Drinking Wine for a Cause

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Last night my wife and I attended a wine tasting that benefited Bering Omega and the Human Rights Campaign. It was hosted by the Rainbow Lodge, one of Houston’s better and more interesting restaurants. The event paired a variety of South American wines with some very tasty food.

These are my thoughts on the wines and the foods that they were paired up with:

wine pairingThe first selection was a 2005 Casa Silva, Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that was matched with an herbed focaccia panzanella salad with teardrop tomatoes. This was a very good pairing, as the citrus and grapefruit flavors in the Sauvignon Blanc were complimented perfectly by the cucumbers and the lemon juice in the dressing. This is a testament to whoever created this pairing, however, as I was not a big fan of the wine itself. It had all of the classic flavors one would expect in this varietal, but was just too strong for my tastes. The food made it much better, but it wasn’t a mutual affair. This salad deserved better, and this was my least favorite wine.

The next wine was a 2007 La Linda, Torrontes from Argentina. It had a very pleasant floral nose that carried over into the taste. Sweet citrus, peach, apricot and lavender made this a delicious wine on its own, however the dish it was paired with made it explode in the mouth. The chef who paired this wine with a passion fruit mousse on on a toasted macadamia nut crust and topped with chantilly cream is a genius. This was easily my favorite pairing of the night as it exemplified what food and wine should do for each other.

Next up was a 2006 La Linda Bonardo from Argentina that was paired with grilled tuna and pancetta braised white beans. I can’t say that I was much of a fan of either the wine or the dish. Neither was unpleasant, and they were a decent match for each other, I just found both to be relatively pedestrian. The wine was fruit forward and smooth with flavors of cherry and red fruit. It seemed mostly nondescript by itself, but did pick up the flavors in the food rather nicely. The white beans were very tasty, but I do not care for well done tuna all that much, so the dish was not something I would typically cook or eat. This pairing, while not badly matched, was the least successful, in my opinion.

The previous pairing may have been more to my liking had I not had it right after this one; 2003 Terra Rosa Old Vine Malbec from Argentina served with wine braised pork tarts that were topped with goat cheese. This would have been the best pairing of the night if the tart’s crust had been a little better. The crust, which was kind of hard and tough, was the only flaw, as the meat filling and the goat cheese were spectacular, as was the Malbec, and together they were almost magical. This is a big, fruity wine with nice smooth tannins that enhanced, and were enhanced by, the fat in the cheese and the meat. I don’t know if the meat was braised in this wine, but it tasted like it. This was a delicious pairing, and my favorite wine of the evening.

The event itself was a lot of fun, the location was fantastic, and the people wonderfully friendly. Being the “token straight couple,” as one of our new friends dubbed us, did not in any way keep us from feeling wonderfully included in this group.

It never ceases to amaze me how many great places a love for wine will take you. This also showed what a great fundraiser and mixer a wine event can be.