Date/Time: January 14 2010/7:00 p.m. (roughly 2 hours)
Place: Dominic’s residence
Wine & Food Pairings:
1. Chardonnay (2008 Vineland Chardonnay):
Chardonnay can be surprisingly hard to pair with food. The taste that a glass of Chardonnay can acquire will depend on the origin of the grape and its method of fermentation. The wine can taste heady, or it can be light; it can taste slightly sweetish, and in contrast, it can be slightly sour. It is this diversity in taste that Chardonnay brings to the table, that makes food and chardonnay pairings quite a challenge. For the first course, a very strongly recommended food and chardonnay pairing is smoked salmon and this is our choice today. In general, avoid tomato based dishes – the sharp acidity of the tomato doesn’t go well with the buttery flavours in a Chardonnay. Chardonnay is a light white wine, so things like steaks and game will overwhelm the flavour. The light, fruity flavours of Caribbean cooking go well.
2. Riesling (2007 Riesling Cave Spring):
You would be hard-pressed to find a wine that is more versatile with foods from bland to spicy, salty to exotic; Riesling wines can just about cover them all. The key is their acidity and depth of fruit flavours. Riesling comes in so many different styles from bone-dry to very sweet; it opens up more possibilities for matching with food naturally. Even desserts can be charmed by a bottle of Riesling. For Asian food, they could be barbecue pork, shrimp/chicken Chow Mein, Dim Sum, Egg Rolls, Mongolian Beef, Moo Shoo Pork, Orange Chicken, Pot Stickers, Cashew Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork and Twice Cooked Pork, Sushi or Sashimi, chicken/seafood teriyaki or tempura. Our choice today is Chow Mein.
When you think of Riesling wines, the first place that comes to mind (and rightly so) is Germany. This is the birthplace of Riesling grapes and they were discovered from wild vines in the upper Rhine region way back in the early 14th Century. You could say that Riesling is by far and away the most important grape style to Germany and production of Riesling wines more than double the next closest varietal wine. The Riesling grape is grown in the Baden, Nahe, Pfalz, and Rheinhessen regions in Germany, however, the two regions that translate into the best Riesling wines come from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rheingau.
A quote from the well known Hugh Johnson:
“Riesling is Germany’s great grape, and at present underrated. It is a wine of brilliant sweet/acid balance, either dry or sweet, flowery in youth but maturing to subtle oily scents and flavours. Unlike chardonnay (the white Burgundy & the white Champagne grape), it does not need high alcohol for character. It is very good (usually dry) in Alsace (but absurdly nowhere else in France), Austria, Australia (widely grown), Pacific NW, Ontario, California, and South Africa. Riesling is often called White-Johannesburg- or Rhine-Riesling”.
3. Merlot Cabernet (2007 Sketches of Niagara Merlot Cabernet):
The soft and fruity Merlot grape is sweeter, smoother, and lower in tannins. This means it blends well with other grapes and is ready to drink at a younger age. Sketches of Niagara is
Merlot blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc could dominate in flavor and texture; Merlot will soften both of them. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are great match with meat and poultry dishes including roast or grilled chicken, chops (lamb or pork), meatloaf, and prime rib. The winery food recommendation for this wine could be braised ribs, spiced pork or pasta with a red sauce. Today 燒排骨 is our choice.
4. 咸亨太雕 (紹酒):
茶有茶道，酒亦有酒道。啤酒是动感的，适宜欢乐畅饮；白酒 (spirit) 是豪爽的，适宜一小杯一小杯地干。而黄酒是温和的，宜慢慢品，方能品味出其曼妙滋味. 故太雕酒属于细酌慢饮之酒，其下酒菜最好也是耐嚼滋味长的那种。如盐煮花生、茴香豆、豆腐干、鴨下巴等. 太雕酒的最佳绝配当属大闸蟹，即古人所说的“持螯下酒”. 大闸蟹味美，但性寒不能多吃. 而太雕酒性温，温寒相抵无疾患之虞，又太雕酒最能去除腥味，食之更觉香美. 但 鴨下巴 是今次之選.
