A few years ago, Jeff, Annette, Mary and I got together to see if we could find something to donate to a fund raiser for our local high school grad night. After looking at a few ideas, we came across the concept of combining Jeff’s great cooking skills with my interest in wine. Mary and Annette would take care of the place settings, decorations and literature. Soon, we had put together a complete Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for ten people. All the highest bidder had to do was supply the house, dining room table, kitchen and the ten guests. We would bring everything else and leave the home the way we found it. The dinner was an instant success and we have done a few of them now with each one earning more than the other. They were all great income sources for the high school grad night. As it turns out, one of our previous winners, Valerye, who has been helping raise funds for CHOC Hosptial for many years, approached us about offering one of our dinners for an upcoming auction. For such a noble cause, we all agreed and the wine and food pairing dinner was auctioned off at a record $1600 (the highest one sold as yet). This brings us to Saturday night, 10/25. With the invaluable help of our mutual great friends Bob and Edie, we all traveled to Lido Isle to deliver our dinner. Kathy and Eric were the hosts who offered their lovely home on the island. Jeff, Annette, Mary and I had met a couple weeks earlier to decide the wines needed and what foods we needed to do the pairing effects we were trying to achieve.
As usual, Jeff’s culinary skills shown brightly and the food was absolutely perfect to show the wines at their best, helping to teach the lessons. His recipes can be found here at Jeff’s Website. I have also included a copy of the menu we gave out at the dinner so you can see the food and wine that was offered. Our ten guests were absolutely perfect for this type of wine class. They were open to the experience, open to trying new things, wanted to learn about wine and were just a delight to have a dinner with. They were all good, positive people who love life and enjoy an opportunity to learn in a positive, fun setting. They were qiuck learners and soon had caught on to the impact of food on wine acid balance, the impact of sweetness, spice, tannin, salt and even texture. They soon picked up on how to bridge red wines into traditionally white wine dishes with the creative use of salt and good saucing. There was even the great joy of exposing some people to wines they had never considered before. We even were able to show how a “rip your face off Cabernet Sauvignon” is a delightful accompaniment with a delicious bittersweet chocolate cake. The shock value was worth the evening. Our great friends, Bob and Edie were invaluable in helping us set up and support during the event. They even donated some of their instructive Wine Puzzle books (which Edie wrote and autographed) and some of their all wood puzzles from their website, Wine Treasures. Please check them out. Afterwards our guests asked if we would offer our Wine and Food Pairing Dinner at another fund raiser for CHOC. We gladly accepted the opportunity to help such a great cause. In our debriefing, we all agreed that this was the best dinner we have yet put on, not only from the great way Jeff’s food paired with the wines, but so much so because our fantastic guests were so participative and throughly let themselves enjoy the experience. We were able to get our lessons across, exposed some people to new wines, showed some how to better match food and wine and finally, walked away with some new friends. Life is just a good place to be!