The Three F’s of Enjoying Wine

“Sometimes it’s easy to overthink the glass of wine in your hand. It’s not always about how wine looks, smells, and tastes. Long before I truly understood the wine in my glass, I only related to how it made me feel. Did it take me somewhere I had never been before? Could I get a sense of its history? I was transfixed by the elements of weather, earth, and physical hardships that it took to make that particular glass of wine.

Over time, my juvenile notions grew into dinner parties. While it was my passion for wine that drove me to study and want to learn all I could, these parties taught me true appreciation of wine. I had studied so many literal things about wine. Words like terroir, producer, AOC, varietal, and harvest were part of a new language, but a language I quickly realized was only spoken by other sommeliers. So, when I was finally given the chance to go on the floor as the sommelier for a restaurant, I quickly realized this new found language was not the ideal way to connect to our guests. I had to find a way to talk to my audience, and then I remembered the dinner parties. We all have our own way we describe wine. We all have our own language. The key to being a good sommelier is listening and interpreting. Someone might interpret a red wine with overripe fruit as sweet; even though I know most red wines are bone dry. Others might find a particular white wine tart and lacking body, while I know it is just young and too cold.

As a sommelier, I am not just a consumer or someone who loves wine. It is my job to sell wine. And sometimes, in a world of quotas, budgets, and ego it is easy to create a sense of division between seller and buyer. In the most arrogant of situations, the professional forgets they can still learn something. So at the end of the day, I remind myself that we are all enthusiasts.

So I offer the three F’s:
1. Favorites
The first question I ask any guest is “what do you drink at home.” This question establishes a baseline and it lets me know what you enjoy as a wine consumer. As a sommelier and salesperson, I have created a wine program that caters to all likes and therefore have a wine selection to satisfy everyone’s personal taste.
I am the first one to advocate stepping out your comfort zone, but until you are comfortable with the salesperson, stick to your guns. Make them make you happy. There is a time and place for adventure.
2. Friends
Experience is everything. An environment where all thoughts and opinions are free flowing and comfortable is central to a memorable wine experience. This comfort comes from good company and a mutual respect for different opinion. You tasted cherry. I tasted raspberry. Well, all red wine tastes like cherries and raspberries. Wine is subjective, so you should have fun debating it. “Is that cherry unripe or just cherry pie?” “Are you really tasting raspberry or is it actually cranberry?” I am amazed on a daily basis by the amount I learn about wine by simply listening to another person’s interpretation.
3. Food
As a lover of wine, I will certainly agree that some wines are delicious as an aperitif or a digestif. I can certainly start the evening with a glass of rosé and end with a madeira, but most wine is made to be enjoyed with food. I’ve never had a Gruner Veltliner come alive until it was married with fried chicken. The bodacious nature of a vintage Champagne gives balance to a ribeye topped with grilled bacon and morel butter poached lobster knuckle meat. Chablis pairs perfectly with oysters. I could go on and on. Wine is food. Not in any literal sense of vegetable, starch, or protein, but certainly as an accoutrement.
The pairing of food and wine is the beginning of the true adventure. Sure, we have to consider what we are drinking. But most importantly, why are we drinking it, who are we drinking with, and what are we drinking it with?”

 

– Gary Brown C.S

Rowland’s Wine Pick: Rosé All Day

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Chateau de Fontenille Rose of Cabernet Franc, 2016, Bordeaux

Most of us are used to a Provencal rosé, with its salmon color and a generous bouquet of red berries. While some of the best rosé wines in the world come from southern France, that doesn’t mean quality rosé isn’t made in other regions. An example being my rosé pick for the summer, the 2016 Chateau de Fontenille from the Bordeaux region. It is 100% Cabernet Franc, which I find to be a real treat. Furthermore, it has the delicate nature of a traditional rosé, but shows a bit more strength and character.

