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Winemaker for a Night
I was invited to participate in Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar’s “Winemaker for a Night” event on Friday, October 19. The night promised tastings of wines exclusive to Fleming’s, wine blending tutelage, and a selection of snacks to assure we didn’t drink on empty stomaches.
Upon arrival we were served a Chardonnay from the R Collection by Raymond. All of the wines were from the same winery, Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley. Chardonnay is a wine I usually don’t enjoy because so many of them are very buttery, oaky, heavy, and just plain filling. Maybe the folks at Raymond felt the same way when they made their Chardonnay light and refreshing. More stainless steel-y than oaky, which I very much appreciated.
Then, after a short video (including the usual wait for buffering that always happens with Online video) about Raymond Vineyards, Fleming’s wine director Russ Rickard told us how to blend our own wines. We were given three single varietals, a Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, a California Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Napa Valley Merlot. Using the provided pipette and beaker, we were to mix and match any of the three to create our own blends.
Using the pipettes and beakers made us feel like we were back in chemistry class, only better because we could drink the results. My favorite of the three wines was the Merlot, a variety I generally enjoy, so my blending experiments tended to be Merlot-heavy.
While we were making our blends food was circulating. First, passed appetizers, then, after the completely unused spit bucket was removed, small plates. All but the flatbread was flesh-based, which I suppose was because our wines were red. However, just because our wines were red did not mean we didn’t have any seafood. We had two different shrimp dishes and seared tuna that worked with the lightest of the three wines, the Merlot. The meatballs went especially well with the “strongest” wine, the Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wines also went well with dessert – all three of them. Inexplicably we were given forks to eat our crème brûlèe, which meant leaving a good amount of the rich vanilla custard in the bottom of the dish. Unacceptable! A fellow diner solved the problem with the chocolate truffle and soon we were all using our truffles as edible crème brûlèe delivery devices. The apple chutney crisp was tasty as well.
Overall, being a winemaker for a night made me realize that I should leave the wine blending to the experts who are infinitely more qualified than myself. I’ll keep drinking wine if they keep blending it.