Like most people I am occasionally prone to self-doubt and occasionally this self-doubt centers around my career. Did I make the right choice? Should I have gone to school and become a doctor or lawyer? Should I have become a Shaolin monk, evangelical preacher or shotgun-toting hermit? Is wine really for me? The answer hit me like a bolt of lightning this past Saturday evening as I stood as the only male surrounded by 22 gorgeous (and tipsy) women drinking amazing wine and eating outstanding food…while being paid well for the pleasure. Yes, somehow I think I made the right decision.
You never know quite where life will lead you and it just so happens life seems to be leading me towards stagette’s. I have been given a front row ticket to several such events in the past month’s and have seen these estrogen charged evenings from a point of view rarely alloted to men. Perhaps it’s my pronounced jaw and bulging biceps that lead to my participation in these stagette’s, or perhaps they assume that as a man in the wine industry I am probably gay and thus pose no threat of turning into a drooling, groping creep by the end of the evening. There is also the possibility that I am giving myself too much credit and it’s simply that I bring the booze. Either way this again seems to be the divine path chosen for me…high five for the higher power!
This particular bride-to-be happens to also be a student in my Wine Fundamentals Level 1 class at SAIT. Being that wine and food are two of her favourite things the Maid of Honour sought out my assistance in putting together a surprise party to work with that theme. Needless to say this was a slightly more civilized evening than many stagette’s, devoid of the usual strippers and games involving pinning condoms on random men at the bar, not to say that these ladies don’t know how to party!
Going into the evening I had the usual trepidations. Am I going to be able to keep my clothes on? If I end up losing my shirt will I regret not doing some cool man-scapeing and shaving a flaming eagle into my chest hair or something. As it turns out I did indeed manage to keep it together and it turned out to be the best event yet. The wine was of course chosen by yours truly and as such was spectacular as alway, but the real highlight of the night was the food! The bridesmaids pulled off what I can safely say is the most epic food menu I have ever seen at a stagette, or at any party I’ve ever been to for that matter. These ladies were like a team of culinary ninjas, producing dish after dish from the kitchen in what seemed like a never-ending train of delicious! Of course as the Sommelier it was my duty to taste each and every course to make sure my wine matches had hit the target (did I mention my life is rough?).
Here was the menu…hold on to your socks.
Assorted exotic meats, cheeses, crackers and olives
Gourmet antipasti platter displayed with a variety of olives including Manzanilla stuffed with feta and garlic, kalamata, a generous portion of premium cured Italian meats with an assortment of cheeses accompanied with fine crackers
Stella stack caprese salad
Thai roasted vegetable skewers
Fresh eggplant, bell peppers, red onion, zucchini and succulent slivers of coconut. Brushed with an olive oil and lime mixture and grilled to perfection and served with a zesty peanut sauce.
Thick-cut Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, topped with a sprinkle of baby butter lettuce, and drizzled with a dressing of Stella Artois, olive oil, balsamic and diced
HOT & COLD CANAPES
Cremini mushrooms stuffed with Serrano ham
Steamed cremini mushrooms stuffed with Spanish Serrano ham creates a beautiful, concentrated, earthy flavour.
Coconut and citrus infused tuna ceviche
Fresh ahi tuna cured with a zesty blend of lime, lemon and orange and flavoured with rich coconut, sweet onion and fresh tomato and cilantro. Served with plantain chips.
Crab wontons with sweet chilli glaze
A crunchy appetizer that is perfect throughout the year as a flavourful addition to any menu. Crab meat mixed with a variety of spices creates the perfect seafood appetizer to explore your taste buds.
Spicy cilantro prawn cocktail
A spicy and fresh blend of tomato, Serrano chillies, lime and cilantro served with tender jumbo prawns and greens.
Classic steak tartar
Tender, melt in your mouth, AAA Canadian beef mixed with a healthy dose of Dijon and capers; sweet gherkins; a shake of shallots; and a dash of Tabasco to turn it up a notch. Served with thin, crispy, waffle-cut chips.
BBQ duck sushi cone with teriyaki reduction
Tender sliced Asian-spiced duck wrapped in a fresh seaweed cone with a mixture of rice and pickled cucumber. Served with a sweet and savoury teriyaki reduction sauce.
Apple chicken brie stack
A savoury mix of walnuts, brie, green apple, and marinated chicken served on a bed of fresh arugula and drizzled walnut infused olive oil.
Gourmet deer sliders on toasted focaccia
A tasty and wild burger! Juicy and flavourful wild game cooked with onion, Guinness and bacon. Served on toasty cuts of mini-focaccia with a spread of garlic aioli, vine-grown tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Wild mushroom and truffle pork tenderloin served with a foie gras butter
A moist cut of pork tenderloin stuffed with wild mushrooms and served with a rich foie gras and truffle butter.
Callebaut chocolate dipped fruit
Assorted seasonal fruit dipped in dark Bernard Callebaut chocolate
Carmel Drizzled Chocolate Banana Bread
Amanda’s signature Callebaut chunk banana bread drizzled with a rich caramel sauce
Martini mascarpone and vanilla bean mousse
Rich marscapone cheese and sweet vanilla bean combined with tart red berries, all served with class in a martini glass
Holy crap, when I saw the menu I assumed it was being catered! As you can see I had some big shoes to fill and below is the list of wines that accompanied this legendary food-fest.
Act 1: Egly-Ouriet Champagne “Les Vignes de Vrigny”
Country/Region: Champagne, France Grapes: Pinot Meunier Price: $59.00
Act 2: 2008 Donnafugata “Anthilia”
Country/Region: Sicily, Italy Grapes: Ansonica, Catarratto, etc. Price: $22.00
Act 3: 2009 Charles Smith “Kung-Fu Girl” Riesling
Region: Columbia Valley, Washington, USA Grapes: Riesling Price: $24.00
Act 4: Descendientes de J. Palacios “Petalos” (That’s a mouthful!)
Country/Region: Bierzo, Spain Grape Varieties: Mencia Price: $32.00
Act 5: Allegrini “Palazzo Della Torre” Veronese
Country/Region: Veneto, Italy Grape Varieties: Corvina, Rondinella Price: $32.00
Act 6: Some Young Punks “Passion has Red Lips” Cabernet/Shiraz
Country/Region: South Australia, Australia
Act 7: Owen Roe “Abbot’s Table” Red
Country/Region: Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
Act 8: Braida “G Spot” Moscato d’Asti
Country/Region: Piedmont, Italy Grape(s): Muscat Price: $30.00
Final Act: Chateau d’Orignac Pineau des Charentes
Country/Region: Cognac, France Price: $38.00
The evening passed all too quickly pouring wine and enjoying the company of some beautiful, intelligent and engaging young ladies. Tears were shed, laughs were had and dance moves were busted out. All in all a succesful evening. My food and wine pairing for the night goes to the Caramel Drizzled Chocolate Banana Bread and Chateau d’Orignac Pineau des Charentes (an aged blend of Cognac and grape juice that tastes like toasted nuts and caramel!).
It was late in the evening as I took my leave just as the ladies were about to move to the hot tub. Probably the best move professionally, but still a hard decision none-the-less. During the drive home I was filled with gratitude for my awesome life and feeling very confident about my choice of career.