Last evening (June 19, 2010) a trio of innkeepers, Teresa, Diane and Jackie, hosted the first of 12 Wine and Food Pairing evenings at Azalea Inn and Gardens. Join us every Saturday of the month, and a lively theme will give you a hint of what is to come. Diane Rousakis, accompanied by Lindsay Melton of United Distributors, lent her expertise to the evening showcasing five wines from her portfolio in response to “Summer Whites: Do Blondes Have More Fun?” We took a slightly unconventional approach this evening presenting each wine individually, followed by its paired appetizer, an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast each wine and note how food combinations may change your perception.
Maso Canali Pinot Grigio was first up paired with (surprisingly) Onion Rings! Diane gave an easy to understand lecture on the pinot grigio grape and the particular characteristics of this blending. Everyone had the opportunity to appreciate the characteristics of the wine before sampling the onion rings, prepared by Azalea Inn and Garden’s chef, Kolin. The delicate crunch of the rings and the bite of the onion dipped into two somewhat zesty dipping sauces were a hit!
Our second wine of the evening was the Alamos Torrontes, an Argentina wine with citrus and peach notes and hints of jasmine and herbs which made it a perfect pairing for something a bit spicy. Jackie of the Zeigler House Inn served up spicy capicola ham rolled around goat cheese and micro-greens all topped with a three-pepper relish.
Next was the Martin Codax Albarino, an aromatic complex Spanish white wine, dry and crisp with flavors of ripe apples, peach, apricots, melon, grapefruit and lemon zest with a bright minerality, making a perfect match for Jackie’s next food pairing. Individual gratins of bay scallops in a white wine sauce with a golden brown crust of garlic, shallots, prosciutto and panko bread crumbs were chosen as the accompaniment to this rich and elegant wine.
California’s Central Coast was brilliantly represented by a William Hill Chardonnay paired perfectly: Crab Cakes with sweet corn and peppers with a whole seed mustard sauce (my personal favorite of the night) prepared by Diane of the Green Palm Inn. This Chardonnay has a tropical nose with toasty oak, pear and vanilla scents. Clean and soft on the palate, butterscotch and tropical fruit flavors married sublimely with the crab cakes and complimented the vanilla cream, buttered popcorn, lime and mineral finish of the wine.
The final wine of the evening, White Haven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a refreshing palate pleaser with vibrant peach, tropical fruit and grapefruit aromas with freshly-cut herb undertones. The outstanding Shrimp Shooters with fresh Georgia wild shrimp was an inspired and unusual treat.
The evening wrapped up with a light tart filled with a ginger cream and fresh berries – and we can all thank Kolin for that good night treat!
A good time was had by all!