President Barack Obama hosted his first state dinner in March of 2010.
Guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson joined White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford in creating an Indian-inspired menu that featured wine with each course. More on that in a moment.
With a new administration in place, led by a President who does not drink, it will be interesting to see what types of menus are developed for the next round of state dinners. President George W. Bush also was a non-drinker by the time he took office, but that did not stop wine from being served to White House guests.
Back to the first Obama state dinner, which we examine here in recognition of Presidents’ Day: It was a meal with some intense flavors, yet prepared with ingredients that would make it fairly simple to emulate, if not duplicate, at home.
Let’s take a look at the dinner, course by course, and I’ll suggest some presently available wines to substitute for those served at the time…
• Potato and Eggplant Salad, made with White House arugula and topped with an onion-seed vinaigrette. Wine: 2008 Modus Operandi Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California.
Substitute wine: 2014 Osseus Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, California. This is a zesty wine showing some varietal “grassiness” that melds perfectly with arugula.
• Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese. Wine: 2006 Brooks “Ara” Riesling, Willamette Valley, Washington.
Substitute wine: 2015 Carl Zuckmayer Riesling, Rheinhessen, Germany. You need a crisp and juicy wine when pairing with a flavorful soup, and this one would work very nicely.
• Roast Potato Dumplings with Tomato Chutney, and Chick Peas and Okra or Green Curry Prawns, served with collard greens and coconut-aged basmati. Wine: 2007 Beckman Vineyards Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley, California.
Substitute wine: 2013 Clefs des Legats, Cotes du Rhone, France. This is a Grenache-based blend that is fragrant, spicy and Indian food-friendly.
• Pumpkin Pie Tart with pear tatin, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Wine: Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia.
Substitute wine: Almost any sparkling Brut wine will work. Because pumpkin is such an assertive flavor, the wine needs to be fairly neutral in flavor, but possessing bubbles to help soften the pumpkin filling’s mouthfeel.
There you have it — a DIY state dinner. Happy Presidents’ Day!