Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

I'm not a winemaker; I just play one on TV!

Since we met during Cornell's Reunion weekend, when scrog brought her along to the Chariot for corn nuggets and pizza, Staci and I have kept in touch and talked about getting together for wine-related events. I'm just a happy consumer, but Staci's actually a winemaker who happens to work at one of my long-time Finger Lakes favourites, Dr. Konstantin Frank.

Tonight was the first of two events we've been planning to go to... the winemakers dinner at Red Newt Winery over on the east shore of Seneca Lake. Dave and Debra have folks gather for a delicious multi-course dinner at their bistro at the winery, and each person brings a bottle of wine (or more) that's shared, blind, among everyone. There were 11 people tonight, which I gather is a relatively small crowd, and there were 13 bottles of wine... so we each got an ounce or so from each bottle, and got to speculate as to what it might be, where it was from, and so forth.

Sometimes, winemakers bring something from their own wineries, and risk the sometimes frank critiques, but I don't think any of tonight's wines were from this group, or even local. In this case, there were a couple of California wines (including my favourite, a Ballentine Zinfandel), a Tuscan wine (that I'd brought), a Long Island wine, and even a pair from Taiwan... all hidden in paper bags and arranged in a sequence to more or less fit the various dinner courses.

The food was just outstanding, and I'll definitely have to return to Red Newt for dinner. It's a bit of a schlep for an average evening out, but worth the trip for a special occasion. We had phyllo dough wrapped around duck sausage, a salad with strawberry vinaigrette, lavender chicken with goat cheese, pecan-crusted lamb chops with polenta, and finally a warm chocolate dessert with macadamia nuts and cinnamon. None of the courses was particularly substantial (like that tasting dinner at Willow, kenshardik), but the final effect is that I'm still full.

I wasn't expecting to know anyone there, so was pleasantly surprised to see Pam Goddard and Ted Crane when we walked in... and I got to introduce Staci to them, when she'd been figuring she'd have to make all the introductions. I know them from the folk music scene, so I'd utterly forgotten that they're both involved with the Finger Lakes Wine Gazette. I also recognized Dave and Debra from that dinner at Willow, and there was a Cornell faculty member (who teaches oenology in the Ag school, but mostly works in Geneva) with his wife. A fun group, and a fun dinner! I hope I'll get to attend more such events.

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