Wine, Food, and Song… PAZAZ™ Style!

The connection many of us have with others comes in the form of social gatherings. In most cases this social interaction centers around the afore mentioned title. Each word can evoke a sentiment that provokes a sensory experience from a memory somewhere in the deepest recesses of our mind. The ever turning circuitous thoughts that produce a palpable physical response become an emotional tie between those people, that person, that event, that place that brings a smile to our face.

For me, wine food and song has become my mantra as many of you know… I am in the restaurant business, but also play the violin. On many occasions I’ve served wine, food, and played my violin as a dessert course for those celebrating a special event. The real satisfaction comes from those that appreciate customer service with the ultimate goal to create an experience by which all others are judged.

What I can tell you about wine is this… the more you learn the more you realize the less you know. I suppose that’s true for many subjects. One time I went to an interview at Julius Castle restaurant known for fine dining and a wonderful wine list. I was rather cocky about my wine knowledge and very subtly expressed my confidence with that knowledge. Until… the first question about a famous person owning a specific winery in the Napa Valley came and went with my only response being the noise of crickets. I knew right then my job possibilities at this restaurant were rather limited to say the least. Funny, never got a call back from them. Another lesson learned the hard way (be humble and always remember to be in the frame of mind to learn more than you know).

The beautiful part about wine is that if chosen properly it can make the meal better thus making the wine better. The proper balance, acid, fruit and terroir can accentuate the finer points of the wine while bringing out the finer points in the food.

Certain regions produce perfect pairings for specific foods that are indigenous to that region. Rhone varietals with lamb, Tuscany’s Chianti with pasta, Niagara on the Lake (in the southern Ontario province of eastern Canada) Ice wines with dessert… etc.

A wonderful representation of a meal you would not forget based upon some of the information from above, would be as follows:

First Course – Super Tuscan wine (Ornellaia, Tignanello, or Sassicaia) which is a blend of red wine grapes from Tuscany perfected by Marchesi Antinori paired with a hand crafted pasta immersed in a fresh tomato sauce.

Second Course – Croze-Hermitage a Rhone varietal that is 85% Syrah (red), and the remaining 15% either Marsanne or Roussane white wine grapes to blend, paired with a pan seared and then roasted French spring lamb with a fragrant rosemary butter sauce accompanied with a homemade mint jelly served with fresh vegetables and Yukon Gold potatoes.

Third Course – Inniskillin an ice wine is made from the Ugni blanc grape (famous for cognac) and the Seibel grape, paired with a Tarte Tatin dessert named after the French hotel serving its signature dish. This is a pastry in which the fruit (usually apples) is caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked.

As in any dining experience the sensory experience not only takes in the wine, food, decor, but also the music that helps bring the party to life. Everything that compliments but does not inhibit conversation can be considered for the songs you choose. John Klemmer (touch album), Gilberto, Jobim, and Stan Getz (Girl from Ipanema album), or even Gregory Porter (Take Me to the Alley album).

Any of these wines paired with these foods and albums highlights a complete sensory journey representing a small footprint of a culinary experience with the ultimate goal being a meal that becomes a memory.