Last month I attended the Duckhorn Vineyards wine dinner at Seven Glaciers. I had no idea what to expect of a wine dinner, so in case you’re thinking of attending one of them, I’ll fill you in.
I like to drink wine but I’m not what you would call an aficionado, so, like many others, I tend to stick with the wines I already know I like. This makes me a tad boring, I admit. One should strive to expand one’s horizons, even if one is wary of the taste of those horizons at first. A wine dinner is a great way to expand one’s wine quiver, with the chef and wine house working together to create a menu of dishes paired with different types of wines. This essentially forces one to try wines one would ordinarily not think to try, and presents said wines with perfectly paired food in order to maximize appreciation. I love this, because it takes the menu-reading and decision-making out of the equation which is always relaxing to Type-A’s like me. It’s also a great way to get to know other attendees, as seatings are not segregated by party, but combined into banquet-style tables. This is a fun part of the event because diners can chat with people they wouldn’t have otherwise met.
At the beginning of the evening, the chef and wine house rep both took a turn speaking about the meal. Chef Jason Porter was calm and collected as he welcomed us and told us a little about the menu and how he’d developed the dishes he was about to serve. He concluded his talk, handed the mike to the wine house rep, then blew his cool by turning and literally running back into the kitchen to attend to the meal, earning a laugh from the diners.
And we were certainly forgiving for the abrupt exit, for the food was just amazing. My only complaint was that I’d arrived a tad too hungry and the small amuse-bouche-style first courses weren’t enough to satiate a full day’s ski-induced hunger right away. That just reveals my proletariat tastes; I’m used to cutting to the chase with a burger and fries after skiing. But that’s good news; that means you are justified in having a little pre-dinner snack to ensure you can take your time and savor those first few smaller courses. It also means that you can appreciate the wine pairings even more because your taste buds will—trust me on this—be completely stoked on the experience. Chef Porter gets the wine ahead of time and spends some time developing courses around a theme; in this case he played on the Duckhorn name with a duck theme for each course of our meal. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean we had seven courses of duck; our first course was Geoduck Clam Crudo with Tropical Flavors, paired perfectly with Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that I usually shun but was one of my favorites of the night. Every single course was amazing and sized just right; paired expertly with each wine, it made for a fantastic meal without snobbery or stuffiness. The banquet seating makes the experience social and lighthearted which, paired with luxurious five-star food and wine, is a true Alaskan experience. Pro tip: Chef Porter is really into bacon so he works it in when he can. Bless that man!
The next wine dinner is on April 20 (next Friday; also the start of Spring Carnival) and features Grgich (seriously, that’s how you spell it) Hills Estates wine. If you are not one of the few lucky ones with Eddie Izzard tickets, you can’t go wrong with the Seven Glaciers Wine Dinner. Another pro tip? Local lodging after an alcohol-based event is a good thing. Grab a great deal on a hotel stay at the Resort and round it out with a Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month lesson package, and be sure to schedule your lesson around the Slush Cup! It will be a great way to round out a great season.
Jill Missal is the founder, editor, and all around Head Geargal at Geargals.com, a web site for the female outdoor enthusiast who wants to get the most out of her gear, and for the beginner who needs some help knowing where to start. Jill was raised in Alaska and has spent most of her life in the backcountry skiing, climbing, and trekking. When not testing gear for Geargals.com, Jill works as a consultant in the disaster planning and emergency management field, which takes her to amazing places in the world to do exciting projects. Jill points out that she has hobbies other than skiing, as evidenced by the picture to the left.