Food, Wine, and Fellowship
Photography: Courtesy of Douglas Frassa
“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”
“I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.”
–Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield
As a wine enthusiast and someone who’s recently completed the Level 3 Award in Wines with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), I’ve grown to enjoy different kinds and styles of wines as well as learning how and where they’re made. Not only do I delight in a glass of wine from an exceptional vintage, but what is truly great is when wine is paired perfectly with food; both are better for the pairing. In my opinion, it’s the same thing when people get together for a meal–the fellowship makes the food more pleasurable, and both are better because of the pairing. When all of these elements align, a transcendence occurs; and, the act of eating becomes much more–especially, when a talented chef, gracious staff, and good friends are involved. A number of years ago, I experienced dining out as an artful experience in a nearby town. The restaurant, located in Roanoke, Virginia, was called Horizon Bar and Grill. Don’t let the location or the unassuming name of the restaurant fool you.
The chef and our friend, Scott Lockhart, was the artistic talent and creative energy behind the weekly/ monthly wine dinners and beautiful seasonal menus at his family’s establishment. The atmosphere of the restaurant was casual and welcoming; however, the menu was reminiscent of something that one would certainly enjoy in a major American or European city (let me just say– Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck doesn’t have anything on Scott Lockhart). No creative combination of ingredients was too unusual or exotic to be featured as an entrée. Scott also had the ability to taste a wine, and as an artist, fashion a palette of flavors that complimented the nuances of the wine–ultimately making them better because of their union. This balance, rhythm, and harmony between the flavors of the food and the characteristics of the wine was like watching two expert dancers waltz around a dance floor. Needless to say, his dinners were a work of art, and all of us who had the good fortune to experience them would agree. Scott’s dinners grew a cult following of fans who eagerly awaited his next masterpiece.
These fantastic food and wine forays weren’t just an opportunity to indulge in an amazing dining experience, they were fun evenings spent with folks, who over the months and years became more than friends, but a kind of extended family. The restaurant is gone now, but its existence created an opportunity for people to come together; people who otherwise may never have known one another. We were all downcast when the restaurant closed; partially, because we would miss Scott’s creative imaginings, but mostly because we’d miss those magical evenings and the spirit of fellowship with him, his family, and the people who worked there as well as new friends.
Here’s the thing: Coming together with others to share a meal creates a spirit of fellowship. Scott Lockhart, through the magic of his menus and the hospitality of his family and staff accomplished this many times, and I am thankful for the experience. It is my hope that your next meal or Thanksgiving feast is filled with family, friends, fabulous food, and most of all, fellowship.
Thanksgiving food and wine pairings
Thanksgiving can be somewhat challenging when it comes to food and wine pairings, because every table is different and no two bites are the same. However, there are a few classic Thanksgiving pairings that work well:
Thanksgiving Dinner With Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Etc.
BEST: Zinfandel, Dry sparkling Shiraz
Good: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay (California), Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah
Pumpkin and Pecan Pies
BEST: Madeira, esp. Malmsey (Fortified white wine from the Island of Madeira, southwest of Portugal; flavors of caramel with a walnut finish), Tawny Port, Sweet Sherry (cream, oloroso)
Good: Viognier– pumpkin pie
And, of course, Champagne/ sparkling wine goes beautifully with everything, especially a celebration! 🙂