Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Pairing Dinner

Last week I received a box of assorted Rieslings courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Thirsty Girl, so I decided to do a pairing dinner to try some of them out.  Any excuse will do.  Riesling is a personal favorite because it has such a wide range of potential food pairings, and it works well even with highly spiced dishes.  It is a genuinely food-friendly wine.  For the first course I made a rustic duck and chicken liver terrine with Madeira wine.  The raw ingredients were sourced from Jodar Farms and Grant Family Farms, both located in Northern Colorado.  I paired the terrine with the 2010 Eroica Riesling, which is smoother and more mineral in flavor than most Rieslings, with a floral and lime bouquet.  The lime notes developed as it opened up, and the acidity helped balance this really rich dish.

I didn’t measure anything for the terrine, but the basic technique is to line a pan with unsmoked bacon (or prosciutto, or caul fat–if you just happen to have some caul fat hanging around) and then fill it with a coarsely-ground mixture of spiced meats.  Bake in a water bath, chill, invert, and serve cold or at room temperature with some good mustard and sour pickles.  I used a mix of organic duck and chicken livers, studded with some small cubes of lightly smoked pork.  I cooked the livers in a good cup of Madeira, along with some garlic, white and coarsely ground black pepper, and some finely chopped onion. I may have also included some duck fat…just for kicks.  Traditionally you weigh down a terrine as it cooks, but I have found that if you are careful with how you pack in the forcemeat mixture, you will still end up with a desirable texture.

For the main course I did a simple pan-seared scallop with rosemary butter.  There are a few secrets to getting a good sear on a scallop.  First, try to buy “dry pack” scallops if you can, as they are not injected with liquid to bulk them up.  If you are unable to find dry packs, make sure your scallops are really well drained.  Either way, pat them dry with paper towels and let them come to room temperature while you heat your pan.  Add about a tablespoon of oil to your skillet and turn the heat to high.  I use grapeseed oil or olive oil (not extra virgin, which has a low smoke point).  Sprinkle your scallops with salt and white pepper, and when the oil just starts to shimmer, add the scallops.  Now, don’t touch them!  Leave them until one side is really nicely browned, then flip them over and turn off the heat.  They will cook through with just the residual heat, and you don’t want to overcook them.  Dry scallops are very important to a good sear, so they don’t steam in their own moisture.

After you have turned off the heat, add a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter to your pan, along with a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary.  Let it melt from the residual heat.  Plate the scallops and spoon some of the rosemary butter around each serving.  I sprinkled these with rosemary flowers for a colorful finish.  For this course I served the 2011 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling, which was my absolute favorite of the wines.  It is beautifully crisp, with cherry and peach notes, and it was perfect with the scallops.

Cheese, fruit, and wine were the final course.  I picked an aged cheese, a young goat cheese, and some dried and fresh fruits.  The 2011 Harvest Select Sweet Riesling was the pairing for this course, and we were pleasantly surprised by the lightly fizzy quality from added yeast.  I am not really a fan of sweet wines, but its citrus flavors were a nice accent to the cheese and fruit.  If you are partial to sweet whites, you will enjoy this wine.

If you want to do a similar pairing menu for a party, try to pick two courses that can be made in advance, as I did with the terrine and the fruit and cheese plate.  That will leave only one course with last-minute preparation.

Legal stuff:  I received free wine, but was under no obligation to review or discuss the products.  All opinions are my own.  I was only slightly drunk when I wrote this post.

Thanks for reading,


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  1. Gorgeous, sophisticated, delicious food … 🙂

  2. Beautiful stuff! I really, really want those scallops…oh, and the wine. 🙂

  3. Beautiful stuff! What a lovely evening that tasting must have been!

  4. The Foodie Physician

    Wow, wish I could have come to this party! Lovely menu- I especially love those gorgeous scallops.

  5. This is my kind of dinner! When can I come over?

  6. Thanks all–it was a great meal, and the wine was divine. Hope we all get to share a meal in the near future.

  7. I love Chateau St. Michelle's Merlot, but it's been a while since I've had their Riesling. Coincidentally, I just bought a bottle of it today, but another brand…something with a 24 in it. I guess it's the season for white, summery wines.

  8. I will have to try their Merlot–I have to admit to a weakness for summery whites, pretty much year-round.

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