Wine Dinner: New Friends, Old Friends and a Lot of Wine

The lineup (Well, most of it)
The lineup (Well, most of it)

It doesn’t take much to inspire me to throw a dinner party. When friends we had never met in person before, announced they were coming to Florida for a vacation, I rallied the wine geeks for a mid-week, wine and food gathering. With one exception, these are all friends that we have met online – some over ten years ago.¬†

I tend to think that any night is a good night for a dinner party, so this one was on Wednesday. We started with champagne, cava and appetizers outside,

Smoked mahi appetizer
Smoked mahi appetizer

as it was a cool South Florida evening (of course the Canadians exclaimed “Is it always this hot?” Nope, it is usually 10 – 15 degrees warmer.) Appetizers included smoked mahi on cucumber rounds (a riff on the tuna appetizer, but even easier as the fish is purchased already smoked), potato knishes and mini hot dogs (both of which were in the freezer already – hey, it was mid-week!)

We moved inside for a salad followed by a meal of red wine braised brisket, lemon rosemary roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and a roasted vegetable platter including cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, peppers and roast garlic. The wines were flowing (full list below), glasses were broken (by me – oops), and everyone was having a good time. Although most of the wines were very good, I

The brisket

can say that easily my wine of the night was a 1987 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes, I already confirmed with the person that brought it that he has more, so hopefully I will be able to enjoy it again. I know the brisket was good, as several people who eat red meat extremely infrequently went in for seconds. Apparently the chicken was good, too, as one friend proclaimed it the best chicken he ever had. I normally don’t like chicken all that much, but I figured I should have something besides red meat, so I tossed it in the oven with garlic, lemon and rosemary and hoped for the best. It worked.

Just when we were all stuffed, napkins tossed on the table, wines were being finished… it was time for dessert. I am a big fan of individual desserts, so I made chocolate mousse shots, mini crustless apple pies with crumb topping and brownies.

Best. Chicken. Ever. (or so it seems)

These were served with three different Canadian ice wines. Plus, I know I am not the only one being a bit careful about what I am eating, so the tiny, shot glass-size desserts are a perfect bite.

OK, the wines… Bubbly:

  • Nicolas Maillart, non-vintage Champagne, Brut
  • Schramsberg Reserve, 2004, a Pinot Noir based sparkling wine
  • Cava Pere Mata, Riserva Familia, Cuvee 5, 2007


  • Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne, 2011 Chardonnay Les Ursulines
  • Willi Haag, 2001 Riesling, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spatelese
Mini apple pies. Just like mom used to make, only smaller.
Mini apple pies. Just like mom used to make, only smaller.


  • Clos du Marquis, 2000, Saint Julien
  • Gevery-Chambertain, 2007, Robert Groffier
  • Chateaux Rauzan-Gassies, 2000, Margaux
  • Dunn Vineyards, 1987, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Piaggia, Riserva 2004, Mauro Vannucci
  • Beringer, 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Nickel and Nickel, 2003 John C. Sullenger Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chateau Brane-Cantenac, 1983, Margaux
  • Vieux Telegraphe, La Crau, 2003, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
  • Domaine Grand Veneur, 2009, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
The aftermath. Well worth the effort.
The aftermath. Well worth the effort.


  • Peller Estates, 2012 Ice Wine, Oak Aged
  • Peller Estates, 2012, Ice Wine, Vidal
  • Peller Estates, 2012, Ice Wine, Cabernet Franc


Overall, a fantastic evening of food and wine, with great friends. I am already looking forward to the next one.