2 oz Pours: Favorite Pairing Moments Part 1

Consider this our version of Page 6. Whether through business, friends, or an average night at home, we get to try a lot of wine. Here, we’ll share little tastes of standout pairing experiences from the many tables we dine at. Please share yours as well.

For our first two installments, however, we thought we’d let you get to know us a little bit starting off with our very favorite pairing experiences from the last year.

Nikki is first at bat.

The best wine moments are always shared with others. Sometimes they’re unplanned, but I’ll admit that I deliberately go out of my way to create the occasions. You might not be surprised then that two of my favorite pairing moments occurred at dinner parties with other wine lovers at my own table. They both happened to be early dinner parties in our CA new apartment.

On this first occasion, we invited several wine-loving friends over for a pairing party. Every couple (it just happened to be all couples) was to bring over a course and wine (or two) that they thought would match well with their food. The result was an evening of pure decadence that I could not have predicted, and frankly, it would have been hard to match (or afford!) at any restaurant. Here is a glimpse of the line-up. I’ll admit that some of our friends have a flare for the extravagant.

 First course: Lightly spicy lobster roll bites on brioche paired with  Franck Millet Sancerre Insolite by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Dave and Julia.

Second Course: Steak Tartare with shaved truffles with Takasago Ginga Shizuku Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo Sake, by our friends Drew and Lucy. (Lucy also has an organization, design, and fashion blog, which you can find here.)

 Main Course: Amarone always speaks to me of intense, exotic spices and dried fruits, so for my offering I made a tagine inspired spiced lamb shoulder (loosely adapted from this recipe BBCGoodFood.com) with a side of dried apricot-cranberry Israeli couscous paired with 2007 Marchesi Fumanelli Octavius Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva. We also enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Roar Wines Garys' Vineyard Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands.

Dessert: An absolutely decadent butter cake piled high with strawberries and cream by our friends Drew (different Drew) and Dee, paired with 2013 Elvio Cogno Moscato d'Asti and 2000 Trimbach Alsace Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives. This was heavenly!

I highly recommend doing this at home. There is no need to go this over-the-top to have a delicious time. Nor do you need to be as geeky about it as we are. If you’re just getting into wine, you can go a long way by just asking questions at a good local wine shop. Tell them what you’re planning to make and your price point–they’re sure to have good recommendations for you. I learned a lot about pairing this way.

The second case was a very similar scenario. A wine friend was visiting from NYC and we invited him over for dinner, along with another friend he wanted to introduce us to. In New York, this friend had us over for several spectacular dinners, but somehow we’d never had chance to reciprocate until this occasion. It turned into another amazing evening with many wonderful pairings!

 It also just happened that this was  a lamb dinner: Roasted lamb, curried cauliflower, and buckwheat tabouli. Wines:
 Laherte Freres Brut Rosé Champagne Ultradition NV,
2012 Kabaj Rebula, Goriska Brda, Slovenia,
2014 Fatto a Mano Arneis, Mendocino, CA,
2005 Bodegas Ontanon Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain

Possibly my favorite combination of the evening was the dessert course. I made this beautiful clementine cake based on a recipe by Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake (it’s delicious, gluten-free if you happen to be looking for that, and incredibly easy) and paired it with 2006 Maculan Acininobili Veneto, Italy. Glorious!

To be honest, despite being rather rare, the wine was little past its prime. When sipped alongside the cake, however, the wine just came right back to life and showed beautifully. The magic of a good pairing. I think you’re likely to have as beautiful an experience with a late harvest Riesling (if German, probably Auslese or sweeter) or a Tokaji–really any dessert wine that will mirror the citrus notes in the cake.

I always say that wine makes friends, and this group has gone on to have several more wonderful dinners! This all isn’t just to brag. (Or not completely anyways–I definitely am one of those people that populates Instagram with pictures of the food and wine I’m eating. Guilty.) However,  I really do love a dinner party–every bit as much as I love dining out and I think we all should be having more of them. There’s no need to worry that the table needs to be turned over to other waiting customers, so you can let your friends linger as long as you all feel like continuing the party. It doesn’t hurt either that those special bottles are a whole lot less expensive when you enjoy them at home, making it a lot easier to be fabulous on dime.

So let’s all have more dinner parties! We’d love to hear about yours.

Up next, Bridget's favorite experiences from last year.

Tell us about your favorite pairing moments. You can also tag #sommstable on Instagram to share them with us. We’ll share our favorite here.



Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!