 2009 had amazing fruit-forward cherry and even a bit of baked apple fruit intensity, and oak was in the background but beautiful licorice/anise on the finish. The 2010 was tight and needs at least a few more years for the cherry fruit to break through the strong structure of French Oak tannins and red skin tannins as well which made this quite licorice on the finish and also a bit closed on the nose – this one will be much better 5 and even 10 years from now!
Barbera Ai Suma 2007, $121.99
Barbera Ai Suma 2009, $112.99
Again, these two wines were picked from the same vineyards, but from different vintages. From the intense aromatics to the first sip, the 2007 was just amazing on the palate with tons of cherry fruit, but also an added dimension – not just great acidity which Barbera is distinctly known for even in these hotter/riper vintages – but this wine had character and almost a brooding development of complexity. The tannins were there, but beautifully incorporated with fruit, oak and lush chewiness on my palate – I felt this wine luxuriously on my palate. The 2009 was also very good, but distintly had more chocolate, baked cherry pie and sweetness that surprised me a bit because it was younger. Make a note: these wines are both around 16% alcohol, so they are trophy wines that can stand-up competitively to top Bordeaux and Napa, but with so much more acidity to keep them refreshing!
Three Course Wine Dinner Menu
Fluke Crudo with preserved lemon, moscatto gelee, frisee and local asian pear
paired with 2012 Moscato d’Asti
Grilled Duck Breast “Autunno” Duck, chicharonnes, Barbera cherry gastrique with savory pumpkin and sage bread pudding
paired with 2011 Barbera Monte Bruna
Plum crisp with Local plums, brown sugar farro crumble and local goat cheese gelato
paired with 2012 Brachetto d’Acqui
Little known fact: the grape varietal “Barbera” was once a throw-away jug wine kind of grape that was never taken very seriously in the Piedmont Region of Italy where Barolo and Barbaresco are the King and Queen of wines respectively. Guiseppe Bologna, the founder of Braida winery, was the first back in the 1980’s to produce prodigious wines by planting Barbera vines on his family’s land and using new French oak as his aging barriques.
There is nothing more frustrating..
Who’s on First, What’s on Second..you know that frustrating feeling – all you want to do is attend an event that you found on some webpage/flyer/friend mentioned and you..can’t find the details! OK, so you’re not desperate to find out about that cooking class, wine dinner or some other event, but you just wanna know – is it going to happen on a given date (maybe the chef looks good or it’s the perfect “date night” or you’ve always wanted to learn how to mix Rum cocktails..), what’s the price (does it include tax and tip?) and can they accomodate your situation (are there “gluten-free” options, is it vegetarian-friendly..and BTW, what does that mean?).
As a person making a living following food and drink events, it is VERY frustrating for me to find an event and not be able to get clear details – Ugghhhh!! So rather than point the fnger at any Event Organizer, I’m going to tell all Events people how to make your customer – FRUSTRATED TO THE POINT OF BOILING OVER..hopefully you all have a sense of humor..
1) Sell Tickets to your event the Old School way – over the phone..
Diners make reservations for restaurants mostly online, so why would anyone want to call a human being and order tickets to your upcoming wine dinner? That phone call is going to be answered 90% of the time by voice mail, but when I do get a live person, the conversation is PAINFUL! The first most obvious question I ask is “are you holding this event, it’s not on your website?” (most likely I found it listed somewhere else on the internet)..then I get the pause..then I ask to confirm the date, menu, and price..again, I get the infinitely long pause. The worst reaction to my questions is the most likely to happen – the person on the phone puts me on hold and tries to FIND THE INFORMATION!
2) Don’t List the Event on Your Webpage
Or list the event on your Facebook Fan Page – yes, this is bad as well – why? Because a restaurant’s webpage is it’s pride and center of control, as it should be for any business. It’s not wrong to list an event on your Facebook Page, but at least include it as well on your website – even better, have your Fanpage link back to your website. Your website is your reputation..repeat, over and over, again and again..
