USA Wine & Food Weekend
Bailliage Provincial of Southwest
Houston, January 11-12, 2019
Foodie city plus endless wine and great friends equals perfection
" Wine was the keynote of the weekend for the dining occasions "

Combine a foodie city like Houston with endless wine poured and members out to enjoy great friends then you have a Société Mondiale du Vin* event Southwest Provincial style.

Bailli Provincial Bill Salomon and Échanson Provincial William Ridlehuber offered a wide array of culinary options to please the most ambitious taste buds in the region. During the one-and a half day event: two cocktail receptions, BYOB dinner, four Saturday lunch options, two wine education seminars and a gala dinner! Are you exhausted yet?

The weekend started at the Hotel Alessandra in downtown Houston, a boutique hotel where the contemporary glass decor paired beautifully with the traditional artwork. The cocktail party with its paired bubbly could have served as a fine dinner in itself. However, that was not to be as we made our way to top-rated Masraff’s for “creatively prepared Euro-American eats”.

The food was splendid but it was the wines that really shone as the “BYOB” event had members pulling out some of the finest bottles their personal cellars had to offer. Most slept in the next day!

While some opted to taste the culture and shopping for which Houston is famous, most signed up for one or more of the six event offerings. Of the four lunch options, two were the most popular: La Table, which serves progressive French cuisine, being described by food critic Allison Cook as “Michelin star level”, and Xochi, Chef Hugo Ortega’s restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine.

The two wine seminars were led by Guy Stout, Master Sommelier CWE CSS. The first was on the topic of “light skinned reds” where the group tasted examples and listened to his comments on Grenache, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. As a contrast, he followed with a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from his vineyard to make his comments even more compelling. The main point was that even though the wine from light-skinned red grapes appears lighter, they can still be very aromatic and flavourful, potentially with more complexity and elegance than the more powerful dark-skinned varieties.

The second seminar was a sampling of 2015 Bordeaux. This included a well-known name and a “value” name from each of the major Bordeaux regions.

Capping off a wonderful day was the Gala Dinner. A cocktail reception set the stage for the evening as members and guests dressed in what the Échanson Provincial proclaimed as “one step below black tie”. Chef Jose Hernandez lovingly prepared a five-course dinner that blended traditional proteins with creative accompaniments. The wild mushroom ragù, which complemented the New York Strip, was a definite crowd pleaser.

While each wine was paired perfectly, it was the red wines that were again the star performers of the evening.

Wine was the keynote of the weekend for the dining occasions. It also benefitted the Bailliage of USA’s charitable foundation as nine silent auction lots raised $750 for scholarships.

Perhaps most memorable of all was the conclusion of the evening as Bob Epstein, at age 95 and wearing the most honoured red ribbon of Sénéchal of the United States, led a rousing rendition of the Chaîne’s Boars Head carol. Each table then felt compelled to compete with boisterous lyrics of its own. What a fitting way to cap off the weekend!

Kathy Shay
Chargée de Presse Provinciale

* Ed. The Bailliage of USA equivalent of the Chaîne's Ordre Mondial des Gourmet Dégustateurs (OMGD) in the rest of the world.