I’ve never claimed to be an expert on wine, but a stint back in the day as a junior wine rep/merchandiser in Detroit gave me a decent foundation of knowledge. This was when Glen Ellen and Sutter Home were dominating the grocery store chains and wine coolers were all the rage. That said, I was exposed to some very nice domestic and foreign labels and the basics have stuck with me.
I’m a bit stretched thin these days to add wine connoisseur to my interest list so I let the chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers I cover along with The Coast News Taste of Wine columnist Frank Mangio educate me. Wine dinners are another fine resource for getting smart on wine and I came across a group recently called the Oceanside Wine Society that appealed to me on many levels.
Two years ago I wrote a feature on Privateer in Oceanside that focused on the stellar wine program curated by wine and Sommelier Susan Porter-Guarino. Susan, co-owner Charlie Anderson and Executive Chef Samantha Parker blew me away with their dedication to providing amazing food and wine pairings on a nightly basis. That led to a subscription to their wine dinner eNewsletter highlighting their Oceanside Wine Society that hosts wine dinners at Privateer. After two years of weekly email teasing with some spectacular sounding dinners, I finally contacted Susan and made arrangements to check one out.
The featured winery was Lone Madrone out of Paso Robles and winemaker Neil Collins. Neil has been working in the wine industry for 21 years, spending time at Wild Horse Winery and then Adelaida, both in Paso. He also spent time in the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-pape in southern France where he spent a year learning the cellars and vineyards of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel, one of the oldest and most highly regarded estates in France. He returned to Paso Robles to take up the new role of winemaker and vineyard manager at none other than Tablas Creek Vineyards, the California property of Château de Beaucastel. Neil’s experience in French wine making complemented his earlier training as a French chef in hometown of Bristol, England. Neil’s son, Jordan Collins, was our host for this fabulous evening of food from Executive Chef Samantha Parker paired with the delightful Lone Madrone wines. The cost for this delightful experience was only $40 for the four-course paired menu.
Before I get into the courses, I just wanted to point out that the space where the dinners are hosted is the Privateer Wine Bar and retail shop and it’s perfect for such events. I mentioned in my previous column that the space had Dean & DeLuca feel to it, which is perfect for wine dinners. And as usual, and what I love about Oceanside culinary events, the attendees were an eclectic mix of serious wine folks, fans of chef Samantha, and those like me who fall somewhere in the middle and just enjoy being educated on the food and wine experience by those who are far more educated on it.
The four courses started off with a grilled pineapple, red onion and chicken kabob with honey chili glaze, sticky rice and micro cilantro. This was paired with a 2014 Points West White Blend and of course it all worked perfectly together. Course two included the best grilled baby carrots I’ve had with rosemary roasted pork shoulder served with a 2013 Points West Red Blend. The third course was my favorite with its Dr. Pepper spiced smoked brisket with a cremini lentil salad and Danish blue cheese and a Disaronno demi-glaze. That went well with the 2014 Oveja Negra. Dessert capped things off in fine fashion with a raspberry and Muenster cheese Danish with Calon glaze and a 2012 Calon.
The portions were perfect and I left the dinner satisfied yet not overly full. There is no doubt that I will be revisiting these dinners and becoming a member of the Oceanside Wine Society. Their upcoming schedule of wine dinners looks great especially the German wine pairings happening on Aug. 1. By becoming a member, you will have first knowledge and access to all of their upcoming wine and other culinary events, in addition to discounts on wine purchases. While the wine dinners are the events that sell out quickly, their other events, such as the brewer’s dinners, vendor and pop-up wine tastings, as well as their soon to start wine club shipments are all gaining popularity.
Privateer is just such a great space for all these events but let’s not forget about the killer coal fired pizza and full menu from Parker. For information on the Oceanside Wine Society email [email protected]. Check out all their offerings at www.theprivateercoalfirepizza.com .
Photo Caption: Yours truly with my new OWS friends Ysabel and Mike Stangle, Sally and Dean Baldridge, and Linda and Kevin Radcliff. Photo David Boylan