3) Leave Outdated Events on Your Website
Hey, Father’s Day is over – it’s one day/evening – so make sure you delete it from your page by the next day! I’ve seen events so old that I’m not even sure what year events posted are – nothing freaks a potential attendee out more than the thought that the event is a different year! And of course, then you call, and get the wonderful (sarcasm!) person on the other line..
List “Upcoming Events” and make sure they’re mostly (or only!) events that have occured in the past- I mean, you never know, somebody might like to see the skeleton of your events!
4) Make Sure to Forget at Least One Important Component of the Event
You won’t believe this – I guesstimate that 25% of all events posted on a restaurant website have at least one glaring error – the worst is wrong date, but I’ve seen where a multi-restaurant chain doesn’t list the location of the event, I’ve seen price missing (is tax and tip included, or is that added on later?), how to RSVP (or worse – the restaurant leaves an email or phone number to make the RSVP – would a consumer RSVP to book a reservation at your restaurant that way??), no time listed (just show up anytime!!) and often misleading information or missing information like a menu for a wine dinner.
5) When Answering Any Questions Relating to an Event, Be Evasive
Oh, you don’t believe a top-tier restaurant or hotel staff person could be condescending and lack important details on an upcoming event? Wrong! I’ve emailed and called the top restaurants to get details on their wine dinners – often, they snootily tell me that these wine dinners are only emailed to their “exclusive” email list..so should I not attend the event? And what if I am on that exclusive email list – how do I purchase a ticket..do I have to speak to this snooty person..and hope they answer my questions?
I hope you had fun reading this Post – it’s not meant to be mean or angry (a bit sarcastic — maybe!), but more to bring light to an easily solveable issue. Restaurants seem to act like their website isn’t important: menus that are downloaded as pdf’s, address and contact information missing, and usually extraneous scripts or images that clutter up the screen and actually frustrate the restaurant or event goer. Remember this – people who have money and dine out quite a bit, normally lack time – so use your restaurant website to maximize their time and get them to your place of business..it’s easier to upsell that dessert to someone who’s sitting in your restaurant’s seat – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I attended a wonderful Spanish Wine Dinner from part of the Tradewinds Specialty Imports Portfolio – the Wine dinner was from Bodegas Ismael Arroyo, a great historic winery from the Ribera del Duero area of Spain. Here’s a photo of their 16th century wine cellar – pretty impressive!This event was held on Wednesday, May 29th at Taberna del Alabardero – the Top Rated Spanish Restaurant in Washington, D.C. and for good reason – their food, chef, management and sommelier Gustavo together make this a destination for Foodies and wine lovers – and they know how to throw a wine dinner!
Below is the menu with details – overall, I really enjoyed the wines, but especially enjoyed the aged Valsotillo Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero – and the importer Estebe explained it best – it had quite a bit of acidity to balance the tannins and American oak after aging and made the wine sing on my palate! This says alot about high alcohol levles of today’s wines: they may be enjoyable for a few sips or a glass, but acidity helps to refresh your palate and make them pair better with food. I also really enjoyed the aromatically “barnyardy” 1999 Valsotillo Gran Reserva – this was an unusual wine in that it had alot of funk on the nose, but it had a pretty delicate structure – something kind of pensive, maybe a wine to discuss philosophy or to cellar for many years and share with only close friends..there’s something to be said for that!
Food-wise, Taberna really excels, but the steak stood out for it’s simplicity, tenderness and good salty flavor – it’s rare that a steak wakes up my palate, but the flavors of this with the Tempranillo revived my tastebuds and actually I was hankering for more!
Enjoy perusing the menu..and remember..
I’m Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler !
