Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eight Is The Magic Number

On Friday night Joshua and I went on a food & wine journey!

We both bought a Groupon for an 8 course dinner paired with 8 glasses of wine meant to compliment each other perfectly.  When I first saw it I was really excited though after my slightly negative experience at the same restaurant a while back I got a bit nervous.  Well, thankfully, it was a WHOLE different ball game and wayyyy better.  Let’s get started shall we?

First things first!  We were told how to properly taste wine —> 1. Sniff (determine the undertones) 2. Swirl (to mix in the alcohol rim and to show off the legs, the longer they linger the more alcohol in the wine) 3. Sip (first on the front of the tongue then to the middle of the tongue) 4. Savor (take it all in and commit the flavors to memory)

Now for the experience!

1st course food: tomato-basil-orange soup
1st course wine: 2010 Ironstone Obsession Symphony (a brand new type of grape)


Thoughts: The wine was supposed to have apricot, pear, apple, and lemongrass undernotes in it.  I’m not sure I tasted all of those but the wine itself was nice.  When you paired it with the food the acidity in the soup from the tomato was supposed to knock out the lemongrass-y flavor in the wine, make it sweeter.  For me it did the exact opposite but oh well, I still liked the two together.

2nd course food: spring greens w/ cranberries, feta, and raspberry vinaigrette
2nd course wine: Pepperwood Grove Sauvignon Blanc


Thoughts: For me this was NEATEST course we had because I could actually taste a difference in the wine.  When you ate the salad with the raspberry dressing it made the wine taste completely different.  At first the wine was a bit acidic and had undernotes of orange, vanilla, and hibiscus.  When combined with the dressed salad the wine turned completely sweet and floral.  It was awesome, potentially my favorite wine of the night.

3rd course food: linguine with a white sauce and baby shrimp
3rd course wine: 2010 Zonin Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie


Thoughts: This course was more about the pasta for me than the wine.  It was good but nothing special.  The pasta though tasted really good.  The white sauce was creamy and the baby shrimp were slightly cold (not unlike last time) but I overlooked it.  The white sauce was supposed to take the oak out of the wine, make it less acidic.  I think it worked a bit but I wasn’t blown away by the transformation.

4th course food: strata with cheese
4th course wine: 2010 William Hill Chardonnay


Thoughts: This course was again built to demonstrate that rich foods can take the oak out of a wine.  I’m not sure it worked all the way but I liked the fullness of the chardonnay with the egg taste of the strata.  I noticed that people’s portion sizes differed greatly.  For instance, I got a piece that was probably 5'”x2” and Joshua got a 2”x2” piece.  I didn’t finished mine though he helped me with that.

At this time (I think it was roughly 1.5-2 hours into the meal) we were told we were taking an intermission and that we should get up, hydrate, walk around, and prepare for our last four courses.  I must admit that I was feeling the wine at this point when I stood up.  Seriously, I had already had FOUR glasses, okay?!?  I was going about one for one with wine and water glasses during the meal but apparently it just wasn’t enough.  Anyways, we walked around and came back to the table 15 minutes later to learn how to naturally aerate wine.  Here’s a quick how to: 1. Sniff 2. Swirl 3. Sip on the front of your tongue and as it moves to the middle of your tongue take in a sharp breath through your nose (beware, you may get wine up into your nose!) 4. Savor the aerated flavor.  Believe me, it takes a while to get used to but it definitely changed the flavor.  Kind of cool.

5th course food: tilapia topped with lemon sauce and a spear of asparagus
5th course wine: 2009 Tilia Merlot


Thoughts: Portion size what??  We all got maybe a 3'” square piece of fish and a SINGLE spear of asparagus.  It was tiny for sure but the point was the pairing.  The merlot had cocoa, blackberry, walnut, ash, and earthy undertones and when you ate the fish with the sauce and then sipped the wine it was supposed to make the wine more acidic.  I’m not sure why that was something desirable so I drank the wine and then ate the fish or at least had gulps of water in between.  I got through it though Merlots are not my favorite to start with.

6th course food: chicken breast topped with a cream sauce and harvest rice
6th course wine: 2009 McWilliam’s Pinot Noir


Thoughts: The chicken was super small and a bit cold and A LOT dry.  The rice was also nothing special.  However, if I’m being honest, I (and probably everyone else) was way too happy and high on wine to really care all that much.  In terms of the pairing, the nuttiness of the rice and the chicken was supposed to enrich the nutty undertones of the wine.  I don’t know if it did but from what I can remember this was a stellar wine and that is a lot coming from a white wine woman (say that five times fast).

7th course food: pork topped with mushroom sauce and cornbread stuffing
7th course wine: 2009 William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon


Thoughts: The pork was SUPER dry but the cornbread stuffing stole the show and was moist enough that if you took a bit of it with every bite of pork it worked well enough.  The wine was okay, not the best, and I honestly can’t remember what the pairing was supposed to do.  I do know I drank the whole glass though so it couldn’t have been that bad.

8th course food: mint chocolate brownie with whipped cream
8th course wine: 2010 Deakin Estate Moscato


Thoughts: The brownie was delicious (if not store bought looking) and the sweet, wonderful wine went fantastically.  Is that even a word?  Anyways, I liked ending on a sweet note because I had had enough acidity from the past three red wine glasses.  By this time though, I probably could have gone for anything…

Overall, this was a great night.  It took 3.5 hours to complete and our table provided wonderful company.  We laughed, snorted wine (on total accident), talked, tasted, and just enjoyed each other.  It wouldn’t have been the same if we had had another table of guests.  I enjoyed the food.  I enjoyed the wine.  I enjoyed the pairings.  I would probably do it again too, though only with another Groupon.  =D

Questions: Does this sound like something you would want to do?


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