My Favorite ‘Meaty’ Wine Pairing for 2010

As many of you know, my year is continually stacked up with events, wine tastings, classes and more for a zillion different styles of wine drinkers.  Each event is its own, always different wines, different pairings, cheeses, chocolates, unique foods and more.  And the group ‘personality’ always one of a kind!

Now, when it comes to December…the days really start to meld together.  Amusée hired private parties every nite through Dec 23rd.  No rest for the wicked and more wine pairings and education than you can shake a stick at.  The month, even though tiring, is always my favorite.  Folks are jolly, happy to gather with friends and family, and always open to trying new things for the holidays (when it comes to wine).  And while they all leave me feeling fulfilled for the holiday season, knowing I did my part to help them enjoy wine that much more, there are always a couple of really outstanding events that stand out in my mind be it because of the ‘spot on’ pairings or the personality of the group.  At the same time, the year stacks up with a collection of outrageous moments that I can remember laughing so hard with some of my groups, that I’ve left still giggling with the fun that was had.

However, I must make light of a party that happened early December.  A private party, no names revealed (for their sakes yet…).  A gathering meant to celebrate a woman’s 29th Bday and the holidays all at once.  Just a group of 16 peeps, mostly all of the same age and all long time friends, many of whom grew up together.  The couple hosting, outstanding folks with great taste for food and wine. 

Funny, as the group started to arrive I wasn’t sure what kind of ‘wine drinkers’ they really were?  Some drinking wine for the first time and some, real winos with experienced palates.  Soon after the ice broke with a great glass of bubbles to toast, we sat down to open up the ‘tasting’ aspect of our nite.  With 5 wines to follow and all really ranging in price, International selection and grape varietal – I soon realized that I was dealing witha very enthusiastic wine group.  Explosive with wine descriptors, energetic with pairing questions and some on the edge of their seats guessing regions, very colorful smells and varietals. 

I must admit.  I hold myself together well.  I watch every nite of the week as I teach class, event or party ~ as each group starts to loosen their shoulders. 

I call it ‘wine yoga for the soul’. 

Have a glass and watch what happens to your shoulders, your attitude and your inhibition ‘filter’.  It all falls to the wayside.  And, with this group – the filter was off and the party was at full speed by wine #2.  As I sit back and watch as my groups unfold, most never realize that I am NOT the one that’s drinking.  While my glass is always half full, I dump with each wine only smelling and tasting for flaw, character and details of a wine.  (Which is why I can probably hold myself together the best.)  Yet, I fully admit ‘holding myself together’ was not an option with this early December group.  By wine #3, I was laughing so hysterically that I found myself doubled over with tears streaming down my face.  The group’s descriptions were so great, so fun and so colorful – that by the last wine some of the greatest wine descriptions I had ever heard were flowing freely from every drinker in the crowd.

Which brings me to my Favorite Meaty Wine Pairing Description and Connection for 2010…

As I passed out the last wine…a fat juicy, gamey, over the top, rich,  chocolaty Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot blend from South Africa (of course served blind!) I said, “Okay, you guys take it from here…” 

And without hesitation, a young gentleman shouted out (mind you, the guy in the crowd that said he didn’t ‘get’ wine and was the least experienced in wine, because he just never drank it)…

“This wine reminds me of the game burger at the Happy Gnome!” 

As the room erupted, I raised my glass with a toast knowing I had done my job well and without any question at all – I knew it was a smell almost everyone in the room knew well growing up in the Twin Cities and could certainly explain if they had to with their eyes shut.  Next thing you know, comments about ‘grilled meat’, ‘hamburger’ and more were flying around the room. 

Yet, the best had still not come until the Nook commenter said, “Do you think this would go with beef jerky?” 

“Absolutely!!” was my reply.

Little did I know that I was dealing with the Trade Marketing Manager for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky!!  You can only imagine what came next?  Yep, you know it…packages of Jack Link’s Jerky passed around to try against our mouth-watering, smokey, rich, gamed Guardian Peak Frontier Red of South Africa. 

And so, I salute you Jack Link’s and Mr. Marketing Mgr…along with my friends at Guardian Peak for making the

Crush Pad’s Pairing of the Year!

Jack Link'sA wine so juicy, gamey and delicious that it was almost born to pair to the hearty, earthy smoked sides of Link’s amazing beef jerky.  Peppery, smoked like it just came off the grill and was built to sit right next to a glass of this wine.  Not only could we not stop talking about this Perfect Pairing, BUT we were all ready to jump in the car with an extra bottle and take it to the Happy Gnome to pair to a game burger!  Outstanding! 

And to date…one of the best groups and in home parties I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. 

While my life is never short of amazing with all the unbelievable folks I get to meet on a daily basis, I welcome moments like these where I can honestly look back, still laugh and end up still craving the pairing. 

Well done, Jack Link’s dude, well done. 

Cheers to you all at the Henry Gathering and Happy New Year, gang!  May I see more of you all in 2011. 


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