wine dinner

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Boston’s restaurant scene is growing at a pace I can barely keep up with, and while trying out new spots is a favorite pastime, there’s nothing I love more than a classic steak house, especially when it sits right on the water.

Last week, on a gorgeous spring evening, I attended the most incredible blogger dinner at Smith & Wollensky Atlantic Wharf, where we indulged in course-after-course, paired with cocktails, their new international wine flights and great conversation.

Aviation Cocktail

The violet hue of this Aviation cocktail, a blend of Sipsmith Gin, Crème de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and lemon juice went perfectly with the spring weather, and I loved the acidity and slight peppery notes of the drink. Smith & Wollensky always pleases when it comes to cocktail cravings, which is just another thing I love about them. They are incredibly consistent with their quality.

 

wine dinner

Smith & Wollensky Atlantic Wharf has a fantastic waterfront location, and while the inside gives you that gorgeous old steak house vibe, with modern twists like a giant photo of a young Paul McCartney (swoon), the patio is breezy and elegant with lovely views of Boston. While it draws crowds, it doesn’t feel crowded like other patios can.

Our table was set with all of the wine glasses, and as we settled in we started to learn about and taste the white wine flight. 

 white wine flight 

  • Bodega Colomé Torrontes – a light, refreshing wine with Muscat notes redolent of jasmine and orange blossoms.
  • Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack Qualitatswein Feinherb Riesling – a single-vineyard German Riesling wine that is firm and fresh on the palate, well-balanced and crisp acidity. The nose is young with white flowers, grinded lemon peel and pears.
  • Louis Latour Montagny 1er cru “la Grande Roche” Chardonnay- this wine reveals delicious floral aromas of honeysuckle.  Full in the mouth with notes of almond, apricot and pepper, the finish is fresh with a hint of mint.

Wine flights are perfect for discovering new favorites, and for a chance to taste grape varieties with a fresh approach. For example, some people think sweet when they hear the word Riesling or super oaky when they think of Chardonnay, two preconceptions thrown out the window with the above wines.

They were all balanced, refreshing, and most importantly delicious and food-friendly, especially with all of the seafood we devoured. Each also offered something very unique in its flavor profile, making tasting, then going back to taste again really fun.

wine tasting

I didn’t think it could get better after the flight of white wines, but this rosé flight was simply heaven. Long a fan of “Whispering Angel” I savored every sip before being introduced to Domaine De Cala rosés, which were simply gorgeous.

  • Chateau d’Esclans “Whispering Angel” – a Provence rosé with a lovely bright pink color and crystal clarity to the berry flavors.  Powerful yet elegant with plenty of minerality and balanced spice notes. The long finish lingers with white pepper and wisps of red peach.
  • Domaine De Cala Classic – blending Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache red varietals with Rolle white grapes, the French wine greets the nose with aromas of white flower followed by those of exotic fruits- lemony, with notes of peach.
  • Domaine De Cala Prestige – a more exclusive, elevated take on its original rosé. The shiny, clear, salmon-pink color with brilliant reflections entices the palate, and the wine exudes initial aromas of grapefruit and citrus and secondary notes of cherry and strawberry.

Flights are $25 and are available at Smith & Wollensky locations in Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Houston and Miami Beach through June.

seaood tower

Smith & Wollensky is as known for its seafood as much as it is its beef, and we were treated to the freshest raw bar platter with yummy sauces, along with signature dishes, the Angry Shrimp with spicy lobster butter sauce and their tuna tartare, which is my favorite tuna dish anywhere.

 

angry shrimp 

Give me this tuna and one of the spring wine flights, and you basically have my dream lunch.

In fact, I am taking summer Fridays this year, and I will most likely make this happen.

 tuna tartare ribeye carpaccio

Even before our main courses, we were also treated to Smith & Wollensky’s famed beef in different forms, including a delicate Ribeye Carpaccio and the Spring Steak Feature, Snake River Farms American Wagyu New York Strip, presented on a Himalayan Salt Block.

This meat was like butter, and it picked up the salt and mineral flavors of the salt block. This was the ultimate indulgence.

 

wagyu beef 

And there was still more food to come! My coffee and cocoa rubbed filet could have been cut with a spoon, and the flavors of the rub added a little sweetness and earthiness to the meat’s natural flavor. I could only eat a few bites before wrapping this up and bringing it home. . . it made the most delicious dinner the next night!

 

coffee and cocoa rubbed filet mignon

Entrees were enjoyed with a wine that is made specially for Smith & Wollensky. I couldn’t stop breathing this wine in; it reminded me of a place I love so much. Spice, earth, bursts of berry flavor; this is a big, bold, yet elegant Napa Valley red, a perfect pairing with Smith & Wollensky’s food and personality.

Napa Valley Red Wine

Our final course before we said our goodbyes was a colossal dessert plate that, despite being full, I could not say no to. The Chocolate Layer Cake at Smith & Wollensky is worth visiting for alone, and it could easily feed a group. I didn’t make it to the Coconut Cake, so I will have to bring my appetite and a few friends to enjoy that on another occasion.

 

chocolate layer cake  

Smith & Wollensky generously rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us to the food and hospitality they are known for. It definitely was not my first time here, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Whether you are looking for a flight of wine or a perfectly crafted cocktail after work or a place to celebrate an occasion, this is a very special place to do it.

