Mas­ter Som­me­lier Vir­ginia Philip

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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.

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