CRAFT A DE­LIGHT­FUL WINE-IN­SPIRED DIN­NER PARTY

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - JUANITA ROOS Wine

Host­ing a wine-in­spired din­ner party in the com­fort of home is a great way to spend time with friends and fam­ily. Stacey-Jo (a.k.a. SJ) Strombecky and her lovely fam­ily hosted a seam­less din­ner for eight last week­end. Here are her tips for a won­der­ful evening of food and wine with fam­ily and friends.

SJ started work­ing in the restau­rant in­dus­try in her early 20s be­fore be­com­ing a top som­me­lier in Al­berta — she held the es­teemed po­si­tion of cel­lar-master at the five-star Eden restau­rant in Banff ’s Rim­rock Re­sort Ho­tel. She cur­rently rep­re­sents two wine port­fo­lios: Re­nais­sance and Clarus.

“The key for a suc­cess­ful party is to start plan­ning early, make lists and keep it sim­ple,” says SJ. “It doesn’t have to be an elab­o­rate multi-course din­ner, it could just as eas­ily be tacos and some house-made mar­gar­i­tas. It’s not all about you, find things that your guests will find in­ter­est­ing and do some­thing unique. Have a lit­tle some­thing for every­one.”

Con­sider your guest’s in­ter­ests — if they hunt, pair game with a full-bod­ied red wine, or for a ve­gan you might pre­pare roasted sea­sonal root veg­eta­bles such as squash and mush­rooms from Mona Foods, paired with ve­g­an­friendly wine. Check ahead for any di­etary con­sid­er­a­tions, food sen­si­tiv­i­ties and al­ler­gies so you can make ac­com­mo­da­tions.

How much wine and which wines to choose? For sparkling wine, a good ball­park is to have one bot­tle for ev­ery five guests and half a bot­tle per guest for the din­ner wines, with two-thirds red wine for win­ter meals.

Choose white and red wines that are crowd-pleasers, wines with acid­ity and the flex­i­bil­ity to pair with a va­ri­ety of dishes. Choose bright and aro­matic whites such as Gruner Velt­liner, Ries­ling, Gavi, Soave, and un­oaked Chardon­nay. Choose dry rosés and in­ter­est­ing red wines with fresh­ness and lower resid­ual sugar lev­els from grapes such as Pinot Noir, Frap­pato, San­giovese, Caber­net Franc and Tem­pranillo.

“Start with bub­bly,” says SJ. It’s easy to go to a good wine bou­tique and ask for a rec­om­men­da­tion. If Cham­pagne isn’t in the bud­get, a great or­gan­i­cally grown Cava or Cre­mant would be per­fect. You can also re­pur­pose the bub­bly as a great base for a sparkling cock­tail by sim­ply adding a lit­tle liqueur, such as St- Ger­main (el­der­flower) or a cas­sis ( black currant).

Which stemware to use? A din­ner for wine geeks might in­volve set­ting out sev­eral glasses specif­i­cally cho­sen for the wine paired to each dish with a multi-course menu. But, “for most peo­ple, a good white and a good red glass is pretty much all you need,” states SJ.

A smaller bowl for whites and a wider one for red wines to al­low for swirling for the aro­mat­ics to evolve. For many years we pulled out flutes for bub­bly; that’s go­ing by the way­side as most sparkling wine and Cham­pagne pro­duc­ers pre­fer to taste in a wine glass.

“I love serv­ing Cham­pagne (or Cava) with the salti­ness of chips and pop­corn, it works so well.”

Stacey-Jo’s hus­band, Gavin, made Cafe Linnea’s porcini pop­corn to serve with the bub­bles, which is the best pop­corn ever (strong words, I know). Thank you to chef Kelsey John­son (and co-owner of Café Linnea) for shar­ing her recipe with Jour­nal read­ers.

“These are the wines I’ll have kick­ing around the house in case com­pany stops by,” SJ says.

CONDE DE CARALT CAVA $22

Solid value Span­ish bub­bly that’s made us­ing the tra­di­tional method with or­gan­i­cally grown grapes. Hand­ing over a sparkling wine to guests as they ar­rive is a won­der­ful way to start con­ver­sa­tion and stim­u­late the ap­petite.

RUNDLMAYER LANGENLOISER BERG VOGELANG GRUNER VELT­LINER $35

It’s a mouth­ful to pro­nounce but this aro­matic Aus­trian white grape va­ri­etal is a pair­ing mae­stro and the panacea food wine for chefs in the 1990s. Pairs with most ev­ery­thing — a rich wine with jas­mine, in­cense, spice — white wine that overde­liv­ers. Pair with seafood to Asian to grilled meats.

SAGET PINOT NOIR ROSÉ $21

If you can’t de­cide be­tween red or white wine, why not rosé? This French Pinot Noir rosé is from the Loire Val­ley. A lighter style of wine that’s food flex­i­ble and pairs well with vege­tar­ian dishes, poul­try and seafood.

MAZZEI SER LAPO CHI­ANTI CLASSICO RISERVA $37

“Re­li­able, rus­tic red wine with that trade­mark Ital­ian acid­ity. Works mag­i­cally with all kinds of foods, not just pasta,” says SJ. An out­stand­ing Tus­can red that’s mostly San­giovese with a splash of Mer­lot of­fer­ing great struc­ture on a rich, earthy, fresh red berry­laden palate.

GARZON TAN­NAT $29

Tan­nat is a grape for those who en­joy a full-flavoured, struc­tured red wine. Con­cen­trated aro­mas and flavours of spiced red and black fruits, leather, min­er­al­ity and nutty tan­nins that beg for roasted red meats, es­pe­cially game, or just to sit back af­ter din­ner and en­joy a glass of well­made red wine.

Wine se­lec­tions are avail­able at se­lect Al­berta shops. Log onto liquor­con­nect.com to check avail­abil­ity and give them a call to ver­ify. Juanita Roos opened Color de Vino, a fine wine and spir­its store, with her fam­ily in 2014. She has trav­elled to wine re­gions around the world and com­pleted the pres­ti­gious WSET Di­ploma from Lon­don, Eng­land, the pre­req­ui­site for the Master of Wine pro­gram. Send your ques­tions about wine to info@col­ordevino.ca.

ED KAISER

Som­me­lier Stacey-Jo Strombecky, her chef hus­band Gavin Strombecky and their daugh­ter Madi­son know how to plan a din­ner in a way that pro­duces in­ter­est­ing wine ex­pe­ri­ences for their guests.

ED KAISER

Som­me­lier Stacey-Jo Strombecky rec­om­mends start­ing a wine-in­spired din­ner party with a bot­tle of bub­bly.

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