Last Wednesday, we had an opportunity to attend a Beringer wine dinner at Cunningham’s in Towson.
Beringer is a big, big name in wine, and they made their mark (and their money) selling inexpensive wine. They may be best know for White Zinfandel. So we had tempered expectations on the wine, but were looking forward to the food, and spending some time with our friend M.
We also look forward to meeting new people at these events.
Overall, the food was outstanding, and the wines were pretty good, too.
The first course was snapper tartare paired with a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. The dish was remarkable, with cashew butter, watermelon, and grapefruit. The wine alone was perfectly fine, not remarkable, with some nice citrus, grapefruit, and balanced acidity. The fruit and acidity were a very nice match for the food.
Second, we were given lobster agnolotti with uni butter and fennel. The wine pairing was a 2013 Luminous Chardonnay. Again, wonderful food, very well done. The winemaker representative tried to sell us on the great balance and muted oak/butter of the wine (I even think he said ‘kissed with butter’; if so, this was a wet sloppy drunken college kiss in the back seat of your friend’s car. Sure, she’s cute, but it’s still a bad decision. I digress.) All I tasted was buttered popcorn. And not good buttered popcorn, fake movie theater butter. (Which at the movies is great, but not in my wine.) Unbalanced, over the top butter. It didn’t pair well, mostly because it was not very good.
Our third course was pork cassolet, with pork belly, pork shoulder, white beans, mushrooms, and leeks. Outstanding. To be fair, I am a white bean cassolet fan, especially if you put pork belly on it. But this really was good, with a nice balance of flavors and fat with the earthiness of the mushrooms. Very well done. The wine pairing was a 2013 Merlot, and I have to say, it was a very nice surprise. Complex, with nice fruit, but balanced with earthiness and structure. My favorite wine of the evening, and a very good pairing.
The last course was a braised short rib that was outstanding. Perfectly cooked, with lardons, fingerling potatoes, and malted onions. Quite a treat. The wine was OK, a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was fine, very typical of mass market California Cabs, although the fruit was muted. It wasn’t well balanced, and was very thin on the finish. There was this instant of ‘oh, this isn’t bad!’ then ‘where’d it go!’
Dessert was a fantastic sorbet made of… White Zinfandel. Pretty darn good!
Overall, Cunningham’s really shined with the food. Wine dinners can be hard, you have to get the timing right and mass produce the dishes. They did a great job, and the chef did as well as he could pairing food with the wine palate he was given. The wines were pretty good, with the Chardonnay the only real big bust (and I know lots of people love that style).
Hopefully they will host another dinner, perhaps working with a smaller winemaker or local store.