It’s been a hectic few days getting ready for last night. My wife and I had our 5th annual wine party. We’ve gone from just a few people, to a dozen to twenty. That’s about 2 1/2 times what is recommended for a wine party, but we don’t care… We’re not trying to do a really formal wine tasting; we’re trying to enjoy the night with friends and finding some wines that we might like that we hadn’t tried before.
It’s almost more fun to try some wines that are the worst wines. But more on that later.
The way our wine party goes is pretty simple, and pretty much against the accepted wine tasting process. We start with the food, which is supposed to be later, after the tasting. I fixed all the food. Then we start tasting wines. Each couple that comes brings 2 wines, a red and a white. The theme this year was French wines, so all the wines were French.
As I’ve said before, I try to do a couple of main dishes with several cheeses and bread. Thursday, I made crepes. Friday, I made dessert and started on French country bread and brioche. I’ll go through all of the dishes separately, to spend the time each deserves.
Saturday got busier. I got up around 6:30 am and turned the oven on to get it warmed up. Then I got the brioche dough out of the refrigerator and shaped 2 loaves for fluted pans and one for a regular bread loaf pan. Then I made the dough for Lavash crackers. Once that was proofing, I took the poolish I’d made for the country bread and made the dough.
The French country bread didn’t work out when I mixed it. I had to do some stuff with it, and it finally worked out.
After the bread was done, I had the rest of the food to prep for. Mid afternoon, I diced several large onions to make an onion relish for foie gras. I also quartered a mess of mushrooms and started a wine reduction for crepes.
I started the grill at about 5:30, and I got out the beef for steak au poivre at about the same time. After preparing the steak au poivre, that went on a warming tray, and i got out the duck liver I had delivered the other day. I cut it into slices and set it back in the refrigerator. Once the steaks were cooked, I grilled pieces of brioche to use for the foie gras. I made the foie gras to order, as people got to the party.
We had several Chardonnays, and Alsace and a couple Vouvrays for the whites. One of the whites was actually a blush wine, which, to me, actually had no taste at all.
The reds went from Beaujoulais variations to a Syrah to a few Bourdeauxs. The Bordeauxs were Pomerol and Saint Emilion wines.
The party was fun; everybody brought info on their wines to share. It ranged from info on the vineyard from which the wines came, the grapes, the region, anything they wanted to share. We passed each wine around, taking a taste or two, then discussed what we thought.
The first of the three Bordeaux wines was supposed to be good with chocolate, so I got out the dessert I’d fixed to go along with it. Like the wines, some people liked the dessert, some didn’t. It was a dark chocolate creme fraiche with burnt caramel sauce and fleur de sel sea salt. It went really well with the wine, actually.
The next wine, which was from near Pomerol (another Bordeaux), started around, and I passed around a bag of dark chocolate with cayenne pepper. Another pretty nice match.
One part of the party we have fun with all year is that we get little wine related prizes. They’re all under $10, but we make sure there’s something for every guest. Then, during the party, I make up reasons to award a prize.
After all the wines were passed around, one of our friends brought out a bottle of mead. Mead was the first fermented beverage in history, and is basically fermented honey. Honey is diluted until it can ferment. This particular version is based on a recipe from around 1700. It’s got hibiscus and hops added. And it’s awful! Viking Blod may well be made from just that, so maybe it was fitting to try it on Halloween weekend.
That’s our wine party, and it was a lot of fun. On top of a great party, the Buckeyes won, so it was a successful night all around.