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More DC, VA and MD Wine Dinners in Fall of 2013

October 26th, 2013 • No Comments

latascatorres550-1

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.

Flamenco!

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.

Cheers!

Ree Ohh Haaaa!

June 14th, 2013 • No Comments
Maturana!

Maturana!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 I attended a fun wine tasting for the Trade put on by Vibrant Rioja who were showcasing the wine region at a tasting put on at Ripple Restaurant in Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C. Aaron Gordon was representing Vibrant Rioja and let’s just say – he’s a character! The wine trade always has attracted the artsy and the intellectual, and maybe the slightly off-center – I would say this guy fits the bill! The other speaker was a more traditional sommelier.. well almost David Denton who was also at one time a punk rock guitar player – but now he works as the sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capital Hill. But the presentation was very good – well, actually I couldn’t see the tv screen presentation (was it a slideshow?), but the layout of the wine tasting was really excellent and easy to follow – numbered glasses, white in front of red.

So what did I gain from this Rioja tasting?
-Tempranillo can be white – yes, I had probably my first white Tempranillo – and it was very good! I would say it was a medium-bodied white and I think it had some oak, but it was also unusual in that it was slightly oxidized even though it was a young wine – so it had those sherry-like features/burnt almond that made it seem much older.
2013-06-12 13.02.20-there are many indigenous varietals I had never heard of and I tried one that made me pretty excited – Maturana Tinta – a gamey/blackberry fruit red grape that had quite a bit of life and a touch of gaminess! After tasting so many steady Cabernets and even Tempranillo’s in my wine tasting career, it’s always nice to find a red varietal that has life and potential – this wine (albeit this was a better-made more expensive version by Dinastia Vivanco (2009) shows how there is more great wine to explore even from well-known regions like Rioja.

-a red wine over 10 years old isn’t necessarily brickish in color or aged in taste – I’m still amazed at the vibrancy and purple color of the Bodegas Ontanon Reserva 1995 (Tempranillo and Garnacha) – my understanding is that this wine had been kept in the winemaker’s cellar until recently which may explain alot – the color suggested a relatively young wine and the fruit was still noticeable on the palate, although there was quite a bit of that aged cedar box you get from slightly older wines. I think more than anything, Tempranillo can age amazingly well, but proper treatment and storage of your wines can make a HUGE difference when you go to open something over a decade old – consider improving or maintaining quality wine storage!

2013-06-12 13.16.45Overall, the event was very nicely laid out and had a festive feel. I also like the fact that they chose a wine bar – Ripple – vs. a traditional fancy schmancy fine dining restaurant – it gave this a more festive air. Rioja is almost an exclamation point for Spanish wine – you can simply walk in to pretty much and decent restaurant and ask for a “Rioja” and the server will know that you mean a Tempranillo from the region. Tasting Graziano, Garnacha, Maturana and many other varietals opens up this traditional wine region to new experiences. Also, the traditional blending of Cabernet and Merlot with everything is a choice here – some traditionalists in Spain are trying to bring more local character to their wines by avoiding the overly oak, rich, modern style. One last point – traditionally, Rioja uses American oak barrels vs French for aging of wines – this also gives them a slight “coconut” aromatic that sets them apart from other European wines. Cheers to Rioja!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Spanish Wine Dinners Make Me Sing Ole!

May 30th, 2013 • No Comments

There’s just something about a wine dinner..elegance, sophistication..lots of great wine and food..2013-05-29 18.56.43

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!spanishwinecellarbodegasismaelarroyoThis 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 !

Delicious Quail with Lupini Beans!

Delicious Quail with Lupini Beans!

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)

For reservations

Wine Dinner Tickets at Taberna del Alabardero

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

Second Appetizer Bacalao Confitado con txangurro y tomate sobre un Caldo Ahumado Confit Codfish with Crabmeat and Tomato over a Smoky Broth Valsotillo Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero2013-05-29 20.33.13

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

2013-05-29 20.39.11Second Course Rib-Eye de Ternera, Tortilla Espanola e Higados Encebollados Veal Rib-Eye, Spanish Potato Omelet with Liver and Onions Valsotillo Gran Reserva 1999 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

Cassandra Salgado

Cassandra Salgado

I Forgot to Spit! 80 Sips Comes to DC..

March 15th, 2013 • 1 Comment

Professionals Spit Their Wines Out for a Reason..

