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Wine pairings for a 5 course dinner party

Here's the menu and what I THINK would work - your suggestions?

Cured Pork Belly w/Onion Marmelade (Dry Reisling)
Lobster Bisque (Viognier or French Chablis)
Arugula Salad w/Carmelized Onion Vinaigrette (French White????)
Rack of Lamb w/ Spinach, Baby Carrots, Parsnip Puree and Mint Hollandaise (California Cab)
Banana Cake w/Rum & Coke Sorbet (Sparkly??? Sweet?)

Thanks for your help!

But I feel like I'm white-heavy on this....

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  1. Were it I . . . and remember there are DOZENS of wines that would work with EACH course, so all of this is HIGHLY subjective . . .

    1) Lobster Bisque (Viognier or French Chablis) -- Amontillado or Palo Cortado
    2) Cured Pork Belly w/Onion Marmelade (Dry Reisling) -- Cru de Beaujolais
    3) Arugula Salad w/Carmelized Onion Vinaigrette (French White????) -- depends upon how strong the vinaigrette is; you may want to skip wine entirely.
    4) Rack of Lamb w/ Spinach, Baby Carrots, Parsnip Puree and Mint Hollandaise (California Cab) -- Washington State Merlot or Pomerol.
    5) Banana Cake w/Rum & Coke Sorbet (Sparkly??? Sweet?) -- I'd pass . . . but were I to pair this with anything, I'd serve coffee.

    1. To echo zin1953, there are many good choices that would work well with your courses. This is just my 2 cents, fwiw.

      1. Lobster Bisque - definitely this is the starter. I think Chablis is too dry to go well. I'd like matchy-matchy of Meursault with the soup. Or that Palo Cortado.
      2. Cured Pork Belly means it's gonna be "hammy." and the Onion Marmalade is sweet. Cali Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais -- maybe a Fleurie.
      3. Arugula Salad why are you featuring onions again? twice in one dinner is redundant. I'd choose a different dressing, iiwy. And unless you're using lemon juice for the acid, I'd skip the wine and treat this course as a palate cleanser, which is not usually served with wine.
      4. Rack of Lamb et al: You ahven't said with what y ou are seasoning said rack. In general, with this dinner, I'd like a St. Julien (my favorite with lamb). Unless you're using really assertive flavors like lots of garlic and spices. Then I'd prefer Chateauneuf-du-Pape. CduP LVOES lamb. ;)
      5. No wine with this dessert. I'd do coffee and an assortment of teas.

      Maybe a little Porto apres diner, if you're so inclined. ;-D

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChefJune

        And if you go with that cru-Beaujolais for the pork belly course, you might want to look for 2009 Clos de la Roilette. It's a Fleurie, as ChefJune recommends, but tastes somewhat more Moulin-a-Vent ... in fact, I think the windmill is within sight of the vineyard. Less than $20. Get the regular bottling as the "cuvee tardive" needs another year or so of age. Decant for 2 hours, at least. Four if you've got the time.

      2. These are always fun. So many choices...

        Cured Pork Belly w/Onion Marmelade: Salty and sweet and fatty. Champagne anyone?
        Lobster Bisque: Fino or manzanilla sherry
        Arugula Salad w/Carmelized Onion Vinaigrette: no point in serving any wine with vinegar
        Rack of Lamb w/ Spinach, Baby Carrots, Parsnip Puree and Mint Hollandaise: Sure, Cali Cab would work--anything cab based would work. When I think lamb, I think Bordeaux, and then I'm all about the Left Bank.
        Banana Cake w/Rum & Coke Sorbet: That's going to be super sweet and assertive (rum). Go with tawny port.

        Lots of fun suggestions so far. Looking forward to see everyone's thoughts.

        1. Cured Pork Belly w/Onion Marmelade: Lambrusco which I've recently discovered and think is really nice with foods that are sweet fatty and salty
          Lobster Bisque (Viognier or French Chablis): Sure
          Arugula Salad w/Carmelized Onion Vinaigrette: Sounds a little austere so to jazz it up I'd go Marsanne, Viognier or Vouvray
          Rack of Lamb w/ Spinach, Baby Carrots, Parsnip Puree and Mint Hollandaise (California Cab): Sure
          Banana Cake w/Rum & Coke Sorbet (Sparkly??? Sweet?): Dark, sweet sherry

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chinon00

            From Steelykal: This is the first time I've ever been on this website and your feedback has been incredible! I can't thank you enough... This dinner party is being catered by an out-of-work chef and his wife. The hubby gave this to me as birthday gift. It's a dinner party for 6 (I don't like more than 6 - too hard to chat across the table!). I did not choose the menu, but sign me up for ANY menu that includes pork belly!

