I read about a woman who is going all out to celebrate the inauguration in her own living room. To make her experience extra special she plans to dress as if she were a VIP guest. She will put on her day suit complete with hat for the morning swearing in ceremony, and in the evening she will change into a ball gown to watch the President and First Lady dance away the night.
I decided to take a page from her book. Why not do some vicarious sipping of the official inaugural wines? The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies released the details of the three course meal and the wines accompanying each course. All of the wines are Californian --- no surprise because the chair of the committee is California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Initially, my quest was thwarted. Couldn't find the wines. I checked boutique, large discount, and high end specialty wine stores--nada. My reporter's stubbornness kicked in. But, hours later I was still empty handed and about to give up. Finally, victory! Found two of the three at one store.
Turns out two of the wines are produced by the Duckhorn Wine Company, the Duckhorn Vineyard 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and its Goldeneye 2005 Andersen Valley Pinot Noir.
The third wine is Korbel's Natural Cuvee called California Champagne on the luncheon menu. I had never seen this Korbel sparkling. The packaging is dark and distinctive, nothing like the bright white and green labeling of the widely distributed Korbel Brut and Korbel Extra Brut. Korbel describes its Natural Cuvee as a dry delicate sparkling which is fruit centered, but different from the sweeter bulk produced sparklies. 200 of the nation's government VIPS, along with the President and Vice President, will sip this moderately priced Korbel. You may not know that many wine aficionados don't think too much of Korbel. When I was calling around, one wine store owner was quite dismissive, saying disdainfully "We don't carry Korbel."
Nevertheless, Senator Feinstein selected the menu and the wines to reflect an American theme. First course seafood stew paired with the Duckhorn Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Though the winery website suggests a $14.50 retail price, it was nearly double that in my store almost 30 dollars. Vineyard tasting notes say this wine is laden with citrus--grapefruit,apricot, lemongrass with a balanced acidity. Yum! I love this kind of crisp white.
Second course, a brace of birds. (Webster defines a brace as a pairing of two like items, in this case duck and pheasant.) The duck will have a sour cherry chutney and the pheasant a herb stuffing. Molasses sweet potatoes will be served alongside the birds. The Pinot Noir will pair here. This was the wine that was unavailable at my store. Good thing because this highly touted wine typically retails for $65 dollars a bottle on the East Coast. Reviewers say it has flavors of smoked meat, and mixed berry and that it is complex, rich, and spicy. The Goldeneye may be another example of why Pinot Noir was revered in the movie Sideways.
I needed a wine to replace the Goldeneye, so I asked the wine clerk for a Pinot that would mirror the "fruit forward" flavor profile of California Pinots. She recommended the 2007 Carmel Road Pinot Noir which she said is a good as it gets, and $20 to boot.
Final course is an apple cinnamon sponge cake with a sweet cream glace' paired with the Korbel Natural sparkling wine. It's a perfect way to conclude the meal, and and excellent wine for the toasts scheduled into the luncheon program.
Certainly there will be toasting in my house. Like my ball gown wearing inspiration, I don't have to be along the parade route in Washington to experience the festive spirit. I've got my own special menu --more of a day long nosh than a big meal-- and plenty of time to savor the wines and the historic moment.