Taberna del Alabardero Presents: Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Wine Tasting Dinner
Executive Chef Javier Romero, In collaboration with Sommelier Gustavo Iniesta, invite you to a unique Wine Tasting experience, where you are going to discover the Wines from One of the most Important Wineries in Ribera Del Duero Region: Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Featuring: Estebe Salgado Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Ambassador and Tradewindsspecialty, Inc Owner Price Per person: $95.00 (Tax and Service Included)
Friday, May 29th 2013 Reception 6:30pm Dinner 7:00pm Cocktail Reception Endivia, Mollejas y Mousse de Pato Endive, Sweetbreads and Duck Mousse Mejillones Tigre Stuffed Mussels Shells Ajoblanco de Gambas al Ajillo Cold Garlic and Almond Soup with Garlic Shrimp Flavor Bohigas Brut Nature Reserva D.O. Cava
First Appetizer Ensalada de Pochas, Codorniz a la frambuesa y lascas de Foie White Bean Salad, raspberry-quail Stew and Foie chips Valsotillo Crianza 2009 D.O. Ribera del Duero
First Course Rabo de Toro en Estofado de Noras, Calabaza Liquida y Cogollos en Tempura Nora (Sweet Pepper) Stewed Oxtail, Liquid Pumpkin and Heart Lettuce in Tempura Valsotillo Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero
Dessert Queso de Cabrales en Texturas con Helado de Membrillo Cabrales (Blue Cheese) in Textures with Quince Ice Cream Alexandro Pedro Ximenez D.O. Jerez-Xerez-Sherry
Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle”
Miner Family Winery Dinner – Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Because one can never have enough wine, I had a glass of Chandon in the Lounge before the event. There was an interesting assortment of characters in the lounge including a gentleman who used to frequent the restaurant when it was The Jockey Club and two conservative women arguing about Obama. My bartender had lived in DC since the 1980s and used to live on 17th street.
After I finished my glass, I checked in to the wine dinner. I found out I was seated at table 40 – with the winemaker. That’s how important I am (or that I like to think that). The restaurant has been renovated, but still maintains the old school/old DC decor. There was a lovely display set near a bar area of the wines featured for the evening.
2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier
For the reception the viognier was poured. It really is the perfect aperitif. It was incredibly aromatic with the honey suckle notes strongest on the finish.
The general manager spoke briefly, thanked everyone for attending and introduced Gary Brookman, Winemaker, Miner Family Winery.
Gary spoke briefly about the 2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier and presented the 2010 Miner, Napa Valley Chardonnay and 2008 Miner Wild Yeast, Napa Valley Chardonnay.
He provided background and history as to the winery, the use of solar panels at Miner and the incredible amount of varietals planted.
I was surprised at how Gary was down to Earth and incredibly pleasant. Besides speaking to the group at large, he frequently walked around to speak individually to the attendees.
Mango and Avocado Salad, Coriander Cilantro Oil
The first course was paired with 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay. The plating on this and all dishes was spectacular. The buttery notes in both wines went incredibly well with the lobster and avocado notes. There was a creaminess that as a person who normally hates avocado (yes I hate it and no, don’t try to change my mind) was incredibly harmonious.
I was excited to speak with Gary about these wines especially the wild yeast. Apparently, he likes using wild yeast and giving up that control.
He was quite entertaining explaining how wild yeast can start the fermentation and give up or burn out quickly. I imagined little yeasts partying too hard and then dying off as they made this amazing chardonnay.
The 2010 chardonnay did not spend any time in oak, but did go through some malolactic fermentation. The wild yeast had spicer notes on the finish and was more viscous.
Red Wine Lacquered Quail
Arugula, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts
2010 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Garys’ Vineyard is a 50 acre vineyard that was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni.
I love anything that incorporates an egg especially quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pinot noir and quail worked well together bringing out additional flavors.
Gary and I discussed the concept of masculine and feminine pinot noirs. I used to have a boss who hated that description. Gary felt that this pinot was more masculine due to the body.
It was somewhat bright with big cherry notes on the nose with some plum on the finish.
Pepper Crusted Virginia Bison
Wine Sauce, Horseradish Cauliflower Puree, French Beans
2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
As you can see, I really wanted to try this amazing dish and forgot to take a photo before diving in (d’oh).
The 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is almost entirely made of cabernet sauvignon with about 5% cabernet franc and 5% merlot blended in. It was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak. Definitely exhibits some of that almost toasty, vanilla notes on the nose.
