Posts Tagged ‘wine pairing’
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.
A Wine & Food Festival Two Hundred Years in the Making..
Epicurience .. So what makes a wine and food festival a great experience? Well to start, it should have the participation of lot’s of great wineries and Epicurience – dubbed as A food and wine experience so epic, in fact, that we’re calling it something completely new – had a great turnout of Virginia wineries and wines.
Picture a food and wine festival so unique that no existing name quite fit.
Held in the East Coast’s premier wine region, Loudoun, Virginia: DC’s Wine Country.
It’s where insiders come to savor award-winning wines and seek out noteworthy farm-to-table cuisine.
Epicurience on TasteDC – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
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
This a video from a TasteDC Exotic Chocolate Cooking Class with Rob Kingsbury discussing the tempering of chocolates. Tempering is a term both used in chocolate and in food preparation, but the word is used slightly differently for each purpose. In food prep, when you use the term “tempering”, it’s often associated with tempering eggs – if you add raw eggs to a hot liquid, they will scramble, which is usually not the goal, you want to incorporate eggs in an emulsion evenly throughout. Rob, who owns both ACKC on 14th St., in Washington, D.C. and Del Ray, VA, as well as Kingsbury Chocolates in Alexandria, VA, mentions how his mother made Chocolate Cream Pie by tempering eggs. When it comes to chocolate, tempering is about creating shiny hard chocolate which is snaps when you break it or bite into it. This is caused by the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter and solids together, for an intense explanation check out Cooking for Engineers on Chocolate Tempering. If you don’t temper chocolate, it just doesn’t have the appearance and crunch that most people like.
Here’s the information from the TasteDC class:
TasteDC’s Chocolate Temptation:
Class on Making Exotic and Unique Handmade Chocolates
with Rob Kingsbury, Kingsbury Chocolates
Sunday, March 26, 2006
-Chipotle Cinnamon Truffle
-Wasabi Orange Lavender Truffle
-Demonstration of a White Chocolate bar filled with Cranberry and Lime Relish.
Oh, and plenty of wine was served – Port and dessert wines go with chocolate, but medium bodied reds like Merlot do nicely.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I got my Spring wine festival circuit kicked off with a wine seminar at Great Grapes Wine Fest in Cary, North Carolina on this past Saturday, April 17th. Over 30 North Carolina wineries were pouring their wines and all in all, there were some really delicious wines! I brought the book “I Drink on the Job” with me to sell, and even though there were about 100 people seated for my wine seminar from 3-4 pm, I only sold a handful, so lesson was learned – selling a book at a wine festival is going to be tough..On the other hand, it was a really special weekend for me because it was the first time I had ever spent real time in North Carolina. Yes, I had stopped a few times in the past during long drives, but I had never stayed there for a few days to get a sense of the place. And I’m a serious BBQ lover, I even own a Big Green Egg in my backyard in Georgetown, so I had to try some examples from the State.
During my stay in Cary (which is basically an upscale suburb of Raleigh), I decided to go into downtown Raleigh a few hours before my speaking engagement to see what it was about. I just happened to walk right into a few thousand dogs that were frolicking (and pooping all over the place!!) with their owners on a 3K dog walk through the city, below is a short video (less than 20 seconds).
(The guy almost got bit by the 3 dachsunds!!)
So of course, I started to get hungry for something to eat, and there just happened to be a BBQ and Blue Grass Festival a few blocks away at “The Pits” CueGrass Festival so I enjoyed me some ‘cue!
I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich, and it was really good, definitely a keeper.
After that I headed back to the Cary Wine Fest to taste some Carolina wines and include them in my one hour seminar with “I Drink on the Job”.
The audience was very responsive to my message, but as is true with alot of these events, there were many different levels of knowledge and interest in attendance. My goal is to reach those who respond to my message – that wine shouldn’t be put on a pedestal, it’s something you enjoy to make a meal taste better. I really think my message is reaching the audience and possibly influencing more wine purchases, it’s very hard to tell. Unlike cooking and chefs, wine is poorly represented on TV and by the media in general – it just has a stodgy/academic air to it, and frankly most people get bored pretty fast when a wine professional talks about wine – you can tell by their glazed over faces. On the other hand, I think I’m on the cutting edge of a new world of wine entertainment where exciting new ways to approach wine are just evolving. Wine has often been associated with the arts such as Jazz and painting, but what about going in a completely different direction – what about introducing wine with magic or yoga or even hypnosis? I think if the stage drama-level is increased, then people might associate wine with more pizzazz in their life. I’ve seen enough photos of Chateaux, oak barrels, vineyards and grapes on the front labels of wines and their associated media to know that that is way too trite. I think I’m on to something, and I think if I stick with it, the audience will catch on, the media will follow and eventually more wine “entertainers” will appear in many guises.
And who knows, maybe even wine as comedy – it seems like wine and tragedy have already been covered – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
First of all, I want to mention that it’s really great that Daniel is using local resources as his ingredients. It’s really sad that people are so urbanized and removed from nature that they don’t even trust the fruit that grows on their local trees! Just like Daniel used the local quinces for this recipe, I have often thought about using the ginkgo “stinky” fruit that falls from the female trees that are common all over Washington, D.C. Stinky Gingko Fruit – unfortunately, it is SO stinky, that it will probably never happen!
