Howdy! It’s your disappearing writer here. Sorry for the extended absence, but it has been a busy few months. Among other things, I spent the spring and summer studying for my Certified Specialist of Wine exam and I passed. Yay! You can expect there will be more wine posts in the future.
I’ve also helped launch a new series of classes with the Wine and Food Foundation highlighting food and wine pairing at area restaurants. It has been so fun to work with local sommeliers and chefs to explore both classic and unusual pairings. Executive Chef Troy Knapp of Austin’s Driskill Grill recently led a group of twenty Wine & Food Foundation supporters through a phenomenal three course tasting at one of our Perfect Pair classes.
Incredible food and wine pairings are usually a collaborative effort between a chef and sommelier as they each own a specific half of the equation, sharing some knowledge in the middle. Chef Knapp has an edge up on the pairing formula as not only is he an experienced chef, but he is a Certified Sommelier. He introduced our group not only to his wine acumen, as well as the new approach to the Driskill Grill menu which they unveiled that week.
All the pairings were spectacular, showing off two different wines with each plating, I was wowed by an amuse bouche of butternut squash soup paired with 2008 Domaine Huet, Le Haut – Lieu, Vouvray Demi Sec from Loire, France. While a sweeter wine is not usually my first choice, the Demi Sec harmonized beautifully with the butternut squash and made me long for fall.
The crowd favorite of the night was Chef Knapp’s second course pairing of dry-aged Wagyu flatiron steak with a blind pairing of Temprañillo. Curious if the group could discern the Spanish Rioja (2006 López de Heredia Viña Cubillo Crianza) from a Texas Temprañillo (2012 Bending Branch), Chef Knapp had the group taste the two without giving a clue as to their origin.
About half the group placed the wines correctly, but everyone was a winner because the perfectly grilled beef and Bending Branch Temprañillo were a match made in heaven. The dry cherry flavors married well with the steak served atop a carrot puree, roasted beets, summer squash and huckleberry bordelaise.
Ending the night with a 2008 Royal Tokaji paired with a hazelnut torte guaranteed that everyone left full, satisfied and as devoted fans of Chef Knapp and his team at the Driskill Grill.
To learn more about wine and food pairing, join us for the Wine & Food Foundation’s next Perfect Pair class class on Tuesday, October 20th at Arro or at one of Driskill Grill’s pairing dinners, the next one on Tuesday, October 13th is with Master Sommelier Guy Stout. You can learn more about Guy Stout and his journey in the wine world in his interview with Levi Dalton of the I’ll Drink to That podcast.