FOOD: An Entertaining Season

Falls Church Times Staff

December 3, 2010

The holidays are upon us with Thanksgiving last week, Hanukah this week and the Santa-mobile about ready to make its debut. Sometimes nothing can be more stressful that trying to plan refreshments for a holiday gathering. Do you plan a full meal? Do you state you have “no time” and order pizza?  Entertaining can be stressful, but when you take out the guessing of what to serve, getting together with friends is one of the best things in life.

For many gatherings, a simple sampling of wine, cheese and meats are enough to satisfy and impress any guest. We are fortunate to have many cheese and wine shops in the area, and I stopped in at the Cheestique in Del Ray before Thanksgiving to select items for a holiday gathering. After a lovely few minutes of discussing what the cheeses and meats should be served with, I came home with a selection of four cheese, three meats and accompaniments such as cornichons and quince paste.  Combined with two fine red wines and a sparkling Shiraz, the whole evening was delightful as friends caught up.

With cheese and wines on my mind, I met with James Roth of Red White & Bleu here in Falls Church to ask him about what he would recommend for holiday entertaining. We met on the Friday after Thanksgiving which was supposed to be quiet but many regular customers kept popping in to pick up their wine orders, select cheeses for their gatherings with friends and to help us out with the wine tastings.

James has always been a strong champion for local wines and cheeses, and he relishes the opportunity to share many of his favorites. “We are so fortunate to a bounty of truly robust and flavorful wines and cheeses in this area”, says Roth. For our holiday entertaining tasting, James selected a sparkling wine, a white and a red.

We started off with Thibaut-Janisson Fizz, a Virginia winery located outside of Charlottesville owned by Claude Thibaut and Manuel Jannisson who are well known in the Champagne region of France. What I enjoyed about the wine is that it is patterned after an Italian Prosecco rather than the traditional champagne. This gives the wine a lighter taste and is better for pairing with a wide variety of foods including cheeses and meats. I have always been a fan of Proseccos and will be adding this one to my list.

We followed the Fizz with the delfosse Reserve d’Oriane, a white wine from the Monticello wine region. The Reserve d’Oriane is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Manseng and Viognier that has been aged in a combination of French Oak, neutral oak and stainless steel. I was pleasantly surprised by the d’Oriane as it was a light and yet full bodied wine that as James says is a nice replacement to the real heavy Chardonnays many are used to. Any guest would be pleased to have this served to them if they are looking for a white wine as it is a bold wine that will not overpower. James recommends the d’Oriane for poultry or a pork loin, but says that this wine can also stand up to any spicy food. As for cheeses, what is nice about this wine is that it is not acidic like other whites which can ruin a cheese pairing. The d’Oriane complements the acid in many cheeses and thus balances them. Keeping with the local theme James recommends one of the many goat cheeses from Cherry Glen such as the Monocacy Chipotle which won the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition First Place for Flavored Cheeses. 

Our last wine was a red, a 2007 Merlot from Chester Gap Cellars from the northern part of Rappahannock County. This red is 100% Merlot and is a surprising rival to the strong California Merlots that many are used to according to James. I somewhat agree but others in the tasting were just not fans of red wine. I found it a tad lighter than what I normally expect in a Merlot, but being from California I like to be able to “taste the dirt” in my wine, but that is just me.

While entertaining may seem costly, the costs for the wines tasted were in the $20-$25 dollar range which makes entertaining pleasant on a tight budget. These wines paired with a few cheeses from our local farms allow any host to entertain friends throughout the holiday season.  Centi Anni!

December 3, 2010 


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