The Wine Profiler

In August, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) named Richard Rosendale U.S.A. Chef of the Year for 2005. So when New York City-based Banfi Vineyards hosted a dinner to showcase its wines at The Tavern Room at The Greenbrier, in White Sulpher Springs, WV, the hosts knew they were in good hands.

Rosendale worked with his sommelier to design courses that would complement each wine's individual profile. Rosendale sought flavors that are "complementary, and maybe even contrasting, to the wine." Then, he says the menu should follow "a natural progression that starts with subtle, light flavors that be- come richer and heartier" as the meal progresses.

The first wine, the Principessa Perlante Gavi, Vigne Regali, Piedmont, Italy, 2003, had "a fresh, fruit-forward bouquet with an elegant structure, and natural effervescence," Rosendale says, "so we were looking for very subtle flavors for the first course." He created a terrine of salmon lined with leeks and preserved lemons, with a truffle bacon vinaigrette. "First-course wines often have a lemony quality, but this one did not, so we thought it would be nice to have that component in there. We didn't want anything too strong for the first course, and the salmon is very simple."

The next wine, the Rosso di Montalcino, Castello Banfi, Tuscany, Italy, 2002, was made from the San Giovese grape. "That is the predominant grape in Italy, so I tried to find a dish that stemmed from a classical preparation," explains Rosendale. He chose lobster Rossini, with seared foie gras on top, a slice of black truffle, and a little crouton underneath. "Beef Rossini is something you'd do for a main course, and I wanted to use those flavor profiles, but I didn't want something as strong as beef for the second course," Rosendale says, "so I chose lobster with a heartier preparation."

The fourth wine was rich enough to be paired with beef. The Summus, Castello Banfi, Tuscany, Italy, 1997, was "a bigger red wine that could stand up to a beef with pretty rich flavors," Rosendale says. With this wine, he served a hazelnut-crusted beef medallion with cumin-scented ribbon vegetables. "The hazelnut crust was a bit richer and could stand up to both the beef and the wine," he says.

Selecting complementary flavors is the backbone of any successful wine dinner. Says Rosendale, "The last thing you want to do is have the wine completely dominate the food, or vice versa."