Vin Greco's weekend wine: Party of 12Sunday, August 19, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
Vin Greco is well known locally for his wine expertise.
His interest in wine has been life-long.
Currently he conducts tastings, formal or informal, upon request, and twice a year partners in a tasting with Chef Ian Thomlinson Upstairs at Rome’s.
This week Vin tells us about pairing wines for a party of 12.
Last week I was invited to pair wines for a party of 12 at the home of Marc and Pat Mousseau.
In preparation, we got together to discuss the menu and determine wine preferences.
The courses included tourtière, date wrapped in prosciutto with goat cheese stuffed Portobello mushroom caps, bacon wrapped scallops, a beet, orange and arugula salad, ribs with a beer barbecue sauce, and then crème brulée for dessert.
Wine preferences included a dry rosé, a dry red like Primitivo (Zinfandel’s Italian alter-ego), and a German wine, such as Riesling.
A price range was determined, and then the ball was in my court.
When pouring several wines, one usually goes from white to red, drier to sweeter.
We would want to start, then, with dishes being paired with dry white wine, move on to the German offering and leave the dishes best matched with red wine for the latter part of the tasting.
The seasonings and embellishments for each dish also merit attention.
Often, the main ingredient – let’s say chicken, veal, salmon, lamb, etc. – is really a vehicle for the elements that carry the flavours which will distinguish the dish.
Given the menu, I decided to provide a couple of whites, a rosé, two reds, and a dessert wine.
My first challenge was the date in prosciutto accompanied by the stuffed Portobello mushroom.
The date was giving me sweet, the prosciutto salty, while the mushroom was going to be more delicately flavoured.
Consulting with the host, we agreed that we would serve the mushroom with the scallop, as the flavours might work better together, along with a dry white wine.
I also had to think of which dish would best suit a rosé.
The decision was to go with the Tourtière, a pork based French Canadian meat pie with various spices such as clove or cinnamon and herbs such as sage.
Usually the flavours are congenial, not over the top.
Often the suggested accompaniment is a red wine, such as a Beaujolais.
If you were going to dress the tourtiére with a chili sauce, a red might be the way to go, but by itself, a dry rosé works well.
Salads can be trouble for wine.
The more acidic the dressing, the more it can bludgeon a wine.
In this case, considering the sweetness both the beet and orange can impart, I decided an off-dry German wine could work.
If the dressing were sharp, the wine could off-set it.
This left two reds to match with the date and prosciutto and with the ribs.
I thought of using a petite syrah with the ribs, but decided it would go well with the date, the dryness of the wine counterbalancing the sweetness, and the wine’s fruit and acidity working with the saltiiness of the prosciutto.
The ribs, cooked in a beer sauce, might just have well been served with a good beer, but we were after wine.
We actually paired it successfully with two Australian Shirazes.
That left dessert. Dessert wines can be pricey, from $50 a half-bottle for ice wine or sauternes, to $20 for 500ml. for an HungarianTokaj.
I considered Southbrook Farm’s delicious Framboise, a sweet raspberry wine at $16 the half-bottle, but then I spotted Sperone’s Marsala Cremovo.
As an aperitif, I poured 13th Street White Palette, a blend of aromatic grapes which result in a great sipping white, just off-dry. At $15, it is a worthy alternative to the $24 Vintages Essential, Conundrum, from California.
White Palette can be ordered in at the LCBO, or contact representative Mary Ledlow at Vinaissance, 705-946-2503, as another option.
With the scallop, we settled on Blason Casa in Bruma No.23 Friulano 2010, $14.95.
Friulano is the principle grape of Friuli in northern Italy.
This relative of Sauvignon Blanc is clean and aromatic with quiet herbal notes.
It graced the sweetness of the perfectly cooked scallops, and married well with the bacon’s saltiness.
It was fine with the spinach and goat cheesed stuffed Portobello, too.
The Tourtière followed with the excellent Chateau d’ Aquéria Tavel Rosé 2011, $18.95, a benchmark against which all rosés can be measured.
This dry wine has apple and sour cherry notes, and enough body to carry a milder meat dish. Its flavourful finish wasn’t too heavy to precede the next white.
There are lots of rosés on offer, and they are perfect summer wines. Another just in is Petit Rimauresq at $13.95.
It’s also from the south of France, and carries some herbal notes along with strawberry and stone fruit.
Sensibly, the salad had just the lightest vinaigrette. Rather than Riesling, we enjoyed the Darting Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2011, $16.95.
Made from fully ripened grapes of reserve quality (Kabinett), this was less aggressive than some Gewürtraminers, with some lychee and peach notes.
Its honeyed texture could afford to pick up on the acidity in the vinaigrette.
The goat-cheese stuffed date wrapped in prosciutto harmonized well with the gold medal L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2010 from Mexico, a steal at $11.95 Petite Sirah, or “Durif” makes dark, inky reds with good density and smooth red fruit flavours, even a touch of chocolate or coffee.
This was big enough to carry the sweetness of the date, yet not so heavy as to dominate.
A successful match.
Red Knot Shiraz, $17.95 on the regular list, and Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Shiraz, $19.95, were both poured with the ribs.
The diners were split, some preferring the more robust, Red Knot, others enjoying the smoother, more integrated Rufus Stone.
The rib sauce was not over-powering, and so I liked the Rufus Stone (no longer available, alas – look for the Porcupine Ridge Syrah ,$14.95 instead), but with a stronger sauce the Red Knot would have been up to the task.
The LCBO tasting note for the Sperone Cremova reads, “Deep golden brown; caramel, toffee, coffee and vanilla aromas; full-bodied, and rich with sweet, creamy toffee flavour and a touch of chocolate.
Now, think of Crème Brulée, It was perfect.
This dessert wine has been around forever, and is just $11.95.
Egg yolks provide a lovely silkiness.
Throughout the evening, Damian Binda played his original, relaxing compositions on the piano, providing an ideal backdrop for the party.
From food to wine to music to ideal summer evening, we couldn’t have asked for better.
Damian ‘s website is spiderfingerz.com, and he can be reached by phone at 705-942-3462.
On the August 18th release, consider the following red wines:
Chakana Reserve Malbec 2010, Argentina - $15.95 –great depth, texture and flavour.
Anakena Single vineyard Carmenère 2010, Chile -$15.95 – big cherry flavour with herbal notes.
Manos Negras Pinot Noir 2009, Argentina (Patagonia) $15.95 – their Malbec was delicious, and I expect as much from their Pinot Noir.
Les Trois Soeurs Côtes du Rhône 2010, France - $16.95 - a typical red Rhone blend with ripe berry fruit and Provençal character.
Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010, France- $18.95 - a gold medal wine of great character, dense fruit and rich long finish with aging potential.
Still available from August 4 are Dante Robino Bonarda 2009, Argentina - $13.95 – expressive black fruit and meaty notes, and Domaine Les Yeuses Les Epices Syrah 2009 - $13.95 – fantastic Cote Rotie style, and going fast.