Lucerne Inn Wine Dinner

One of the events that I look forward to is on the second Thursday of every month when I host the Wine Dinner at the Lucerne Inn. I have always loved the Lucerne Inn. It is a beautiful place that feels like home to me. I went to Sunday Brunch there for the first time as a teenager and have been there many times through the years.  I started hosting Wine Dinners there when Steve and Rhonda Jones bought the Inn 5 years ago. A Wine Dinner…the way that we do them…is a 5 course meal with a wine “paired” with each course.  The Chef at the Inn writes the menu and then we (the wine people) choose the wines that we think will “pair” best with each course. Sometimes there is a theme…where we will feature the wines and cuisine of a certain country… (we are showcasing Italy in November). Sometimes the menu may be more international, and we will feature wines from all over, that best compliment the menu… Last months dinner had a French theme… Let me set the stage… table… for you…

The Lucerne Inn Wine Dinners start at 6:00pm with a 30 minute “social” in one the coziest little lounges in the area. Guests are greeted and gather around the fireplace for the first wine of the evening.  The first appetizer course is served cocktail style. Our first wine was a Picpoul de Pinet…one of my favorite seafood wines… (great with sushi)  Picpoul is the name of the grape…grown in Pinet…an area in the Languedoc Region of France.  We often gauge how well our Wine Dinners go, based on the first “pairing”… if the first pairing works…then the rest of the dinner usually goes well… The first course was Maine Shrimp Cakes with a Vegetable Crudite.  The sweet and spicy Shrimp Cakes and the Picpoul were a perfect match… the crisp fresh vegetables were a refreshing palate cleanser… this was going to be a good night… At 6:30…after we are sure that all the guests have arrived… we adjourn to the dining room…look for our name on a place card and take our seats.  We all sit together “family style” at one big long table, so that everyone feels included.  At this time, I give a brief overview of the evening and introduce the presenter. On this occasion, our “presenter” (the person who would be telling us about the wines) was Brad Power of Maine Distributors.  Brad has been in the wine business for years and has been to France several times. It is always an added bonus to host a Wine Dinner with someone who truly knows the wines and…has been there. Brad then tells us about the Picpoul that we tasted in the lounge…and about the next wine that we are about to try with the Duck Confit & Mushroom Ragout…This wine, is Chateau de Lancyre “Vielles Vignes” (old vine) Pic Saint-Loup (a highly regarded wine producing area within the Languedoc Region)  They grow mostly Rhone varietal grapes in Pic Saint-Loup.  This wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache.  These are two grapes that can produce very bold flavors, but because this wine was made in stainless steel, and not wood, it was a little leaner in style.  The weight of the wine was just right for the mushrooms…the purity of the fruit and the overall balance of the wine enhanced the flavor of the Duck Confit…without overpowering it. On to the next course…the salad course…with red wine? Yes…this was a first for me too…but, it worked…Our salad course was a Spinach and Goat Cheese Roulade on Trouffled Watercress…a very flavorful course. The cheese was the dominate flavor here… so, we chose a lighter style Syrah from the Southern Rhone.  The lighter, fruity nature of the Syrah offset the slightly salty quality of the goat cheese and really went well with the greens…Now, on to the Main Course… Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetable Hash and Cider Jus…a lot going on here… First. I have to say that this might very well have been the best pork entree that I have ever had here…it was cooked perfectly…and the sweetness of the apple stuffing complimented the tart and savory nature of the root vegetables..and the wine…a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan from the Coteaux du Languedoc was a perfect compliment to this dish…The final course of the evening…dessert… Pumpkin Beignet Trio…the “trio” here being the Cranberry Compote, Caramel Sauce & Cinnamon Whipped Cream that accompanied the Pumpkin Beignet. This was paired with a classic French dessert wine…Muscat Beaumes-de-Venise…a sweet and tasty way to end a delicious evening…

Wine Dinners at the Lucerne Inn…a great way to enjoy an evening out…