It started out as a simple invitation to dinner….
My husband & I love to fondue but we don’t do it very often because some people just don’t enjoy cooking their own food & get impatient when they have to wait to get food on the plate. But we look at it as a group effort to sort of “help feed your neighbor”, and you nibble, drink & talk while the food is cooking.
I have this fantastic fondue cookbook that belonged to my Mom and it dates back to the 1970’s with great photos where everything is avocado green, harvest gold and rust. It has captions that say ” Br-r-r-r, it’s cold outside, so bring on the fondue and start swapping skiing tales”. My favorite caption; “with these recipes, you’ll become an effervescent fondue hostess”.
We decided to invite some of our grape picking/wine drinking friends over and they all thought it sounded like fun and it should have a 70’s theme to it. Well, Sully & I didn’t have anything 70’s, so we went “tropical”. We were tickled when everyone showed up in an article of clothing from the 70’s or a ski sweater.
We started off with Vermont cheese, crackers, melon and prosciutto, and a spicy cheese, artichoke, tomato dip called “The Bomb”. The wines: a 2008 Laetitia Estate Dry White Riesling, Arroyo Grande Valley (13.7% alc) and 2009 Sherwood House Chardonnay, North Fork of Long Island (13.0% alc). We even had beer; Fireman’s 4, Rahr, and Shiner.
Then it was time to fire up the fondue pots, one for shrimp, one for beef. The dipping sauces were blue cheese, horseradish, curry, and herb butter. The wines; 2002 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (13.6% alc), 2007 Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County Bien Nacido Vineyard (14.8% alc), 2008 Stolpman Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley (15.6%). I know what some of you are thinking…Shrimp with red wine? I always say “pay attention to the sauces/gravy” that determines the wine. Also, the alcohol level of the wine is important, (the higher the level the bigger/bolder the wine).
Here is an example: The Corison is a somewhat low level at (13.6%), even though it is a Cabernet Sauvignon (a bold red grape). It paired well with the shrimp & beef in the curry & butter sauces, but the horseradish & blue cheese might have been a little too rich. That’s where the other 2 wines came in. Both were high alcohol level wines (14.8% & 15.6%) and did well with the rich sauces, even though one of the wines was a Pinot Noir and is considered one of the lightest of the red grapes for making wine.
Along with the fondue, we had a wonderful arugula, roasted beets, goat cheese salad. The flavors were spicy, tangy, smokey and creamy cheese. All three wines paired well with it.
Another experiment was with wine glasses; do they really make a difference? The answer is “yes”. We poured the Pinot into a type of glass that I use for wine tastings and also into a Riedel glass that is specifically for Pinot Noir…WOW! We all agreed the Riedel let you experience all of the bouquet and flavors the wine was capable of. The Riedel glasses really intensified the wine tasting experience.
Dessert was Gingerbread Cake with a Warm Lemon Sauce & a Benjamin Calais’ 2007 Madera Red Dessert Wine. This was a beautiful pairing because this “port style” wine is nutty, with carmel and dark spices…not full of prune flavors like some.
As you can probably tell from the photos, it was not all serious wine analysis. It was so fun to see the dining table cluttered with dishes, wine bottles, glasses and food. Laughter was the main ingredient…there is something about putting on a wig that makes people want to pose and take goofy photos…we were no exception. After all, serious wine geeks gotta have fun too!
I would like to thank;
Audrey for “The Bomb” & wearing that absolutely fabulous green & white jacket.
Kristin & Jon for the dessert, the ski sweaters, and posing so well with their wine glasses.
Amy & Chris (aka Dwayne & Melinda) for the salad and doing the 70’s with style and authenticity (Sully & I had flashbacks because of y’all).
My long-suffering Hubby, Sully, for putting up with all of this madness and sporting a very festive shirt!