Rehearsal Dinner Wine Pairings!!
My fiancee and I have an exciting menu for our rehearsal dinner and we're looking for some pairing advice. We have a 5 course meal including:
Arctic Char with garden chard and kohlrabi vinagrette
Sonoma duck breast with creamy farro, green garlic and chanterelles
Porcini rubbed New York steak with blue cheese and king trumpet mushrooms
We're looking for pairings for the middle three courses (sparkling wine for salad and we have some good dessert wines for the finish). I wish we had a little more information about the Char dish - obviously makes a huge difference whether grilled, butter poached, etc. But your ideas would be appreciated! Yes, pinot for duck, especially with the earthy sides, and Cab or other bold reds for the steak. However, more specificity would be great. Fruitier pinot? Or Zin for the Steak (fruitier to counter blue cheese while still being large to match the meat)? Etc.
Thanks in advance!
Might help if you give some infor on how much you're looking to spend per bottle (or if you already possess wines), and how wine savvy your guests are, and maybe even how many people you're talking.
Something like Cote Rotie indeed would go well with the duck, but (IMO) it's not worth it unless you are willing to source something at least seven years old. They'll be above moderate in price and really might be under-appreciated by many. The same age constraints for barolo.
There's always a fine line with wedding/event wines. Though a smaller rehearsal dinner is easier to manage. I'm a wine-geek and my wife is in the wine business, but we dumbed down the wines a bit for the 135-person group at our wedding. We had standard mid-level wines poured as the mains, but also had everyone set-up with an extra stem and had some special wines brought around and poured (ala a 6-litre of 86 Caymus Spec.Select) for anyone who opted. Some people just opted not to have the extra wines, or had just small tastes. No one seemed taken aback by the approach as it was offered to everyone. In the end we were able to get by with decent stuff as the standard, and fewer bottles of the more expensive and unusual stuff.
Anyhow, I'd concur with doing bubbly with the first course. It pairs well with the dish and moreso with the occasion. If you were able to pour some bubbly as a "greeter" instead, than I'd definitely go with a still white. The vinaigrette adds a little of a challenge as it want something with complementary acid. Ala, Chablis (or more esoteric pouilly- fuisse), domestic chard, or sauv blanc. I'd opt to be sure and not get a flabby, buttery type of Chard.
I'd go pinot or red burg with the duck. Especially as it doesn't appear to have much of a sauce and has the mushrooms as a key ingredient. Though, like someone else, I also personally like the low-tannin Cru Beaujolais with fowl.
The sauce again is a factor with the steak. By itself the Bleu is best with a white with a hint of sweetness. Though of course you need to go red with the steak. This would make me tend away from a very high tannin or oaked red. As in young bordeaux, or really oaky cab. At the same time I'd shoot for some ripeness/sweetness. Zin, a non-oakbomb cab, right-bank bord. with some age, or even a nice concentrated Merlot. I had a Northstar merlot and a Regusci within the last few days that would be nice in being big, rich, slightly ripe, but not tannic or oaky. If you went zin I'd just avoid some of the ultra hot, alcohol-laden ones. Sometimes it's tough to have more than one glass of those. My most recent fave in that vein is a Hug out of Paso, and something like a Ridge Lytton Springs is even more subtle. Come to think of it some of the other Cal rhone-rangers would fit the steak-bill. Something along the lines of Tablas Creek, Herman Story or Villa Creek blends. The latter can be a bit ripe, but are user-friendly.
Arctic Char - Chard (body will depend on that prep), or Sauvignon Blanc (probably not NZ, though I do love those - just not quite as food-friendly, IMHO). Could do a lighter PN.
Sonoma Duck - Syrah (Old World, or New World), or a heavier PN.
NY Strip - CalCab, or a well-crafted Merlot, like Duckhorn, or Beringer Bancroft Ranch. A nice Zin could work very well here, as could a Petite Syrah. A bigger PN could work with the mushrooms too.
Now, where are you, or where are you sourcing your wines? I don't want to start throwing out too many specific wines, as they just may not be available to you. With that info, one can get more specific.
Enjoy, and congrats!
re: Bill Hunt
Char: Champagne, rose Champagne, dry rose, well balanced Chardonnay (perhaps a white Burgundy), Rousanne/Marsanne are all good options. Even an Alsatian or Trentino Alto Adige dry Gewurztraminer might work.
Duck: 1st choice, aromatic old style Cote-Rotie. Otherwise Nebbiolo d'Alba / Barolo / Barbaresco, Barbera, Pinot (NOT in the over-the-top CA style), or even a rich, high end Beaujolais (eg. Thevenet Morgon V.V.) would work.
Steak: Well balanced CA Cab... Karl Lawrence, Chappellet, Drinkward Peschon, etc. Less expensive I wouldgo with a Nero d'Avola.