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Posts Tagged ‘Wine Pairing’

Impromptu Evening With Friends? A Bottle of Golden Bordeaux is All You Need

November 26, 2018 6 comments

You just came home from work. It was a hard day. The boss [again] didn’t get your idea, and you didn’t get much support from your coworkers either. All you want to do is to crawl into the old trusted chair with your feet, open the book, and get lost in its pages. Tomorrow will be another day, and all the problems will magically solve themselves. Or you will force them to solve themselves. No matter what, but “me evening” is about to begin.

The doorbell rings. Really? The doorbell? What the heck? You sure didn’t invite anyone over. Get the sleepers on, let’s see, maybe it is just a late package. Ahh, it is not a package. It is your friend. And she just had a rough day at work, and she needs at least an ear, and hopefully not a shoulder.

Walk her in, get her situated on the couch. Then you get this burning feeling – something is amiss. Oh yeah, of course – there is nothing on the coffee table, and your friend sheepishly confirms that she is really “not that hungry”, and your perfectly know what it means – while nobody is looking for a 5-course meal, a little something would be great.

You didn’t shop for a while, and all you got is some crackers, some chips, salami and a bit of cheese. And of course, you need to bring a bottle of wine, which is a must for the free-flowing conversation, but what wine would pair well with such an eclectic spread of crackers and salami?

So let’s stop here, as I’m not writing a fiction novel, and let’s analyze the situation. We got chips, crackers, cheese, and salami – what would pair well with it? I’m sure you have your own take on this, but let me give you mine – how about some Golden Bordeaux to pair with this eclectic mix?

If you are curious what Golden Bordeaux is, I’m sure you can easily guess it – heard of Sauternes? Have you ever seen a bottle of Sauternes? Yes, it typically looks like a liquid gold, hence the reference to the Golden Bordeaux.

The term “Sauternes” here is used rather generically, and Golden Bordeaux might be more suitable than just Sauternes – however, while the Golden Bordeaux makes sense, I’m not sure how common the term is.

Of course, first and foremost, Bordeaux is known for its reds (anyone who experienced Bordeaux whites from Pessac-Léognan would easily disagree, but still). However, Bordeaux is a lot more than just the reds. On the left bank of the Gironde river, which splits Bordeaux in half, lies the region called Graves. Inside of Graves resides the small region of Sauternes with its neighbors Monbazillac, Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac, as well as Barsac which is a sub-region of Sauternes. Together, all these regions are the source of the Golden Bordeaux, the unique white wine made from the partially raisined grapes due to their contact with so-called Noble Rot. It is common to describe Sauternes as sweet, dessert wines – but the flavor profile of these wines goes way beyond just sweet, offering layers of complexity, and therefore suitable for a lot more than just a dessert course.

A few weeks ago, a group of wine aficionados got together for the virtual tasting of the Golden Bordeaux, hosted and guided by the kind folks from Snooth. This tasting went beyond just a standard format of tasting and discussing the wines – we also had an opportunity to experiment with the variety of savory and spicy snacks, which included Sweet Potato and Beet Crackers from Trader Joe’s, Sriracha Cashews, Jalapeno Chicken Chips, Gusto by Olli Calabrese Spicy Salami, and Jack Link Sweet & Hot Jerky. Spicy and sweet, as well as sweet and salty are well-known combinations for anyone who likes pairing wine and food. However, these Golden Bordeaux wines go beyond just sweet, often adding a layer of forest mushrooms and herbs to their taste profile, which helps to complement the ranges of savory dishes.

I had a few surprises and personal learnings in this tasting. I never paid attention to the mushroom undertones in the Golden Bordeaux, so this was definitely an exciting discovery. I also never thought that those wines need some breathing time – and I was wrong, as you can see in the notes below – another little memory knot is in order. I also found out that not all food can be good for the tasting – the Chicken Jalapeño crackers were so spicy for me, that I had my lips burning for an hour in the tasting. It would be fine if this was a pairing and conversation with a friend, but for the next time around, I plan to taste the wines first, and only then try it again with spicy food.

Now, here are my notes from the tasting:

2016 Château Manos Cadillac (13.5% ABV, $12.99, 95% Semillon, 2.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 2.5% Muscadelle)
Light golden color
Peach, honey, beautiful nose, very inviting
Delicious palate, peach, candied peach, caramel, good acidity 8/8-
Very nice with beets crackers from Trader Joe’s

2014 Château du Cros Loupiac (13% ABV, $12, 90% Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Golden color
Complex nose of caramel and herbs, a touch of spicy notes, great complexity
Beautiful concentration on the palate, candied fruit, golden raisins, perfect balance. 8+
Amazingly elevates sweet and hot beef jerky, wow

2016 Château Loupiac-Gaudiet Loupiac (13% ABV, $17, 90% Sémillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc)
Light golden color
Sweet apples, herbs. Later on: truffles!
First reaction: Sweet apples on the palate – need more acidity
After 20 minutes: good acidity, mushroom, forest floor. 8-
Excellent with hot beef jerky