The first point I want to make is that I am not a proponent of pairing dessert wines and dessert – the way I see it, there’s a missing synergy. In my book (sorry for the blatant promo!) I Drink on the Job – I have a complete chapter on pairing wine and food, and the principle that comes to mind is “1+1=1/2”. It seems weird, but when you put a sweet food in your mouth and then you drink a sweet beverage (it could be any beverage – fruit juice, cola, etc.), the sweetness is significantly reduced. The pairing rule I often learned was that the wine should be at least as sweet at the dessert, but I don’t see how it makes a difference – sweet and sweet mostly cancel each other out!
Another point is that the Yinzer torte is made with highly acidic quince fruit turned into a butter emulsion. So now you have acidity – and yes, you do want to match a dishes acidity with the wine, or the wine will taste really flat! You could easily pair this dish with a traditional dessert wine like a Sauternes or a Hungarian Tokaj, and that will do just fine. But let me throw a curve ball.
1) I prefer to have contrast to a sweet dessert dish – just like many people really enjoy coffee with sweets because the tannin in coffee contrasts the sweetness of dessert on your palate, I would rather pair this with a spirit – and my spirit of choice for this dish is either a Cognac or a Calvados. Cognac is distilled from grapes and has a nice fruit component. Calvados is distilled from apples and has that fruit component as well. You could have a whisky or a Scotch, but definitely avoid a really smoky/peaty version of the latter – there are no smoke components to this dessert (unless you’re puffing on a cigar at the time!),
2) Change the dish a bit to make it go better with wine – this is called a pairing “bridge”. For example, you could put some chopped walnuts on top and maybe serve with a slice of blue cheese and now Ruby Port goes perfectly! Crunchy nuts would also add texture which makes food more interesting on the palate. Add a caramel sauce, and now a Tawny port, which is port that has been pre-aged in barrel will work with those flavors. You could even bridge this dessert by making a dessert wine reduction, and that would bring the flavors together.
3) Add fresh whipped cream with a little liqueur in it like Cointreau. OK, it won’t match better with any wine, but certainly it will make the dish all the better, and isn’t pleasure what you’re really after?
Consider yourself paired!
Charlie Adler, Author, I Drink on the Job
This was a crazy week for me, so I’m just starting to wind down and think about it more. I was on the “Thunder Show” with Gary V on Monday (although it went up on Wednesday), traveled back to DC through the snow and began in earnest to market my book the rest of the week, with a small respite for a “Unique Spirits 101” class that I organized with my full-time gig TasteDC. I always like to look back at my week and try to sift through what was important, what I learned and if I need to avoid any situations. I sort of live in a bubble – all I care about is promoting my message – wine and food were meant to be together – and that’s become my life goal, better not get in the way!
I love wine, and I love food, so I’m in a bit of a quandary (a common state for me!)..why is it in the wine world that we try to evaluate and break down wine, but in the food world, it only happens in rare occasions such as competitions..a little vague, but let me explain. Whenever I’m teaching a class on wine like my “Wine Basics 101” class at TasteDC, attendees always ask me to “explain” what I’m tasting. People who are attending a wine class obviously want to learn more about wine, but I’m not sure why they want to know what I’m tasting – does it translate well to their taste buds? If I taste spearmint, blackberry and tobacco, and you taste peppermint, cranberry and honey, who’s right? By breaking down the components of the “taste” of wine, do I make it any easier for a beginner wine drinker to understand the wine? Will the attendee be empowered by the experience or intimidated, and ultimately, will it get the person to purchase more wine?
First of all, I don’t have the answer, that’s why I’m in a quandary – there is no answer, sometimes just looking at the question brings awareness to the situation (my Zen side!). So I posed an additional question to myself: if we break down wine into its individual parts, shouldn’t we do so for food as well? In my book “I Drink on the Job” I spend alot of time talking about the connection between food and wine. I have one quote – read it, consider it, make a picture of it in your mind:
Americans don’t seem to trust their sense of taste with wine. If you like steak, then you don’t need anyone to tell you if it’s good or not; you’ve enjoyed steak since you were young and you know what you like–medium or medium-rare, one-inch thick, two-inch, rib eye, filet or strip–even if someone else disagrees. We have no experience with wine as a culture, so we seek peer approval..
Charlie Adler with Gary Vaynerchuk on Official Launch of “I Drink on the Job” Book
OK, time for “I Drink on the Job”s 15 minutes of fame..it all started on a cold rainy day, windswept and forlorn..
Actually, I met Gary V on his “Crush It” book tour when he visited American University in Washington, D.C.
Crush It has had a huge influence on my book marketing via Social Media..
I give Gary V credit, he’s a very savvy guy, and being on the show is about the most exhilarating experience I’ve ever had,
I mean it’s like an emotional roller-coaster, it was scary and fun at the same time!
I’ll have more on this tomorrow – I’m watching I Drink Amazon.com Sales go through the roof!!