We just celebrated “Vinterfest” in Prince Edward County. In the chill of a February Family Day Weekend, each participating winery puts on a unique event, which can be outdoors, art-inspired, food-inspired or perhaps a performance.
Our event was “Tasting with Tim” — intensive wine pairings led by the Winemaker.
When wine touring in Prince Edward County, the last thing you want to do is to discover a wine you love, bring it home, and then serve your friends a food that makes your discovered treasure taste bad!
As the winemaker, I told our guests that while I know how to make wine, I don’t know what you are tasting — everyone has a unique palate. I can’t tell you what tastes good to you. People have to experiment with the pairings for themselves. If people found a winner, I wrote it on the white board.
Here are some of the findings — not universal truths but some trends that developed amongst the guests that showed up over the two days.
There were surprises — for example, garlic stuffed olives, an item in our “sour” category — elevated many of the wines, particularly the easy-drinking whites and the Cabernet Franc. Hence a nice tapenade with chopped olives and goat cheese is a versatile wine pairing. The other “sour”, salt and vinegar chips, went surprisingly well with the whites and the Exuberance Sparkling Riesling.
Cheeses were universally enjoyed with most wines. Double-cream brie on crackers goes with everything.
Dry, food friendly wines are the most transformative in food pairings. Our Estate Grown Pinot Noir was particularly enjoyed with sweet dates. Estate Grown Chardonnay went well with smoked cheddar, which pleasantly enhances the mild oakiness in the wine.
Couples had amusingly different tastes — one partner would admit they loved Doritos with cabernet franc, while the other said “absolutely not”.
Some groups got creative and combined pairings to create little snacks, wrapping dates in prosciutto or making little sandwiches. We shared jokes and recipes — for example:
- remove pits from dates and stuff with goat cheese
- wrap in bacon
- broil for 5 minutes
Yum. That makes my imagination salivate. I have to try it.
That was fun. We may do it again. Everyone learned about their own tastes and enjoyed a communal bonding over wine and food. Next time I would like to try pairings with smoked arctic char, chocolate-covered coffee beans and something with spicy heat. We could probably remove the cheeses because it’s just not that surprising when wine and cheese go well together, and our goal is to surprise and delight.
If you have any wine and food combinations that you love or ideas that you would like to suggest, why not share it by leaving a comment?