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Jul 27, 2011 08:31 PM

Need help with the BYOB Paradox

I naievely thought that pairing Chicago's several Michelin Star BYOB restaurants with my wine cellar was a dream come true. Pairing the wines that I liked best with someone who really could cook was in theory the best of all worlds. So I booked an anniversary dinner on Saturday an Bonsoiree.
Then they sent me the menu. Now I feel like a deer in headlights. I can pair 6 bottles of wine with their 6 courses...but I can't waste 6 bottles of wine just to have the right pairing with each course... So the question is what's the most efficient use of the bottles in our wine cellar to maximixe the pairings and the wine, (including desert)? Two bottles? A California Pinot and a Chianti Clasico Riserva? Three? A Caliifornia Syrah, a German Dry Rieseling, and and Australian Late Harvest Semillion? I think it's a pretty daunting and interesting question...and am wondering if anyone is willing to help? If you are willing to, thanks in advance.

Here is the menu for the Bonsoiree "July Underground" menu this Saturday:

1. Quick Pickled Albacore, English Cucumber & Seaweed Salad,

Rock Shrimp, Sake-Steelhead Roe & Soy Bean in Dashi Aspic, Umami Wontons

2. Tater Tots: Hashed & Mashed, Duck Yakitori, Sesame Oil Powder, Stewed Knob Onions & Rapini, Sour and Candied Orange Sauces

3. Charred & Chilled Watermelon Soup, White Chocolate and Corn-off-the-Cob Fritter, BBQ'd Yogurt, Salsify Slaw with Mint & Chervil, Pancetta Crisp

4. Porcini Pappardelle & Grilled eryngii in Bordelaise au Truffle Beurre, Slow-Poached Lobster, Asparagus Pudding, Chestnut Broth

5. Intermezzo: Textured Old Fashioned

Stages of Black Plum, "Puppy Chow", Guiness & Chocolate Ganache, Roasted Cocoa Nibs, Lime

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  1. Considerations in pairing: Course 1 is pickled and has lots of umami (dashi), course 2 is fried with more umami, course 3 has a fried component. So, I would say, Champagne as the best accompaniment to all three courses. Riesling will work with course 2 and 3 but will be shredded by course 1.

    Course 4 needs a red with light tannins or the lobster will be like metallic shoe leather. I'd go light burgundy/pinot noir, nebbiolo or barbera.

    Dessert: bring a bottle of good Iambic or Young's chocolate stout.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefdilettante

      Wow. I wouldn't have thought of that, but I wish I had. I love the economy of the lambic or stout at the end. I would have agonized over this up to and through the dinner...forgetting to enjoy it at all! Truly appreciated. Thanks.

    2. When faced with situations like this, including the flowery dish desriptions, I end up bringing many bottles (more than I'll open), and then decide what to open after I've had a chance to ask more about the dish/preparation or actually see it in front of me.

      1 Reply
      1. My, that is an unusual menu. Quite all over the place. It reads as if the chef might be on crack. ;)

        You COULD bring a whole bunch of wines and decide at the restaurant, but I'd be more likely to do what chefdilettante suggested and have Champagne with the first three courses and Barbera with the lobster. The only caveat is that Asparagus has been known to "spoil" any wine other than Gruner Veltliner.....

        1. What about getting one of their wines by the glass for a particularly difficult course? I don't know enough wine to give an answer other than to not limit your options!

          1. Does the restaurant offer a wine pairing? I have often agonized over what wine to get to the point where I have a hard time enjoying the meal. Sometimes it is better to let the staff sommelier do it for you.