We have had such a positive response to those of you who like the wine reviews we are going to add another review: wine and food pairing.
I have done, literally, hundreds of formal wine dinners in addition to the dinners we do at the Guild in our Advanced Wine and Food Pairing Course. (A Level III Course.)
Once a month, I am going to write an article about wine and food pairing using as a menu one of the graduation dinners from the Advanced Wine and Food Pairing Course or one of our Guild wine dinners.
Here is the menu from the just graduated Intensive Study Advanced Wine and Food Pairing Course (completed the course on July 31st). Their theme was "old world wines." In addition, the students, as a group, must pick the wines and be able to defend their choices to the instructor.
Cured salmon with bok choy in a spicy ginger dressing and sesame crisps
Trimbach, Alsace Riesling, Cuvée Fréderic Emile, 2002
Sous vide pork belly stuffed in peaches with pecans and savory cabbage
Guigal, Gigondas, 2006
Redbird chicken stuffed with Tillamook cheddar and broccoli potato gratin
Domaine Barge, Condrieu, "La Solarie", 2007
Creme Brulée with bananas and caramel
Schmitges, Erdener Herrenberg, Riesling Eiswein, 2004
Given the combination of salmon and spicy ginger - this wine was chosen to reduce the impact of the spice, bring the dish in to balance and allow the salmon to "show" rather than be overpowered by the sauce.
The Sous vide of pork belly (roughly, pork belly cooked in warm water - not boiling) is not as rich as other cooking techniques for pork belly. In addition, some fruit character was needed on the wine to stand up to the peaches. These were the critical elements. The Gigondas is medium-bodied and medium-dry; having just the right combination of extract, tannins and body to complement these needs without overpowering the flavor intensity of the dish.
This white wine from Condrieu is bigger than the red wine, the Gigondas, that preceeded it. The chicken was served with the skin on; with the cheese and stuffing placed between the meat and the skin when it was roasted. The potato gratin also added to the richness of the dish. The Condrieu had the ability to match the richness of the food, without making the combination seem even heavier. At the same time, it allowed the cheese in both the stuffing and the potato gratin to act as a bridge between the center-of-the-plate and the side dish.
When pairing dessert wines to dessert one guideline must always be remembered: the wine needs to be slightly sweeter than the food. Also, the wine must have some way of "creating tension" between the sugar of the food (and wine) and the rest of the chemical structure of the wine. As with most German wines the tension is created by acid in this wine - the acid wipes the sugar off the palate, making the wine and the dessert seem refreshing, not cloying. The "noble rot" in this wine, with it's distinct honey characteristics, made an excellent complement to the Creme Brulée and caramel while the acid of the wine kept it all light on the palate.
Again, these wines were chosen by the students - a good indication of how much they learned about wine and food pairing during the course. The instructor is not allowed to intervene or make suggestions about the pairings.
A new Languedoc low sugar and low alcohol, rose and white wine have just been given the go ahead from French health authorities to be commercialized. It was developed by growing grapes with less sugar and by reducing the alcohol content with a new distillation process.
Claude Vialade, the wine grower behind the initiative, is marketing the wine with the label "So' Light" because it has only 9 percent alcohol while most wines contain around 13 percent. The wine also has thirty percent less sugar than traditional wines. It is about 2/10 of a percent residual sugar - whereas a large proportion of wine is about 6/10 of a percent (2 g/l vs. 6 g/l) of sugar.
According to Vialade, who owns "Les Domaines Auriol" near the southern French town of Narbonne, the wine is targeted at consumers who are concerned about living healthy and staying in shape while not being deprived of a little alcohol.
Claude Robbins' thoughts: we have seen low-calorie wine in the past, so this is not a new idea. Wine (except the neutral grape spirits in fortified wines) is not distilled, so it is not clear exactly what they are doing, possibly they mean a "new" fermentation process.
Here's a list of upcoming classes in Denver during the next month or so:
Looking for ways to increase wine sales in your restaurant or wine bar? A recent study conducted by Cornell University found some interesting ways to help improve wine sales. Here are a few of their findings:
(My note: I have always been a big fan of suggesting wines with food - particularly a red and a white with each dish.)
