I love to drink wine, but honestly I don't know much about wine. I know what I like and what I dislike, but that all changed a bit last night. Thanks to my friend, Liz. Last month was my birthday and Liz decided she was going to take me to a class at the Dierberg's School of Cooking. ☺ What a great gift!!!
Last night we attended a Pairing Food & Wine Class, which we both loved. It was taught by a Certified Wine Educator named, Ted Fuehne. He does wine tastings and events all over the area. Since we signed up to be on his mailing list, I'm sure you will be hearing more about him and the wines he will teach us about. Last night we got to sample 6 different wines from Cupcake Vineyards. Did you know that all Cupcake Vineyards wines are only $10 at Dierbergs? Ted then paired each Cupcake selection with something from the Dierberg's deli department. Which by the way, have some really great items to help you create a perfect dinner party without having to lift a finger in the kitchen. I obviously love to cook, but I'm also not opposed to using quality, freshly prepared foods to make the evening more easy for the host. Dierbergs is the perfect place to help you achieve that.
Here is a what we enjoyed:
Mosel Riesling (Germany) - paired with mild cheddar and creamy havarti cheese and fruit - I started enjoying wine about 10 years ago while visiting wineries in Missouri. I started out with a Riesling similar to this one. If you are new to wine, this would be a great selection to start off. It's fruity, not too overly sweet and a great wine for sipping on a hot summer night. It would be really nice to pair with spicy Asian food, but just sweet enough to enjoy by itself after dinner.
Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) - paired with penne pasta in a creamy and garlicky Alfredo sauce - this was my least favorite only because I'm not a fan of the more "grapefruity" wines. This grape makes wines that are just too simply too tart for my taste. Strong flavors of limes, lemons and grapefruit shine through. I was surprised though the way it balanced out against the garlic in the Alfredo sauce and I would probably like this with a garlic roasted chicken and grilled asparagus. So, while this wasn't my favorite, I enjoyed learning about how to pair it and make it more easy on my palette.
Chardonnay (California) - paired with roasted chicken. I was very surprised with this selection as well. Typically Chardonnays are too "oaky" for me and I don't care for them. This however was more buttery, soft and smooth. Ted said that many vineyards are realizing the strong oak flavor is overpowering and not enjoyed by most people so they are starting to age them in stainless steel barrels or not aging it as long in the oak barrels. This particular wine was only aged for 9 months in oak barrels which made the toasty oak very subtle and I really enjoyed it with the roasted chicken. The wine took on a creamy buttery flavor up against the slow roasted flavors. This would have also been good paired with the salmon we had with our next selection. I would like to pair this with roasted chicken breast stuffed with a compound butter of blue cheese and spicy peppercorn bacon and see how that turns out.
Shiraz (Australia) - paired with lemon-pepper salmon. I learned last night that Shiraz and Syrah are actually the same grape. Syrah was renamed when it moved from the Southeastern part of France even further Southeast to the Australian region. It is still known as Syrah when grown in France, but when it is grown in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina it is known as Shiraz. Even though they are the same grape they taste completely different depending on the region it was grown in. Shiraz is not normally a favorite of mine. It is always so peppery to me and just not something I like to sit and sip on. However, last night was a perfect example of when paired with the right food the wine can take on totally different flavor than what you expect. The spicy notes of the wine paired perfectly against the spicy lemon-pepper seasoning on the salmon and really married together well. I would probably serve this with a spicy shrimp stir fry, or my spicy drunken marinara with pasta.
Malbec (Argentina) - paired with barbecued beef and cubed blue cheese. OMGosh!!! By far my favorite pairing of the night. I personally had never even heard of Malbec. Ted explained it as "the other Merlot" so I was sure I was going to like it. Wow! I was so right!. The nose on this was dry and leathery, then you are surprised by the soft velvety texture and the flavors of chocolate, blueberries and plums. It does finish with a hint of oak, but not too overpowering. The best part of this tasting was when you paired it against the blue cheese and the BBQ beef. DEEE--LISH!!! If you don't like blue cheese, than you wouldn't like that regardless. BUT if you do!!! This was the Buttermilk Blue found in the deli section of Dierbergs and by far the best blue cheese I have ever had. Especially when paired with this fruity and intense Malbec. If blue cheese isn't your thing, you can still enjoy this wine with the BBQ Beef which was equally delicious and when you put all three together it was like heaven. ♫♪♫♪ ANGELS SINGING ♫♪♫♪
We still had one more to go though.....
Petite Sirah (California) - paired with Beef au Jus and CHOCOLATE!!!! Petite Sirah is very dark in color. Almost black. Honestly, by this point of the tasting....I was very wine happy and still so caught up with loving the Malbec and blue cheese combo that I didn't pay much attention to the Petite Syrah. I do know this was great with both pairings, especially the chocolate!!! Probably not something I would chose to drink though. I like a dark red, but this was a little too bold for me. I would however love to cook with this. It would be a great sauce for pork or beef by making it into a simple reduction. It would also be great in a beef stew.
Overall, I had a super fabulous time with a great friend and I'm looking forward to many more Dierbergs School of Cooking classes with ALL of my wonderful friends and family.