It’s funny how get-togethers sometimes come together. We have many friends who are nerds like us. When premiere weekend for Iron Man 3 came around, six of us made plans to see it at the Cinebistro on Sunday afternoon (since two of them work in a restaurant, it’s one of their only days off) and then come back to the house to drink a bottle or two. Then a thing happened: they were only showing it in 3D. None of us like movies in 3D, so we made the executive decision to skip the movie, get straight to the wine.
Obviously knowing that we were going to be here for many hours, we had to put together some food. Fortunately, we had some fresh Florida shrimp that we hadn’t eaten the day before, so it became an appetizer. We roasted it and laid it over a celery root slaw, a quick-and-easy delicious first course.
Second course was fresh burrata and heirloom tomatoes. If you’re not familiar with burrata, it’s basically fresh mozzarella and cream. Add some tomatoes, good olive oil, and bread (we actually made some crostini) and you have a dish that will always be a huge hit. We added on the side some awesome roasted red peppers and anchovies that our visiting friend Scott had brought from Seattle, and we were in heaven.
The main course was a simple homemade baked ziti with spicy Italian sausage on the side. In this case, we weren’t particularly interested in pairing wine with the course so much as making something that wouldn’t distract us from what we were going to drink.
Dessert was a variation on the olive oil cake that Gretchyn has been experimenting with. This time, she added a whole vanilla bean and a little sugar to some marscapone, mixing them together with whipped cream. She then added some Amaretto and sugar to frozen strawberries, cooking it down into a compote. The result was my favorite of the olive oil cake variants so far.
Our friend Dave is more than just a fellow nerd culture nerd, he’s a fellow wine nerd. He usually shows up with some surprises; this was no exception. Since we hadn’t really planned around food, whatever he brought and whatever we were going to pull from the cellar were going to be fine. He opened his case and announced we were going international, having picked wines from France, Italy, the US, and Spain (wines 2-5).
N.V. Graham Beck Brut Rosé: This has gotten to be a house favorite, both due to flavor profile and price point. On a beautiful May afternoon, it felt like it would be the perfect starter, and it was.
2010 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux: We all put our nose in our glasses at the same time, and Dave asked exactly what I was about to: “Who gets banana off of this?” Six hands went up. A little pear, a little lemon curd, and just enough oak (meaning very, very little). Excellent juice.
2010 Castello di Bolgheri Bolgheri Varvàra: It was coincidental that we drank this at about the same time the ziti was ready. A nice little Super Tuscan, the Sangiovese clearly showed through. It wasn’t anything that I’d want to drink without food, but it did the job quite nicely.
2009 Dancing Hares Vineyard: Holy cow. A brilliant Bordeaux style blend of 60% Cab, 20% Merlot, 13.5% Cab Franc and 6.5% Petite Verdot with the explosive juiciness of California fruit. Deep, expressive, dark, and sexy, it was one of the best wines I’ve had in the last year. The table agreed. Parker gives it a 94; I might even be a little more generous.
2007 Bodegas Artevino Rioja Malpuesto: Quite honestly, it would have been really difficult for anything to follow that Dancing Hares, but the Malpuesto did a reasonable job. Pretty sure it was 100% Tempranillo, also dark and delicious. It was just unfair to make it come after something so good.
2010 Martinelli Pinot Noir Moonshine Ranch: We knew strawberries were coming with dessert, so I wanted to grab something out of the cellar to match it. More restrained Pinot wouldn’t have done the trick, so I went after the Martinelli. Ironically enough, we drank it all before dessert got served because we were involved in a hilarious game of Catch Phrase (one of four we played throughout the day).
2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine: A this point, another high octane Pinot would have been wasted on us, as happens when you drink many bottles in a day. I went for something a little more restrained but still with enough fruit to match dessert relatively well.
Although it wasn’t completely impromptu, the structure of the meal came together at the 11th hour, and we were pretty happy with the way it came out. The wines were awesome, the friends even better. We then finished the evening like any good nerds would: watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones.