When it comes to Food & Wine Pairings, it can sometimes feel like a struggle to find a well orchestrated combination. There are numerous books about Food & Wine Pairings, blog posts written about the subject, and it is mentioned everywhere on Social Media. Understanding why some foods pair better with select wines can be challenging. With the bounty of ingredients, spices, fusion cuisines and the incredible amount of wine available it can be a daunting task. By attending a professionally prepared Food & Wine Pairing widely available at local wineries now, we can get a bit more insight into the popular Food & Wine Experience.
On a recent trip to Walla Walla I was invited to attend the Friday Food & Wine Pairing at Seven Hills Winery. Having the opportunity to journey through some of Seven Hills finest limited release wines, expertly paired with small bites by local chef Sarah Mayhew, was a food & wine experience that I did not want to miss.
The Food & Wine Pairing is limited to 8 guests which allows for a more intimate experience and personal impression of the wines and how they pair with the specially matched foods.
Our Food & Wine Experience was hosted by Seven Hills Tasting Room Lead and Sommelier Danielle Christopher. Danielle has worked for Seven Hills Winery for over two years and had a wealth of knowledge about the limited release wines that we tasted.
The Carménère was a perfect pairing with the Hush Puppy as it was a great food wine that allowed you to enjoy the food yet finished with a touch of spice. On the nose this wine was full of floral notes with touches of Red Raspberry and remnants of fresh Spring air. The pleasantly light rounded acidic flavor of the wine with energetic raspberry notes blended well with the crispiness of the Hush puppy and the delectable Scallion Aioli.
This 2016 is drawn from the original estate founding Cabernet Sauvignon blocks at Seven Hills Vineyard, which were planted by the McClellan family in 1980. The vintage marked the 29th year of making Cabernet Sauvignon from these old vines. In this pairing, the delicate and sweet vanilla flavors of the Cabernet played well with the creamy mushrooms and herbs of this Savory Bread Pudding. Within the Cab the aroma of dark cherries draws you into an herb garden that wraps around around your tongue with each sip. This wine perfectly accentuated the nutty Manchego Cheese with flavors of plum, cherry and tobacco. A wonderfully executed pairing and the wine was so good that a bottle went home with us that day. With cellaring, this Cabernet will continue to develop and mature for years to come.
This pairing was the second most discussed within our group as we all felt the Pentad, which due to an unforeseen circumstance, had been decanted for only an hour and was not quiet ready to drink. This is not to say the Brisket and Polenta bite was not delicious, but at the time we sipped and discussed this wine it was almost unanimously deemed the least favorite wine. However, the Pentad was not quite ready to roll over and claim defeat. As we continued on our tasting journey the wine began to open up in our glasses, further exploration into this wine had before the end of the tasting everyone had changed their tune.
With notes of blackberry and a light acidity on the nose, the flavors of this wine completely popped with a bold fruit forward wild and peppery taste that gave way to an image of walking through a forest filled with wild blackberries. The 2009 Pentad, was rated 96 Points by the Wine Enthusiast and named #31 on their list of the TOP 100 Cellar Selections in the world.
I think that it is fair to say to the whole group enjoyed this combination the most. There was just something about the spicy creaminess of the Sweet Potato Pie that meshed so well with this perfect Merlot. Yes, I said it, a perfect Merlot! A bottle of this Gem came home with us as well. Aromas of earthy over ripe dark fruits with toasted barrel spices catches your attention instantly. The Black Pepper Pretzel Crust in the bite added to the Merlot with its own flavors of deep smokey fruit and layers of depth with peppery tones. This 100% varietal wine is full of richness and will offer plenty of pleasure when opened after a rest in the cellar.
I learned so much more about Seven Hills Winery’s wines, vineyards and enjoyed a continued education on food pairing from this experience. After the food & wine experience we were also treated to a tour of the winery and a special tasting from one of the barrels. I would like to thank Seven Hills Winery and especially Danielle Christopher for making this a memorable visit to their tasting room. I would love to hear about memorable Food & Wine Pairing that you have experienced.
Food & Wine Parings are available at Seven Hills Winery on Fridays and Saturdays at 11:00 am (limited to 8 guests). Fee is $55 per guest ($45 for wine club members). Allow 90 minutes. For more information or to book a reservation, please contact Danielle Christopher at 509-529-7198 or Danielle@sevenhillswinery.com.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.