My Sweet Tooth Heads to Yadkin County
I will be the very first to admit that during a normal meal the part that I look forward to the least is dessert. Most of my adult life I have preferred the alluring flavors of salty and savory much more than something sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to throw down on red velvet cake, banana pudding and lemon custard pie. But all in all, until only the last few years can I say I have had much of a sweet tooth
As a veteran of both the red wine and white wine events in Yadkin County where they pair their delicious wines with small plates, I immediately decided to sign up for the Dessert Wine Event sponsored by the Yadkin County Tourism Development Authority and the participating Yadkin County wineries.
You may be wondering as a person who is not enamored with sweets why did I jump at the chance to participate? Am I just that zealous a patron of all things North Carolina? Perhaps I just love wine and food so much that I couldn’t say no.
To be blunt, the real reason I wouldn’t miss this event is much more complex and well worth reading further. Everyone knows that red wine and white wine have distinct pairings with food that enhance both. These magical pairings elevate both components, raising the pairing to a level that neither the food nor the wine could ascend to on their own.
In my opinion, when it comes to pairing wines with dessert the degree of difficulty greatly increases. I have attended more than a few wine dinners where the dessert food/wine pairing merely became a “sugarfest” where a super sweet wine was paired with an equally super sweet dessert and the result was an instant disaster.
So exactly where did I go and what did I sample? Much to my delight there were a total of seven wineries taking part in the event! That may seem like a lot but remember there is only a two ounce pour at each location. As a result, after a hearty breakfast (totally mandatory) and staying hydrated (ditto) 14 ounces of wine is doable especially with intervals between.
Speaking of intervals between, another aspect that aided in the logistics of the desert event was that all the participating vineyards and wineries were located in close proximity to each other. This made travel between the destinations much easier and again facilitated visiting multiple locations in one day.
So, where did I go and what did I sample? Read on…
Midnight Magdalena Vineyards serving Mini Goat Cheesecake paired with Half Moon Rose Wine
Our very first stop in the event was somewhere I had been wanting to return to for a long time. It had been quite a while since my very last visit there and my wife had even returned without me since. I also felt guilty each time I passed the sign for Midnight Magdalena, usually on the way to a wine club function at Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery or their neighbor Piccione Vineyards.
The mini goat cheesecake they served paired with the Half Moon Rose wine was an excellent way to start the event. The creamy cheesecake was nestled in the most delicate flaky pastry you could imagine. The slightly tart cheesecake matched perfectly with the rose wine which was crafted from Sangiovese grapes in the classic Provence style. Nestled in the center was a single blueberry that added just a touch of sweetness. Again, a great first offering to start the desert event.
Windsor Run Cellars serving Dried Mango Dipped in Chocolate paired with White Sangria
Our next stop in the event is one of my all-time favorites - Windsor Run Cellars. As a long time NASCAR fan from the old days, the theme is not lost on me and neither is their skill in making good wine. I confess this is one of the pairings I looked forward to based on my love for both mango and chocolate as well as prior experience with this magical combination. I can assure you Windsor Run did not disappoint with this simple but classy pairing.
One of my big surprises of the day was the wine - White Sangria. This sweet fruity wine paired well with the mango as well as chocolate. Crafted from a base of valvin muscat, with additions of pineapple, passionfruit, apple, and mango juices the result was amazingly sangria-like but with more depth and character. As a matter of fact, the staff and I mused about how this offering poured over fruit with a dash of rum would make a tasty cocktail. When summer is upon us, I will give it a try but will substitute a sparkling wine instead of rum.
Shadow Springs Vineyards serving Five Flavorful Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze paired with Sunlight Wine
One of my fondest memories from my childhood is the lemon pound cake that the ladies in the church would bring to potlucks and church socials. With a golden yellow hue and a tart lemon taste even the glaze on the cake would make you drool. Sadly, most of the pound cake I have tasted during my adult life has been sorely lacking in flavor and nothing even close to the pound cake of my memories. But the pound cake served at Shadow Springs made my taste buds sit back and take notice. In a word, it was “delicious”. The owner promised to put the recipe on their website, and I can assure you I will remind her until she does or shares the recipe with me personally.
The sunlight wine was the result of petit manseng with just a touch of seyal blanc to sweeten the combination. The tart acidic wine cut through the richness of the pound cake and the result was a dynamic pairing.
Brandon Hills Vineyard serving Lemon Velvet Cake paired with Blueberry Delight Wine
I have been a devoted follower of Brandon Hills Vineyard ever since my first sip of Barbera many years ago. This unique varietal, very popular in the Piedmont region of Italy is indeed a rarity here in the Tarheel State. Larry, one of the owners, is a class act and a master of hospitality.
I have also been a fan of the combination of lemons and blueberries. From deserts to even wine the tartness of lemon and the sweetness of blueberry have long been a dynamic duo. So, when Brandon Hills chose to pair lemon velvet cake with blueberry delight it got my palate excited. The cake was light, fluffy and moist with a sweet tart lemon icing. The blueberry wine paired perfectly with this sweet lemony treat.
Hanover Park Vineyards serving Banana Pudding paired with Blueberry Wine
Every country boy loves banana pudding. I still remember my childhood and the occasions when my mother would make one. It would never last until the next day, we hated it when the bananas darkened. I will admit I was a bit skeptical about the combination of banana pudding and blueberry. I can assure you after only one taste all my concerns were laid to rest.
The rich creamy banana pudding matched well with the sweetness of the blueberry wine which was tart and flavorful. Before I knew it, I had finished the portion owner Amy Helton had graciously provided and fought the urge to lick my cup and spoon clean. I could easily have eaten a second portion,
One of the best parts of the visit was being able to sit down for a personal chat with Amy, one of the owners. As if great food and wine were not enough, the opportunity to meet and converse with owners is priceless.
Sanders Ridge Vineyards serving Blackberry Crisp paired with Blackberry Wine
I have had much respect for Sanders Ridge and their ability to pair food and wine ever since they served a lemon whipped mousse with Viognier during the most recent white wine event that was outstanding. No doubt the fact that they have a restaurant and culinary staff may explain their culinary expertise, but the bottom line is when it comes to food Sanders Ridge knows their way around the kitchen.
While I was in line waiting to be served the blackberry crisp, I couldn’t help but notice the large portions provided to those in front of me. Since this was my next to last stop in the desert event, I asked that my portion be smaller. That was a mistake. The warm blackberry crisp was a delicious cake with layers of tart blueberries and was topped by whipped cream. Fortunately, my wife could not eat all her portion and I was the glad recipient of the remainder.
RagApple Lassie Vineyards serving Peach Cobbler paired with First Blush Wine
RagApple Lassie is a veteran of both the red and white wine events and no slouch when it comes to pairing food and wine. I know this personally having visited them on both the last red and white wine events recently conducted. This winery is situated on a working farm and one of the oldest in the area.
The peach cobbler was delicious and the scoop of vanilla ice cream on the top pushed it over the edge. The First Blush was a white Zinfandel and like all the previous dessert/wine pairings was skillfully executed and a delight to the palate.
It is my hope that the dessert event will take its place alongside the annual red and white wine events annually staged in Yadkin County and the participating vineyards and wineries. Based on my perceived success of the dessert event as well as the number of wineries that participated, I must be optimistic that the dessert event will become a regular and anticipated occasion. Other AVA’s and groups of vineyards and wineries would be well advised to emulate the formula for success that Yadkin County works to perfection - good wines and small plates pull patrons in.