2011 Château Dauphiné Rondillon Loupiac (13.5% ABV, $28, 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc)
Golden color
Honey, plums, candied plums
First reaction: Burned sugar, then medicinal. Ouch
After 20 minutes been open: sugar plums, white plums, good acidity showed up. 7+/8-
Later on – mushrooms on the nose (really a discovery for me), caramel. Savory caramel on the palate. Interesting – definitely a food wine.
Very good with salami and sweet potatoes crackers

2015 Château La Rame Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (13% ABV, $22, 100% Sémillon)
Golden color
Very restrained, a touch of tropical fruit, distant hint of honey, gasoline added after 20 minutes
First reaction: Candied fruit, really sweet, can use more acidity. 7
After 20 minutes: vanilla, cookies’n’cream, light, good acidity. 8-/8
Tried with hot beef Jerky – not bad

2016 Château Lapinesse Sauternes Grand Vin de Bordeaux (14% ABV, $20, 100% Sémillon)
Golden color
Lemon, lemongrass, touch of honey, white plums
Candied fruit, apples, good acidity. 8
Didn’t make much difference with spicy salami

2006 Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes (14% ABV, $90, 99% Semillon, 1% Sauvignon Blanc)
Dark gold color
Honey, candied lemon, touch of caramel
Beautiful palate, fresh caramel, butterscotch cookie, good acidity. Very rich. 8-
Very good with beef jerky, also with jalapeño chicken strips

Here you are, my friends – Golden Bordeaux and eclectic snacks. Get a few bottles on hand – the wines are versatile, and can be enjoyed in many ways – especially when the late night friend pops in.

The Golden Bordeaux wines are definitely underrated – here is the great opportunity to surprise yourself and your friends. And you can thank me later. Cheers!

Sent with Writer

Restaurant Files: Grand Experience at Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut

July 25, 2015 7 comments

For the past 2 years, I had an opportunity to experience many great Connecticut restaurants, often in the group of passionate foodies (also known as bloggers), and to share those experiences with the world. Majority of our visits included food and wine, but I would say that food was always a star. Don’t get me wrong – we had a lot of wonderful cocktails and wines at most of the places we visited, but we had to connect food with wine on our own.

What would make dining experience “Grand”? To me, this is simple – proper pairing of food with the wine completely changes your dining experience. When the wine “works” with the food, the result is greater than the simple sum of two – it is totally different, elevated experience, a true celebration for your taste buds. This is exactly what I experienced at our recent visit to Bistro V & Pâtisserie in Greenwich, Connecticut. Every dish on the menu had its own wine pairing – and most importantly, not just a pairing, but very successful pairing.

Bistro V originally opened in 1980 on the busy Greenwich Avenue strip of shops and restaurants in Greenwich. In 2014, Marc and Evelyne Penvenne (originally from Burgundy, the owners of another successful Greenwich eatery, Méli-Mélo Crêperie & Juice Bar) took over the Bistro V and since then reintroduced it to their customers, maintaining dining experience as French classic as it can be.

We started our evening with the cocktail of Byrrh and Sparkling wine. Byrrh is something I never heard of before. According to Wikipedia, it is “an aromatised wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle, and quinine”. Byrrh was created in 1860s, and it was very popular as an apéritif in Europe and US. It disappeared in US after the Prohibition, and was reintroduced back only in 2012. The cocktail of Byrrh and Monmousseau sparkling wine was excellent, light, refreshing and very easy to drink ( dangerously easy).

While we were enjoying our apéritif, two Hors D’oeuvres showed up, perfectly single bite size – tiny toasts with smoked salmon and similarly sized Paté toasts. Both worked extremely well with our sparkling apéritif.

As we situated at our tables, the bread baskets arrived. It is not for nothing there is a word Pâtisserie in the name of the restaurant. Baking is an indelible part of Bistro V, and while these were not the pastries, which Bistro V is famous for (well deserves a separate post), these rolls were incredible – fresh, yeasty, comforting, crusty, warm and fuzzy feeling-inducing. Nope, can’t describe it – but this bread alone is well worth the restaurant visit.

Fresh made dinner roolsOne fun part of been in a group of bloggers (besides the fact that no dish arriving at the table can be touched until multiple cameras with flash and without would be deployed for the good period of time – and also nobody would scream at you about using the flash) is that you get to see and do things which would be impossible if you just come to eat at the restaurant as a regular customer. For instance, to visit the kitchen. We were given an opportunity to step into the kingdom of the Executive Chef Erik Erlichson and snap a few pictures as the food was ready to be brought out – definitely a fun thing to do.

