Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Host, Toast & Post Assist!

While not an official “Poster,” I was given a delightful opportunity by my friend and fellow blogger, Bon Vivant, to co-host a dinner as part of the 2009 Nine Vines Holiday Challenge.  Bon V.’s excellent post on our dinner can be found here, but I shall add a few notes of my own (however I will steal Bon V.’s pictures!).

We began with the 2008 Nine Vines Grenache-Shiraz Rosé, which by itself had pretty notes of not over-ripe strawberry, raspberry and kiwi.  By itself, the wine was very fruit forward, but Bon V.’s inspired Grilled Shrimp Ceviche really brought out the acidity of the wine, softened the fruit, and created more balance in the mouth.  I’d call it a highly successful pairing!

Next came the 2007 Viognier, a light and fragrant wine with notes of baked green apple and lychee.  I will confess here that my first vote for a pairing with the delicious Linguine and Clams Bon V. made would have been something a bit less fruity and more acidic, like a Pinot Gris, so the success of this pairing was a lovely revelation for me!  The pairing accomplished the dual tasks of creating a rounder, creamier mouth-feel in the Viognier, while accentuating the fresh brininess of the clams, and it really worked beautifully!

Last came the 2008 Shiraz-Viognier, which by itself had notes of pie cherries.  We paired the Shiraz with both grilled Ahi tuna steaks served with a wild arugula salad, and lamb shoulder chops served with a fennel relish.  We wanted to experiment with both a conventional (lamb) and unconventional (tuna) pairing for this wine, and it was a fun experiment.  Personally, I preferred the lamb and fennel with the Shiraz – the lamb brought out the fruit, while the fennel brought out notes of raisins and cassis.  Meanwhile, I really loved the Viognier with the tuna, and I really liked the arugula salad with the rose!  Go figure!

What emerges for me are these thoughts:  These three wines formed an excellent grouping for creating a very diverse meal.  They had been very well described by the distributor, making our pairing task easier – all of the pairings worked wonderfully.  In fact, most of the dishes worked well with more than one of the wines, which is an indication of the versatility of these particular wines!  Most important, it was an example of the magical evening that can be created by this kind of intentional pairing!  The wine pairings evoked a great deal of lively conversation among our guests, and everyone participated in offering opinions about the wines and food.  We all tasted slightly different notes, and had different preferences about the pairings, which was simply a lot of FUN!  And this, at the end of the day, is what I truly love about entertaining.  I love the camaraderie, the friendship, the smiles and the laughter created by coming together over a shared meal.  It makes it all worthwhile! 

For recipes of all the dishes, see Bon V.’s post, and my heartfelt gratitude to her for the chance to join in the fun!


Bon Vivant said...

Wonderful review! Thanks so much for joining me in this challenge - I couldn't have done it without you.

Tony Ingle said...

I really wish I could have been there with you ladies for what was obviously a fantastic dinner with awesome food and wine pairings. Harvest is rapidly approaching and we look forward to sharing these dishes with our team.

Cheers from Downunder - Tony Ingle Chief Winemaker Angove Family Winemakers

Mock Turtle said...

What a fantastic dinner! Love the descriptions and the pics. Glad you all had a wonderful time.