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Nov 5, 2011 11:42 PM

Birthday dinner wine pairing help

In the process of planning a 50th birthday dinner and I'm lost on the wine pairings.

Here's the menu (hubbie's choices--it's his bday) so far:

Some kind of before dinner drinks (no wine) and nibbles
Scallops with thyme butter and chili
Creole shrimp and crawfish bisque (creamy)
Smoked chicken "leg" with smoked chicken rillettes, apple and cranberry chutney
Salad with roasted beets, goat cheese, walnuts, dressing with a bit of orange
Tenderloin with green peppercorn sauce and potato something or another (souffle type)
Cheese plate of assorted local (Danish) cheeses, plus a few favorite French "artisan" cheeses
Some kind of small dessert bites--not sure which, but likely to include chocolate

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, it's easier for me to get European wines than American ones, although some of the bigger US vineyards are represented here (usually ones that are on the cheap end in the US, however).

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  1. Pretty interesting line-up. Sounds like you are not in the U.S...I'm sure others will chime in with other ideas but here's mine:
    1) scallops and bisque: German riesling (kabinet); or Austrian Gruner Veltliner; or riesling first and sherry with bisque (fino) or cold fino with both first courses. Something sparkling would work, too (from Prosecco to cava to Champagne.)
    2) smoked chicken/chili: from Italy, Primitivo; from US, Zinfandel; or from Sicily, Cerusuola de Vittoria; from France, 2009 Beaujolais from a good maker; or 2009 Chinon; you could also get a good quality rose from Provence
    3) tenderloin, most of the above reds would work but if you wanted a change, from France: Chateauneuf de Papes; or Madiran or a still young but drinkable Bordeaux; from Spain, Priorat;

    Since you didn't give a price range, it's hard to recommend specific makers (and obviously your specific circumstances dictate availability.)

    1. I'd like to suggest a Chardonnay with the smoked chicken leg, preferably something with a bit of oak.
      in addition to the below suggestions to accompany the tenderloin, a new world malbec.
      if there is blue cheese amongst your assortment, i'd consider port or a dessert wine. if not, the red would be fine.

      1. Scallops and bisque: Champagne or other sparkling, Riesling Kabinett, or Vouvray.
        Chicken: Cotes-du-Rhone, or a rose with some body (Tavel, Bandol rose)
        Salad: If you serve rose with chicken, keep it for the salad
        Tenderloin: Bordeaux, Rioja
        Cheese: Whatever you serve with the tenderloin
        Dessert: Moscato d'Asti

        1 Reply
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          Brad, though this is aimed at the OP, I am replying to your post, just to express my opinions on the cheese course.

          This depends totally on the cheeses served, but besides the Bdx/Rioja (better with many hard cheeses), think about bringing back, or out a Chardonnay. The creamier the cheese, the bigger the Chard. Here, I am thinking Meursault, Montrachet or Corton. If you go with some acidic cheeses, say goat, then that Riesling should work fine, as would a Vouvray. Though I have cycled through my lighter whites and moved up to more full-bodied reds, to pair with the cheese course, I never hesitate to have a white. It will just depend on the cheeses. When I will ONLY be doing bigger reds, I will then structure the cheeses to accommodate those, and leave off the cremes, etc.

          Enjoy, and Happy Birthday!


        2. FWIW, cocktails before dinner tend to dull one's palate for wine, especially if more than one is imbibed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            Agree with ChefJune. You might opt for an aperitif of some sortk such as a Champagne (that you could then transition, if you'd like) into your first course. Or, you may want to have vermouth (even over some ice).

            1. re: ChefJune

              This would be where I would opt for a lighter SB, and depending on the nibbles, might go NZ, for the "mouth watering" aspect. Just me though.

              Bubbles also work well here, and if they will appear in the next course, maybe offer a lighter one first, and then move up in body, perhaps even to a Rosé sparkler/Champagne.


            2. Dry white Bordeaux up to the tenderloin, then red Bordeaux.

              3 Replies
              1. re: whiner

                Do you see an SB with the scallops, considering the chili?

                Normally, I would, or perhaps a Chablis, but the chili stopped me, dead in my tracks.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I suppose it depends upon the chilis. I was not thinking particularly hot chilis. You are right, if there is significant heat, the White Bordeaux would not work.

                  1. re: whiner

                    Thanks - yes, "chilies" are not always "chilis," and do dictate the possible wine. Being in the US SW, I sort of thought too locally there.