As busy adults our lives can become filled with logistics, planning, and deadlines. So one of my absolute favorite things is a night out to unwind, with major bonus points if I don't have to plan it or make too many decisions. Last month I found the perfect cure for my grown-up decision-making overload: a sophisticated yet approachable paired wine dinner, presented by two of my favorite places in town, Rye and McKinney Wine Merchant. Each special dinner is different, and this one was to be a Spanish wine dinner, featuring wines and dishes from the Iberian Peninsula.
I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at the planning process when Andy, proprietor of McKinney Wine Merchant, invited me to join the pre-event wine tasting where they would determine the wines which would later inspire the Spanish dishes to be served. I sat at the table as Andy brought many bottles of wine across the street to the Rye team, Tanner (owner), Mike (bar manager), and Taylor (head chef). As an amateur foodie it was exciting to watch and listen as these culinary and wine experts tasted, discussed, and became excited about potential menu options.
Andy presented each wine, discussed the region of origin, and pointed out familiar and unique flavor profiles (oak, soapy, rose, smoky, chewy, tobacco, lemongrass, etc) as the Rye team took notes, tasted, and collaborated. After about an hour of sampling and brainstorming, a consensus was reached on the wine menu. Now the Rye team could get to work on perfecting the dinner menu in a perfectly paired progression.
The day of the event brought with it absolutely miserable weather; cold and rainy which, if you ask me, made the meal even more welcomed. The red wine and comforting food cured any chill that may have lingered upon arriving. The event was on a Thursday evening and the restaurant was completely closed, apart from one long table down the center, set for 20.
Walking in from the rain, seeing the family style table and hearing spanish guitar music playing softly in the background, I felt like I was arriving at a friend's house for a dinner party. And as the other guests arrived and the meal progressed that feeling only heightened. Despite being strangers at the start, the conversation was lively and the atmosphere convivial. Great food and great wine always foster kinship and this was no exception.
As each dish came out, Tanner from Rye presented it, explaining the dish and the inspiration behind it. Then Andy from McKinney Wine Merchant would present the paired wine as guests began to dig in. He even had a map of the Iberian Peninsula and in a very casual and interesting way would discuss where the wines came from and how that affected their flavor profiles. Each wine was available for purchase at the end of the dinner, which more than a few guests took advantage of.
Andy calls the 2nd wine of the evening, 2016 Coto de Hayas Garnacha, the best $20 bottle in his store. For me, the wine that stole the show accompanied the Cheese and Charcuterie course: a 1994 Urbina Gran Reserva. Sadly I don't have the wine vocabulary to aptly describe how delicious this wine was, but you can read more about it here. As for the food, I would rave about each dish. I don't think I can choose a favorite. Two particular components stand out: the saffron broth with the monkfish and mussels was amazing and the silky smooth Vichyssois, which was part of the opening Ode to Tapas course, was served with a chipotle cream and fried shallot on top.
As the season of special occasions and out of town guests approaches, I invite you to keep in mind these special dinners in McKinney. Both Rye and McKinney Wine Merchant put them on throughout the year. We will post any upcoming dinner events on our events calendar and you can also find out more directly from their websites (linked below).
For more information:
McKinney Wine Merchant - https://mckinneywine.com/
Rye. Craft Food and Drink. - http://www.ryemckinney.com/