Sunday Supper, mid Feb: Wine Ideas Needed
I'm having a group of friends(old and new) over for a casual dinner a week from tomorrow. Here's the menu so far:
I will serve champagne with the chickpea salad and gourgers as we stand around and get to know each other.
1. chickpea salad with lemon, parsley and sun dried tomatoes, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/106823
Ideas about what wines to serve with dinner?:
3. Chicken Marbella, Citrus Couscous, Beet salad http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/11/11/earlyshow/saturday/chef/main1040276.shtml
Ideas about what to pair with dessert?:
4. Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake with Berries http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...
Thanks so much. Also, if anyone has any comments, suggestions on the menu, I'm all ears.
I wouldn't necessarily think that's a better choice than chickpea salad. You have the further problem of 2 cheese appetizers.... mozzarella then the gougeres. Having a bit of a variety in the apps is probably a virtue in itself.
In "spicy", what WOULD be awesome might be the following:
1) A spicy THAI - cuisined appetizer. Now this would have the virtue of pointing towards Gewurztraminer which would also be the awesome-est match for the Gougeres... some spicy thai thing with chili peppers, hint of garlic, lemongrass, whatever...
This would also be a fair match with Champagne, btw.
If you're looking for a penultimate match for Champagne, then I'd still look at some combination of shellfish, smoked fish, caviar, and/or creamy cheese. A nice crab & camembert dip or a smoked salmon dip or caviar and brie canapes, that sort of thing.
Robin, it really depends on whether you want to A) START with some target food items and find matching wines OR B) start with the wine and bring the food to the wine
re: Chicago Mike
Maybe I've got it now? Skip the gougere and chickpea salad; replace with smoked salmon, fennel and goat cheese toasts. And some herb roasted nuts. You like? I really like to start with champagne. It never seems to fail to say "get the party started".
Sounds much improved to me. Serve the smoked salmon with a side dish of classic hollandaise, which matches chardonnay champagne so nicely.
Fennel is more of a Sauvignon-Blanc essence. I'd recommend doing asparagus or artichoke instead to better match the champagne. As for nuts, be sure the mix has substantial amount of toasted walnuts as they match champagne great. For that matter you could do toast points with a dip or canape of chevre or gruyere cheese and toasted walnut bits. Further you could have this cheese/walnut mix as an optional schmear for the smoked salmon. These combinations will just knock your guests out and get their taste buds zinging from the get-go.
For the rest of the meal I'd still be looking at:
MAIN COURSE: Chardonnay and/or riesling... this would be a very interesting pair to have on the table for "compare and contrast" tasting purposes...
DESSERTS: (Sauternes or Late-Harvest Riesling) AND Moscato d' Asti.
Hi Chicago Mike:
Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Will read this again tonight to fully absorb your much appreciated guidance, and will report back after the dinner. Just to let you know, I am taking notes and I am learning. (eg, your advice the last time about the grill, garlic, Chardonnay association).
For these type dinners I like to focus in on the very obvious outstanding matches, then "work backwards" to add a wine or two to marry the whole thing together:
1) Gourgeres. If you're going with Gruyere here, then Gewurztraminer is the over-the-top match. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah are also exceptional.
2) Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake w/ Berry mixture. Two wines rule here: Sauternes or Late Harvest Riesling.
3) "Chocolates". I would either go with a rich sweet muscat OR if you're looking for something lighter, Moscato d'Asti, which has the added virtue of matching the Meyer Lemon cake quite nicely also.
Since I have the idea that the CHocolates are a lighter course rather than a major dessert, I'd really go with a Sauternes or Late Harvest Riesling AND a Moscato d'Asti for your 2 dessert wines. One is heavier, one is light and sparkling, your guests will "roll out of there" with a smile on their face.
Back to the main dishes:
4) Chickpea salad appetizer. I can think of some other dishes that would match alot better with Champagne, if that's your target drink to kick this dinner off. But champagne would be okay (must be a chardonnay-based champagne).
NOTE that both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc match your Gourgeres course very nicely.... So that might lead us to one of those with BOTH the Gourgeres and Chickpea salad. Keep in mind that Sauvignon Blanc also matches your tomatoes quite nicely... more on this in a bit...
5) Chicken Marbella. Assuming this receipe has a fair amount of garlic & parsley, chardonnay would match very well. Especially well if you GRILL the chicken slightly before adding to the dish. I really think Chardonnay is the way to go with this dish and will leave it at that. Add a bit more garlic and the pre-grilling to bring the dish to the wine. A chardonnay / semillon blend would also be very nice given semillon's love of prunes.
You especially have to go with a white wine here because both of the accompaniments (beet Salad and citrus couscous) are very much white-wine dishes. Looking at the couscous by itself I might opt for a riesling. The chardonnay will match the beets well enough.
OVERALL for the CHicken-COuscous-Beet Salad course I would opt for Chardonnay as first choice, riesling as second choice.
At this point, a "vision" is starting to emerge... Bring the chardonnay champagne out for the appetizers ALONG WITH a glass of chardonnay.... Keep the chardonnay rolling into the Main Course, but ADD a glass of riesling for a bit of interesting "compare and contrast" variation.
SO, in summary, for this meal I'd probably set it up like:
APPETIZERS: Champagne and (chardonnay or gewurztraminer)
MAIN COURSE: Chardonnay and riesling
DESSERTS: Sauternes or Late-Harvest Riesling AND Moscato d' Asti.
As for "critiques" you requested, I might try to work in a bit more champagne/chardonnay friendly stuff into this meal like cream, smoke, butter, etc. As it is there's quite alot of vinegar and lemon and stuff. I'd thicken it up a bit.
For several years after the Silver Palate Cookbook came out, you could count on the Chicken Marbella being on the buffet of just about any party you went to. It's been a while since I last encountered it but I don't recall it as being a dish for fine wines -- brown sugar, vinegar, prunes, green olives and capers aren't exactly wine friendly. Personally I'd reach for a party wine, something fruity, supple and refreshing but with a savoury edge: one of the less serious Côte du Rhônes or a lighter-styled, unoaked Grenache-based wine from the Midi or Spain.
(Am pretty sure that beet salad is meant to be served as a separate course, not a side dish, by the way.)
There's a reason why lemon dessert recipes often don't come with recommended wine pairings. If you insist, you might try a bright and light muscat such as are made in Beaumes de Venise and St-Jean de Minvervois, a young, high-acid, preferably lemony Sauternes or analogue (Ste-Croix-du-Mont, Loupiac, etc.) or, as another query just reminded me, a Vidal ice wine. Black coffee or lemon verbena tea would be fine alternatives.
Another vote for "simpler" wines such as the Cote du Rhone with the chicken marbella. I suspect a sangiovese (e.g. Chianti) would work, given their fruit and occasional olive notes.
In addition to the muscat/sauterne/vidal ice wine sugest which I really like, I was wondering if a Brachetto d'Acqui, black muscat or a ruby port would work with the lemon pudding cake. I had a meyer lemon tart with a red wine reduction at a restaurant once and it was an excellent flavour combination.