On Thursday, June 12, I was fortunate enough to find time to attend Ruth’s Chris Steak House Cabernet Dinner, the latest in their wine dinner series. A group of food and wine enthusiasts in the Winter Park location’s plush private dining area enjoyed a five-course pairing dinner to celebrate the “king” of grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon.
Guests at the Winter Park dinner were welcomed by Bob Surrency of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, who selected the wines that were served at each Cabernet dinner worldwide. He described every wine in detail, explaining how each flavor profile complemented the menu.
The first course was a mouthwatering Wild Salmon Steak with Tomato, Basil & White Wine Sauce. The salmon held up well to the Guado al Tasso Scalabrone Bolgheri Rosato. Guests were surprised at the inclusion of a rosé wine, but Mr. Surrency explained that it was the best choice to pair with fish. The flavors of this rosé are cool, crisp and refreshing, and it did go quite well with the salmon.
A hearty soup was next to tempt our taste buds. We enjoyed the Steak Tenderloin Consommé with Rustic Root Vegetables and Herb Dumplings. It paired with the Antica Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The name ‘Antica’ is derived from Antinori, after the Italian winemaking family that founded the winery, and California, and represents the winemaker’s desire to produce wine that’s a true blend of Italy and California. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is, rich, and structured, with deep flavors t
hat reveal hints of ripe plum, blackberry and wild berry with a touch of mocha.
A salad course was served next. Ruth’s Chris Seared Tenderloin topped a garden-fresh array of tender Beets with Fresh Mozzarella and Chimichurri Pesto. This dish was paired with a Chilean Haras de Pirque Hussonet Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a herbaceous taste to it that can be off-putting when tasted alone, but with a salad, the flavors deepen and enhance the dish.
Ruth’s Chris is famous for their sizzling steaks served on hot plates at the table. For the main dish, we were completely wowed by the addition of Caramelized Onions & Cabernet-Balsamic Reduction atop a sizzling Filet Mignon. The sauce formed an outer layer on the meat that was mind-blowing- what an ideal combination! Along with dinner came our favorite wine of the evening, and believe it or not, it was from Walla Walla, Washington! The Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Bursting with intensity with dark chocolate, nuts and raspberries, this wine is enough to make anyone a believer in Washington state winemaking!
Cabernet’s strong tannins make it pair poorly with a typical sweet dessert, so we ended our meal the French way with an Artisanal Cheese Plate. Bold cheeses did justice to the evening’s Baby Super-Tuscan selection: Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri. Il Bruciato means “burned” and it refers to the vineyards where this wine originates. Years ago, they burned to the ground and were replanted, and the winemakers believe that the smoky flavors still endure in their wine. This 97-rated wine is available by the glass at Ruth’s Chris, so it can be enjoyed by patrons all year round.
At the end of the dinner, our hosts at Ruth’s Chris Steak House tempted us with tales of their next wine dinner, the Willakenzie Estate Wine Dinner. This dinner will pair wines from the Pinot family’s extraordinary vineyards in Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley with delectable Ruth’s Chris menu items that the chefs created especially for this event.
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