Other interesting findings of the study were:
(My note: in a wine bars there is often an expectation of your customers drinking flights and glasses over purchasing bottles - restaurants, on the other hand, are often more interested in bottles sales, although glass programs can be very profitable.)
This study was done by testing 46 different wine list techniques found in 270 restaurants located in selected major metropolitan areas (i.e., Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, the New York metro area, Orlando, the San Francisco Bay area, Southern California, and Tampa).
Our Corporate Executive Chef, who has watched and nurtured people working towards their Guild Wine Master certification for almost 10 years has a few important thoughts on the process and being successful.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the people I know who I deem to be successful in their field of endeavor. What did it take to achieve their level of success? What did they do that was different from others?
These high achievers in my opinion have a dedication to their craft and practice every aspect of the activity that they are passionate about. Being passionate about something means you should have a willingness to do whatever it takes to learn about the thing you have a passion for. It requires deliberate practice, a well thought out plan of action, being organized, staying focused, and having great mentors and teachers to help you achieve those goals.
What does this mean for someone who wants to become a Guild Wine Master? It means becoming proficient at all aspects of your craft including practicing opening and pouring wine correctly every single time, learning something about the history of the wines you carry on your wine list, taking care of those wines properly, having a service "heart" when it comes to your customers, developing respectful relationships with your vendors and suppliers, training the wait staff about the wines, tracking the inventory so the wine is being rotated into service as it is reaching it's peak not when it is on the downside of its life. Constantly learning and taking classes, honing your knowledge base as well as tasting skills; keeping current with the industry and what is going on.
When you are passionate about something you want to learn more. The joy of learning becomes a positive "addiction" and the "reward" for the time and energy spent in the process. The more you know something, the more you realize what you don't know and you develop an intense desire to learn more! That is what separates the novice from the master.
Mistakes and failures happen on the journey to success. Hopefully you learn from them and go on. The successful people I know did not let setbacks stop them. Instead they evaluated the mistake or failure and learned from it. Sometimes it took several tries to be able to move beyond the problem.
Often students comment to me that they want to know what the Master level students or instructors know and they want to know it NOW! In the case of the Guild Wine Master Claude Robbins, I have to gently remind them that Claude's passion for wine has been a 30- year endeavor! He has practiced his sommelier skills, studied daily, prepared course material, had epiphany's and failures, got up the next day and started over with fresh new determination, and has not lost his passion for wine along the way.
He has worked in all aspects of the wine industry except for opening a restaurant. In other words, paid his "dues" by starting at the bottom of the industry and has worked his way to the top. This is part of the journey we all must be willing to do in order to be successful! Once you commit to doing the "work" necessary to become successful in your passion the rewards will outweigh the sacrifices.
How do you know that you are passionate about something? Let me answer the question this way. Have you ever been so engrossed in doing something that you were in a time warp? Hours flew by and pretty soon you realized that a whole morning or day has been spent doing the thing you were passionate about? Time seemed to stand still and you were having so much fun you didn't realize how much time you just spent doing the thing you loved? That's being passionate!
Above all, enjoy the journey! If the Guild can help you realize your dreams give us a call! We would love to be your wine education partner.
Sherrie Robbins VP and Guild Executive Chef
Do you understand what wine labels tell you? Do you prefer easy going, light-hearted labels (critters or cleaver names), lots of color or more "serious" labels. Don't ask me what a serious label is, but I know one when I see one.
Different labels appeal to different consumers. In fact, the wine label is (almost) completely responsible for whether or not a wine has market appeal. This is best illustrated by comparing the total dollars spent in each sector of the adult beverage industry on adverting.
Of the total dollars spent on advertising (in all forms), the wine industry accounts for 5.4% of the total; spirits are 29.4% and beer 65.2%. Keep in mind that wine sales exceed beer sales in the US. The fact that so little is spent on advertising means that the primary way that most wineries get there message across is with their label.
So, lets see what you know about reading a wine label. The picture with this article is a German wine label. Can you tell us: (a) estate, (b) region, (c) appellation and anything special about this appellation, (d) grape, (e) predikat and style, (f) bottle size, (g) bottling statement, (h) EU bottle statement, (i) analysis tracking statement, and an estimate of sugar content. All of it is on the label. Finally, what statement on the label would be different beginning in October 2007.
I guess I would call this a "serious" label.
More Questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
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