Good wine warms your mind, body and soul. Good food warms your heart. Friends and family love to gather and share good food and drink. Something different for the change of season is a
wine pairing dinner. This type of evening is best with a small group of 6 – 10 people who are willing to enjoy a different culinary experience. Serve tapas or small plates with a different wine choice for each course. Have some fun with this!
Pairing the right wine with each course requires some research. It’s not always the most expensive wine that is right, it’s more about the right wine complementing the food, enhancing the flavors while the food brings out the subtle hints of the wine. Start light with more delicate flavored wines and food and end with bolder, more intense wines.
Here's a sample wine pairing dinner which I created for 8 guests.
First course: Begin with a cheese and/or cold meat presentation, perhaps a charcuterie board or a baked brie. This gets the gustatory juices working with a wine served cold with high acidity.
Recipe for French Baked Brie with Figs and Pistachios:
Bake the round of brie coated with a fig jam at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Prepare a sliced fig and pistachio nut mixture. Top the warm baked brie with the mixture and serve with a fresh artisan French bread. Paired with a dry Prosecco with light sweetness, served in a delicate champagne glass. A beautiful start!
Recipe for Grilled Watermelon Feta Stacked Salad:
Grill watermelon slices on a hot grill pan for 10 seconds. Plate 2 slices of watermelon with an imported Greek feta in between. Lightly dress arugula with evo, salt and pepper and place on top, drizzle with an aged balsamic vinegar. Paired with a Notorious Pink Grenache 2016 wine from the Languedoc region of France, which complements a fruit and cheese dish with its gentle and sweet flavors.
Third Course: It’s time to offer something more substantial; I chose a shrimp recipe.
Recipe: Shrimp Guacamole style:
Extra-large shrimp are best (5-6 per person). Prepare a mixture of scallions, red onion, cilantro and lime juice as a marinade for your shrimp. In a skillet with olive oil, saute shrimp till pink. Add cayenne pepper for a zing and paprika for a rich color. Plate the shrimp, cube fresh avocado on top with cilantro and a slice of lime. Paired with a red wine, a light French bottle from Southern Rhone, La Mitre Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007, which is a blend of grapes (Shiraz, Grenache & Mourvedre). You can pair with a chardonnay, but my guests were partial to reds.
Fourth Course: Time for some starch to absorb the wine. Make sure you have a pitcher of water or Pellegrino on the table to sip between the glasses of wine.
Recipe: Flatbread with roasted cauliflower, vidalia onions and garlic with prosciutto on the side.
“Brooklyn Bred” flatbreads have a good texture and a light taste. Roast at 400 degrees cauliflower, vidalia onions, garlic, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes for 45 minutes, till browned and the onions are carmelized. Place the mixture on a flatbread, sprinkle with locatelli cheese, put back in the oven for about 10 minutes. Plate with imported prosciutto. Paired with Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013, a Sangiovese wine from Tuscany. This style of wine is rustic yet soulful, medium bodied and complements smoked meats.
Fifth Course: Everyone loves pasta. I created a cacio e pepe truffle based sauce.
Recipe: Molfietta pasta is wider than fettucine with a curled edge. The sauce is made in a skillet combining the grated parmagiano and locatelli cheeses, ground black pepper, a small amount of butter and light cream with a hint of truffle oil to your liking. Cook the pasta
al dente, mix in the skillet, add pasta water as needed to allow the sauce to fully coat the pasta. Plate and shave truffles over the top. Paired with a fine full-bodied Barolo, from the Piedmont region, Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2013. Decanter this type of wine to allow it to breathe and enjoy a full nose with fruit and dark cherry aromas and licorice at the back. This bottle was worth waiting for, a second bottle was fully enjoyed.
An assortment of desserts should follow paired with a port wine or cordial of your choice.