Master Sommelier Virginia Philip
The first course of octopus calls for a full-bodied Champagne with lots of minerality and acidity to balance the creaminess of the corn. Canard Duchêne’s Cuvée Léonie from Champagne, France, delivers just this. It is a seductive brut with a nose of lightly stewed tropical fruits, yellow apple and subtle hints of spice that marry well with both preparations of the octopus. The palate rounds out with flavors of tart pineapple and white peach, and there is a bracing acidity with a crisp, clean mineral finish.
For the next course of deconstructed lobster tortellini, try Zaca Mesa’s Viognier from the Santa Ynez Valley, California, 2014. Viognier is a grape originally found in the northern Rhône Valley of France and now at home in the New World. This is a full-bodied white with a bouquet of ripe peaches, apricots and honeysuckle. The vivid floral aromas and hints of orange oil will stand up to the lobster’s intense richness. These scents are woven together with an intense palate full of oranges, grapefruit and subtle spice, followed by a lengthy finish with bright acidity and hints of vanilla that pair perfectly with the ricotta and carrot.
The entrée course is an Amarillo steak, a bold dish best matched with the Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel from the Napa Valley, California 2013. Since its founding in 1992, Frank Family has acquired more than 380 acres of vines throughout the Napa Valley. Complementing the spiciness of the steak, this wine has aromas of dark plum, stewed cherry, toffee and savory spices. The flavors on the palate explode with red and black currant, star anise and forest berry fruit. Hints of cocoa and vanilla will accentuate the steak and contrast the sharpness of the queso mashed potatoes.
Dessert is a fusion of flavors: rose and white truffle ice cream, with a spicy chocolate and nut crumble. A perfect match is Braida’s Brachetto d’Acqui from Piedmont, Italy, 2016. The brachetto grape is native to northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Aromas of framboise and wild strawberry with notes of rose petal and rhubarb pie are the perfect complement, bursting with flavors of ripe raspberry and cherry blossom with hints of blood orange rind and clove. This frizzante (semi-sparkling red wine) is fermented to a sweet, refreshing style that is low in alcohol, bringing the spiciness of the dessert to life.
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.