On Monday, Michael Mondavi of Mondavi Wines and Gary Shansby, founder of Tequila Partida, stopped into Abacus to demonstrate the unique pairing possibilities of wine and tequila with food. Chef Kent Rathbun prepared a special menu to complement the drinks and was on hand to walk diners through each of the four courses.
Though wine and tequila are quite different, from production process to flavor, appearance and aroma, they share similar qualities to consider when pairing with food. Each is a product of "terroir," a term that denotes the impact geography has on soil and crops, and each is barrel aged, which affects everything from flavor and color to texture and sugar content.
Favorite pairings of the night included Chef Rathbun's Roasted-Oca BBQ Lobster Salad with a 2008 I'M Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay. The sweet, rich lobster was complemented by the wine's cleansing, well balanced acid and fruit. The Curry Spiced Duck Breast with saffron rice blocks, lentils and ginger-apricot chutney paired wonderfully with the Tequila Partida Reposado. The Reposado is aged six months in used Jack Daniels barrels and offers an intriguing mix of sweet vanilla, spicy white pepper and nuttiness that complemented the duck.
After a couple more courses, tequilas and excellent wines, including two robust and flavorful Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignons, a sample of Tequila Partida Elegante was presented. It was a real treat, as a bottle of Elegante runs about $350. This "extra anejo" tequila is distilled from the best blue agave and is then aged more than three years in oak. It's rich and creamy, with plenty of sweet vanilla, caramel and toasted nuts, plus floral and spice notes. It has a lot going on, but remains well balanced throughout.