Wine & Mixology: Curd, Spice, Brandy, and Citrus: The Unabashed Indulgence of Wine and Spirits at ICC

Wine & Mixology: Curd, Spice, Brandy, and Citrus: The Unabashed Indulgence of Wine and Spirits at ICC

Iberian Blood and Curd: Pairing Wines and Cheeses of Spain

Spanish cheese expert Enric Canut and Sommelier Kerin Auth

Spanish cheese expert Enric Canut and Sommelier Kerin Auth

Take a seasoned, affable expert in Spanish cheese like Enric Canut and a motorcycle-riding, Spanish-speaking wine expert like Kerin Auth, and expect to see an increase in your Iberian wine pairing vocabulary. If you'd never thought of Albariño as a lush, fleshy woman or Godello as an austere lady, then maybe you should. And if you'd never picked up a fishy, harbor aroma from a cow's milk cheese aged for five months on the island of Menorca and then nibbled on some Mahon-Menorca Cured DOP, this workshop had you reassessing your priorities. A spot-on pairing of a Zamorano (that tasted of mussels) with a "barely legal" (according to Auth) Amontillado Sherry (Palomino, Gonzalez, Byass Viña AB—Auth's "every day drinking Sherry—literally") filled the room as neighbors broke into chatter with one another. Auth put it another way, "The Sixth Sense of wine pairings brings you to a place you never had before."

Taming and Teasing Spice: Wine Pairings and Indian Cuisine

Sommelier Scott Carney

Today’s afternoon sommelier workshop opened a whole new world of tastes to the audience, as Sommelier Scott Carney of New York City’s Junoon shared insights on pairing wines with the bold flavors and spices of Indian cuisine. Carney paired two different wines with three Junoon dishes of varying spice levels, explained by Culinary Creative Director and Chef Aliya LeeKong. Similar to an experience one might have at the innovative Indian restaurant (which is under the direction of 2011 StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef Vikas Khanna), each pairing included one wine that brightened the spicy flavor of the dish and another that softened those hues, or brought out the warmer notes. When asked by an audience member what percentage of Junoon customers choose wine pairings over the beer diners are more accustomed to with Indian cuisine, Carney said with a smile, “More every day.”

Taste the Grapevine, and We Don’t Mean Wine: Pisco

Junior Merino pours a shot of Pisco Portón

Junior Merino pours a shot of Pisco Portón

Six glasses filled with the same clear liquid—that about describes how much we understand pisco. And that’s exactly how Junior Merino, AKA The Liquid Chef, opened the mixology programming at ICC, with snifters kissed with a tasting of six different piscos. Despite the universal clarity of the brandies, the aromas and flavor profiles were drastically, deliciously different, owing to the different production styles of Peru and Chile, the two—contentiously official—countries of origin of the spirit. After a tasting that ranged from a creamy, hot, fruity mosto verde (which tasted like green almonds on the second tasting round) to a highly aromatic pisco redolent of lavender and herbs, to a Peruvian pisco that had the fruity darkness of bitter chocolate, Merino guided his audience through the production of three pisco cocktails. Attendees shook our way through his original Pisco Cocktail (a sophisticated guzzler made with pineapple juice, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, muddled grapes, and Pisco Portón) as well as an aloe-yuzu-Meyer-lemon perfumed concoction, and a timeless pisco sour, made with gomme syrup. The moral of the story? We don’t know pisco—but we should, and if Merino has anything to say about it, we will.

Citrus Cocktail Contortions

Mixologist Todd Maul of Clio - Boston, MA during his mixology workshop

Mixologist Todd Maul of Clio - Boston, MA during his mixology workshop

Todd Maul of Boston's Clio may have abandoned New York for the greener, windier pastures of Boston, but his Mixology style is as cutting edge as the best of the Big Apple. Maul brought the Sixth Sense mentality home with an elaborated transformation of a seemingly humble component—citrus. Where most bartenders might squeeze fresh lime juice into a cocktail and call it a mojito (and call it a day), Maul delves into the deeper culinary possibilities of the ingredient. “My philosophy on this is you could walk into a kitchen, and you would take a potato, and you could do just about anything.” For Maul, citrus is the engine that could—an under-appreciated, under-explored cocktail component positively screaming for attention. It got attention, thanks in part to Maul’s power drill, which the (serious) hobby furniture maker used to inject dried lime peel into the ice for his gin and tonic. Maul woke his audience up to the versatility of citrus, not just in application (centrifuged lemon-lime smear, anyone?), but in sourcing (the Middle Eastern black lime was the dark and tangy revelation of the day). From the earthy, grassy Spring in the Afternoon to the simple (and simply perfected) Gin and Tonic—made with Death’s Door gin, Q Tonic, and the aforementioned carved ice cube—Maul made the case for citrus, not as garnish, but as a versatile ingredient.

by Emily Bell, Katherine Sacks, Jessica Dukes, and Jeff Harding