Watermelon and Feta Salad ReadyOur dinner started with Watermelon Salad (Ricotts salata, Candy-pickled rind, pine nuts, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette). The contrast of sweet watermelon and sharp cheese was perfect, and addition of peppery arugula and pine nuts provided both spicy undertones and the texture. The intended wine pairing was Barone Fini Pino Grigio from Veneto. I have to tell you that inner snob got in the way here, and I expressed my surprise with the Italian Pinot Grigio at the French restaurant to our server – as the result, my pour was very small and I finished it before salad arrived – I think they would work together well, but I was unable to establish that.

Our next dish was Chilled Maine Lobster (Court-Bouillon-poached, hearts of palm, radish, tomato, cilantro emulsion). With this dish, there was a slight inconsistency, which is probably unavoidable when serving tasting portions – the portions which had mostly the claws were excellent, but the other part of the body were rather chewy. But in any case, the dish paired perfectly with 2014 Domaine La Colombe Rosé, Provence, which was excellent, clean, with touch of strawberries and perfect balance.

Next up – the Iron Skillet Grilled Branzino (Shaved fennel in citrus emulsion, orange “oil”) – an outstanding presentation to begin with. Crispy skin and very tasty dish overall, with an excellent balance of flavor. Here we were first introduced to the range of wines from Lebanon. 2012 Ixsir Altitudes White, Lebanon (blend of Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon, Sémillon) had a touch of white fruit on the nose, spicy balanced palate of white peaches and a hint of spices, overall an outstanding wine. The pairing was excellent, the wine really boosted the flavor of the dish, moving the whole experience to the next level.

Next dish was Crispy Hudson Valley Duck Breast (Salad of confit, snap peas, carrot ginger dressing) – this was simply a perfection on the plate – every component of the dish was excellent by itself and delicious together. The wine pairing was very surprising – Cabernet Sauvignon blend from France (I would rather expect to see a Pinot Noir with duck), but once again, the wine complemented the dish spot on, delivering the next level of hedonistic pleasure. “F” Cabernet Sauvignon by Dave Phinney, France (15% ABV) had nice red fruit, touch of herbs, dark fruit on the palate, mint, touch of earthiness, nice spice and excellent balance, making the high ABV absolutely unnoticeable.

At this point in the dinner my relationship with the server completely restored after the Pinot Grigio fiasco, and I got to taste the wine which was not a part of the wine program for the evening – 2012 Ixsir Altitudes Rosé, Lebanon, a blend of Syrah and Caladoc (a new grape for me!) which was excellent, crisp, with strawberries on the palate and clean acidity, very refreshing.

Question: have you come across a new phenomenon (for me, at least) – a natural mineral water from Bordeaux? I saw one recently at the wine store, and we got to taste one at the restaurant – we had Ô Muse Grand Cru de l’Eau Natural Mineral Water from Bordeaux, both still and sparkling. I wouldn’t claim that I noticed any difference with any other regular or sparkling water, but I still wanted to mention this as we should expect to see those more often.

Let’s get back to food. While all the dishes were outstanding, I still had a favorite of the evening – Versailles Steak Tartar (Filer Mignon pf grass-fed beef, house sauce, traditional condiments, baguette toasts) – my notes only say “wow! wow!” – do I need to say more? This dish was a fiesta of flavor, simply spectacular. If you like Steak tartar, you owe it to yourself to come and experience it at Bistro V. The wine pairing was absolutely spectacular as well. 2010 Ixsir Altitudes Cabernet Blend, Lebanon (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Caladoc, Tempranillo) had the nose of herbs, tobacco, smoke and red fruit. The palate was concentrated, with the nice tannins, dark fruit, firm and well structured – an excellent wine overall.

Our dessert was very simple, but uniquely refreshing and delicious – Chilled Fruit Soup (Cedric’s frozen yogurt). It also paired perfectly with Pineau de Charentes, a fortified wine made from the lightly fermented grape must with addition of neutral Cognac brandy.

At the end of the evening, we had an opportunity to thank Executive Chef Erik Erlichson for the delicious meal and inundate him with questions.

Chef Erik ErlichsonThere you have it, my friends – Grand Experience at the Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you live in the area or plan to visit, I highly recommend you will make Bistro V a part of your dining plans. Cheers!

Bistro V
339 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06
Phone: 203-661-6634
http://versaillesgreenwich.com/

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Beer Versus Wine (And Don’t Forget The Cider) + Food

October 9, 2014 10 comments

I don’t know what you think based on the title, but the premise of this [short] post is simple. The Wondering Gourmand has a permanent monthly feature in his blog, called “Beer Versus Wine Pairing Challenge”. In that challenge, you are given a choice of a dish, and you are supposed to come up with the wine or beer (and don’t forget the cider!) pairing suggestion which then gets voted for.

As a lucky winner of the September challenge, I had an opportunity to come up with the new dish for the challenge, and my suggestion was … deviled eggs! So now you can suggest a choice of pairing, and may be then get a lucky challenge of coming up with the next dish suggestion. Here is the link to the official post – use the comments section in the Wondering Gourmand post for your beer versus wine recommendations.

Beer Versus Wine Pairing Challenge – Deviled Eggs

Cheers!