Feb 16 2009

Celebrating “Good Eating” – and Good Drinking – with Bill Daley

On Thursday, I attended the first of a 4-part event series called “Celebration of Good Eating” at Kendall College. (The next event will take place in May.) The series highlights the themes and recipes of the Chicago Tribune’s “Good Eating” section and wine and food critic Bill Daley selects wines to pair with the evening’s menu. Thursday’s event focused on “Comfort Cooking & Wines to Warm Your Home.”

The menu consisted of beef stew (entrée); cornbread and salad with homemade dressing (side); and a warm apple crisp with brown sugar whipped cream (dessert). Yummy! Kendall College chef Brandy Fernow demonstrated the preparation of the beef stew, which was fun and engaging. The wines poured were all quite good and paired very well with the foods (as expected with Daley at the reins!). We sipped a rosé Crémant d’Alsace (sparkling wine from Alsace); a Chablis from Burgundy (Chardonnay); a red Bordeaux; and a Tempranillo from Spain.

While all the wines had their merits with the comfort foods on the menu, I thought the Spanish Tempranillo paired the best with the main course. Why? The rich, salty, meaty flavor of the stew was enhanced by the full-bodied, juicy red fruit flavors of the wine. As well, the softer tannins of the Tempranillo were in just the right balance for the tenderness of the beef bits in the stew.

An interesting tidbit of information shared by Bill Daley that night, whom I got a chance to meet and is a very personable guy, was the fact that while some people might think the Chablis choice an odd match for the beef stew (most people think red wine with beef, right?), it can certainly hold its own with the stew. Why, you ask? Because the wine itself had enough texture, depth and flavor to stand up to the hearty stew and, as a result, was not overpowered by it.

And, there you have it, folks. Lesson of the day: contrary to popular belief, you can sip Chardonnay with your beef stew. Please let me know some of your favorite cold-weather food and wine pairings. After all, we may as well make the most of our winter weather (mis-)fortune here in Chicago!

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