Monday, February 4, 2013

A Night of Wine and Friends

Some of the friends, gathered for a very Bacchanalian evening
This past Saturday, my Mum hosted an evening of wine, food, and friends.  This was something she'd wanted to do for her birthday, but the end of November being a rather hectic time to get friends together on a Saturday night, she decided to push it back, and plan it for a less busy and less festive month - February.  Nicely timed.  For some reason, I find February to be the most difficult month of the year, despite the fact that it's short and that the days are longer as we head into spring.  Fortunately, this night gave us enough new flavour combinations to make it gluttonously into March.

a lot of laughs, and a little talking
 I was playing 'Wine Sommelier' for the night - though not playing as much as just being, but since I don't habitually act in this role it was really a fun way of flexing my wine knowledge chops.  I picked out all the wines we were to drink, and with the expert help of ChefyDrew, a paired menu was formed.  We had 8 wines in total, comprised of one sparkling (or effervescent, in this case) white, three still whites, and four still reds.  I'm going to work through each of them on here over time, and tonight I'll just write about the tasting experience and the first wine we tried.

I talk about Zinfandel to the group
There were 12 of us in total gathered to taste the wine.  We all sat around the dining room table, with the chairs pushed out towards the walls to give us room to move around and reach across for cheeses or snacks.  Everyone brought something that they had been asked to prepare as per our paired menu, and in smaller than dinner-sized portions.  This worked out wonderfully.  We started the tastings just after seven p.m., and finished the last wine around ten; all the wine was drunk, all the food was eaten, and we were stuffed, but not too full and not too tipsy.  So classy of us!  I'm so proud.

no cats allowed in the wine!
The evening was so much fun, and very laid back in terms of pace and conversation.  I was able to explain interesting facts about what we were drinking to an interested group, which is always very rewarding because the guests engaged and asked questions.  We went through some tasting notes together as well, picking out the main aromas or flavours, but also allowed folks to just drink it and enjoy it, even if they weren't noticing the same things.  The food pairings were amazing, and I really want to thank everyone who brought dishes for preparing them so well and according to our directions!  Sounds funny to thank someone for that, but the difference between a glazed and unglazed salmon can make or break a paired wine.

Without any further ado, here is the first wine of the evening:  Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, a sparkling Muscat, from the Gaspereau Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada.

 While Benjamin Bridge produces fully sparkling traditional method dry wines, the Nova 7 is an effervescent off-dry Muscat in the Loire Valley tradition.  This friendly, perfumed, lusciously fruity wine was a hit with the entire group.  Notes of honey, melon, peaches, and mandarin oranges lingered on the palate after the initial fizz of carbonation, and the hint of residual sugar was cut by a lively acidity that left us smacking our lips.  It was juicy, happy, and tasted like another glass.

We paired this with prociutto-wrapped melon - this wine is a natural foil for any charcuterie, matching the saltiness and cleansing the palate - as well as St. Benoit Bleu Benedictin blue cheese from Quebec.  The Benedictin and Nova 7 were so damn good together that we could have made a meal of just these.  In fact, one of the guests turned out to be an unexpectedly zealous fan of this first combination, and cried for it throughout the rest of the tasting.  This unassuming little bottle won all our hearts.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of it left in Ontario at this time.  I had to have six bottles transferred from Hawkesbury (not very near-by to Toronto) to my local LCBO (so nice of them!).  As far as my researches have found, there is none of Benjamin Bridge's dry sparkling wine at the LCBO, and not much left on their property either as it's selling out!  I really look forward to trying their dry wines sometime, but I'm only too happy to keep drinking the Nova 7 until then.

Wine: Nova 7 Sparkling Muscat, Benjamin Bridge
Food Pairing: charcuterie and fromage bleu
Chip Pairing: Miss Vickie's Sea Salt & Vinegar
Overall verdict: We loved it!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful evening to me! It was nice that you were able to organize a paired menu for the wines that were served. It really helps when the wine has a complementing dish to go along with it, particularly if you’re getting into the later bottles of the evening.

    Corey Glenn