This rosé is a real curiosity and comes across more like a light red wine. It combines fruit, freshness, and tenderness without excluding body and character. Ideal as an aperitif paired with a cold lunch or even grilled meat. On the nose, the wine is fresh and delightful, showcasing buoyant aromas of raspberry and grapefruit together with fresh cut flowers. Showing balance and finesse on the palate, it is light in body and mineral in character. A clean and citrusy finish leaves the palate ready for another sip.
– Gary E. Brown, CS – Restaurant Manager

Rowland’s Wine Pick: Gruner Veltliner

May Wine Pick

2014 Fiddlehead Cellars Gruner Veltliner

Gruner Veltliner is found predominately in Austria and is a nice, exotic alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. While the primary fruit flavors are lime, lemon, and grapefruit, Gruner Veltliner can offer very nutty and spicy notes as well. Fiddlehead Cellars’ approach to this great varietal provides an alluring mix of freshness and complexity.

“I had the privilege of trying the 2014 Fiddlehead Cellars Gruner Veltliner while visiting Kathy Joseph in November 2016. When she told me she was bringing this wine to dinner, I knew there would be a new love in my life. Her Gruner Veltliner did not disappoint. From the initial burst of citrus, to the smoky notes brought alive by the grilled corn chowder, to the finish that seemed to just go on and on, this wine exceeded every standard. For our upcoming “Women and Wine Weekend” dinner, I will be pairing the 2014 Gruner Veltliner with Buttermilk Fried Rabbit Loin, Pink Eyed Hoppin’ John, and Chow Chow. This wine has not been widely produced, so if you find a bottle I highly recommend purchasing it. If you’re unable to find this wine at your local wine shop, you will always find it on our wine list at Rowland’s!”
– Gary E. Brown, CS – Restaurant Manager

Click here to view our menus for the Fiddlehead “Women and Wine” Weekend and call 828.295.5141 to make your reservations.

Fiddlehead Wine Weekend

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Join us for a weekend of women and wine with Fiddlehead Cellars! We are happy to announce that Rowland’s Restaurant will be featuring three unique wine events over Mother’s Day weekend.

Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars will host every event beginning with lunch on Friday, May 12th. Friday’s event will focus on Sauvignon Blanc, one of Fiddlehead’s two signature wines. Dinner that evening will incorporate a lavish wine pairing dinner featuring a variety of tasting options. Our lunch event on Saturday will be centered on the Pinot Noir clones that go into Fiddlehead’s popular “728” Pinot Noir.

Click here for more information and to view our menus. Please call 828.295.5153 to make reservations.

Beckstoffer Wine Dinner

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This past Friday Rowland’s hosted an outstanding “pairing” dinner featuring Beckstoffer wines and a custom-crafted menu. The entire evening, from the before-dinner meet and greet to the final taste of Cabernet Sauvignon, was magical, informative, and most of all, delicious!

The evening’s highlights included the “Hogwash” Rosé of Grenache tasting, paired with a refreshing Oyster Amuse Bouche. Other favorites included a unique Endive Salad with pickled shrimp and the 2013 “The Sum” blend from The Seventy Five Wine Company, paired with a perfectly braised Lamb Osso Bucco.

Wine pairing dinners are special evenings at Rowland’s as they bring wine-passionate people together to taste some of the finest wines available along with outstanding cuisine designed to enhance the wines and awaken the palette. This year’s Savor wine dinner featuring Beckstoffer wines was sold out weeks in advance and judging the favorable comments, was a resounding success.

If you were unable to join us for this event or wish to come to a future wine dinner, stay tuned–we’re hosting three separate wine events over Mother’s Day Weekend. Call Rowland’s Restaurant at 828-295-5141 for more details and reserve your place!

Sommelier’s August Wine Pick

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For those adventurous enough to try something outside of a glass of Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, we suggest Falanghina!

As one of Italy’s great unsung white wines, it’s a brilliant all-rounder, with plenty of citrus fruit, faint notes of apple and pear, and the merest hint of nutty complexity. The balance of crispness and texture means this wine accompanies a huge range of foods, from roasted vegetables to fish and poultry.

Cantina del Taburno is owned by the agricultural Consortium of Benevento. The Consortium was established in 1901 and it had an extremely important role in the development of agriculture in the Sannio area. The winery was built in 1972 in the township of Foglianise and it is a point of reference for viticulture, due to its production philosophy and for its positive impact on the economy.

