The White House has offered reporters a sneak peak at tonight’s state dinner, the first for Barack Obama’s presidency. Reporters crammed into the state dining room, got hold of the menu, and learned what the 220 or so guests will be served.
Talking Points Memo reports on the eats:
Potato and eggplant salad with White House arugula and onion seed vinaigrette
Red lentil soup with fresh cheese
Roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney
Chick peas and okra
Green Curry Prawns with collard greens and coconut aged basmati
That menu seems fine. The problem is the wine they propose to serve: “2007 Granache, Beckmen Vineyards, Santa Ynez, California.”
Law professor Stephen Bainbridge explains why this is a mistake:
In the first place, they misspelled the grape variety: It’s grenache, not granache. (The same mistake appears to have been made on the menu cards on the table.) But given how lousy a speller I am, let’s give them a pass on this one.
In the second place, grenache is a red wine. It is used primarily as a blending grape. It’s fruity, fleshy, but generally doesn’t produce great wines. Beckmen Vineyard is one of the Rhone Rangers who are making premium Grenache. Their Grenache wines tend to be high alcohol (15+ plus), with flavour associations including kirsh, licorice, spices, earth, and game.
I suspect the Grenache will be a very nice match for the Pumpkin entrée. It’s flavour profile is ideal for the sort of Fall associations prompted by that entrée.
As a match for Curried Prawns, however, it will be an unmitigated disaster. The tannins and the heat of the curry will bring out the worst in each other. The high alcohol won’t help with the spice either. High alcohol wines tend to taste hot to begin with. Coupled with the spice heat, the match will not be at all refreshing.
And then we add prawns to the mix. Red wine is almost never a good match for shrimp or any other shellfish. True, a bunch of chefs in the nouvelle cuisine tradition insist on trying it, but it almost never works out very well. A high alcohol, high tannins wine with earthy flavours is NOT what I would want to drink with a delicate food like prawns.
All in all, not a very impressive outing by the White House sommelier.
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