Q: We enjoy being members of the wine club and so far we have enjoyed your choices. We also are officers in our local SLV Wine Club, which features wine tasting dinners four times per year for up to 112 participants. In our next event, we want to feature all wines from Washington state. We would appreciate suggestions for the various courses; 1. onion soup; 2. family-style salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, and rolls; 3. Alaskan king crab legs with drawn butter, served with Yukon gold potatoes with olive oil and garlic, and mixed vegetables; 4. baked apple. Any help you might be able to give will be appreciated.
– Merv & Faith Murdock
A: Sounds like a great meal. With the onion soup, we’d recommend a wine with a “neutral” flavor, and that generally would mean a sparkling wine such a Blanc de Blancs. Temperature also can provide a nice contrast when pairing food and wine, and we like hot soup with a well-chilled sparkler.
The salad course is a bit tricky because of the vinaigrette, which provides a very assertive flavor that can be difficult to match with wine. Sauvignon Blanc would be a fairly safe choice, but Washington state also produces some very nice Semillon wines, and we’d probably go with one of those.
With the king crab, we’d normally recommend Chardonnay, but that variety isn’t Washington’s strong suit, as a general rule. Instead, opt for a full-bodied Chenin Blanc.
(You also mentioned in your letter that Filet Mignon would be substituted for the king crab for those who have shellfish allergies. With that dish, a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah would work well.)
And to accompany the baked apple, look for a Washington Riesling with a bit of residual sugar.