I have a confession to make. I don’t really practice what I preach. I might even be a bit of a liar. You see, I am constantly telling my kids to live outside their comfort zone. Try something new. Do something scary.
I don’t do that.
I run the same three mile route. (Because I know I can do it.)
I always order carnitas at Mexican restaurants. (They’re so delicious, why risk getting something not nearly as yummy?)
And I always (always, always) drink California wine. (Non-California wine = Scary!)
So, when I was invited to the Wine and Swine event at Terrine Restaurant featuring wines from the Alsace region in France paired with a variety of pork dishes,I figured it was a great opportunity to take a step (or two) outside my comfort zone. Oh sure, you’re thinking the only reason I went is because of the free wine and amazingly delicious food created by chefs Kris Morningstar of Terrine and Chris Oh of Hanjip, and to that I would say you are being very rude! I was trying to do something new and scary and outside my comfort zone. (Also, remember, I’m a liar, so you’re right, it was totally about the wine and food.)
Wines of Alsace was a terrific host. The day started off with a seminar titled Alsace 101 – an in-depth look at the region’s location, terroirs (that’s a fancy word for environmental conditions), culture and main varieties, led by Master Sommelier Brian McClintic of SOMM Films and ViticoleWine.com.
The seminar was informative and interesting, Brian was super-dreamy, and we tasted six wines: a dry Crémant d’Alsace, a fruity Pinot Blanc, a light Riesling, a complex Pinot Gris (my favorite), a sweet Gewurztaminer (my very-close second favorite) and a Pinot Noir that I was not a huge fan of, but I’m not a Pinot Noir girl, so I’m never the girl to ask about Pinot Noir.
Of course I enjoyed tasting the wines, but I also really enjoyed finding out about the region – its culture, its climate, its food. I’m pretty sure I need to vacation there. Soon.
After the seminar we retreated to the back patio for more wine tasting and the pork dish pairing. The pairing took place on Terrine’s iconic patio where tasting stations were set up for each varietal and the food was placed on tables in the middle.
The menu included:
Alsatian-Style Pork with Sauerkraut (Chef Morningstar made this sausage from scratch and in case you’re wondering, yes it is better than the pineapple bacon sausage you’re currently obsessing on from Costco. Like times one thousand. In other words: OMG! Best Sausage I’ve Ever Had!)
Cuban Sandwiches with Smoked Ham, Capicolla, Gruyere and Spicy Pickle Relish (Crazy good!)
Carnitas Tacos (These tacos were the bomb! Because, carnitas.)
Korean-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps – (Delish!)
Crispy Pork Croquettes with Sauce Gribiche and Frisée (Yum!)
Oh and there were servers passing around appetizers as well, including this burrata-to-die-for with mashed peas on toast (I might have had three. Or five. But who’s counting?)
As my teenage daughter said the other day, “Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you hate yourself.” I kind of hated myself. But it was so, so good!
During this time there was a tasting of over 60 wines. (And no, I did not try them all!) But I may or may not have tried 10 different Pinot Gris (shh!), 7 or 8 different Pinot Blancs and a Gerwurztraminer or two. (Look, I’m talking the tiniest of sips.)
Oh, but I was not done. After the food and wine pairing there was one more seminar with my boyfriend Brian. (It makes no difference that he does not know he’s my boyfriend. )
The second seminar was titled Rocks & Riesling Retrospective. In this seminar we sampled a new and old vintage Riesling from four of Alsace’s top producers.
Trimbach Clos Ste Hune 2009 & 1997
Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine 2014 & 1998
Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2012 & 2001
Zind-Humbrecht RieslingGrand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain 2012 & 1993
I loved all of these wines and tasting the differences between the old and new vintages was a fantastic experience. The vintages tasted nothing alike. The older wines smelled sweeter and tasted thicker. The younger wines were crisp, grassy, fresh. (Yeah, my descriptions are spot-on aren’t they? I don’t think there’s any chance of me becoming the 24th female American Master Sommelier any time soon.)
I thoroughly enjoyed this tasting and actually learned a thing or two. I even found out that French wine isn’t (that) scary. The next time I’m out to dinner, I might even take a departure from the California wine section and take a trip to my new favorite French region.