How many times have I heard at a wine tasting – “why should I spit out or dump my wine out – I paid good money to attend this event?” Well, at a recent wine tour that came to DC Around the World in 80 Sips presented by Bottlenotes everyone behaved pretty orderly, but I had to recant tales to fellow wine lovers what the point of the spit bucket is – to prevent being bombed! What I always find entertaining about 100+ person walk-around wine tastings is how formal people are at the beginning of an event..maybe even a bit uptight..but how much they loosen up after the first hour or so.2013-03-14 19.09.49So Is There Proper Etiquette at a Wine Tasting?

Astrolabe SB was so Gooseberry and Minerally!

Astrolabe SB was so Gooseberry and Minerally!

You know what they say about Americans – Anything Goes we take our democratic freedoms seriously, and we don’t like when people tell us to behave. Having said that, Americans often feel directionless when it comes to cultural events and particularly wine – what is the “proper” way to behave at a wine tasting? Believe it or not, I think many people are TOO polite at wine tastings, so here are some fun rules which you may feel FREE TO BREAK:

Rule #1: “Thou Shall Not Drink Everything In Thy Glass” The purpose of a spit bucket is 2-fold: first, so you can spit out wine so that you can drink more and not get drunk; second, so you can dump out excess wine for the same reason – not to get drunk! The wine professionals pouring the wine EXPECT you to dump out excess wine..they’re hoping you do so, they don’t want people to drink too much! Maybe it seems wasteful to Americans to throw away wine, but there’s a reason these are called “tastings”..dump away..

Rule #2: “Thou Shall Rinse Thy Glass Between Wines, But Not With Water” You rinse your wine glass so that the next wine tastes like the wine should. If you rinse your glass with water, that water will DILUTE the wine you’re about to taste..and it’s usually a pretty small pour. The way the PRO’s do it, is we ask for a little pour of the wine we are about to drink, we swirl and pour that excess into the bucket, and then we wait for the wine to be poured..in this way, the wine you’re tasting tastes like the..well, uhh..wine you’re tasting – not a blend of water/wine or wine and something else..I know, it seems like YOU’RE WASTING WINE..get over it..2013-03-14 19.40.03

Rule #3:“Thou Shall Move Close to the Pourer and Put Thy Wine Glass Out To Receive a Pour” I actually have a funny story in my book I Drink on the Job about a woman who walked up to receive a pour of wine, but never put out her glass..she just stood in front of the table..thinking..about what, I have no idea, but when she was offered a pour of wine, she acted like it was an offense! Don’t use your time at a wine tasting to ruminate..you’re there to taste (NOT DRINK) wine..yes, of course take a few breaks, talk with your friends, get some food, etc..but use your time EFFICIENTLY. Walk up to the wine table and find a little space to stand, put out your wine glass (do not hold it close to your body..this is how you get wine on your clothing, and that’s a BAD THING!), and either wait for the wine to be poured or request a wine to be poured..this is NOT RUDE – this is actually proper..it’s efficient too..Personally, I’m a machine when I taste: stand, offer glass, swirl, look, sniff, taste, spit or swallow, spend moment in reflection on the wine, dump wine, REPEAT..

Rule #4: “Thou Shall Not Wear Perfume, Cologne or Anything That Has an Aroma at a Wine Tasting”I’m smelling coconuts in my wine..but, it’s not emanating from the glass – somebody wore a body lotion that smelled like coconuts! Actually, I spoke with her and she was very nice, but whenever she was within 5 feet of me..ALL I COULD SMELL WAS COCONUT LOTION!
2013-03-14 19.09.58
Hopefully, you take this post with good humor – none of the above mentioned Rules is really written in stone. We Americans love our independence and freedom, but when we try to behave at a cultural event, maybe we’re actually too polite..I’m not saying you should be a hillbilly and come into a wine tasting with a cavalier attitude, but it’s OK to loosen up, enjoy, and even have lively banter at a wine tasting. Within the confines of a wine tasting, there is room for self-expression, creativity, and of course conviviality, but it’s best to get the etiquette down pat first – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

300+ Wine Tasters

300+ Wine Tasters

Some Upcoming Wine Events on TasteDC:

4-Course Wine and Soul Wine Dinner, Tuesday, March 19th at The Fairfax Hotel at Embassy Row

Cheese Class with Rogue Creamery’s Cheese Maker, Wednesday, March 27th, Ici Urban Bistro, 806 15th St., NW, Washington DC 20005

Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, W Hotel Washington D.C. 515 15th St NW , Washington DC 20004

TEXXXAAAASS Wine Dinner at Mayfair & Pine

March 3rd, 2013 • No Comments

Everything is Bigger in Texas, but their wines are actually pretty subtle..

