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Dale Williams

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Compassionate Connoisseur

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WTN: Blind(fold) dinner, with some value priced wines

by Dale Williams » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:26 pm

Last night was round 2 in our blind dinners . Ron and Nancy joined Alex and Hilary in hosting. We arrived at Alex and Hilary's bearing appetizers (since it was first night of Passover I did gefilte fish canapes, Dana and Jim brought vegetable samosas, Joe and Rachel endive stuffed with chevre and walnuts. Alex's sister Wanda was visiting from Provence, she had made a pitcher of cocktails. In honor of dinner to come, we guessed ingredients- lime and vodka were easy, but raspberry syrup we missed.

With appetizers we enjoyed the NV Castellroig Cava Brut. Crisp, bright, enjoyable. B

OK, on to the dinner table and our blindfolds. I had furnished the wines, so no surprises for me- none were close enough to cause confusion.

First course was a soup. Quite tasty, sweet vegetable. A couple of people thought it was pea, but I knew corn, but couldn't peg other main ingredient- sweet potato! Wine was crisp, saline, refreshing, the 2009 Pepiere Muscadet. B+

As soon as we started on 2nd course Betsy said "right up Dale's alley." Chicken liver pate on toast was easy, but what is on top? Not cornichon. Pickled egg and scallion. Wine was too heavy for dish, very ripe, thick, a bit hot. Might have been better with different dish. Others liked more. 2009 Chave "Mon Coeur" Cotes du Rhone. B-/C+

If the smells from bowl weren't enough clue, the toast with rouille would have been easy sign this was bouillabaisse. Delicious, as was the
2009 Pernot Bourgogne  Blanc. Good body, nice balance of ripe fruit and fine acidity, good length. B+

So as next dish passed my nose as it was being served, I thought "tahini." But Betsy cryptically (for others) said "ah, Dale's favorite vegetable topping" I realized it probably was sesame oil. We got beef, and some somehow got brown rice noodles, and I got zucchini more on texture than taste. So a beef stirfry with squash, sesame oil and a Middle Eastern spice mix (sumac, sesame, lemon). Wine was the 2007 Dashe "L'enfant Terrible " Zinfandel. More r estrained and less out there than when released a lovely light to middleweight with a perfumed nose. B/B+

I don't eat dessert, but others quickly identified the strawberry-rhubarb mousse. I did enjoy the wine, 2001 Graff "Urziger Wurzgarten" Riesling Auslese  - good acidity, sweet peach and cherry fruit, not a lot of development. B/B+

We unblinded and it was nice to see good friends. The blindfold thing is an interesting exercise in trust. I have a good time, but only issue is it's hard to keep straight when there are multiple conversations going- not a problem at normal dinner parties.

One more wine circulated as we "debriefed" and relaxed. The 2009 Petit Chapeau Cotes du Rhone was simple, but with pretty fruit and good acidity. I was only one who liked more than the Chave. B-

Fun night. Next time I cook!

Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.

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