By Sandy Zimmerman
(Photos submitted by Osterland)
Whenever you are entertaining family, friends or for a business event, it is important to find just the right wines to serve with your appetizers or meal.
Master Sommelier, Eddie Osterland, advises anyone who is planning a party, “Never Save the Best for Last. Serve Your Best Stuff First.
Most people will arrive coming from work, and perhaps after running around at the office all day. They’re likely to be famished. People are so hungry when they first arrive that downing something small but unique makes a hugely positive impression.
The French, who are masters of entertaining and the culinary arts, know this. So they give diners what is arguably the best thing they’ll have all night at the beginning of the evening. It then sets the tone for the entire meal to come.
You should do the same thing. So instead of offering them mixed nuts, pretzels, raw vegetables, and potato chips like everybody else does, serve them small sampler portions of foods like Scottish smoked salmon, foie gras, or, perhaps my favorite appetizer of all, jamón ibérico de bellota.
Warm Your Whites, Chill Your Reds: Yes, I know this runs counter to most people’s thinking, but you want to guard against over-chilling your white wines and serving your red wines too warm. White wines are often served too cold, especially in the United States.
However, a white wine’s subtle aromatics (floral and fruity notes) are anesthetized at refrigerator temperatures. So take your white wines out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to serve them. Conversely, red wines often are not served chilled enough. Their “finish” can thus be a bit harsh, even caustic to the taste, if served at room temperature.
To remove this edge, chill your red wines for about 20 minutes before you want to serve them to guests. This will give them the proper balance and fruit intensity when served. To help you maintain the proper temperatures of your wines, you may want to invest in a digital wine thermometer.
The proper temperature for whites is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and for reds, about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Create a POWER COUPLE, a Perfect Food & Wine Pairing for Your Dinner: In charge of choosing the wine for your table or party?
One of the easiest ways to make a wine and food seem like they have a natural affinity for one another is to use “mirroring” when you pair. Mirroring involves pairing two similar characteristics together to bring out that shared characteristic.
If you have a peppery dish and want to emphasize the spicy pepper flavors, then pick a wine that has peppery characteristics like a Zinfandel. If you have an earthy, mushroom dish; and want to bring out that essence, pick an earthy wine like a Red Burgundy. It is no mistake that a rich, buttery California Chardonnay has a natural affinity for lobster; which is also rich and buttery.
One of the easiest ways to guarantee mirroring in a pairing is to use the wine you are serving as an ingredient in the food as well. Be sure to buy enough for the number of guests tasting, and plan to provide eight 3-oz servings or six 4-oz servings per bottle.”
Eddie Osterland is an internationally acclaimed expert in the culinary arena of food and wine. For more than 25-years he has delivered workshops and given highly entertaining dinner talks to corporate audiences on power entertaining with wine and food.
Eddie has the distinction of being America’s very first Master Sommelier, the highest international distinction that a professional can attain in fine wine and beverage service. . www.eddieosterland.com