The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  1 13 The blending team, Karl, Rupa and Chef Bleifer, taste through flight after flight to find just the right wine, envisioning a happy consumer who is getting the most they can get for the price. Chef Bleifer says, "We are looking for nice bright acids and wines not over-run with oak. In the spectrum of stainless through full-on oak, it is up to us to find middle ground. The consumer who wants super oaky, buttery Chardonnay may be disappointed. But once they try entwine Chardonnay, they like it because it is not oaky and buttery and it has fresh acidity." It's true. This trend began (as have other drinking trends) in the U.K. Un-oaked Chardonnay became a small niche in the U.S. market and is now a very popular style. While shopping for a corporate client recently at the San Francisco Wine Trading Company, I observed a customer who purchased six bottles of Muga Rioja Blanco. She said she was done with California Chardonnay for good. "The wines we are selecting do not have overblown alcohol," Chef Bleifer adds. "They are generally made using fruit that is not overripe. We like everything in mod- eration. Initially, our Chardonnay debate centered on the amount of oak we used. Our first release was more heavily oaked. We took it to a restaurant and found it didn't go with too many dishes. Now, in our fourth year, we drink the Chardonnay with a wider selection of dishes." Karl likes the entwine Chardonnay with John Wm. Macy's Cheddar Cheese Sticks, originally created as bar snacks for New York's Grand Hyatt. Rupa recommends it with corn chowder or Indian food. With the crisp, fresh entwine Pinot Grigio, she recommends kimchee grilled chicken or other spicy Korean dishes. She adds, "I love our reds [Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon], and what they deliver for the price. Try pairing the Cab with vegetables, or mushrooms, especially portobellos. It is delicious with a marinated carrot salad." Chef Bleifer adds, "The entwine Merlot with sweet Italian soppressata is a slam dunk. Each one elevates the other. It's also deli- cious with potato chips, parmigiana or a proper Saturday night dinner." Bringing the two sides of the food and wine world together, in a perfect scenario where chef and somm sit down and taste dishes and wines, is ideal. The end result is an elevated experience for the guest; but as we all know, this is far from what happens out there in most restaurants. Good somms know their chef's food well enough to be able to suggest pairings, but in a more casual establishment, the house might print suggested pairings on the menu, and on the wine list. For example, "Try our grilled Portobello mushroom with a glass of entwine Cabernet Sauvignon." Going a step further, add the two items together, and offer a discount. Say the mushroom dish is $14 and the glass of wine is $8, or $22 total. Offer the pairing for $19. Entwining food and wine in a comfortable, affordable manner goes a long way in not only fulfilling guest expectations, but in exceeding them. PHOTO: HARDY WILSON The challenge facing the entwine blending team.

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