Wine Enthusiast Partners with Dinner Lab for a Dynamic Pairing Series

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Chef Jacob Cureton and Merryvale Vineyards

On Thursday, June 26, Wine Enthusiast launched its partnership with Dinner Lab—the members-only traveling supper club that taps chefs to create dishes and wine experts to curate matching pours.

The nationwide series kicked off its three-part New York City stint at Brooklyn’s Sky Gallery space with host Susan Kostrzewa, Wine Enthusiast’s Executive Editor.

“Dinner Lab's philosophy and focus is completely in line with Wine Enthusiast's and we love the idea of delivering quality wine and food in a casual environment. The goal of these events is to celebrate the joy of wine and food, and entertain while educating,” said Kostrzewa.

Fifty-plus guests indulged in Chef Jacob Cureton’s Creole-inflected bites paired with wines from Merryvale Vineyards and Starmont Winery and Vineyards, compiled by William Rhodes, Northeast regional representative of the wineries. The team talked to attendees about each course and pour, plus presented tips on why the pairing worked so well.

Cureton’s first dish—a bay scallop with crunchy cornbread, charred tomatoes and coriander prepared two ways—was served with Starmont’s Carneros Chardonnay. “The hint of toast and body on this Chardonnay match the textures of the bread and scallops,” said Rhodes.

Cureton’s second dish, butter-poached rock shrimp with basil, citrus and avocado, featured pickled and candied pecans—his favorite childhood treat. He told attendees about how he and his friends lived near a pecan farm and picked them off the ground until their pockets were stuffed.

“I like my food to tell stories,” said Cureton, who hails from Alabama but now calls New Orleans home. Rhodes paired the dish with Starmont’s 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir, which boasts red cherry and spice notes, with bright acidity on the finish.

Cureton served two other dishes that he labeled “fancy gas station food”: a grapefruit-pickled quail egg with bacon, corn and blueberry; and pork jowl cracklins with lemon crème fraîche. Rhodes paired the first with Merryvale’s 2009 Merlot and the second with 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The deliciously creative matches and overall experience was well worth the $50-ticket price, according to guests.

“We’re adventurous eaters but wine-amateurs,” said Dinner Lab member Katie McGee, who attended with her friend Stacy Kaplan. “It’s exciting learning more about wine-and-food pairings with new chefs.”

“Chef Cureton's cuisine is personal and modern, and focuses on high end artistry with a whimsical edge. This is exactly the kind of experience our reader wants. It's authentic and completely unique," said Kostrzewa. 

Gastronomes have only experienced the tip of the iceberg: the next two Wine Enthusiast-hosted Dinner Lab New York City events are on the horizon and will showcase New York and South African wines. After that, the Lab heads west to San Francisco. Stay tuned! 

To learn more about Dinner Lab or to become a member, click here. The next NYC events are July 17 and July 24, 2014. 

Photos by Aaron Lyles / PIXELLAB

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Wine Enthusiast Partners with Dinner Lab for a Dynamic Pairing Series

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