Sunday, December 15, 2013

An Anniversary Dine Around

As everyone was planning for our annual neighbourhood Holiday Dine Around, we realized that this is now our 10th annual gathering. That meant that the three remaining couples from the original batch of six had all been in our places for just over a decade. Time has certainly flown by. I guess we must have been having fun.

If tonight's soirée is anything close to representative of our hood, I can guarantee you that we've had some fun, indeed.

The Dine Around sees everyone host the gang for drinks and nibbles at their place for about 45 minutes before we move on to the next. We could easily spend an evening at each home but we don't have any choice but to limit our time if we're going to fit everyone in before the holiday season has long since passed us by. We're now at nine sets of neighbours if everyone is able to participate. I think you can do the math and determine that makes for many hours of food and drink.

1488.  N.V. Beato Bartolomeo Breganze Prosecco Extra Dry (Prosecco D.O.C. - Italy)

Some of the pairings served up are quite inspirational - like the bell pepper and onion soups served in shot glasses, along with yet another Prosecco to add to The List. With all the non-vintage Prosecco's out there, I'm always happy to be able to add another one - because I'm a firm believer that there can never be enough events featuring Prosecco. There are only so many of them in our market though. I could be a whole lot further towards hitting that 2001st bottle if I could add every bottle of Prosecco we help finish off to The List.

2011 Nk'mip Riesling (Okanagan Valley VQA)

That darned "rule" about not adding the same vintage of a bottle twice just gets in the way at times - particularly with Prosecco's. I might have gotten lucky getting to count tonight's Prosecco as a new one but I wasn't so lucky in counting the Nk'mip Riesling. We've already been there and sipped that with the 2011 vintage. As such, we simply got to sip and enjoy this one. Although I think this choice goes to show that Mr. Principled and Nature Boy have some decent taste in wine.
1489.  2012 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough - New Zealand)

When not filling our glasses with her trademark collection of martinis (which, of course, were available tonight is you wanted one), Shameless Hussy has been on a bit of a Sauv Blanc kick lately. I was intrigued to see that she'd run across the Whitehaven version. I'd only encountered it for a first time a month or two ago at a big New Zealand wineries tasting event. I'd quite liked the new entry into our market but I hadn't gotten around to picking up a bottle yet. The Hussy saved me that effort.
1490.  2011 Mission Hill - Limited Edition Viognier (Okanagan Valley VQA)

I don't know if everyone was just serving white wines through the evening (although I highly doubt it) or whether I simply chose to go with the whites, but I notice that I've only been adding whites so far. Considering the fact that most of them are Okanagan wines, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of them were new to The List. Unlike with our Dinner Club, I haven't done any active training with these guys to get them to check the blog before they choose a wine to serve.

This Limited Edition Viognier was a nice add as well. I'd tasted Mission Hill's Viognier back in the Fall just before the BC Wine Appreciation Bus Tour but I didn't have any room to pick up a bottle or two. If I'm not mistaken, the Limited Edition wines became Mission Hill's Martin's Lane label last year. Varietal Viognier wines can be a bit of a hit and miss for me but this one definitely swings to the "hit" side of the pendulum.

By the time we'd arrive at our final two stops for the evening, it was clear that we'd managed to tone down a bit on the amount of food that was proffered this year. Some of our most recent Dine Arounds saw entire course being served after entire course - or full buffets at house after house. Not that there's anything inherently evil with an abundance of food, but it did have a tendency to leave folks tuckered out or too full to function by the time dessert came around. Not to mention that it left less room for drinking.

And we definitely wanted to leave room for dessert this year.

1491.  2012 Wayne Gretzky Okanagan - No. 99 Winemakers Selection Pinot Grigio (Okanagan VQA)

Cupcake and Haggis were the first dessert stop and, as you might guess from her nickname, Cupcake is noted for her baking. Naturally, she delivered in spades - and delivered another white for The List. I hadn't even heard that the Great One had set up shop in the Okanagan. I knew that Canada's hockey hero was established in Ontario, but I didn't know anything about a venture out West. I haven't really looked into the move to the Okanagan yet but I have since heard that Wayne Gretzky wines are being made by or in conjunction with Peller Estates.

Game on.

1492.  2008 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage (Portugal)

1493.  N.V. Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny (Portugal)

Boo and I took the final stop this year; so, we decided to finish the evening off with my now "famous" bread pudding and a pair of Ports. The bread pudding's been adapted from a recipe I'd picked up some 30 years ago at the New Orlean's School of Cooking. Between family dinners and events like the Dine Around or a Mardi Gras party, the tasty dessert gets made at least a handful of times a year.

The two Ports were a nice accompaniment and, in my book, a grand nightcap for finishing off the evening. It was interesting to note people's preference between the two - and the Tawny was the bigger hit, despite the fact that it wasn't the tawniest of Tawnies that I've run across. To me, it still featured a lot of Ruby Port-like fruit on the palate - but there was no problem finding takers.

The biggest concern for whoever goes last on the Dine Around is that - despite the extended length of the evening - 'tis the season to be jolly and there can be a reluctance for some to call it a night, particularly since no one needs to drive home. A short stumble would be the worst that anyone has to endure. No such problem this year though. Once it was determined that there wasn't going to be enough demand to establish a dancefloor, Mr. Principled made the move across the lane to his bed and the rest soon followed (to their own beds and not to Mr. Principled's bed I do believe).

All in all, it was another gold star for the neighbourhood - and I'm always a happy Bob whenever I get to add six new wines to The List in one evening. My head may not always agree the morning after but, hey, I'd already said that "this is the season..."

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