Event Date: Saturday, August 26th, 2023
In August, I teamed up with Amy Urbach of Urbach WineShop to create a small, intimate gathering of guests to host a wine and appetizer pairing event for beginners. Attendees got to sample easy appetizers that were perfectly paired with Wine Shop at Home wines. Their ticket also included recipe cards with all the appetizers and a souvenir glass to enjoy delicious wines outside of the event. Before any pairings commenced, Amy led the group in a celebratory toast to get the night started off on the right foot.
"Loved the variety of wines and the food. The pairing and explanations of the pairings was great and a great level of education."- J. Grover
Pairing 1: Bruschetta with Balsamic Glaze, Paquet Cadeau Rose Sparkling
The first course was a deliciously simple bruschetta. A toasty, garlicy baguette was blanketed with Roma tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. It was baked until the mozzarella oozed over the edge of the tomato. The finishing piece was a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze. As these bites were served to the guests, Amy described the properties of the Paquet Cadeau sparkling rosé. This sparkling wine is medium-bodied and off-dry. Served chilled, this crisp and bubbly rosé complimented the rich, garlicy bruschetta beautifully.
Pairing 2: Dannified Deviled Egg, Homage 2022 California Pinot Grigio
Deviled eggs don’t have to be mayo / mustard boring. This Dannified Deviled egg sported garlic, whole grain mustard, dill, pickles, sriracha and Papa’s Pepper, my new favorite spice blend. Guests were delightfully surprised at the sneaky punch of spice. And because the Homage Pinot Grigio has fruit and citrus on the palate, it cut through the spice of the sriracha and enhanced the flavor of the dill and stone-ground mustard. This incredible egg tied for third place out of favorite appetizers out of those who completed the guest survey.
Pairing 3:Whipped Feta with Spicy Honey, McKenna 2022 Lodi Sauvignon Blanc
The base recipe called for ingredients I didn’t have on hand, so I substituted things I DID have and it turned out magical. This whipped feta was blended with cottage cheese and Greek yogurt until it is velvety smooth. Spicy honey was ribboned on top for a punch of heat that added definition to the creamy cheese. One guest mentioned that she is really picky, and she is glad she tried the dip prior to finding out what it was made of. She detests cottage cheese but loved the dip. The McKenna Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white that tamed the sweet heat of the honey. This appetizer was the favorite of those surveyed, and probably the easiest to make!
Pairing 4: Bacon-Wrapped Date, Homage Cellars 2022 California Petite Sirah
This fourth pairing was new for some and an adventure for others. Large, plump dates stuffed with pepper jack cheese and wrapped with savory salty bacon created the trifecta bite. The creaminess of the cheese and the saltiness of the bacon tame the sweetness of the date. The Homage Cellars 2022 California Petite Sirah wine was slightly dry and balanced out that perfect bite. Out of those who completed the guest survey, this was the favorite pairing of the night, and the date tied for third favorite appetizer.
Pairing 5: Spicy Raspberry Cocktail Meatball, McKenna 2021 California Trilogy
Who doesn’t love a saucy meatball? These balls were cooked and coated in a sauce that was haunting. Raspberry preserves, jalapeño, cayenne, garlic, soy, and ginger merry together in a delicious glaze that the meat absorbs. Pair this with the perfectly balanced red blend and you have heaven. The McKenna 2021 California Trilogy is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. It’s a perfect sipper alone, but balanced out the rich sauciness of the balls. This appetizer won second place for favorite bite.
Red Wine Brownie, Figurative California Metaphor
Never throw away left-over red wine again. Instead use it to make brownies! I used a delicious dry red wine to sub out water for this velvety red wine brownie. I coated the warm block of love with rich chocolate frosting and chopped walnuts. The Figurative California Metaphor is a sweet red, but not saccharin. It has a subtle sweetness that added to the delicious richness of the brownie. Normally, I would pair a dry red with a brownie, but this pairing took me out of my comfort zone and into a new bliss of flavors.
"I loved this event! Amazing food and I got to try different wines which I wouldn’t normally try. Both hosts were amazing!"J. Trower
With every pairing, I explained details of the recipe as well as fun facts, hints, and why they should try these recipes at home. Each recipe was very easy to make, even for the hosting novice. Each appetizer was made with a handful of ingredients most probably have at home, or could use again if they needed to buy at the store. Amy’s details of the wines and why she chose them to pair with my appetizers were thoroughly educational. What worked great about this wine and appetizer pairing event was how intimate the setting was, allowing guests to network, ask questions during the presentation, and make new memories. After the presentation, there were still lots of items to ravage and more wines to sip. Great conversations were had as new friendships were made.
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Until next time, Keep Life Zesty!!