Menu from Recent Intensive Study Food & Wine Professional Course

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.

First Course
Cured salmon with bok choy in a spicy ginger dressing and sesame crisps
Trimbach, Alsace Riesling, Cuvée Fréderic Emile, 2002
Second Course
Sous vide pork belly stuffed in peaches with pecans and savory cabbage
Guigal, Gigondas, 2006
Third Course
Redbird chicken stuffed with Tillamook cheddar and broccoli potato gratin
Domaine Barge, Condrieu, "La Solarie", 2007
Fourth Course
Creme Brulée with bananas and caramel
Schmitges, Erdener Herrenberg, Riesling Eiswein, 2004

First Course Wine - Trimbach, Alsace Riesling, Cuvée Fréderic Emile, 2002

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.

Second Course Wine - Guigal, Gigondas, 2006

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.

Third Course Wine - Domaine Barge, Condrieu, "La Solarie", 2007

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.

Fourth (Dessert) Course Wine - Schmitges, Erdener Herrenberg, Riesling Eiswein, 2004

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.

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