A party at which guests guess the proper wine-food pairing is fun and teaches everyone a little more about wine.
Image source: Flickr CC user Neotake Murayama
Summer tends to be full of big gatherings--parties, barbecues, family reunions, and potlucks. But once you’ve socialized yourself to the limit, why not try something a little more intimate? Gather your closest friends together and try a “girls’ night in” complete with seafood and wine pairings.
We’ve all been taught to choose white wine when we’re having seafood. But the rules are changing; dare to live on the edge with me and try something new. There are plenty of great seafood options that pair nicely with white wine, sparkling wine, or even red wine. Most of the time, the trick is in how you prepare it.
When they arrive, give each of your guests a pen and paper so they can write down which wine pairs best with each meal. To make things interesting, those who answer incorrectly can be ‘penalized’--in a creative way (or not!).
First Dish: Seared Tuna
Whatever you do, do not buy just any tuna from the grocery store. This dish is prepared on the rare side so it’s especially important to get a high quality, sushi grade ahi tuna steak. If you buy your tuna online from a reputable retailer, you can get it a couple days fresher than in the supermarket. When you are talking about eating food rare, it is important to know where the fish came from and that it’s fresh.
Before you start searing your tuna, make a citrus relish to go with it. Start by chopping up a half of a bulb of fennel into small pieces. Then add the following:
Once you have finished your citrus relish you will want to sear your tuna steak for about 2 minutes on each side for a rare interior. Serve with the relish on top.
Now comes the fun part. Have a few different wine options on the table when you serve the dish and ask everyone to write down the answer to this question: “What do you think pairs best with this dish?”
Our Recommended Wine Pairing: Brut Champagne
Why: This is a bit of trick question, as really, Champagne pairs well with nearly every food you can imagine. In this case, the touch of sweetness in the wine picks up the sweetness of the mango, orange, and fennel. Champagne also works well to start the party with since it’s light and celebratory.
Those Who Chose Other Answers:Since pairings can be such an individual experience, and this one is especially subjective (Pinot Noir would also work in this case, so this pairing is best determined by elimination), why not have everyone say why the love the choice they picked? This should keep everyone occupied while you get ready for the next dish:
Second Dish: Asian-Inspired Broiled Salmon
I recommend a fresh Atlantic salmon for this dish. It’s affordable, tasty, and--if you get it from the right supplier--a sustainable seafood. You will want to marinate your salmon a few hours ahead of time to make sure your fish captures the flavors of your marinade. All you have to do is place your salmon in a re-sealable plastic bag with the following:
To cook the salmon, place it on a baking sheet and broil it for about 8 minutes (depending on how done you and your guests like it), periodically spooning marinade over top.
Our Recommended Wine Pairing : Pinot Noir
Why: Salmon is one of relatively few seafoods that pair nicely with a red wine. Though salmon is a heartier fish, because its flavors are not as meaty and intense as beef or pork, it goes best with a light red like Pinot Noir. As with our tuna pairing, this pairing isn’t fixed in stone--our other wines, Champagne and Chardonnay--go well with salmon too. What makes the difference in this dish are the bold flavors of the marinade, which make a red just a bit more appropriate here. Choose a fruity style of Pinot Noir to complement the asian flavors of this dish.
Those Who Choose Other Answers: Since most people assume that you can’t pair a red wine with seafood, you may have a number of guests who picked a white. That’s okay, white is great too; but you can have fun with this. A highly entertaining punishment is to have each loser draw from a hat filled with cheesy lines from romance movies and text it to someone in their phone (chosen by the person sitting on their right). An alternative is to have everyone declaim the cheesy line to the person sitting next to them. Look to The Huffington Post for some quote inspiration.
Third Dish: Broiled Lobster Tail
Who doesn’t like lobster? Lobster tails will always be a hit, especially when they are large and succulent and come from a good supplier who knows how to keep them fresh with flash-freezing. Lobster tails are also amazingly easy to prepare, which is a good thing for you since you are now on to your third glass of wine.
Our Recommended Wine Pairing: Chardonnay
Those Who Choose Answers: At this point, those who answered with a different choice can compete to claim the second best option or do something sillier and compete against each other in Twister. When your under-the-influence guests untangle themselves, put on your favorite wine-centric movie (Sideways is a good one), or your favorite so-bad-it’s-good movie, such as the (appropriately fish-themed) Sharknado.
It’s easy to make a night like this a big success if you order your seafood online, to be shipped to your door from a reliable distributor like DailyFreshFish.com. If you choose the right supplier, seafood delivery brings you fish and shellfish that’s fresher than any you find in a supermarket, and it comes straight to you, so you don’t have to schlep from store to store. DailyFreshFish.com takes this one step further and brings you only fish that has been sustainably raised or caught, so you can support the ocean and those who make a living off it.