On the weekend of March 2, 2013 the Amador Vintners Association and participating wineries held their annual “Behind the Cellar Door” special event that draws thousands out for wine tasting in the foothills. The 2013 event was presented as a “Passport to the World” and focused on the wine varieties that originated from different countries. Along with the wine, food pairing was in full force.
For some wineries, the pairing was taken seriously as an absolute aim to pair the featured wine with those delicious bites that would most compliment the aroma, body, and essence of the wine or vice versa. Wine by itself can be a delight and food by itself can be delicious. But, food and wine well paired can be a truly remarkable experience. Among those worthy of a multiple star recognition for this pairing are Renwood Winery and Tanis Vineyards.
Executive chef David Rowe, with his quiet charm and sex appeal which were remarked upon by several women visitors, stole the food pairing award hands up. According to Rowe, conversations with the Renwood winemakers led to a decision to pair 2011 Amador Ice dessert wine with Apple Pie Cupcakes. While the 2011 Amador Ice can hit an unprepared pallet like a scream of sweetness, it sings like a lady and gent duo opera when combined with the glorious apple pie cupcakes expertly prepared by Rowe and his sous-chef.
This particular Amador Ice has a light “rose color with a syrup-like texture and aromas of fresh strawberries, cherries and green apple” and makes for “a pleasant and refreshing dessert” that elevates itself to extreme heights when paired with the gently spiced apple pie cake. Those who are not fond of dessert wines or sweet wines of any kind would be wisely challenged to sip a bit of this ambrosia with the likes of Rowe’s cakes.
The Renwood food and wine pairing actually began with another glorious bite with Rowe’s lamb and beef burger. The “Passport to the World” theme was all American here and although it might sound a bit too down-home and unspectacular, it was far from common. The Renwood Premier Old Vine 2010 Zinfandel accompanied the burger and followed with a mac and cheese pop and traditional mac and cheese with tastings of 2010 Merido and Nicefero. You ask, “mac and cheese?” Yes, the macaroni and cheese was prepared with a blend of quality cheeses and, what Rowe unabashedly admits, a small bit of Velveeta to give it that smooth texture that can often be absent from momma’s homemade mac and cheese if she has missed out on the Velveeta secret.
If you missed the 2013 “Behind the Cellar Door” experience, perhaps you can discover similar experiences by choosing from the Renwood Winery tasting menu or hunting down David Rowe as he dodges from one televised show to another and on to his catering. Please stay tuned for more information about the “Behind the Cellar Door” tastes and pleasures discovered in March 2013. (Please note that not all 36 wineries were visited by the author in this 2013 BCD visit. Therefore, notable wines and pairing presentations were surely overlooked and not noted here or in following articles.)