One of my favorite way to make a regular Wednesday in Lawrence more special is to attend the Culinaria Wine Club with a friend. The catering company and event space usually does special occasions, but the family style small plates and wine tastings are a great way to enjoy conversation and fine food in a casual, laid back environment. For September, the featured wines were all from New Zealand and the menu was inspired by Asian flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc from Sherwood Wineries
I’m not generally a fan of citrusy, acidic wines, so this Sauvignon Blanc was not for me at all. It was served with a crunchy asian-inspired salad, which was good. The vegetarian version I had featured avocado but the regular version had lemongrass chicken. I liked the crispy local cucumbers and the cilantro.
Sauvignon Blanc from Astrolade Wineries
This was a bit sweeter, and drinkable for the summer. It tastes like a (classy) tropical vacation. The accompanying small plate was crispy polenta square with a bit of avocado on top (the other version had Ahi tuna. I could have eaten several more of these. I have no idea how to prepare that polenta so perfectly.
Pinot Gris from Greywacke Wineries
I never choose Pinot Gris on my own, so it was fun to try one. I ended up really liking it far better than the previous whites. It had a great pear flavor and was full-bodied. I will definitely be tasting a few more wines made from this grape in the future. The tasty bit we had with this was a scallion pancake with delicious ginger sauce.
Pinot Noir from Yealands
This was my favorite selection of the New Zealand wines we sampled. Raspberry and black tea flavor really complemented the soba noodles with shitake mushrooms. They aren’t usually my favorite since I’m a terrible vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms, but especially when I added some of the leftover ginger sauce from the scallion pancakes, they were good. I’ve tried cooking soba noodles before, without luck. These were much more the texture of spaghetti while the ones I’d cooked were much thicker and heavier.
Pino Noir from Jules Taylor
I also really liked this cherry-plum flavored Pinot Noir. It was less distinct than the Yealands and more typical of a Pinot Noir, but still enjoyable. I never would have thought to make Hoisin BBQ sauce with egg rolls, but it was a fun combination. The regular version of these crispy egg rolls had pulled pork, but mine had shitake mushrooms, and again, I actually didn’t mind the mushrooms.
Pinot Noir from Mud House
Again, I liked this Pinot Noir, but I like most Pinot Noirs. The special find of the night was definitely the Yealands, but I would pick up a bottle of this, too. I am kind of in awe of the Culinaria chef’s frying ability. These ricotta honey donut holes were great, even with the coconut flakes.
The October wine club will feature Bordeaux wines, so it’s a little pricer, but a fun opportunity to try wines I wouldn’t venture to buy on my own. I’m looking forward to it!