Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heading for the final turn

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth or gone into rehab. I'm on the final push towards the finish line which is the last course to completing my Sommelier program and it's a little intense. Creating a wine list for a local restaurant is not an easy task. Finding the wines that pair well with the menu, associated wine agents, building the wine list and inventory all wrapped up in a short time frame and I'm starting to sweat like a teenager on a first date with a huge pimple on my nose. Now don't get me wrong, it's really interesting doing the research by "pouring" through different wines, researching the restaurant, sampling menu items and assembling a unique reasonably priced wine list for the restaurant. Luckily I'm not doing this on my own. I have two very enthusiastic classmates working with me on the project which allows each of us to focus on specific tasks and do quality work without worrying about missing content.

 How difficult is it, you ask? Next time you're in a restaurant take a few minutes to go through the menu and try pairing the wines on the wine list with some of the appetizers or main courses. Don't cheat and take the easy ones like steak with Cabernet Sauvignon or pork chops with Pinot Noir. Try something that's a little different like oysters or a pasta dish with grilled sausage. Is the sausage spicy? Is the pasta sauce tomato, oil or cream based? All of these flavour factors combine to give you a unique mouth feel and taste that needs the right wine to compliment the food. It's all about balancing the food flavours with the wine aroma and taste. Now try pairing your wine selection with one of the appetizers or starters. Does it pair or do you need to select a different wine. It's not as easy as it looks and it often requires a lot of sampling.

Here's my picks for this week

 Sledgehammer Zinfandel - 2008 - Napa Valley

A bright ruby red Zin with aromas of blackberry, smoke and sweet spice. This big bold wine is aged in Hungarian and French oak which gives it the sweet spice flavour. Like the Clos du Bois Zinfandel, the Sledgehammer vintner also adds Petit Syrah (8%) for an extra bit of punch and colour. An excellent zinfandel for just sipping with friends or it can be paired with hearty dishes like big juicy BBQ hamburgers with all the toppings or your favourite pizza
Price - under $18 at LCBO
I like this wine because it's big and bold but not overpowering for a Zinfandel. At 13.5% ABV the wine doesn't leave you with that hot sensation after one sip. Smooth with some spice.