Saturday, July 25, 2009

Naples Capital Grille - Master Wine Tasting Event-Wines of Spain And Argentina

Naples’ Capital Grille’s special- Master Wine Tasting- is a selection of a dozen truly fine wines, paired with your lunch or dinner. The professional way it is done, raises a great meal to a fine dining event. It is an innovative, fun and educational evening that I highly recommend. It's one of the best deals around at a very, very reasonable price, for the food and wine’s quality and quantity. The wine tasting is for a brief time this summer. Here's the scoop.

Learning about great wines is almost as much fun as sipping them. There’s much for all of us to learn. It’s a pleasure to have "sipping knowledge" practically “spoon fed” to you, while dining! It’s a fun, educational treat as sommelier Jasmine Peterson, Managing Partner Peter Lopez or others, show you the bottles, tell you in depth about the selected dozen very highly rated (Robert Parker 90-92) international wines, then pair them with your meal. These wines are otherwise ~$40-150$ a bottle. Enjoy a dozen top wines- just $10 with lunch, and $25 with your dinner. Pours are generous. Want fewer wines? Pick 4 or 6 wines, and have a larger pour of each. Did you know that Spain is the world's third largest wine producing country? That Argentina has been producing fine wine since the 16th century?

The Robert Parker Highly Rated Spanish and Argentinian Delights Each set of wines is offered for just a few summer weeks. Wines of Argentina and Spain run till Aug 2. Then Wines from South Africa and Napa Valley start, and run till August 23. That’s it.

It’s easy. Your sommelier shows you the bottles, explains each wine’s nuances, and discusses suggested food pairings. Order your meal. The glasses of wines arrive in sequence, and the fun begins!

We start with the Spain's light Marques de Gelida Brut, Reserva Cava '05. It’s champagne-like with slight bubbly effervescence, and hint of apples. It pairs beautifully with your Gazpacho Shrimp Amuse Bouche. It brings out the soup’s tomato sweetness and the shrimp’s delicate taste. The pairing is a real treat.

The complimentary bread assortment has a large crescent of crisp flat bread; sourdough sliced bread, and warm seeded rolls. My favorite is the rich pumpernickel raisin.The light, crisp Vega Sindoa Rosé, 2008, (Spain) pairs well with the bold Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers ($13). This is my favorite calamari in SW Fla, with its crisp tender morsels, mixed with sparkling chili taste bursts. Addictive. The wine holds its own. Our chopped salad’s (11) chopped lettuce has red and yellow grape tomatoes, microgreens, bits of corn kernels, and a light vinaigrette. The 2008 Shaya Verdejo’s (Spain) citrusy crispness is a wonderful match. It’s nice to compare the wine trio. Paper labels can be set by each glass, for easy ID.

The Halibut with Yukon Potatoes (34) is a large portion of just barely flaking sweet Pacific Ocean goodness. The sliced almonds and sweet diced tomatoes are a great textural counterpoint. The rich, slightly chunky potatoes have a hint of garlic. My guest drops her jaw as she tastes it all! Jasmine points out the subtleties of the Catena Chardonnay Medoza's ripe fruits, the Vega Sindao Rose, and the Tilia Torrontes Salta, 08(Argentina) is over the top. I’ve never had so much tasting fun in any restaurant! The Ancho Rubbed Sirloin Steak (42) is HUGE! Its 14 ounces can feed two diners, with sides. The 14 day dry- aged steak’s ancho chili rub gives a mild heat, accented by the dollop of rich garden fresh basil pesto. This perfectly charred baby doesn’t need a hunk of butter to compensate for lesser quality marbling!. Its almost 2 inches of thickness is cooked just as I requested. Savory steaks come out right here, the first time. I like the bolder tastes of the Catena Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza (Argentina) , the Catena Malbec's long finish, the Pinot Noir- like Allende Rioja's tempranillo grapes (Spain) and the Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla, 06, said to be the Silver Oak of Spain. With the quartet’s glasses in a row, it’s easy to compare and contrast the wines. I know which I’ll buy locally to drink at home! The Atteca Old Vine Garnacha (Spain) has hints of black cherry,- I really like its pairing with the steak. My guest preferred the Alma Negro’s (Argentina) bonardo/malbec blend's rich tannins and dry cherry tones. It's fun to compare the handful of wines-Capital Grille has created a reasonably priced, wonderful dining experience. Jasmine’s interaction-coaching through the wines, combined with the foods perfection has made one of the best meals become an overall superb dining experience. Highly recommended!

The Sides Arrive My favorite- Lobster Mac n Cheese (14) blends four cheeses with chunks of tender lobster, topped with crisp bread crumbs. It’s huge, and the best comfort food! The Volver Tempranillo's spice brings out the lobster’s sweetness. Other sides include Fresh Creamed Spinach (9), and the lush Roasted Cremini, Portabella, Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms (12).

Au Gratin Potatoes’ (10) firm sliced potato discs, are married with a rich creamy cheese sauce, topped with crisp bread crumbs. Comfort food. Don't fill up on just the sides! The Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise (10) is bright green, crisp, and tender. Its rich taste exceeds supermarket's sources. Capital Grille's produce is highest quality. A quartet who also tried the wine pairings visit us. They reserved a table for August’s South African and Napa pairings. Capital Grille has no shortage of repeat customers, myself included.

I smiled, watching Mr. Lopez and Jasmine, an elegant sommelier tag team, visit other tables. He knows his stuff, having us compare notes as we try different wines/food pairings. Your taste buds are quick learners. They tell you which wines shine best with which foods. Some pairings I never would have risked, if I was ordering by the bottle, not the glass. Trust a good sommelier for wine and food pairing suggestions-they love sharing their food and wine passion.
We’ve paced ourselves slow enough to have dessert. We still took home over half;-the portions are generous.
My favorite is the Cheesecake’s (9) incredible lightness and texture, with caramelized top, and luscious raspberry sauce,
with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a mint sprig. It’s great to share. Great with the Shaya Verdejo Rueda and the Marques de Gelida.

My conpanions's favorite is the Chocolate Hazlenut Cake (9). The moist layers of cake, the bands of luscious chocolate icing, and the hazelnut chunks is a chocoholic’s dream! The Crème Anglaise is a delightful welcome contrast to the cake’s earthy richness. We enjoyed pairing some of the richer reds, favoring them over more traditional dessert wines. What wine would you pair with chocolate and hazelnuts?

The interaction with our sommeliers over the course of a relaxing meal in an elegant setting, and the delight of comparing a dozen fine wines with our mix of perfectly cooked appetizers, mains and sides, makes for one of the best overall meals we’ve had. Our over the top meal and superb service cost $160, plus wine and tip. It is enough food for 4 people.Do the math. Perhaps 25% of the tables had the special wine pairing. All were beaming from the experience. The sampling tables formed a special bond- linked by smiles.
You deserve a treat. This is an elegant dining event, not just a fine meal, that truly exceeds expectations. Reserve now. This Capital Grille dining experience is highly, highly recommended.

9005 Mercato Dr, Naples - 254-0640

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