Let’s talk wine, shall we?
I love wine. All (well, most) wine. It tastes delicious, is more sophisticated and less filling than beer, and is the perfect accompaniment to my beloved cheese. Unfortunately, this is about where my wine ‘expertise’ comes to an end.
Sure, I’ve got all kinds of fancy gizmos to make it look like I can walk the walk – Venturi aerator, a decanter (which J accidentally bought because he thought it looked neat), an assorted variety of Riedel glasses, about 5 different corkscrews, and a handful of woozies. I’ve been to countless wineries and have had some truly delicious (and expensive) wine in my day. Ask me any sort of technical question about vino, though, and I’m usually stumped.
So in an effort to further educate myself on the drink that I have an entire corner of my dining room dedicated to, J and I have slowly begun to ease our way into the wine dinner circuit around Knoxville. I say slowly because, unfortunately, these multiple course dinners usually don’t come cheap. They are an extravagance that we like to indulge in about once every month or two but truly enjoy as it pairs amazing food with some wonderful wine and throws in a lesson to boot.
Last month, we attended a Catena Wine dinner at Chez Liberty (a restaurant week stop) that was quite delicious. We went in a large group and our table soon became overrun with assorted glasses. It was a sight to behold at the end of the night:
Last Monday, J and I returned to Chez to attend a Ramey Wine dinner that featured a menu of 6 delicious courses, each with a specific wine accompaniment. This was nice as we were able to spend some quality time together doing two things we love: eating and drinking.
Making a note to taste the wine before and after the food, it always amazes me how the flavors of the wine change when paired with the right food. Prior to this meal I was not a chardonnay fan – I don’t care for the heavy oak flavor that is characteristically prevalent in chardonnays – and Ramey is known for its chardonnay. In fact, 5 of the 7 wines we were served were Chards. I may now be a convert however, if only for a few specific bottles.
I learned Ramey produces two different series of chardonnay: Appellation and single vineyards – the first baring grapes from the region in which they are grown, and the second being from a specific vineyard sites. My palate steered more towards the appellation wines as I felt they were less oak-y and harsh. Noted!
And now that you’ve had your wino lesson for the day, I’m going to allow you to have a look at what you missed out on in another Sassy Swan Culinary Explicit Material Post:
Greeter course : Ramey 2008 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (and my personal favorite) served with cheese (I can’t recall what kind of cheese, but it tasted similar to a soft pecorino)
First Course: Grilled calamari with pineapple, local tomatoes, and pineapple espuma, Wine: Ramey 2005 (yes a 2005) Carneros Chardonnay
Second Course: Vanilla poached Mountain Meadows peach, fennel, jicama, savoy cabbage, and ginger honey vinaigrette, Wine: Ramey 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Third Course: Pan seared diver sea scallop, green apple, cucumber, pear, and herb smoked honey, (my favorite course) Wine: Ramey 2008 Ritchie Vineyards Russian River Valley Chardonnay & Ramey 2009 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay
Fourth Course: Kumomoto oyster ceviche, oyster liquor-apple spheres, Wine: Ramey 2009 Platt Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
Fifth Course: Duo of duck; confit leg of duck, pan seared breast, local fingerling gratin, sauteed local patty pan and zephyr squash, crispy brussel sprout leaves, and local berry compote, Wine: Ramey 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Additional wine: Ramey Syrah (another favorite)
Dessert Course: Homemade chocolate chip cookie
Needless to say, I was glad J was the perfect designated driver. Three cheers for J!
Any Knoxvillian’s out there, if you haven’t made it to Chez Liberty yet, go. Immediately if not sooner. Go for a wine dinner if you can but really just go anyway. It’s some of the best food in town.