Wine & Spirits: Wine Dinner Surprises

Wine dinners this fall at two of D.C.’s best restaurants are grape finds for diners.

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Bourbon Steak is offering three wine dinners in October. (Photo courtesy Bourbon Steak)

Bourbon Steak is offering three wine dinners in October. (Photo courtesy Bourbon Steak)

Wine lovers, rejoice. Two of D.C.’s best private dining rooms are offering a series of wine dinners this fall. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few in each space and found both to be comfortable, convivial and really conducive to special events. While I found that both also seem to have their fair share of regulars, don’t’ let that deter you if you are a newbie. During these dinners, you are among (wine-loving) friends — or those who are soon to be after a few courses and sips.

In October, Bourbon Steak is offering three wine dinners in its 30-seat private dining room: one with a boutique winemaker, another with a small producer and a third with a guest sommelier.

I recently attended one of their F(l)ight Club series, which pairs Bourbon Steak’s sommelier with visiting sommeliers from other area restaurants to see who can create the best food and wine pairings (decided by guests’ votes). During the one I attended, Proof’s Jennifer Foucher took on the challenge. The evening was filled with eclectic pairings (the somms were given the menu without the opportunity to taste or see any of the dishes — quite a challenge no matter how you slice it — along with a fair amount of good-natured smack talking. Chef  presented a Mexican-inspired menu (Mayor was introduced wearing a large sombrero). My favorite pairing was the second course: a roasted chicken and tortilla soup with tomato water, herbs and noble vinegar, served with Foucher’s pairing of a 2011 Dupont-Fahn Bourgogne (my fave), as well as Mayor’s selection of a 2009 Lorinon Reserva Rioja. When it was all said and done, Mayor took the prize for best overall pairings that evening, though Foucher held her own and was the clear-cut winner for several courses (including said course two, which she won by a landslide with 21 votes to 9.)

Roasted chicken and tortilla soup with white Burgundy was a winning pairing at Bourbon Steak's most recent F(l)ight Club dinner. Photo courtesy Kelly Magyarics.

Roasted chicken and tortilla soup with white Burgundy was a winning pairing at Bourbon Steak’s most recent F(l)ight Club dinner. (Photo by Kelly Magyarics)

Here are the details on Bourbon Steak’s upcoming dinners:

An evening with Mark and Allison Ketcham of Ketcham Estate Vineyards
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
6:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner
Price: $125 per person, including wine pairings, excluding tax and gratuity
Guests can taste the latest vintages from the winery known for its well-made Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, paired with a five-course menu created by Executive Chef John Critchley.

The Bertani Amarone Library Dinner
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
6:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner
Price: $250 per person, including wine pairings, excluding tax and gratuity
This five-course dinner showcases not only Bertani’s exclusive Amarones, but wines from other top producers in Italy. Guests also have the chance to taste extremely rare vintages aged for over three decades.

Final F(l)ight Club, with Julian Mayor and of Baltimore’s Wit & Wisdom
Monday, October 28, 2013
6:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner
Price: $100 per person, including wine pairings, excluding tax and gratuity
Bourbon Steak sommelier Julian Mayor faces off against Julie Dalton of Wit & Wisdom for the final installment of F(l)ight Club: All in the Family. The two somms duke it out in head-to-head pairings with guests choosing their favorite pairing and overall winner.

For reservations or more information, call 202-944-2026. All dinners are held in Bourbon Steak’s private dinner room at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 


Central’s wine dinners are held in the restaurant’s 16-seat Jean-Louis Palladin Room and hosted by General Manager and Wine Director . Back in the spring, I was a guest at one that strayed from the grape, pairing cocktail with each of five courses instead. Asparagus three ways with the “Bitter End” cocktail proved that it’s not impossible to pair the bitter stalky vegetable with neither wine nor a libation, while squab with a foie gras sauce partnered seamlessly with a “Fig Old Fashioned.” David Hale, a gracious and warm host, creates a laid back and approachable experience, as he walks around to chat with guests, inquiring about the pairings and offering as much beverage education as they wish to have. (Those who want to simply sit there and enjoy the pairings are welcome to do that as well.)

 

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Central uses its 16-seat private dining room for its monthly wine dinners. (Photo courtesy Central)

Here are the final three installments for the year in Central’s monthly wine dinner series:

The “Where Was That From Again?” Dinner
Monday, October 28, 2013
7 p.m.
Price: $150 per person, 5 course menu with wine pairings, including tax and gratuity
Can’t pronounce it? Check. Never heard of the country? Double-check. Never knew that California winery you loved made Charbono? From crazy grapes to lesser-known experiments, this one is for the wine geek in everyone.

The “Leftover Turkey” Dinner
Monday, November 18
7 p.m.
Price: $150, 5 course meal with wine pairings, including tax and gratuity
If you are preparing for another busy holiday season, join Central to make sure your table is primed for great pairings. David Hale talks about why Champagne works with day-old turkey, why Alsace is the official wine region of holiday food, and what to drink when you’re ready for your family cabin fever to break.

The “…Because Michel Said So” Dinner
Monday, December 16, 2013
7 p.m.
Price: $200, 5 course meal with wine pairings, including tax and gratuity
It wouldn’t be a wine dinner series without paying homage to the palate of Central’s favorite fun-loving chef. The restaurant  presents a dinner filled with Michel’s favorite libations, and let him tell you why he loves them.

For reservations and more info, email David Hale directly at dhale@centralmichelrichard.com.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter or Instagram @kmagyarics.

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