Charlie Adler, TasteDC and Andrew Stover, Vino 50 Selections

Charlie Adler, TasteDC and Andrew Stover, Vino 50 Selections

Andrew Stover of Vino 50 Selections presented some really great wines from his Texas portfolio at the TasteDC 6-Course Texas Wine Dinner at Mayfair & Pine on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013. Andrew is a well-known Sommelier and wine broker in the Washington, D.C. area who has a passion for American wines. My first question to Andrew prior to the event is how could Texas make great wines when the grapes have to suffer through such high heat and desert conditions. His reply was that hot dry weather is actually perfect for grapes – in fact, the dryness also prevents pests and allows the winemaker to actually make more natural/organic style wines. As far as we know, this was the first Texas wine dinner in the history of Washington, D.C. and thus an introduction of McPherson wines and Duchman Family wines to the dining public.

<Note: We have an Upcoming Anchor Beer Dinner on March 27th, 2013 at Mayfair and Pine>

Andrew Stover - Yee Haaahh!

Andrew Stover – Yee Haaahh!

The Dinner was my second at Mayfair and Pine, the first being the Champagne Dinner I attended in December at the restaurant. Chef Emily Sprissler is a Top Chef alum from Season 2 and she knows how to handle the heat! This event was held on a Saturday night which had the restaurant bustling both upstairs and downstairs – a real challenge for the chef.

Here’s the menu, the dishes and some comments about the dishes and wine pairings – Enjoy!

Welcome Amusee Bouche - Pork & Beans!

Welcome Amusee Bouche – Pork & Beans!

1st Course

Welcome Amusee Bouche – This was a take on “Pork and Beans” with homemade bacon – it was quite delicious and had a nice smoky/earthy aroma and flavor to get the meal festivities going! The McPherson Sparkling Chenin Blanc/Muscat went well with a nice effervescence and a touch of the peachy Muscat fruit which created a tasty combination.
2nd Course
Herbed Johnny Cakes with Citrus Butter  & Micro Green Salad

Duchman Family Vermentino

I really enjoyed this pairing – I’m not a big white wine fan, but the acidity of the wine cut through the citrus butter beautifully and actually made the dish much lighter to enjoy more food!

Herbed Johnny Cakes with Citrus Butter  & Micro Green Salad

Herbed Johnny Cakes with Citrus Butter & Micro Green Salad

3rd Course
“Angels on Horseback” – Chesapeake Oysters wrapped in bacon sauteed in Plum Butter served on Flatbread

McPherson ‘Tre Colore’ Mourvedre/Carignan/Viognier Blend

Anything wrapped in bacon is great, and these little oysters were nicely nestled in this crunchy chewy porky goodness. This wine was a classic Rhone varietal blend and the slight earthiness of the Mourvedre and Carignan is nicely balanced by the fruit and acidyt of the Viognier – this just goes to show you that America can produce French style wines that are just as good if not better than the originals – American wine ingenuity!

Halloumi Cheese & Radicchio Enchiladas

Halloumi Cheese & Radicchio Enchiladas

4th Course 

Halloumi Cheese & Radicchio Enchiladas

Duchman Family Sangiovese

Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti and so many spaghetti Italian dinners and it was a pleasant match in this wineries rendition. The slight spicyness of the sauce (almost like an Italian marinara) was tastefully offset by the roundness of the wine and created a nice marriage. Another fallacy is that traditional Mexican foods don’t go with wine (Cerveza!), but this again proved that wine is a great bedfellow with Mexican and authentic American cuisine.

Wild Boar Swedish Meatballs

Wild Boar Swedish Meatballs

5th Course

Wild Boar Swedish Meatballs

McPherson ‘La Herencia’ Tempranillo

These were some spicy meatballs! The Tempranillo grape is grown in the dry hot regions of Spain, so this wine really shined..Probably my favorite wine of the night..well, except someone brought a 1o year old McPherson Syrah that was really Super!

Bacon Chocolate Pretzel S'mores

Bacon Chocolate Pretzel S’mores

6th Course

Bacon Chocolate Pretzel S’mores

Coffee & Tea

It was overall a very nice meal and Texas wines will now be one of my Go-To staples – I’ve learned (over and over again!) that you should never assume with wine – just because you think a State is too hot, or cool, or whatever to produce wine, well then they’ll start producing wine, and you’ll be surprised. According to Andrew, Texas is the 6th largest producer of wine in the U.S. What other states are producing wine in the 7th to 50th positions? Who knows!?

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

TasteDC Launches with Grand Bordeaux Tasting – 100 Chateaux and Counting!

December 26th, 2012 • No Comments

What Better Way to Start Than with THE Grand Bordeaux Tasting..

