Last weekend I embarked on a voyage into un-charted territory in my wine career…my first wine tasting for a Stagette. As I set off on my date with destiny I wasn’t quite sure if my normal arsenal of glasses, a corkscrew and a case full of vino would suffice. Would I be greeted by by a flurry of cat calls, body oil and a pole to shake what my momma gave me? Would I regret not waxing my chest and donning a sequenced man-thong? Only time would tell…
As I arrived and was greeted by my lovely host any anxiety was quickly quelled. In fact I think they were as nervous about me as I was about them. After all inviting a stranger into your home and trusting them to deliver an enjoyable evening on such an important occasion must bring some anxiety of it’s own. What if I had turned out to be some stuffy, boring snob, or worse what if I had shown up with a waxed chest and purple man-thong? As it turns out it was a great match and it turned out to be an evening to remember (in a good way).
I started the evening a little out of my comfort zone, preparing a cocktail for the ladies to enjoy as they arrived. I will admit cocktails are not my forte unless you consider an ounce of whisky in a glass a cocktail, which most do not. Luckily my brother Cody is quite a talented mixologist and he mercifully came to my rescue with what turned out to be a brilliant recipe. The cocktail we choose was entitle “Elderbubbles” and we used the following recipe (per drink):
- 1 Ounce Hendricks Gin
- 3/4 Ounce Elderflower Cordial
- 2 slices Cucumber
- 2-4 Ounces Prosecco (I used the Canella Prosecco, however any relatively inexpensive Prosecco will do)
In a shaker gently muddle the cucumber slices in the Elderflower cordial, just enough to release some of the flavour from the cucumber. Add the gin and shake with ice. Pour into a wine or cocktail glass, top with Prosecco and garnish with a cucumber slice. So easy even I did it!
As it turns out the cocktails were delicious and Gin is the bride-to-be’s drink of choice so we were off to a good start. As the cocktails worked there magic my host Holly prepared the first of four courses she had created to which I had selected wines to pair.
The first course was blue cheese and fresh honeycomb on a toasted baguette. To pair with the dish I had chosen the 2006 Domaine du Tariquet les Premieres Grives ($15.00). I decided to select more obscure value wines that the average person wouldn’t just pick up off the shelf and this definitely fit the bill. Hailing from South-West region of Gascogny, more famous for producing Armagnac than wine, this off dry white delivered the goods. The slight sweetness of the wine and honeyed flavours worked beautifully with the fresh honeycomb and the strong apple and grape flavours stood up to the power of the blue cheese. Holly and her assistants did a great job with the dish and we were off to a good start.
For our next course our host brought out small servings of Tuna Nicoise Salad, a classic French dish combining a blend of fresh tuna, olives, chopped egg, potatoes, green beans, asparagus and tomatoes. The salad was delicious and refreshing with a symphony of flavours providing complexity. I selected a classic pairing with this dish, a dry rose from France. The 2008 Domaine Montrose Rose ($18.00) made from a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, delivered mouth watering acidity and bright notes of strawberry and some floral components. The pairing worked well, although I must say I would choose something with a little more body next time, perhaps a rose from Spain.
The next dish which featured Prosciutto bundles with goat cheese and fresh fig is always a favourite of mine. I chose two different wines as I wanted to experiment a little. For a white I chose another wine from Gascogny, the 2007 Alain Brumont Gros Manseng – Sauvignon Blanc ($17.00). This dry, fresh and fruit forward white was refreshing when contrasted with the salty tang of the prosciutto and goat cheese and was a big hit. For a red I chose the 2006 Chateau Pesquie “Terrasses” Cotes du Ventoux ($18.00), a blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Southern Rhone Valley. This is always one of my favourite value wines with juicy red fruits accompanied by a hint of earth and peppery spice. This worked really well with the fresh figh and the prosciutto.
Lastly we came to the dessert course, a dark chocolate mousse on a vanilla wafer with fresh raspberry. The dish was delicious and once again I could not choose one wine. I made my first mistake of the evening by only bringing one bottle of 2008 Batasiolo Bosc Dla Rei Moscato d’Asti. Moscato d’Asti ($19.00)is a low alcohol, sweet, semi-sparkling wine from Northern Italy and it is simply delicious. The sweet apricot, peach and floral notes dance on the tongue with the slight effervescence keeping the wine fresh despite it’s sweetness. The girls loved this wine and I was left a little sheepish holding the empty bottle. By this time my last wine choice was almost inconsequential as the ladies had developed a rosy red glow and the party was starting. The 2006 Domaine Pouderoux Maury ($32.00, 750 ml), a port-style fortified wine from the Roussillon area in southern France, just screams for dark chocolate and the bright raspberry made the raspberry in the dish sing.
As I mentioned by this time any inhibitions were thrown out the window and had donned a brightly coloured Lay and some neon purple wrist bands. A great photo shoot ensued and there may or may not be a photo of me surrounded by 12 ladies flinging panties at me…I guess only time and facebook will tell if those are leaked. As the ladies headed off to Cowboy’s nightclub I took my leave and reflected on a great evening. What I love about wine is it’s ability to bring people together and to create an experience. To anyone considering something a little more interesting for their next stagette I urge them to give wine a try…at least for the start of the night. And if I can get paid to hang out in a room full of women and taste great wine and food, then I am truly living the dream.