            Cured Pork Belly: My hardest course to pair, by far. I'm going to go with champagne as my guests arrive to cleanse the palate (Laurent Perrier Brut L-P), and then give a choice of either Sokol Blosser Evolution or a Cru Beaujolais (not purchased yet, but will look for the Fleurie Roilette or just a DuBeouf)
            Lobster Bisque: Went tried & true with Chardonnay (2008 Clos Pegase)
            Arugula Salad: Nada. Guests can just carry over whatever they want. I agree with the comments. Let's leave this alone.
            Rack of Lamb: Please help me narrow this down to two. I went with bordeaux-style wines. Orin Swift Papillon 2007, Petalos Bierzo 2008, Juslyn Perry's Blend 2002 OR 2004, Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages 2005.
            Banana Cake: We will offer coffee, but I doubt this crowd will go for that, so I went totally in another direction with Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2009. I like matchy-matchy (to steal another's comment) when it comes to dessert. I think the slight effervescence of the wine would mimic the sorbet. At least I hope so! If not, I have some sweet sherry on hand.

            Thanks all!

            1. re: steelykal

              <Rack of Lamb: Please help me narrow this down to two. I went with bordeaux-style wines. Orin Swift Papillon 2007, Petalos Bierzo 2008, Juslyn Perry's Blend 2002 OR 2004, Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages 2005.>

              The only one of these I know is the Chateau St. Jean. That should be fine.

              1. re: steelykal

                petalos is made from mencia so it is not strictly bordeaux style. that said, the wine is wonderful and IMO much more food friendly that the others you mention.

                1. re: steelykal

                  just to add another two cents. the moscato is an excellent choice. the low alcohol, good acid and light spritz make for a great ending with or without desert.

                  for the beaujolais i would suggest you look for a cru beaujolais. north berkeley imports has some that are seriously better than duboeuf. georges viornery's cote du brouilly is sensational.

              2. Such great suggestions!!! I would actually only go with three wines though (for this menu). Your menu sounds wonderful.

                Pork Belly: I love the idea of lambrusco with this. Great suggestion by chinon00. I would chose a red one.
                Lobster: a Mersault or Savignon Blanc would be nice here AND with the salad
                Salad: I would not offer a separate wine from the lobster.
                Rack of Lamb: Chateauneuf-du-Pape as ChefJune mentioned
                Banana Cake: I vote with some of the others for coffee or beautiful espresso.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sedimental

                  Update: Had the party Saturday night and it was a huge success. Some pairings were better than others...

                  Pork Belly: Champagne was perfect perfect perfect. The Cru Beaujolais? Not so much. But that might be because the only one I could find was a Fleurie DuBoeuf. It tasted fine, but I don't feel like it was the best for the dish.
                  Bisque and Salad: The Chardonnay (Clos Pegase) was great with the bisque, but the caramelized garlic on the salad killed ANYTHING you could put in your mouth. It was delicious, but I can't imagine any wine going with this. At least we had a long break before the lamb was served to recover.
                  Rack of Lamb: Oh, I should have listened to all of you a little better. I decanted the Orin Swift Papillon as well as a 2004 Oakville Far Niente 2 hours prior to dinner (a couple of the guests LOVE California cabs). What a waste of good lamb. Or was it a waste of good wine? The Bierzo would have been perfect (I opened it the next night with leftovers) or even an earthy Pinot Noir. Lesson learned.
                  Dessert: Instead of banana cake, it ended up being banana panna cotta. The Moscato d-Asti was so absolutely right with dessert, I almost cried.

                  Thanks to all of you. I'm new to pairing food & wine and I appreciate all your input and advice.

                  1. re: steelykal

                    Steely: Get yourself the wonderful book by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, "What to Drink with What You Eat." It will help you get on the right track. And it's fun to read.

                2. So many options. Here are my top choices:

                  Pork Belly - Austrian Gruner Veltliner
                  Lobster bisque - White Graves
                  Arugula salad - dry white Loire
                  Lamb rack - Cote Rotie
                  Banana cake - Moscato d'Asti

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: whiner

                    Interesting choices whiner, the GV with the pork belly really got my attention, would you mind telling us why you chose this? I've been pairing GV with spicy Sichuan and Thai dishes for quite a while, but it never occurred to me to match with some meat centric offerings. TIA



                    1. re: PolarBear


                      It was the onion marmalade. If I am imagining that sauce correctly, it will pair quite well. Also, the acidity of a good GV will cut through the fat of the pork belly. Also, while technically a "red meat", the flavor profile of pork belly is minerally, which pairs well with GV. But it was the onion marmalade that threw me to the GV.

                      1. re: whiner

                        Aha, I can see now the GV contrasting nicely with the sweetness of an onion relish. Our favorite Sichuan chef does a garlic lamb hot pot with some fatty texture and we've found the GV cuts that quite well, but last visit we tried a CA syrah with that is more of an old world style and it was simply fantastic. Thanks again.

                        1. re: PolarBear

                          I had been thinking a good, spicy Gruner with the Arugula salad. With the pork belly would be very interesting.