The dinner party for 10 last night went off without a hitch, which was no mean feat, considering my relative inexperience hosting large groups for sit-down dinners and wine tastings.
At each place setting were wine analysis sheets, rating the wines' appearance, bouquet, and taste/texture. We do our wine tasting first, and then share a meal, and since the theme for this tasting was "Big Reds," I served a Prime Rib with Yorkshire Puddings, mapled yams, a large salad, and chocolate mousse for dessert.
One of my neighbors is an enologist for a westside winery, and since he's in our winery's Wine Club, I invited him and his partner to join us for the festivities. There were some interesting discussions on corks, winemaking, and Old World vs. New World wines, which I found fascinating. The great thing about wine is that, when the conversation turns to "industry talk, " it's still always happy and enjoyable conversation, filled with laughter and learning.
In order to keep strong smells out of the house (essential when doing sensory analysis of wine) I used the propane barbecue outside to cook the prime rib, and luckily was about to get it to a steady 325 degrees and cook it perfectly. The Yorkshire Puddings were the big hit of the night, I think mainly because people were pleasantly surprised to learn they were not going to be forced to eat actual pudding at dinner.
An the chocolate mousses were devoured as well, including the vegan ones I made for my guests with dietary restrictions (who bought an incredible grains and mushroom casserole as their main course, which was absolutely delicious -- I snuck a bite!). I actually enjoyed the vegan mousse as well, especially with the coconut milk whipped cream I used as a topping.
And the big wine winner for the night was this beauty:
Unbelievably soft and full-bodied, full of lovely fruit notes but with enough tannins to perfectly balance the wine. I am not exaggerating when I say this is absolutely, hands-down, the best Pinot I've ever had the pleasure to taste. Ever.