“I think my wine theme for the summer is going to be the unknown whites of the world. I find Falaghino to be fruity, reminiscent of pineapple and of ripe pear, with a touch of nuttiness you might find in a great Burgundy. My favorite pairing with this wine has been a duck and pear salad with a mango chutney. I definitely suggest two bottles, as the first one goes rather quickly!”- Gary E. Brown, CS – Restaurant Manager

Click here to view our wines by the glass list and stay tuned for fall changes!

Sommelier’s July Wine Pick

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When wine lovers think of White Burgundy Chardonnay comes to mind, but few know there is another white grape produced in Burgundy. Bourgogne Aligoté, “the other white grape of Burgundy,” is a delicious white wine that is young, stylish and a little different. It is pale gold in color and offers a well-balanced taste, and ranges from a fruity bouquet with notes of apple and lemon to a more floral palette. In the mouth, this vibrant wine tickles the taste buds.

The Aligoté grape has been grown in Bourgogne since the 17th century and flourishes there. It faithfully reflects the diversity of its terroirs from the Saône-et-Loire, the Côte-d’Or, and the Yonne. It was granted its own AOC, Bourgogne aligoté, in 1937.

Rowland’s Sommelier Gary Brown said, “I am excited to have this wine on our list not only because it is a deliciously perfect wine to drink on the West Portico, but for its unique and fascinating history as well. It is a great glass of wine by itself and is the local wine used for a traditional Kir, a classic French apéritif. This wine is the perfect pairing for the Crab and Tabouleh Salad on our Summer Spa Menu.”

Click here to view our full wines by the glass list.

Rowland’s Restaurant Wins Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence

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For the second year running, Rowland’s Restaurant has won Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Wine Spectator filters every applicant through a stringent elimination process; and to be considered for an award a restaurant’s wine list must be varied, with correct information, and appeal to a wide range of patrons.

An Award of Excellence recipient must offer at least 90 selections on their wine list, feature a variety of quality producers, and compliment the restaurant’s menu in both taste and price. Rowland’s Sommelier Gary Brown works tirelessly to ensure that our wine list meets that strict standard. Our list boasts classic, coveted selections such as Dom Perignon, while still featuring more approachable options, like North Carolina’s Jones Von Drehle Vineyards, which are sure to please all restaurant guests. We hope to see you enjoy a glass with dinner soon, and sign up for special offers to be the first to learn about our popular wine dinners.

Stay tuned for a suggested wine choice personally selected by Sommelier Gary Brown!

Wine Training at Westglow

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Our two summer wine dinners have wrapped up! Aside from the wonderful experience of indulgent evenings, our serving staff learned valuable wine tips at both occasions.

After hiring, all Rowland’s serving staff members are immediately taught proper wine service, but hearing tips and tasting advice from an industry expert is always helpful.

Scott Finaly of Duckhorn Vineyards sat down with our staff before the Duckhorn dinner and shared information he had collected throughout decades of experience. For instance, a trend away from classic Chardonnays towards fruity Sauvignon Blancs was a center conversation. Finaly gave the staff helpful tasting notes that are sure to please Rowland’s patrons. The Sauvignon Blancs in Rowland’s cellar pair well with our new menu item the Beet Terrine salad and the classic King Prawn starter.

Reds were not forgotten either. Aeration was a key point during the sit down and oftentimes red wine is not given the appropriate time to aerate at a dinner table. Finaly gave our wait staff advice on how to help that process.

Wine service and knowledge is an endless pursuit and Rowland’s servers especially are constantly looking for new avenues to explore, trends to learn, and tastings to experience.

Click here to view our wine by the glass menu!

Duckhorn Wine Dinner

DSC_0089BWine dinners are quickly becoming a staple of Rowland’s Restaurant. We enjoy building relationships with wineries, offering unique dining experiences, and providing patrons the opportunity to share in unforgettable evenings.

Next Thursday, June 23rd, Rowland’s will be hosting Duckhorn Vineyards for a varied wine dinner. The first course will feature a pinot noir with a salmon dish and the evening ends with a dark chocolate pave and a sauvignon blanc. The end result is a dinner created to meet every person’s tastes and preferences with a variety of dishes and wines.

The five course meal is priced at $125 per person. Click here to view the full menu and call Rowland’s Restaurant at 828-295-5141 to make your reservations.