Wine is meant to go with food, which is why a wine dinner is often the best way to experience the bottles from one particular estate. The chef already knows the wines and makes dishes that will flatter them and bring out their best. What's not to like? Especially if you can learn a little at the same time when the winemaker or someone from the estate is present.
These two upcoming wine dinners are good examples:
On Wednesday, AMMO is hosting a wine dinner with Lawrence Cronin, the winemaker of Tenuta di Arceno in Chianti. The four-course menu begins with chilled romaine lettuce with Sungold tomatoes, shaved Reggiano drizzled with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Then comes roasted fennel with burrata, sweet basil and tarragon, followed by a Niman Ranch bistecca Fiorentina for two with sauteed cavolo nero and roasted fingerling potatoes. Dessert is cavallucci cookies.
Since the Fiorentino is for two, you'll have to bring along a friend to taste the Tenuta's 2011 Chianti Classico, 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva and 2007 Chianti "Strada al Sasso." Italian wines aren't made for competitions but for enjoying with food, and this is certainly one way to do it. Dinner is $75 per person, the wine pairing an additional $30.
AMMO, 1155 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles (323) 871-2666; www.ammocafe.com.
Ado's chef/owner Antonio Mure and chef Alberto Lazzarino have been cooking a series of wine dinners at Adoteca in Santa Monica. The second of three dinners focused on the wines of Piedmont is Monday, featuring the wines of Marco Bonfante, who will be present. The five-course dinner begins with an appetizer of Dungeness crab with baby arugula and braised fennel, then pappardelle with hare and porcini mushroom ragu (that course paired with a Barbera d'Asti).
Bonfante's 2008 Barbaresco is matched with a spinach flan and Castelmagno cheese. For the Marco Bonfante Albarone Albarossa, the two chefs are presenting filet mignon in a red wine and cherry sauce. Dessert is white chocolate mousse with poached pear and hazelnut cake — and a fresh Moscato. The cost is $85.
The next dinner in the Piedmontese series is on May 28 with the wines of Barolo producer Cordero di Montezemolo.