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Pairings: Wine for Dummies

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I’m not a wine person. There’s a few words that kind of sound familiar when wine people talk, like Sauvignon, Riesling and Port, but everything else might as well be a foreign language. I’m better at translating the teacher’s wah wah wah from Charlie Brown than understanding a sommelier. And yes, I had to google “wine expert” to come up with sommelier.

I told you. Not a wine person.

I also don’t really have the desire to learn much about wines. Since I don’t drink much, I’d rather leave it up to the experts, take recommendations and try lots of new things when I get the chance.

Yesterday I got the chance!

The Husband and I headed out on a double date to Pairings Bistro for dinner with friends. This was our first time there but our friends have gone before and made the suggestion.

The menu was composed of seasonal items all of which had wine recommendations right in the menu. You are able to order a la carte or create your own Prix Fixe for a set price that came with 3,4, or 5 courses which included a wine or beer pairing for each.

We chose 4 and let the sommelier pair our wines for us.

My first course was Peppercorn Seared Rare Tuna with grilled vegetables, crispy leeks and citrus ginger dressing.

I had a hard time choosing a salad and after taking my first bite of the one I did I’m pretty sure any of them would have been the “right” choice. It was delicious with fresh greens, perfectly cooked tuna and an amazing dressing that brought it all together.

The wine was a 2011 Frisk Riesling. I liked it. That’s about as deep as my wine reviews will go. I warned you.

My second course, Crispy Maryland Scallops over spicy corn relish paired with Veramonte Pinot Noir.

This is when I should tell you I feared going with 4 courses. I thought it would be too much. Once this dish was brought out I knew we made the right decision. It was perfectly portioned! When food is this good you don’t need pounds of it, just a few amazing bites are satisfying. The scallops were crisp on the outside and amazingly sweet which contrasted to the bit of heat the hot peppers brought to the corn relish.

I, again, enjoyed the wine.

Up next, Duck Breast with mango and grilled peach chutney, crispy herbed polenta paired with 2010 North by Northwest Riesling.

Amazing! I rarely order duck but when I get a chance to try something out of my ordinary, I take it. The polenta was good but I wouldn’t have described it as “crispy.” It was smooth, flavorful and made the perfect bite when paired with the duck and some mango.

The wine was also a good choice for me. Another empty glass.

Finally, dessert. I went with Warm Chocolate Walnut Brownie with a hazelnut spread and crumbled toffee, house made peanut butter ice cream paired with Fonseca Terra Bella Organic Ruby Port

This was a bite of heaven! Rich, chocolatey, sinful! The Port, however, not a fan. It was the only wine of the evening I didn’t finish.

Overall the meal was spectacular! It was a nice change from our normal chain restaurant experiences. More expensive? Yes, but as I get older I don’t mind paying for good food, good service and wine recommendations from those who know more than I ever will.

Pairings Bistro
2105 Laurel Bush Road, Suite 108
Bel Air, Maryland 21015
Pairings Bistro on Urbanspoon

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    August 11, 2012

    Thanks for the great reveiw. Be careful of enjoying the wine too much. JK. One question, did the people you were with mind you taking the pictures of the food? Opps two questions, Did you take notes on the wine that was paired with each course or do you just remember things like that. Just curious. Reply


    August 14, 2012

    I actually warned the people I was with! lol So, no, they didn't mind. And the menu had all the wine pairings listed so I didn't have to worry about remembering BUT if it didn't I would have asked the sommelier to write them down for me. I've done that before and they always seem very willing. Reply


    August 15, 2012

    How fun! Those dishes all look delicious...I'm drooling over here :) I'm surprised by the Riesling pairing for the duck. I would have thought that would be too sweet and a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc would be better for a flavor-rich meat. I am no sommelier, however! And, I never eat duck...Okay, I have no idea what I'm talking about :) I always have a hard time pairing ANY wine with such a sweet, rich dessert like that. I'm not surprised the wine with dessert was a "meh" pairing. I think dessert that rich needs either a glass of milk or a lemon/lime sparkling water to clear the palate :) Reply