Mas­ter Som­me­lier Vir­ginia Philip

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As sum­mer comes to an end, great chefs look for rus­tic, earthy and briny in­gre­di­ents. Fla­vors, com­po­nents and tex­tures be­come more com­plex. Fish dishes are heartier, pro­teins are deeper red in color, and desserts are richer to the point of deca­dence. This Asianthemed menu is a good ex­am­ple of that ap­proach and calls for wines that are just as thought­fully con­sid­ered.

The first course of maki screams for a high-qual­ity, chilled saké. The ocean fla­vors will pair nicely with Rock Saké’s Jun­mai Daig­injo, made in Ore­gon. This finely milled, re­fresh­ing rice wine has notes of ly­chee and pear, and a hint of white peach, with briny min­eral on the finish.

The main course is a Ja­panese spe­cialty of shi­itake-glazed wagyu sir­loin. The ten­der, del­i­cate flesh of this prized beef, along with the sa­vory, sweet and earthy fla­vors, needs a del­i­cate but com­plex red such as the Charmes-Cham­bertin Grand Cru by Jean-ClaudeBois­set, Bur­gundy, France, 2007. This el­e­gant pinot noir has just the right tan­nin struc­ture, ma­tu­rity, and blend of ex­otic spices and earth tones for the savvi­est food­ies.

For the silky, rich and sweet dessert of duck egg vanilla bean creme brûlée, try the Château Guiraud Pre­mier Cru Sauternes from Bordeaux, France. It is made from 65 per­cent semil­lon and 35 per­cent sauvi­gnon blanc. Aro­mas of or­ange mar­malade, honey­suckle and lemon curd blend with a pleas­ant note of botry­tis and min­eral. On the palate, it is rich and lus­ciously sweet, bal­anced by mouth­wa­ter­ing acid­ity. Fla­vors of ripe mango, mac­er­ated apri­cot and sweet tan­ger­ine dominate on the long, mem­o­rable finish. Ap­proach­ing al­most 14 years of age, this “nec­tar of the gods” has loads of bright fresh fruit and youth left—a fan­tas­tic finish to this meal.

Vir­ginia Philip is one of only just over 200 pro­fes­sion­als world­wide to hold the ti­tle of Mas­ter Som­me­lier. Her dis­cern­ing palate and en­cy­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge also earned her the Amer­i­can Som­me­lier As­so­ci­a­tion’s ti­tle of ‘Best Som­me­lier of the United States.’ She owns Vir­ginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy in West Palm Beach. vir­giniaphilip­wineshopacademy.com

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