Most Start-ups launch with a big PR blitz and lots of sizzle and noise. That’s great, especially if you have lot’s of venture capitalists/financiers behind you and money to throw..unfortunately, I do not! Still, what better way to launch TasteDC (still needs some Design work – sort of a house that needs door knobs and paint) than with a GRAND Tasting – I mean it’s even in the name – Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux!

Wine Tastings Can Be Daunting!

So what should you expect at this tasting?

1) Great Producers Showcasing a Fantastic Vintage -I’m attaching the list of producers (below) – I know, it’s completely Overwhelming – sort of like going to the store and seeing all those Chateaux on the wine labels and trying to figure out: 1)which one will taste good and 2)why are the prices all over the place – I mean should I really spend $49.99 on a wine when the label on the wine next to it is $8.99? The Grands Crus are the best wine makers in Bordeaux, so you can expect to taste some really great wines.

2) A Chance to Connect and Understand Bordeaux Better – first of all, what is Bordeaux? Bordeaux is one of the largest wine growing regions in the world – it’s in Southeast France just off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The French label their wines primarily by Region (versus by Varietal as we do in America – we say “Cabernet Sauvignon”, the French say “Bordeaux” – get it?) If you like Big Reds, then Bordeaux has them – most are Cabernet or Merlot based, so these give them some weight. Meat eaters love Bordeaux, but they’re surprisingly good with hard cheeses and earthy dishes, especially the kind most people eat in Fall and Winter.

3) Finally Understand What “Vintage” Means and If It’s Important – Vintage is the year the grapes are picked/harvested..NOT the year the wine is bottled – Memorize that! Now that you know, why does it matter? Because grapes are grown outside and the weather and external conditions has a major impact on their ripeness and flavor. Some years are good, some not so much – but 2010 was a stellar growing season for great grapes and thus great wines from this region. Also in great vintages, everyone makes great wine – so you don’t have to purchase the top Names, try and enjoy wines from lesser known producers.

5)There are Five Grands Crus – Five Growths – usually a First Growth costs more than a Second, Second more than Third, etc..it’s not always true, but if you want to understand this better (also called the “1855 Classification”) go here.

Event: Official Unions des Grands Crus Bordeaux Tasting – the Amazing 2010 Vintage
Date: January 24th (Thursday), 2013
Time: 5 – 8 pm
Location: The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20004
Ticket Price: $99/per person (note Special Valet Parking Price Available on Ticketing Form)
***Tickets Have Limited Availability***

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

6 Courses of Pleasure Champagne and Sparkling Wine Dinner – A Celebration with Mayfair & Pine and Thibaut-Janisson

December 9th, 2012 • No Comments

This dinner showcased how sparkling wines make flavors shine..

Top Chef Emily Sprissler
 I love wine dinners – ESPECIALLY Champagne Dinners! On Friday, Dec. 8th, 2012 I attended a 6-Course celebration of Champagne’s and Sparkling wines by producer Thibaut-Janisson Winery paired with Top Chef Emily Sprissler’s Gastropublicious cuisine at her restaurant Mayfair & Pine in Glover Park, D.C. I took pictures of each course and some of the wines as well, so you can skip to the bottom of this post to see how we dined – Very Well! A quick FYI – I actually had organized in the past many wine dinners and cooking classes in the same location when it was a French Bistro called Saveur. Glover Park is an area about 1 mile north of Georgetown on Wisconsin Ave., NW which is still trying to define itself. It has Whole Foods Market as an anchor, but it never had the right mix of restaurants – that is changing rapidly with some re-development and and also a Sweetgreen which brings a quality demographic to the area.

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.

My favorite dish had to be the Lobster Béarnaise – it was exquisite luxury with that buttery sauce and the rich lobster combined! The richness of this dish was perfectly offset by the acidity/minerality of the Champagne which made each bite go from creamy to refreshing and again – something you have to try! We had the richest of the Champagnes with the richest of dishes which are always served last – the fall-apart succulent Braised Short Ribs and the decadent Chocolate Pear Tart (with a scoop of ice cream). The idea of pairing a Champagne with red meat vs. the traditional rich red wine worked for an interesting reason: the grapes used for Rosé wines are Pinot Noir and sometimes Pinot Meunieure (but not in this case) making for a richer wine. Of course after 5 or 6 flutes of sparkling wine, I think my taste buds weren’t very active, and the banter and chatter of an enjoyable evening took over the event – as should be – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

6-Course Champagne Dinner Menu

*1ST COURSE*
Pumpkin Bisque
Thibaut-Janisson Virginia Fizz Blanc de Blancs NV, Virginia

