Following up on our previous post about designing a wine tasting party, today we’re going to talk about the second aspect ~ THE FOOD!
It’s no secret that I love all things related to wine and food. I love how spicy Thai can balance the sweetness of Riesling or the acidity of Grüner Veltliner. I love how Pinot Noir enhances the earthiness of mushrooms without overpowering them. Food should be an integral part of any wine tasting experience.
The classic fare for a wine party is a cheese display. You can see our post on How to Build the Perfect Cheese Platter for tips on selecting the perfect cheeses. For a large group, I create a display that includes charcuterie, nuts, berries and dried fruits. In place of standard crudités, I use roasted or grilled vegetables. Rounded out with assorted crackers and baguettes, the display is hearty and filling especially if your event falls over the dinner hour.
Make sure to have your cheese display placed in an area that allows for good flow and doesn’t block the wine tasting stations. While cheeses aren’t discount food, providing this large display may allow room in your event budget for higher-end nibbles paired to specific wines, or there are several websites and blog posts that offer suggestions for specific wine and cheese pairings if you want to stop here.
For my events, I pair specific hors d’oeuvres with each of my 6 wine selections. (See more about wine selections in our previous post) The internet is a wealth of information here. Spending time researching your selected wines can lead to some really beautiful pairings. If you don’t have the time for research, classic pairings are a great start. A bright and fresh Pinot Grigio is perfect with seafood. A bold Bordeaux is amazing for hearty meats. For a crowd, remember to provide some vegetarian selections. Also, with food allergies more prominent, make sure you or your staff knows what food you are serving and what ingredients are included.
Some tasting notes and pairings from one of my recent events:
2012 Cave la Romaine Côtes du Rhône Viognier ~ Rhône, France
The original French version of Virginia’s state grape combines great fruit with a slight floral aroma but with no sweetness and a flinty minerality. Aged in stainless steel to enhance the crispness and acidity. Wonderful as a special-event wine. Perfect for the holidays.
New England Lobster Bisque
with Fresh Tarragon and Meyer Lemon Cream
2009 Bodega Hirart Crianza ~ Cigales, Spain
100% Tempranillo from the Cigales region of northern Spain is aged in oak for a year to mellow the tannins. This full-bodied wine has big fruit flavors with some spice and a little oak finish. The vineyard’s original underground caves and vessels were made of clay and eventually replaced by concrete tanks.
Barcelonence Manchego and Membrillo
2011 Società Agricola Bulichella Rubino ~ Tuscany, Italy
A Medium Bodied Super Tuscan that draws on the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon, the sweet, juicy fruit flavors of Merlot, and the sour-cherry tang of Sangiovese. Made with organic grapes, this wine is very approachable. Aged half in steel half in 2nd to 3rd cycle oak barrels. The oak smoothes out the tannins without making the wine seem oaky.
Beef Tenderloin and Mushroom Skewer
With Piemonte Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Fresh Rosemary
NonVintage Quevedo Special Reserve Tawny Port ~ Douro, Portugal
This fortified wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Barroca. Aged 8 years in French Oak, this wine has a soothing flavor of honey and spices evocative of pepper and nutmeg well integrated with wood. In the mouth, it has a good intensity that emphasizes notes of dried fruit and spices with a lingering finish.
Lisboa Leite Crème scented with Cinnamon and Nutmeg
As always, have fun, try something new, and drink and eat what you love.