Monday, April 19, 2010

Sauvignon Blancs From Around the World: First Wine/Food Pairing Event

The Objective:
I want to experiment over the next few months with home wine and food pairing events, so that I can try to develop a workable model for a marketable business involving food and wine pairings in the future.  Lucky for me, I have several wine loving friends who are enthusiastic about joining into my experiments!  I recently hosted my first such event, and here's the report.

The Format:

Four guests and I brought wine.  The only criteria were that the wine be a Sauvignon Blanc varietal, and be above a certain modest price.  Three guests and I prepared food we thought might pair well with Sauvignon Blanc.  There was a sea of glasses on the table, because the five wines were served in flights.  Guests were invited to take their time, first sampling each wine without food, and then trying each of the wines with the food offerings.  All were provided with charts on which to take notes if they wished.

The Wine Lineup:
  • 2007 Domaine Cordaillat Reuilly "Les Sables"  12.5% alcohol
  • 2007 Highfield Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) 13.0% alcohol
  • 2008 Domaine Patrick Coulbois Pouilly-Fumé "Les Cocques"  12.5% alcohol
  • 2009 Guenoc Lillie's North Coast Sauvignon Blanc, California.  13.5% alcohol
  • 2009 Aresti Reserva Sauvignon Blanc D.O. Curico Valley, Chile.  13.0% alcohol

The Cuisine: 

A young goat cheese gouda with crackers
Grilled Shrimp with Citrus-Sambal-Oelek Dressing

Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraîche and Capers

And for dessert,

Marcia’s Zippy Lemon Bars (Recipe below)

The Votes:

There were wild and interesting variations in individual pairing preferences, which was a lot of fun.  However, here are some generalizations:  The Chilean wine got raves with the goat gouda.  The two chèvre appetizers got votes with the New Zealand wine, although they also got some votes paired with the two French wines.  The two vegetable dishes were favored with the Guenoc.  And there were several votes preferring the shrimp and salmon with the two French wines.   

A couple more personal pairing notes:  I thought the shrimp dish paired nicely with all of the wines, and was not surprised at that.  However I was somewhat surprised to find that Ialso enjoyed the Asparagus Salad with most of the wines - I expected that to be a tougher pairing.  My favorite wine to just sip was the Pouilly-Fumé ( a view not shared by all), but interestingly, the Guenoc and Chilean wines I thought were the best food wines overall, working with the largest number of the foods, even though they were the ones I enjoyed a bit less on their own.

Parting Thoughts: 

It is endlessly fascinating to me, observing the different taste notes people will pick out of  various wines and pairings, and the different preferences guests experience.  After the obvious pleasure of enjoying great wines with great food, this is the most exciting thing to me about wine and food pairing events: the subtle differences in people's palates, and the things I can learn from others as we discuss what we taste!  We all had a great deal of fun, and we're all looking forward to the next party!  Here is a final picture of a well used table!

Marcia's Zippy Lemon Bars

Prep time approx. 40 minutes.

2 c flour
½ c powdered sugar
1 c butter (softened)
Mix above and press into 9 x 13 pan. Bake 20 minutes @ 350 degrees. Let cool a little. Top should be slightly browned with a bit of lighter color showing thru. Watch the corners and edges for faster baking than the middle.

4 beaten eggs
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp lemon juice and a bit of rind

Mix well and pour over warm base. Bake 25-30 minutes longer until top is slightly browned. Cut while slightly warm. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar by hand or w/sifter when cooled. Top must brown before removal from oven. Custard topping may be quite runny if undercooked or cut while hot. Let it cool and settle before cutting. Seems to form a bubbled up thin, caramelized crust w/even browning.

NOTES: I stick to basic baking practices not outlined in the original recipe: I blend the butter and sugar first, add the flour in stages, etc. I use my fist and arm to spread out the base in the pan. Otherwise it is a bear to spread out with a spoon or scraper. I use a whisk on the eggs and remaining ingredients. Meyer lemons don’t have enough zing and acidity, use regular lemons. I don’t measure the amount of juice. I’ve used b/w 1-2 lemons in the past to no measurable difference in texture or flavor. Same with the rind. The more fresh rind, the better though. I use a Pyrex baking pan. Metal seems to induce more dry out in the baking process. I cover all with foil for keeping for a few days. I’ve heard it helps to dip a knife in hot water to aid in cutting, but I’ve no definite answers this works great. Just be gentle.


Kerstin Goetz said...

Fun was, indeed, had by all... I really enjoyed paying conscious attention to my flavor experience, and I learned a lot. I think I'll have more Sauvignon Blanc in the future.
Thanks again for a great evening.

GourmetGal said...

Looks like fun was had by all!

Daphne said...

And thank you both for the comments I can't wait for Round Two!

Mock Turtle said...

That was a great party! I had so much fun comparing all the wines and learned a lot about Sauvignon Blanc. Great food, great wine, and fantastic company. Thanks for hosting a great event!

Daphne said...

MT - thanks for the comment! I'm so delighted you had a good time!

Bon Vivant said...

It was a fab partay! The food was so good and it was interesting to see how all of the wines paired with each dish.

CA wine had the highest level of alcohol, of course.

Daphne said...

BV, thanks for the comment. Now I'm gearing up for the next party!