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Mar 19, 2008 04:43 PM

Pairings for a dinner party.

Hi, all. I could use some help with wine pairings for a dinner party I am throwing this weekend. My guests are wine & food appreciators, so I want to impress. Donald Trump, I ain't (and I have nicer hair), but I am willing to spend if it's a good value.

Here's my dinner party menu:

Whores Doovers:
A general picking....
- rosemary lavash & other crackers
- spicy whipped feta
- manchego with membrillo + prob some other hard cheese
- mixed olives
- chorizo quick sauteed in a splash of red wine (very yummy)

First Course:
- fresh english pea soup (amuse bouche size) with a just a bloop of creme fraiche & a sprig of something pretty capped with small goat cheese crostini -- alongside a salad of shaved fennel, blood oranges and kalamatas;

Second Course - entree with sides:
- herb crusted rack of lamb
- farro risotto with mushrooms & sage;
- roasted asparagus w/ toasted marcona almonds, lemon & sherry vinaigrette;

Third Course - dessert:
- individual chocolate amaretti cakes with 1-2 melon ball scoops of homemade amaretto ice cream;
- communal plates of homemade lemon slices candied in lavender syrup (to die for...made it lastnight) for group picking.

My oenofile friend suggested a Sancerre for the first course and an Oregon (I was ordered - "not Cali") pinot noir for the main course. I was thinking some champagne with the hors d'ouevres b/c that's always fabulous and a great way to start a party. maybe banyuls or port with dessert?? I really know very little and could use some suggestions. Many thanks!!

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  1. Hmmmm . . . me thinks my dinner invitation must have been lost in the mail. No worries, I'll bring the Champange and --

    So here are some ideas of what I might serve, but keep in mind there are no hard and fast rules, and what YOU like with __________ may be different that what I might pair with __________.

    Champagne would be great with the hors d'ouveres -- I might be tempted to serve a Fino sherry, but Champange would be preferred by most people! ;^)

    An Oregon Pinot Noir would be lovely, as would a true red Burgundy -- something perhaps like a Savigny-les-Beaune or Volnay. Also, a Bordeaux from St.-Emilion or Pomerol, would be lovely. Again, this is all about personal taste.

    I'd be most tempted to do a 10-Year Old Tawny Porto with the lemon slices, and serve the chocolate cakes with coffee, but . . . I've never thought chocolate and wine worked very well.


    6 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      I had thought champagne, but sherry actually sounds much more tempting with the hors d'oeuvres of olives, chorizo, and Spanish cheese. A sauvignon blanc from the Loire would be great with the the pea soup. The good thing about the champagne is that you can stretch it to cover the amuse as well.

      With the rack of lamb, I think pretty much any of your favorite red will do. My personal tastes go toward a syrah or grenache from the Rhône, but any good pinot would be just as good.

      1. re: mengathon

        I'm sort of echo-ing Zin and Meng:

        Champagne to start, but Rose Champagne will take on your flavors a bit better. Agree with the Sherry suggestion, but I don't know if it would be a crowd-pleaser like the bubbles. Like Zin says.

        I like Meng's suggestion of a Loire Sauvignon Blanc for the pea soup and salad. Also a White Bordeaux. A Sancerre might be too flinty or minerally.

        Lamb with...Any favorite red, says Meng. With a little heft, says I.
        I love Cab, especially Cab Franc, with lamb. The Oregon Pinot Noir (especially a Reserve) would probably have enough intensity to take on the herbed, roasted lamb.

        Chocolate and amaretto together say 20-year tawny port to me. Wonderful.
        [Another thread speaks directly to this.] With the amaretto, a ruby port would be too much. Banyuls works best with strictly chocolate or chocolate with a berry component, methinks.

        Love your fun language: Donald Trump hair, bloop, etc. Keep up the good work.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          to start, champagne and make it a rose. for the lamb, how about a vacqueryas? I won't argue with maria's suggestion of a cab franc and if you can get one from Crocker & Starr, by all means go for it.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            "Love your fun language: Donald Trump hair, bloop, etc"

            Am I missing something?
            Is this secret CIA code?

            Please advise...

            1. re: RicRios

              Indeed, it is secret spy code -- food espionage, cloak and dagger stuff.
              Code broken by reading the OP's post closely.

        2. re: zin1953

          Jason, I agree on the Fino Sherry/Champagne conundrum... but maybe offer both? The Champagne would carry over better with the pea soup, tho.

          For the lamb, I also thought the same -- Oregon Pinot or Savigny-les Beaunes, BUT the asparagus with the sherry vinaigrette might create a tinny taste.

          For dessert, I love Rosa Régale with chocolate desserts! It's an Italian sparkling red wine from the Piedmont.

        3. thank you! feel very well-armed now to head to wine store. let someone else stare blankly at all the labels for a change, dammit.


          1. Runner I can honestly tell you that this is one of the most disjoint menus I've ever seen when it comes to wine pairings... but here goes...

            APPS: These are absolutely all over the place. The Whipped feta is a red wine match (rioja, syrah, zin)... Olives closer to sherry or rose.... Chorizo could go w/ syrah again, barbera, and riesling might be fair here. Now over to the manchego, (which isn't a great wine cheese IMO), adding membrillo no less... with the membrillo/quince I like riesling or muscat, but neither is particularly interesting with manchego...

            SO, what do we have with the apps?? zero clarity IMO. You probably don't want to start your dinner off with heavier red wines anyway, that argues in favor of scrapping manchego, feta and "hard cheeses" right there, in a sense... so if we just start with the olives and chorizo, maybe a rose champagne? then build something from there. And if you're doing that, why not add some seafood & seafood-dip type apps that would match the champagne?

            FIRST COURSE: For the Pea Soup several things could work but the Goat Cheese swings it fairly decidedly to Sauvignon Blanc.

            As for the Shaved Fennel salad, sauvignon blanc is a beautiful match there...

            SECOND COURSE: I'd do Cabernet or a Cabernet/Merlot blend here. Keep the Sauvignon Blanc on the table as it is a splendid match for the Roast Asparagus side dish also.

            DESSERT: Choc Amaretti Cakes. I'd do muscat here, around beames de venise....

            Lemon Slices in Lavender... a dessert riesling or sauternes. Hold the port, it doesn't do much for this dessert course at all.

            I agree with your oenophile friend wrt the Sancerre with first course, but I wouldn't do pinot noir (oregon or otherwise) with the Second course... cab or cab/merlot would be best there IMO, zinfandel a somewhat distant second.

            All-in-all, re-working your appetizers to more closely match a particular target wine or wines would be a good idea.