Last night we sat down for dinner with some friends for the first of what I hope to be a monthly series of wine and food pairings – a small Wine Club if you will. Three couples, three bottles of BC wine, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. Each couple provides a wine and food pairing, and the course assignments and location rotate, with the entree always provided by the host couple (who thus have access to their own kitchen). Three bottles of wine for six people is just enough that we all get a couple small glasses of each wine to enjoy, and everyone leaves safely sober by the end of the night. Most entree recipes will feed six people after appetizers, plus most of us only have six chairs around our dining tables! We may be on to something here...
For our first Wine Club I hosted, it having been my idea in the first place, and I relished the opportunity to finally open a bottle of Joie 2009 Muscat that was waiting for the right time and place. Joie’s Muscat is a rare commodity; I ordered mine direct from the winery this past Spring when it was first released. Not only is this delightful grape rare in BC, but most of Joie’s 151 cases get snatched up by restaurants: the world-famous Vij’s here in Vancouver carries this wine alongside four other BC wines, within a wine list only eleven bottles long. That knowledge was enough to spur on an Indian feast, and I got to work on Tuesday preparing for a red lentil dhal, a chickpea-potato tomato curry, and a creamy vegetable curry from Vij’s own recipe.
Before it came time to dig into curries however we got to enjoy the appetizer course: a cold Asian noodle salad with peanuts and scallions paired with Neck of the Woods Blanc de Noir Brut. The only Fraser Valley estate-bottled sparkling wine, the crisp and clean acidity of this wine paired well with the rice-wine vinegar-based dressing. I was able to detect the charming hint of peaches that Neck of the Woods describes, and that creamy finish was much appreciated.
When it came time to serve the dahl and curries, with naan and steamed Basmati rice, we revelled in the floral nose of the Muscat before even tasting it. Muscat really has an aroma unlike any other wine, and sometimes leaves me wanting to keep smelling without any tasting required! This Muscat in particular is a sneaky one, as the acidity and the long, dry finish surprise those who go into it expecting a much sweeter wine given the floral nose. Joie describes flavours of ripe peach, orange blossom, and lemon-drop candies on the palate, and I think between the six of us we all experienced at least one of those – always nice when you actually find agreement with the winemaker’s perceptions!
Following a few second-helpings of curry and dahl, we took out of the oven a now-warmed and impressive-looking blackberry-blueberry pie, made with handpicked blackberries from our courageous and now heavily-scarred friends. An all butter crust made us lick our lips as we read the tasting notes for our third bottle: Nk’Mip 2008 Riesling. Very much a dry Riesling (with even less residual sugar than the Muscat), this wine was released last summer; the 2009 just came out this August (and has nearly twice as much sugar). Under screwcap it has fared fine of course, and we could appreciate the granny smith apple aromas wafting from our glasses. The crisp, dry finish was actually a welcome pairing with the sweet, syrupy pie filling, and proved that you don’t need a “dessert” wine to go with dessert!
Next month is our turn for dessert, and I’m already thinking of different pairings: I enjoy the challenge of choosing a wine, and then coming up with something delicious with which to serve it. It may in fact prove difficult to hold this Wine Club only once a month; I’ve got so many ideas already – I’ll keep you posted!