The wine was silky with a lushness that went well with the pepper crusted Virginia bison. This was my favorite wine of the evening.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Fresh Berries, Blood Orange Sabayon
2008 “the Oracle” Meritage Blend
The Oracle is a Meritage Blend utilizing Bordeaux style grapes (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec,merlot and petit verdot). It spends 21 months in 55% French oak. It was incredibly balanced and full bodied. There were hints of cassis and blackberries.
I was surprised (like others) that this wine was paired with the dessert. But, it totally worked! I think worked best with the top layer of the dessert – blood orange sabayon.
The Chef, Chef Ferrier, and some of his staff thanked us at the end of the night. They also answered questions regarding Virginia bison. I think some people were becoming more difficult and drunk as the night wore on.
In the end, this was an amazing experience with spectacular food, wine and service. I would highly recommend attending a future wine dinner at the Capital Wine Festival.
Editor’s Note: here are some upcoming Wine Dinners in the DC Area on TasteDC:
-6-Course Texas Wine Dinner on March 2nd (This Saturday Evening) $70, http://www.tastedc.com/event/6-course-texas-wine-dinner-mayfair-pine
-Patz and Hall Wine Dinner (March 5th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-patz-hall-winery-wine-dinner
-Pio Cesare Wine Dinner (March 12th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-pio-cesare-wine-dinner
-Wine and Soul Wine Dinner (March 19th), $135, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-wine-and-soul-wine-dinner
-Tres Sabores Winery & Calder Wine Company Dinner (March 26th) $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-tres-sabores-winery-calder-wine-company-wine-dinnerine Company Dinner (March 26th)
6 Courses of Pleasure Champagne and Sparkling Wine Dinner – A Celebration with Mayfair & Pine and Thibaut-Janisson
This dinner showcased how sparkling wines make flavors shine..
The meal began with an aperitif which was the sparkling wine served also with the first course – Virginia Fizz. It’s a good starter wine which is light, crisp and not too minerally and with a touch of sweetness to get your taste buds going! The first course was a delicious slightly sweet pumpkin soup that Chef Sprissler said was “like pumpkin pie in a bowl”..it also had a nice aromatic touch of truffle oil, this was a very nice starting dish. Afterward we had the goat cheese which were little balls (I thought they were quail eggs!) like Mozzarella bocconcini with a spicy tomato almost salsa which contrasted nicely – creamy/sweet to spicy/savory..and of course those little toast squares! The third course was Chef Emily Sprissler’s own take on the bar food she ate when she worked as a chef in London and had little money for food – The samosas had handmade puff pastry (once a rarity, but great chefs like Sprissler are really starting to raise their game – one of the things Foodies can credit to both the TV show Top Chef and the fact that chefs travel the world to perfect their craft). The first 3 courses were paired with Virginia Sparkling Wines by Thibaut-Janisson – the speaker for the first 3 VA wines was owner Claude Thibaut who explained about the challenges of growing grapes and making wine in Virginia’s climate vs. in the Champagne region of France.
The last three dishes were paired my Manuel Janisson who is the Champagne side of this wine producer – as you may or may not know, Champagne is actually a region and unlike American wines, the French tend to label according to region/appellation (like Bordeaux and Burgundy). Interestingly, it was difficult to tell the wines were French vs. Virginian – although acidity levels and minerality tend to be higher in the cooler region French Champagnes, these winemakers are so expert that they know how to make great wines from their respective vineyards.
6-Course Champagne Dinner Menu
Tomato Goat Cheese Napoleon
Thibaut-Janisson Cuvee d’etat 2008, Virginia
Janisson et Fils Tradition Brut NV, Champagne
Chocolate Pear Tart
Janisson et Fils Brut Rose NV, Champagne
The fall brings the best bounty — and the most amazing flavors — of the year, and Mayfair & Pine is giving you good reason to make the most of the season. Chef/Owner and Top Chef Season 2 cheftestant Emily Sprissler and sommelier Andrew Stover of Vino50 Selections are hosting their “America is Our Local” event on Tuesday, October 16th, and will offer a four-course dinner paired with complimentary American wines – Purchase Tickets Here. As the name suggests, Sprissler will showcase her talent for seasonal cooking and will deliver a menu of autumn-inspired dishes.