 

Dinner was kindly provided by Smith & Wollensky; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Boston, steak house, wine, wine dinner, wine event, wine flights, wine tasting

Wine dinners are one of my favorite ways to get together with friends, and this past Sunday we finally had the Hope Family Wines wine dinner at Pastoral that we won at the Lovin’ Spoonfuls Tailgate auction last year.  Lovin’ Spoonfuls is an incredible organization that just recently rescued its 3 millionth pound of food! The tailgate is coming up again in November; get your tickets here, and let’s feed more people in need!

Trying to get a group of 10 friends together is harder than I thought it would be. Initially we wanted to have the dinner last winter after our trip to Tanzania, but I got so sick afterwards, then it was summer, and we just never went through with it.

pastoral wine dinner

Planning the dinner was even more difficult as I worked with at least three different event managers at Pastoral over the months. Between trying to confirm a date and time and then confirm guests, it all really came together last minute. As a result, I was a little frustrated and worried that it wouldn’t go well. In the end, the wines were great, the food was good, and our group had a wonderful time together.

Our dinner consisted of four courses paired with four wines from  Hope Family Wines. A wine rep came in to walk us through the wines, which was a really nice touch. We started things off with the 2013 Liberty School Chardonnay, some incredibly delicious, salty (in a good way) fried olives stuffed with meat, and a beautiful and refreshing wood-fired octopus with crispy crunchy apple and kohlrabi. It was a perfect autumn dish and made me sad that my kohlrabi isn’t growing yet.

Liberty School Chardonnaystuffed olivesgrilled octopus

The second wine was my favorite of the night, a Treana White Blend of Marsanne and Viognier, two varietals I love. There was a delicious, tropical lusciousness to the wine, and I think, while the orrechiette with rock shrimp and arrabiata was delicious, I think the wine would have paired better with something spicier. Then again, my tolerance for spice is extremely high, so my guests may have disagreed.

pasta

The third course was a rich pork belly with buratta and sausage polenta, an unexpected combination of warm and cold that worked really well together. That meaty, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly went great with  the Treana Red Blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which had great structure and spice, along with blackberry notes. This wine was, to me, decidedly autumnal, and the pairing was beautiful.

pork belly

The final course that Chef brought out was the most stunning, an almond tart with gorgeous fresh figs, fromage blanc, and caramel. I was so full at this point, but the dessert was amazing. I need to have it again. The wine pairing was a 2012 Austin Hope Syrah, an earthy wine that I wouldn’t necessarily pair with dessert. I would definitely love to drink it on its own though!

I loved that Pastoral had some of the wines on tap, so they were served in carafes rather than from the bottle. They were super fresh, and it was a nice touch.

fig dessert at Pastoral

We had a great view of the kitchen from our table, which was a fun experience as we really felt part of the action and were close enough for Chef to come back and forth to provide explanations to us.

Long tables are tough for big groups though, and  I felt bad that I spent a good part of the meal out of my seat. I wanted to make sure I chatted with everyone in our group and decided for groups bigger than six I prefer a cocktail-style setting. Overall though, we agreed that the food and wine were excellent, the service very attentive, and the venue a fun spot for group outings.

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Tags: Boston, Hope Family Wines, Pastoral, wine, wine and food pairing, wine dinner, wine tasting

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Cold white wine and oysters might be the most simple but best combination on earth, and the pairing makes for the perfect seaside meal. I was recently invited to Row 34 to attend a Martín Códax Albariño wine dinner. I learned that the wine is called wine of the sea, and being basically obsessed with the sea and wine, I knew this was a wine dinner I couldn’t miss.

Martin Codax Albarino

My husband and I were greeted warmly at Row 34 with glasses of the 2012 Albariño, and right off the bat, I could see why they call it wine of the sea. This bright, summery wine is crisp and dry with notes of apple and citrus, along with nice minerality and salinity that makes you feel like you’re sipping it at the beach. The acidity is not off the charts, but it is definitely there and it makes the mouth water. Acidity and balance make this Albariño a great food wine.

row 34 oysters

We started off by pairing it with some oysters, and we were happy to see how delicious citrus and mineral notes paired with briny oysters.

Once we sat down, we were treated to a summery feast with flowing Albariño. On the menu was an unpictured Striped Bass Crudo with Herb Salad and Crispy Shallots. Once again, the wine went wonderfully with the fresh, sweet fish, and the caramelization on the shallots was a sweet, buttery touch.

Next up, we had Brown Butter Lobster with Corn, Tomato, and Basil. Can you go wrong with lobster and brown butter? The Martín Códax Albariño may pair even better with lobster than it does with oysters. The acid in the wine balanced the buttery lobster beautifully.

brown butter lobster

To finish off the meal, we were served a fruity and light dessert, Lemon Pound Cake with Fresh Local Berries. It was sweet, easy, and fresh, just like Summer. The lemony notes in the wine played nicely with the lemon cake, proving that this wine can indeed pair with an entire meal.

lemon pound cake

While we said our goodbyes, we were each sent off with a bottle of this delicious wine of the sea, tucked neatly into the most adorable wine bags made out of recycled sails. I thought this was a genius idea; I can’t wait to reuse the bag!sail cloth wine bag

All in all, the Martín Códax Albariño dinner was a fantastic way to spend a summer night, and the wine is the perfect expression of the season. It’s a great boat wine. Smile

This dinner was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: albarino, seafood wine, Spanish wine, Summer wine, wine, wine dinner, wine of the week, wine tasting, Wine Wednesday

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