Wine tasting and pairing with food is one of those elusive experiences I’ve never got to try before (sadly), so I jumped at the chance of a place at Barnham Broom’s wonderful Wine & Dine evenings!
As someone who isn’t hugely knowledgeable about wine, but certainly enjoys a glass (or two), this was a great opportunity to try and expand my knowledge of wines in general, as well as learn a thing or two about pairing them with food and what type of flavours different wines would go well with, all in the lovely setting of Barnham Broom.
Image: the starter course during the Wine & Dine evening
The evening started at 6.30pm, where we gathered in one of the hotel’s conference suites to hear an introduction by wine tasting expert and Chief Executive of Tastebuds Wines, Steve Hearnden. He explained that the wine we’d be trying that evening would all be French (he is a self-confessed Francophile and lover of French wines; in fact French and Romanian wine is what his company, TasteBuds Wines, deal exclusively in). We were given the opportunity to sample three wines – one white (Pinot Gris D’Alsace), one red (Chateau Famaey fut de Chêne) and one dessert wine (Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive – I definitely thought this sounded German until he told us every wine that evening would be French!). They were all very different, and certainly divided opinions across the room. We were shown how to assess, smell and taste them properly, and then it was on to the bar area where we were lucky enough to try an absolutely amazing Champagne: Dumenil Champagne Brut Premier Cru.
By this point we were all ready for some food, and sat down to an amazing four course menu. Different requirements were catered to wonderfully, with some guests stating pescatarian, vegetarian or other dietary needs, and although Steve admitted he wasn’t as experienced pairing wines with non-meat courses, those who had opted for different courses seemed really impressed.
I thought every course was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection – and that dessert (see below) just topped it all off beautifully; I am a real Crème Brûlée fan! I was also really amazed that most of the cheeses in the cheese course were locally produced, with many Norfolk varieties; I’d never have guessed this from taste alone and really enjoyed them all.
So, here’s the menu I enjoyed for you to drool over – it’s likely to change for each event, but it gives you an idea of what to expect if you book yourself in for this great evening (and I definitely advise that you do):
Starter: “L’assiette de Poissons” of Scallops, Mussel & Saffron Soup, Oyster Benya, Crab tian, Hot Smoked Salmon
Vegetarian option: Warm Asparagus, poached egg with hollandaise sauce
Paired with the Pinot Gris D’Alsace
Main: Venison steak and Juniper Jus, Fonant Potato, Roasted & cream Celeriac, Wild mushrooms and red cabbage
Vegatarian option: Goats cheese, red onion and courgette tartlet, Roasyed & cream celerian, wild mushrooms and red cabbage
Paired with the Chateau Famaey fut de Chêne
Cheese course: Local cheeses (Binham Blue, Norfolk White Lady, Goats Cheese, Cornish Yard with plain biscuits)
Paired again with Chateau Famaey fut de Chêne
Dessert: Classic Vanilla Brulee with a Tuile Biscuit
Paired with the Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive.
The evening finished with coffee and the chance to chat more to the people on our table. The whole evening had a lovely vibe - not too formal, but at the same time with a sense of luxury and indulgence - with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and (I know everyone will want to know this…) plenty of top-ups throughout the evening!
The Wine & Dine Evening is £55 per person which includes the tastings, four course meal, coffee afterwards and the whole experience itself! Keep an eye on their website for details of the next date.
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