Want in on this unforgettable, seasonal experience? Book it today; tickets are $68 per person and include tax and gratuity.
*** MENU W/ WINE PAIRINGS ***
WELCOME BITE & BUBBLES
McPherson Sparkling Chenin Blanc/Muscat NV, High Plains, Texas
Oyster on the Half Shell with Sabayon
WINE: Shindig Vidal Blanc, Finger Lakes, New York
Roasted Squash, Cranberries, Greens, and Spiced Pecans with a Tarragon Vinaigrette
WINE: Sawtooth Riesling, Snake River Valley, Idaho
Roasted Pork with Plums and Apple Gastrique
WINE: Okanogan Estate Pinot Noir, Okanogan Valley, Washington
Apple Trio Dessert
Apple Beggar’s Purse with Caramel Sauce & Whipped Cream, Caramel-dipped Lady Apple, and Apple Cider Sorbet
Coffee & Tea Service
* Dessert prepared by guest Pastry Chef Lindsay Miniaci *
Even with this heat wave, I’m seeing alot of food and drink events in the DC Region and some interesting cooking classes as well. I thought the Blog would be a fun place to post these events every once in awhile (until the TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar is completed in the Fall), enjoy!
5-Course Belgian Beer Dinner
June 25th (Monday) 7 pm
Mad Fox Brewing Company, 444 West Broad Street, Suite I, Falls Church, VA 22046
Menu with Beers
Our culinary team, led by Executive Chef Andrew Dixon, has an exciting menu for our first Belgian themed beer dinner. We’ll have a 5-course meal paired with Mad Fox’s Belgian-style beers, including the soon to be released Abbaye des Chutes and the Witte Vos Witbier.
The cost is $75 excluding taxes and gratuity – seating is limited,
Reservations with a credit card are taken at 703-942-6840.
Gluten Free Wine Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
Wildfire McLean, Tysons Galleria 3rd Floor, McLean, VA 22102
Join us for an evening of gluten free dining, featuring a four course custom menu, each paired with a hand-selected
wine to complement the dish. The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., follwed by dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Guest speaker, Vanessa Weisbrod, Executive Editor of Delight Gluten Free Magazine, will be on hand to share her insight on living and dining gluten free.
Tickets Are $65/per person exclusive of tax and gratuity
Make Reservations by Calling Elissa or Amanda at (703) 442-9110
6-Course Sushi-Ko Beer Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
5455 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Six-course menu created by owner and creative director of Sushi-ko, Daisuke Utagawa, together with beer expert Jocelyn Cambier.
The beer dinner is $85, all inclusive. Here’s the menu:
Edamame paired with Port City pale ale
Lobster and Asparagus Suimono (clear soup) with Brasseurs Illimites double porter
Flounder Carpaccio with White Soy and Truffle Sauce complemented by a surprise beer of Brasseurs du Monde
Honey and Soy Roasted Duck with A l’Abri de La Tempete Corps Mort
Spicy Broiled Mussels and Coronado Islander IPA
and a final course of Nigiri Sushi paired with Brasseurs Illimites Imperial Stout
Call (301) 961-1644 for tickets
Wine Tasting 101: Champagne Deutz & Maison Delas (Rhône) Class
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
French American Cultural Foundation, La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Charlie Adler Shows How to Open Champagne
Our monthly Wine Tasting 101 soirées — with veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg – explores the regions (Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, Languedoc and Bordeaux) and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. List of wines for this session include: -Champagne Deutz Brut Classic, Champagne Deutz Brut Rosé nv, Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée William Deutz millésimé, Delas Frères blanc Saint Joseph ou Condrieu, Delas Frères rouge Hermitage; Also included: a fine assortment of cheeses.
