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Food and Wine Pairing
Bistro de Paris
"Regional French Specialties "
September 29, 2007
AllEars.Net Team Member
Last year my husband and I did the Tour de France Wine School at Bistro de Paris. It was wonderful, but not wanting to do a repeat "school," we opted instead to do the wine pairings at the Bistro this year.
Although we had an enjoyable time thanks to our amiable tablemates, the wine pairing itself was probably one of worst events we've ever attended. I never did hear the name of our presenter, so I can't share that information with you. The three wines we sampled were nice, but the pourings were on the stingy side. Some guests ask for and received seconds, but again, they received just a bit more than a splash. I would have understood that if the wines had been expensive wines, but these were in the $10 range.
three wines tasted were:
2006 Hob Nob Chardonnay imported through W.J. Deutsch & Sons (Retail: about $9)
2006 Pierre Sparr "Extreme" Riesling (Retail: about $11)
2006 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Villages (Retail: about $10)
The wine service was a little confusing. Our tasting sheets listed (1) a Riesling, (2) a Chardonnay and (3) a Beaujolais Villages. However, when the servers poured, they poured the Chardonnay in the first glass and the Riesling in the second glass. Some guests noticed the "error" because of the shape of the bottles. When the presenter began her talk, she said that wasn't really an error, that she felt the Chardonnay was a lighter wine than the Riesling and so she wanted us to start with that one.
I'd really like to find something nice to say about the presentation itself, but truthfully, it was the absolute worst wine presentation we've ever sat through anywhere. If you knew nothing about wines, the presenter didn't really teach you anything. She hit on a number of "tasting" techniques such as looking at the color and smelling the aromas, but she never took time to explain what more or less color meant or what aromas you might expect in different varietals. She hinted that you might be able to tell the age of a red wine by the color, but never elaborated. There really wasn't anything that a wine novice could latch onto and take away with them to use the next time they tasted wine.
On the other hand, for those who knew a bit more about wine, she never gave any substantial information. She mentioned that the soil and climate affected the final product, but never elaborated on what kind of wine rich soil might produce as opposed to the wine a granite or rocky soil might produce. She used a lot of "wine" words but never really wove them into useful, understandable information.
Perhaps the most distressing part of the whole experience was that the presenter didn't explain the basic premise of a wine pairing, i.e. how the different foods affected the taste of the wines and vice versa. Yes, she said some of the foods were more "oily" than others and some were more salty, but never gave any hints as to which pairings would be good, not so good or maybe a surprise. In addition, since she had only mentioned the two white wines while we tasted the first course (meats), many participants thought the red wine was "off limits" for that course. Later after the second course cheeses were served, she asked how the red wine was with the meats, but by that time the meats had been cleared and many had not tried the meat/red wine pairing. On a similar note, she said to try some white wine with the different cheeses, but by that time many had no white wine left, having drunk it all with the meat course. All in all, a very unsatisfactory wine pairing experience.
The food was ample and tasty and the service was impeccable. French bread rolls and butter were placed on the table first. Next the charcuteries were served (French cold cuts per the presenter who couldn't pronounce the word). I can't tell you the exact names of what was served because the presenter couldn't pronounce the French names of the meats and didn't know the order in which they were arranged on our plates. Basically there were two different types of salami (one with garlic), a "white" ham (very mild), a delicious duck pate, a chicken liver pate en croute and another ham that was very much like Italian procuitto.
The cheeses were equally tasty ranging from mild Brie and Port Salud to a delicious Comte, a baked goat cheese and a delicious and salty bleu cheese. Again, the presenter didn't know the names of the different cheeses. The servers came to many of the tables and identified the cheeses and explained their distinct characteristics. I heard more than one participant comment that crackers would have been nice with the cheese.
To summarize, the wines were nice (even if inexpensive); the food was tasty; and our table companions were very nice. However, the presentation itself was disappointing. For $45 per person, I expected higher price point wines, but most importantly, I expected to learn something and I didn't.