*2ND COURSE*
Tomato Goat Cheese Napoleon
Thibaut-Janisson Cuvee d’etat 2008, Virginia

*3RD COURSE*
Samosa Pie with Date Sauce
Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay NV, Virginia

*4TH COURSE*
Lobster Béarnaise
Janisson et Fils Tradition Brut NV, Champagne

*5TH COURSE*
Braised Short Ribs
Francois de Rozay Brut NV, Champagne

*6TH COURSE*
Chocolate Pear Tart
Janisson et Fils Brut Rose NV, Champagne

A Cheesey Affair: Wine + Cheese Event at Black’s Bar & Kitchen

November 24th, 2012 • No Comments

A Lazy Fall Saturday Afternoon..

I attended a LivingSocial sponsored event “Wine + Cheese at Black’s Bar & Kitchen” (Bethesda, MD) on Saturday, November 17th, 2012 from 1 – 3 pm – actually, it was the first event I had attended through LivingSocial even though I had purchased many restaurant deals from them in the past. The event had 2 flights of cheeses, 12 cheeses in total and wines were paired with them, a total of 8 (See list of wines and cheeses with Photos below). It was a seated event and guided tasting with main presenter Chef Mallory Buford speaking about the cheeses and Black’s Sommelier Anderson Plunket discussing the wines. Chef Buford was very knowledgeable about cheese, but each cheese producer also had their own representative/distributor to talk about each cheese’s qualities. It was a nice combination of class and chance for people to talk amongst themselves – I would call it “lecture light” and more of a chance for people to try everything and make their own conclusions. This restaurant is really known for seafood so it’s kind of interesting that they decided to try a cheese and wine event – my understanding is that all of these cheeses are on their existing menu, so that makes sense..but don’t ask an Italian – they claim that seafood and cheese should never go together!

There were 12 cheeses and 8 wines:

1st Cheese Flight:
1)Cherry Glen Farms Monocacy Silver – Soft-Ripened Goat’s Milk
2)Cherry Glen Farms Monocacy Ash-Soft Ripened Goat’s Milk with Ash Rind
3)Vermont Butter & Cheese Bonne Bouche – Ash-Ripened Goat’s Milk
4)Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole – Aged Goat Milk
5)Vermont Butter & Cheese Cremont – Aged Goat and Cow’s Milk

2nd Cheese Flight:
6)Jasper Hill Farm Weybridge – Organic Cow’s Milk
7)Jasper Hill Farm Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – English Style Cow’s Milk
8)Jasper Hill Farm Landaff – Semi-Firm Raw Cow’s Milk
9)Beehive Creamery Promontory – Irish Style Cow’s Milk
10)Beehive Creamery – Espresso and Lavendar Rubbed Cow’s Milk
11)Beehive Creamery – Cayenne Rubbed Cow’s Milk
12)Jasper Hill Farm – Raw Cow’s Milk Blue

 Wine Pairings:
1)Prosecco, Tenuta S. Anna, NV (Italy)
2)Sancerre, Paul Prieur 2010 (Loire, France)
3)Pinot Gris, Elk Cove 2011 (Williamette Valley, Oregon)
4)Chardonnay, Windracer 2007 (Anderson Valley, CA)
5)Pinot Noir, Domaine Carneros 2010 (Carneros, CA)
6)Merlot, Truchard 2008 (Carneros, CA)
7)Cabernet/Syrah Blend, Treana 2009 (Organic) (Paso Robles, CA)
8)Riesling, Poet’s Leap 2010 (Columbia Valley, WA)

Say “Cheese”!

So these 2 young ladies taught me a new term “Drink Until Your Sober” – I sort of understood what they meant, but they elaborated that this is when you keep drinking, especially wine, and you no longer feel drunk/act drunk..not sure if this is true, but it’s an interesting perspective none the less – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Get Thee To a Valentine..

January 31st, 2012 • No Comments

(Note: Updated on February 9th (Thursday) 2012 – will be updated as events unfold or get Sold Out..)

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).

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SOLD OUT-Savory Syrah – A Global Tour
7 pm
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]ainbridgecellars.com or call 703.356.6500

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TasteDC Chocolate Making 101 at Wanders Chocolaterie

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

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Almost 2012..a Look Back at TasteDC

December 25th, 2011 • No Comments

OK, it’s just a bunch of photos from past TasteDC events, but it kind of shows you where TasteDC comes from – it’s my imagination of how people really would like to eat and drink..a bit of a dream world, but food is so much more than nourishment..Just Enjoy!

Charlie Adler, Managing Editor
TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar
“Educate Your Palate”