Over the years guests have asked, “how do you come up with these food and wine pairings?” Which is why I’ve decided to focus this blog post around that question and give guests an inside look at how we come up with our dinner pairings.
Deciding on what wines to pair with our winemaker’s dinners is a team effort. Usually there are a handful of us at Bluestone who come together and get a sneak peak of the menu for each dinner. The table usually looks something like the picture to the right, including wine glasses, notebooks and a wide variety of wines. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do the research!
So where do you begin? Well, as I have mentioned before in a previous post about pairings, it comes down to two main things: personal preference and balance. Just so it doesn’t get too overwhelming on what to focus on, for me, I look at the main part of the dish and then look at sauces, seasonings, how it was prepared, etc. to see what might work well. With each course we can narrow down the choices, but it's hard to pair something and have a final conclusion until you actually try the food and wine together.
The second course of the dinner is an Arancini Mozzarella. Arancini is a scrumptious Sicilian snack prepared by rolling cooked rice around a delicious filling (in this case mozzarella) then breading and frying these rice balls until delectably crispy and golden. The mozzarella adds an ooey-gooey and delicious center. With the focus on the mozzarella, this was a great course to test out matching flavor profiles or trying to pair opposite flavors that balance each other out. For this course we decided on matching flavor profiles. The mozzarella matches the lightly oaked and creaminess of our 2017 Chardonnay. This wine uses all estate grown fruit and was a gold medal winner in the 2021 Virginia Governor’s cup.
Let's start with our 2015 Dry Dock, an estate grown Port-style wine made with Norton grapes aged in whiskey barrels. This is a dry Port-style with a higher ABV (alcohol by volume) of 16.1%. Since this wine has some age to it, the tannins and acidity are beginning to soften and age is a good thing for wines made with Norton grapes. This combination, especially with the chocolate ganache, balances the intensity of Dry Dock. The second wine option, which is quite opposite of Dry Dock, is Crooked & Weedy, our semi-sweet red. In the case with Crooked & Weedy, even though it has sweetness, it plays off the fruitiness of the raspberry coulis. Both are delicious options and you can’t go wrong with either, it's just a matter of your personal preference.
Thanks for reading this edition of Out of the Barrel! Cheers!