28 February 2011

A Grape Date

As I mentioned on Friday, Joe and I had a date night planned.

I found a deal a few months back on one of those daily deals websites (my memory is a bit foggy as to which one) that for $40, we had admission for two to a wine and cheese tasting that would allow us to sample 8 different wines and cheeses, and take home a bottle of wine at the end of the night. Normal cost of admission is $35 a person. It was a great deal, eh?

Since neither of us knew what to expect, it took a little fussing to figure out what to wear. We finally settled on a funky dress and sassy boots for me and a sexy sweater and jeans combo for Joe. And when we walked into the doors of The Gourmet Grape, I knew we were just fine on the clothing front, but I was amazed at the sheer number of people crowded into the tiny shop.  

We checked in and were given wine glasses and a little plate with two pieces of eight different kinds of cheeses (along with explicit directions on how to be sure we were eating the right cheese with the right wine) and sent off to join the crowd.  

The wines were set up in three different stations that we were to visit three times each (they tossed in a "freebie" wine sample at the end).  Joe and I both later admitted to each other that we were surprised and a bit disappointed that there wasn't a formal presentation or instructions on how best to experience each wine. Neither of us know all that much about wine and thought we'd be learning a few things during the wine tasting. Instead, we were given our sample of wine and maybe a quick listing of what foods to pair with the wine. 

The wine/cheese sampling included:
- Caposaldo 2009 Pinot Grigio accompanied by Butter Kase cheese.  
- Fournier 2008 Sauvignon accompanied by Herb Crusted Goat cheese.
- Flora Springs 2008 Chardonnay accompanied by Cubbedu. 
- Chateau Mt-Redon 2008 Cotes Du Rhone accompanied by Cowda.
- Planeta 2009 La Segreta accompanied by Dolce Latte Gorgonzola.
- Steltzner 2008 Claret accompanied by Goat Gouda. 
- Signaterra 2006 Red Three Blocks accompanied by Pepato.
- Daou 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied by 3 Year Aged Cheddar.
- Il Conte Stella Rosa.

Random thoughts from the tasting:
- The crowd/noise level was overwhelming. Most people were mingling, but we both felt out of our element and unable to hear, so we were fairly anti-social. 
- The claret was hands-down the least favorite wine. 
- All the other wines were enjoyable. We both really seemed to enjoy the Daou Cabernet Sauvignon. 
- We bought a bottle of the Il Conte Stella Rosa because we loved it so much. Hands down, the favorite of the evening. And the 10% off didn't hurt either. 
- The Pepato cheese was good until I bit down on the peppercorn. Yow. 
- My favorite cheese was either the Goat Gouda or the Gorgonzola.
- We were sent home with a bottle of the Fontana 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I'm so glad we went! It was a neat experience, even if we felt out of our element, and we tried something new that we both had wanted to try. That said, I'd rather have some friends over for a wine and cheese tasting at home sometime (even if we're not likely to go out and buy a $60 bottle of wine to sample).  

The staff at the Gourmet Grape was very friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable. They answered all our questions with a smile and I have no doubt they'd be a great resource for suggestions of cheeses to pair with wines in the future. 

And Joe was a super grape date! ;-)

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