Grape know-how put to the test

Professional wine experts, enthusiastic amateurs and those who were simply there for a good night out joined together recently for a fun night of guess-the-grape at Edoardo’s hosted by Blackbeard’s. Always up for a challenge, Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull joined in and reports.

The propensity for fine dining here (whether that is at home or out at a restaurant) means Cayman has more than its fair share of wine lovers. And by steadily working your way through the wonderful wines that we have available to us you can gradually develop your palate, learning to appreciate what you like and what you don’t, wine-wise.

Playing on this undercurrent of wine appreciation that we enjoy in Cayman, Blackbeard’s wine sales representative Jodie Petts managed to bring together six great wines from all corners of the globe for diners to guess not only the grape, but also the country and region of origin for each.

Although Jodie said she had for ease picked wines that were single varietals, she also explained that she had thrown in a couple of unlikely wines to guess.

“I wanted to stretch people a little and open them up to wines that might be similar to the ones they usually enjoy but perhaps were either a different grape varietal or from a different region or country,” she explains.

Diners were put to the test the minute they walked through the door at Edoardo’s, with a glass of fizz the requisite beverage to kick-start the proceedings with a bubbly bang.
Not quite up to the yeasty, toasty levels of a nice Champagne (even if the glass did have a brand of Champagne written on it, perhaps to throw us off the scent!) most diners were thinking along the Prosecco lines (after all, we were in Italian country now at Edoardo’s).

Once seated, diners could record their first selection, though one diner was simply happy to be there in good company with a night of great food and wine ahead of them and therefore just noted the first wine as “sparkling, yum!”

First course was duly served, three succulent slabs of smoked salmon served with all the necessary accoutrements, including red onion slices, juicy fat capers, dark dense pumpernickel bread and lemon.

The second wine was poured to accompany this dish, a delicate gold white wine that gave off the unmistakable nose of a Chardonnay – full of pineapple, banana and other tropical fruits, yet it was without the usual buttery oak, and also lighter and fruitier that diners might have expected from a classic Chardonnay from, say, California, so the origin was a tricky choice. Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio and even Sauvignon Blanc were all suggestions from the assembled diners.

Next on the wine agenda was a remarkably frizzante and much lighter (in colour) wine that oozed citrus on the nose as well as that unmistakable oily gasoline element you only find in a Riesling. A tough one to quantify region/country wise, I went for the safe choice – Germany, from the Mosel Saar Ruhr region, classic Riesling country.

Edoardo’s served a delicious duo of grilled scallops in a sweet sesame confit which had just a touch of spice to it, a sure hint that the varietal was Riesling as the pairing was spot on.

Next up was the first red of the evening – a delicate floral number with raspberries and strawberries on the nose and refreshingly fruity on the palate. A tough one. Diners wanted to say a light Chianti, perhaps buoyed by the surroundings and as such, the grape would be Sangiovese, but somehow the lightness of the wine suggested otherwise. After much discussion and debate we made our way round to a light Beaujolais, made from the deliciously floral Gamay grape. This was served with to-die-for steamed PEI mussels in a spicy marinara sauce, transporting diners into the heady French summer sunshine.

A heavyweight red then followed, oozing pepper, spice and all things nice. Having well and truly oiled the tastebuds at this point, diners were on a bit of a roll and the grape was confidently pronounced as a Shiraz/Syrah. One diner was clearly having a great evening and noted for this wine “Red and dry. Must be French. Fun, fun, fun!”

The country and region of origin was again a tough one. Diners’ choices ranged from Australia to California. To complement this heavyweight wine, Edoardo’s served up a succulent prime rib, slow roasted with Cajun BBQ prawns with steamed asparagus and baby carrots. Asparagus is notorious for throwing off the wine lover’s tastebuds, so I steered clear, however the remainder of the dish was a superb marriage with the wine.

Four winning diners managed to tie with the most points at the end of the evening, so the tie breaker was guessing the dessert wine, served with a rich and luscious chocolate mousse laced with fresh raspberries. The inky blackness of the dessert wine yet not too sweet taste redolent with jammy plums made this a tricky one to decipher, but eventually a Malbec from Argentina was chosen (correctly) and the winners enjoyed a selection of wines and other goodies as their prize.

The evening was such a success that Jodie vowed to make it an annual event. However, judging by the enthusiasm of the diners, I would suggest that should she decide to organise another such event sooner, it would be very well-attended.

For the record, here are the wines, their grape, region and country(all available at Blackbeard’s):

Casillero del Diablo Sparkling Brut, Chile

2007 Louis Jadot Chablis, France

2007 Chateau Saint Michelle ‘Eroica’ Riesling, Washington,
US Riesling

2006 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France Gamay

2006 L’Ecole No 41 Syrah ‘Seven Hills’ Washington Syrah

2006 Catena Malbec Mendoza, Argentina



Winners: Steve Bird, Jodie Petts, Danielle and James Beberfald