Tickets Are $70/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
June 26th (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
The Washington Hilton Hotel
1919 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Enter through the “T Street” Entrance
VIP Reception for Sponsors & Special Guests, 5:30pm
Main Doors Open, 6:30pmMore than 1,300 guests will enjoy tastings from 60 of the region’s brightest culinary stars while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. In addition to a menu filled with one-of-a-kind delights, you’ll enjoy bidding on live and silent auctions featuring travel opportunities and other great adventures.
Tickets Are $250/per person (Table/Sponsorships Available)
More Info and Purchase Tickets Online
One ticket to The Gibson Whiskey Cocktail Making Class on Wednesday June 27, 2012 at 6 PM
Whiskey-blending tutorial with premium single malt whiskeys
Take-home custom blended whiskey
Tickets Are $60/per person
6-Course Spanish Wine Dinner
June 27th (Wednesday) 7 pm
Tuskies, 203 Harrison St., Leesburg, VA 20175
Guest speaker Alicia Geiser will showcase some of the delicious wines coming from Spain. Chef Patrick will be hard at work pairing these wines with his interpretation of Spanish cuisine. $95 inclusive
Tickets Are $95/per person inclusive
Purchase Tickets Online
Catoctin Creek – The Art of Summer Cocktails
June 27th (Wednesday) 6:30 – 8:3O PM
J&G Steakhouse Wine Bar, 515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010
Scott Harris, general manager of the award-winning Virginia distillery Catoctin Creek, will demonstrate how to make three whiskey-based drinks that are sure to be a hit at your next summer soirée. Guests will also enjoy paired bites and receive a gift bag of Catoctin goodies after the event and then show off your newly acquired mixology skills later this summer.
Tickets Are $41/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
Great Lakes Brewing Company Beer Dinner
June 28th (Thursday) 7 – 10 pm
Dino’s, 3435 Connecticut Avenue NW
Cleveland Park, Washington DC, 20008
The Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Mission Statement: “Great Lakes Brewing Company is a principle-centered, environmentally respectful and socially conscious company committed to crafting fresh, flavorful, high-quality beer and food for the enjoyment of our customers. We aspire to maintain our status as the premier craft brewery in the Great Lakes region and are dedicated to uncompromising service, continuous improvement and innovative consumer education.”
See Complete Menu http://www.dino-dc.com/2012/06/great-lakes-brewing-company-brew-dinner.html/#start
Tickets Are $55/per person exclusive of tax & gratuity
Call for Reservations 202-686-2966
Essential Knife Skills
June 30th (Saturday) 2:30 – 4:30 pm
Sur La Table (Pentagon City), 1101 South Joyce Street Suite B-20 , Arlington, Virginia 22202
One of our most popular classes, join us as our expert instructor helps students become confident at the cutting board with the chef’s most important tool. Students will hone basic knife skills and practice the fundamental cuts for vegetables—mince, dice, brunoise, batonnet and julienne—as well as learn some advanced techniques. We’ll also show you how to select a knife that best fits your needs, and share tips for keeping all your cutlery sharp and well maintained at home.
Tickets Are $59/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
BBQ and Smoking Cooking Class
June 30th (Saturday) 2 -5 pm
Culinaria, 110 Pleasant Street Northwest Vienna, VA 22180
TasteDC BBQ 101 Class Video
Summertime and barbecue – they just go together. Chef Mike will discuss brining, rubs and the various cuts and preparation of smoked meats including pork shoulder, ribs and salmon. Come learn how to make and, most importantly, taste some great BBQ and smoked items.
Tickets Are $85/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but like Halloween, it’s a celebration/festivity that has taken on a life of it’s own. And 2012 is no exception, there are just a plethora of Valentine’s tastings for both the chocolate and non-chocolate lover – I’m not even sure if the latter exists! Some quick thoughts on Valentine’s and tastings: if you’re a restaurant or event provider who wishes to really draw people in this time of year, any theme with chocolate, sparkling wine (especially Champagne) or some over-the-top rich dish like braised meats seems to bring people in in droves – oh, and also any food/concept connected with Amore, for example oysters and fondue (both chocolate and cheese work). It’s also OK to add terms like “seduction”, “decadent”, “aphrodisiac” and even “libido” to your menu descriptions which breaks away from the everyday norm of exclusion of these concepts – Valentine’s gives you as the marketer the right to explore the racier side of life..and people will accept and forgive you for about a week! Of course, certain cultures are also associated with lasciviousness so French and Italian restaurants and themes have a distinct advantage. If you have a strong combination of all of these themes and concepts, you can also expect a marriage proposal or two to occur – and hopefully, not with your staff!