太雕,镶春系列黄酒是咸亨人经过多年探索，反复试验，在民间 “拼酒” 的基础上，运用现代科学技术，研制出的传统配制酒，并获得国家知识产权局发明专利权. 故此太雕酒是紹興咸亨酒店主辦專利的傳統酒. 太雕、镶春系列黄酒含有多种氨基酸、糖类和维生素等，有黄酒精极珍品之美誉，深受广大消费者的喜爱.
绍兴酒的种类繁多，有加饭、善酿、香雪、元红和花雕等多种。三年以上的陈酒称为 ”雕”. 其中绍兴太雕酒，在绍兴当地及中外消费者中有很高的声誉.
咸亨酒店 是紹興最負盛名的百年老店，創建於清光緒甲午年間，原為魯迅周氏本家堂叔周仲翔等人合伙開設的小酒店，「咸亨」二字源出易經‧坤卦「品物咸亨」句，意為萬事亨通、財源廣達，其實「咸亨」雖名為酒店，實為酒攤，那時的顧客多為站著喝的「短衣幫」，他們在繁重的體力勞動之後，打著赤膊，掛著汗水，喝一碗老酒舒展筋骨，偶而也有穿著長衫、窮困潦倒的讀書人，取二三文銅錢，斟上一碗酒，以酒解愁，以「咸亨」為店名，雖然吉祥雅致，但卻經營不善，苦撐兩年之後便關門大吉，從此酒店成為歷史陳跡，被歷史塵埃封存了. 酒店的重開是由於魯迅的名著〈孔乙已〉中的生動描述，使「咸亨酒店」名揚海內外，一九八一年魯迅百齡誕辰之際，老店新開、繼承傳統，現在店內擺設格局，完全如小說中所描述的情景，雖然酒店論面積、氣派都比不上那些建築華麗、燈紅酒綠的酒樓飯莊，但它所特有的古樸雅致卻是其它建築所不及的，現在已成為遊客到紹興旅遊必到的景點.
[All info extracted from various web sites]
The best thing about our wino meeting is the mystery.
The mystery of not knowing what kind of wine we will taste?
The mystery of not knowing what kind of food we are matching the wine with?
The mystery of not knowing whether I will make it home – this is a strong reason for those who have the full intention of running away from home.
Mystery or no mystery, the main objective is to have the spirit in my mouth. We accomplished this intention fully to-night.
We tasted 3 kinds of wine to-night – 2 white and 1 red. The wines are all Ontario products. They should be easily accessible. The food we matched with the wines was all described in the blog report. I need not repeat myself. We discovered some truth.
1. It is easier to distinguish the wines if there is comparison. In other words if you put 2 wines of the similar group, it would be easier to detect the differences. In our case, we run a chardonnay white beside a Riesling and the differences in bouquet and taste become a lot more prominent than to taste it alone.
2. You can read thousands of articles from wine critics, you can listen to thousands of comments from wine experts, you can even go to thousands of wine appreciation courses, yet the final verdict has to be given by you and you alone. Your own taste is the truest critique of them all. It all boils down to 1 simple scenario – if you favour the local hooch of “Old Sailor” brand that sells for $1.95 a bottle and it tastes like turpentine, go for it. It is your personal taste and you should treasure it. You might never find another person who will drink the ‘Old Sailor’ with you, but at least you have your integrity.
(I know drinking can form character and this is my proof)
3. During our drinking binge, another truth surfaced. Apparently a lot of wines are acidic and it would be great if you can use an alkaline food as a contrast. Learning the character of wines is hard work and if you want to learn matching food with wine is even harder. So, here is a million dollar question: “Can you name 1 kind of alkaline food that can best contrast the acidity in wine?”
The winner of the contest will get a mysterious prize.
The world of wine is vast and fathomless. There is so much to learn. In conclusion, I insist on the genius of our motto: With wine, we conquer.
Till next time, folks.