Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Winey Elisson
Mr. Debonair, your sommelier du jour.

She Who Must Be Obeyed likes a good party. Even better, she likes to entertain. All she needs is a good reason.

A good reason came along in the form of Jessica, youngest daughter of our friends Marc and Shelly. Jessica’s older sisters are both married now, and in both cases, SWMBO and several friends hosted bridal showers at our house. Now that Jessica is on the hook, so to speak, it was her turn to have a bridal shower at Chez Elisson.

The Committee of Four (for so I shall refer to them), consisting of SWMBO, JoAnn, Laura Belle, and Betty, agreed on a Wine-Tasting theme. This provided an opportunity for me to trot out the expertise I’ve garnered during my years as a member of the Sommelier Guild of Atlanta... said expertise mostly consisting of knowing whom to ask.

In our case, I decided to consult with Lloyd, a fellow Guild member and manager of a well-stocked wine shop. Given the array of dishes the ladies wanted to serve, what wines would match up well with those dishes, while at the same time providing enough variety to be interesting?

The food was to be divided up into three “courses”: Fruit and cheese, a beef entrée, and dessert. We would serve two different wines with each course, with guests free to move from course to course at their own pace.

The fruit and cheese course consisted of red and green grapes, blackberries, and Abate Fetel pears; Camembert and Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill soft cheeses; and Amadeus, Gruyère de Comté, and five-year-old Gouda hard cheeses. To match up with these, we selected a Domain Daniel Chauveau Chinon Rosé 2006 and a Domaine Marc Portaz Apremont Vin de Savoie 2005 - two crisp, dry wines.

For the beef entrée (open-faced flank steak sandwiches served with grilled asparagus), we picked a Villa Mt. Eden Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and a Terra Andina Reserva Pinot Noir 2008. Both of these turned out to be extremely popular, with the Cab being the hit of the party.

Flank Steak Sammitches
Open-face flank steak sandwiches, served alongside grilled asparagus and accompanied by an array of horseradish cream, soy-mustard, and barbecue sauces.

Dessert was an assortment of cupcakes - red velvet, vanilla, and caramel - which posed a real challenge vis à vis wine selection. It’s not an easy task to find wines that will work well with all three of those (sweet) flavors, but we did an admirable job with a Dow’s Tawny Port and a Martin Weyrich Moscato Allegro 2007.

Cupcake Bush
“It is a Tree of Cupcakes for those that hold fast to it.” - Proverbs 3:18 (paraphrased)
Assorted cupcakes courtesy Lulu’s Bakery, Roswell, GA.

All in all, the party was a little like a Sommelier Guild event brought home... except with an all-female cast. I was there mainly to open the bottles, explain how the wines should be tasted (pour, swirl, gargle, wear lampshade on head), and stay the hell out of the way. Which I tried to do, while snarfing up random bites of food and washing them down with this or that Fine Vintage.

A good bridal shower - not that I am any kind of expert in these matters - should be (1) fun for the Guest of Honor, the bride-to-be, and (2) fun for the other guests. Based on what I could see, the Committee of Four did a superb job and accomplished both objectives handily. Furthermore, the wine and food pairings got high marks... which means that I don’t have to sleep in the back yard.

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