Oh, and to make all this information just a touch more confusing..Valentine’s Day is officially Tuesday, February 14th, but many events list their date on Saturday or Sunday as “official” Valentine’s Day events – it’s a celebration of love and romance, does it really matter what the official date is? I think not..
I will list the major tastings by date (Note: if you’re just looking for a listing of restaurants that have multi-course dinners especially for Valentine’s, here’s a pretty good list by Washingtonian):
Thursday, February 9th,
Sommelier Showdown (as part of the DC International Food and Wine Festival), 7:00pm-9:00pm
Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20004
Tickets are $150/per person and can be Purchased Online
See top DC Sommeliers flex their knowledge at the Washington DC International Wine & Food Festival’s inaugural Sommelier Showdown. Our experts will engage in a friendly tête-à-tête and compete in a race of the taste, using deductive tasting to identify wines with hidden labels.
To complement the wines presented, the Showdown will feature five of DCs most noted chefs who will be tasked with bringing food and wine together, including Chefs Todd Gray (Equinox), Xavier Deshayes (Ronald Reagan Building), and Jaime Montes de Oca (Zentan).
SOLD OUT-Savory Syrah – A Global Tour
Chain Bridge Cellars, 1351 Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA 22101 Wine experts all agree that Syrah is one of the “noble” varietals, capable of making some of the most complex, layered and age-worthy wines in the world. But the kinship between a $10 Aussie Shiraz and a $70 Hermitage is pretty hard to fathom! So take a worldwide tour of everything Syrah/Shiraz can be and see if you can find some common themes. We’ll taste bargains from Australia and the South of France; classic American, South African and Rhone wines; and a couple of “big guns” from the Barosa and Cote Rotie. This class includes seven wines, Syrah-friendly snacks, and take-home descriptions of each wine and region covered. To reserve a space, email [email protected] or call 703.356.6500
How to Blind Taste Wine
February 9th (Thursday) Session 1: 6 – 7:30 pm; and Session 2: 8 – 9:30 pm
Adour in The St. Regis, 923 16th and K Streets, N.W., Washington, DC 20006
Wine Director Brent Kroll will conduct a sensory analysis on how to quantify wine flavors and origin.
Tickets are $60/per person.
Call (202) 509-8000 to Make Reservations
I spent over 15 years organizing and attending wine dinners at TasteDC – it is definitely my favorite part of being in a unique business! Weird as it may seem, a “wine dinner” is conceptually as confusing as a wine tasting to most people – it’s a very foreign concept to many Americans – literally! A wine dinner is in essence a multi-course dinner served with several different wines – this is the simple explanation. A GOOD/GREAT wine dinner is when the various elements come together in a wonderful symphony of an event: wine, food, timing, pairing, educational component (this usually means a speaker), and impeccable service. It sounds very snooty, but that’s primarily because it’s based on the fine dining traditions of the Old World – particularly France and Italy. So what IS a wine dinner?
“A Wine Dinner Is a Meal Divided by Courses”
Most wine dinners include a menu of dishes served in three or more courses. For example, when you go out to eat at a fine dining restaurant, the menu is often broken down into Appetizers, Main Dishes, and Desserts. A Wine Dinner is a smart way for a restaurant to showcase both great wine and delicious dishes that showcase their chef’s talents. And yes, there is a formula: according to the traditional European format for a dinner (actually, any serious meal!) is begin with the lightest dishes, move on to richer dishes and finish with dessert – and yes, often there is a cheese course before dessert. A very simple multi-course dinner (with or without wine, but in the European tradition, food is pretty much always served with wine) would begin with some hors d’oeuvres, a seafood or pasta dish, a light meat dish (chicken or pork), a rich meat dish (beef or lamb) and dessert. Each course would be served with a different wine in a wine dinner and possibly even more than one wine per course. This would be called a 4-course dinner because hors d’oeuvres are usually not considered a dish, so don’t count in the number.
“Each Dish Should Be Paired with the Appropriate Wines”
I’ve been to wine dinners where there is only one wine paired with each dish, and that can be very satisfying! But I’ve also been to wine dinners where there are two, three, even four wines paired per dish (that’s a single dish!) and those can be very fun – albeit confusing at times. I want to touch upon the concept of pairing: pairing wine and food means there’s a synergy of flavor that is 1 + 1 is GREATER than 2. There are some classic examples of pairings: Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese, Pinot Noir and salmon, and Cabernet Sauvignon and steak, etc. that work but I’ve had pairings that stretch the limits. The original old school formula for pairings was “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” but this is extremely outdated – creative chefs today don’t serve simply prepared dishes that are formulaic, they often prefer to add unique flavors and cooking techniques to their dishes that can be difficult to pair. To keep it simple (I wrote a whole chapter on pairing in “I Drink on the Job” entitled “A Meal Without Wine is Breakfast”). Just like with food, most wine dinners begin with lighter-style wines (like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling) and move to heavier-bodied wines later in the meal – this makes sense – you wouldn’t want a Big Cab with your shrimp dish/course at the beginning of the meal, that would be way too heavy early in the meal (and a poor pairing!). Also, later in the meal, your palate needs richer and bolder flavors or you won’t notice a dish, so big wines and red meat (or dishes that are braised/slow cooked to increase the rich flavors of a meal) make sense.
A quick note on pairing/wine dinners – most have a theme like “Italian Wines” or “California Boutique Wines” that create the expectation of a special celebration of a wine region or theme. This is important because a wine dinner is a “showcase” event – a chance for a wine maker to show his/her best efforts in the vineyard or a display of a chef’s talents to create gourmet offerings. The point is that usually either the wine or the food is the main center of the wine dinner, one almost always overshadows the other. For example, I attended a wine dinner a few years ago with MacArthur/Addy Bassin’s Liquor where there were over 20 boutique California wines served – yes, the food was excellent at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. (I think it was 7-Courses, but I forget!), but every wine was introduced before each course by either the wine maker or a representative who intimately knew the wines – educational and exhilarating!
“A Speaker Needs to Introduce the Wines at the Wine Dinner”
Not particularly profound, but someone needs to talk about the wines at a wine dinner and the more knowledgeable, the better. Normally, the wine maker or a representative from the wine community talks about the wines with each dish. Some speaker’s introduce the wines before each course, but this can be detrimental: it can add too much time to a dinner and it can get tedious for attendees! Most people don’t want to sit for more than three hours or so at a wine dinner (including breaks – hey, with all that wine, you may need to visit the bathroom!) so the length of an event is important. I always suggest that the wine professional speaker introduce their wines at the event, maybe speak once in the middle of the meal and then at the end of the meal. Most people at these events would rather talk privately to the speaker, so walking around and “schmoozing” with dinner attendees is a smart move.
Things I haven’t covered in this wine dinner discussion include the importance of speedy service, event duration, popular themes for wine dinners, and the myriad of service issues with this type of event. Staffing is VERY important – experience really makes a difference. One of the most impressive wine dinners I ever went to with the wines of Chateau Pontet-Canet at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. was because of one factor: the Sommelier Caterina Abbruzzetti decanted every one!
Of course, there aren’t only wine dinners: In 14 years at TasteDC, I’ve attended craft beer dinners, whiskey dinners, Tequila Dinners, Cocktail Dinners, Rum Dinners and innumerable conceptual “dinners”, often unique and unusual, but one thing they all had in common – the dishes and the beverage were paired in some way..Hope this all whets your appetite – Cheers!
Charlie Adler, Managing Editor
TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar
“Educate Your Palate”