Terrapin WineDown and Hors D'oeuvres

Pairings from Terrapin's monthly WineDown event

Anne Leonard

The backdrop of a hazy, misty mess didn’t stop my better half and me from enjoying our first WineDown on the new terrace at Virginia Beach’s Terrapin. WineDown events occur monthly at Terrapin, showcasing a handful of wines to let their guests be the judges and dole out bragging rights as they see fit. September’s WineDown featured a total of six wines from California's Sonoma County and Napa Valley in pours of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Light hors d’oeuvres prepared by Terrapin’s Chef Rodney Einhorn also circulated during the tasting.

The idea was to taste the wine blindly, as each was labeled ‘A’ or ‘B’, to accurately test our palates on which West Coast region we truly prefer. We're aspiring wine enthusiasts, so we were giddy to get sipping. Upon arriving late Saturday afternoon, we were directed to a doorway revealing the contemporary space of their terrace that opened in midsummer. Rosemary planters lined the white-bricked, canvas-covered terrace creating a fresh, charming environment for their food—full of innovation and a particular pizzazz. 

We checked in and grabbed our first two wine samples of Chardonnay along with a sheet to guide us along the tasting notes. I leant toward Sonoma’s Rodney Strong Chardonnay from Chalk Hill as it was oakier and less acidic than Napa Valley’s Franciscan. The husband found he preferred the latter.

Between swigs, we were served a light crostini with smoked salmon and ginger. It was fresh, served on an extra thin slice of bread providing a delightful crunch, almost like a gourmet Pringle.

Next up was Pinot Noir in pours of Sonoma’s Rodney Strong from Russian River Valley and Napa’s Starmont from Carneros. Pinot Noir has slowly evolved into my favorite red wine, so I was excited to sample each. We liked the Napa Starmont because of its fruity aroma, but its flavor wasn't as complex as the Rodney Strong, which was more pleasingly potent. We high-fived on Sonoma this time around.

A goat cheese crostini assisted my taste buds in moving along. The creamy goat cheese was topped with finely diced chives and olive tapenade.

The final pairing was of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sonoma’s Rodney Strong from Alexander Valley and Napa’s B Side were equally fragrant, but Sonoma took the win as it tasted more mature, aged and refined.

Chef Rodney’s halibut and grouper crostini reminded me of a fun, zingy twist on tuna salad. It was mixed with Worcestershire and crème fraîche—velvety and indulgent. Soon after, the tasting was brought to a close by a lamb meatball with house-made tomato sauce served in a petite spoon scooping a heavenly bite of a singly subtly sauced, smoky meatball.

My knowledge and love for wine will only continue to mature, but for now I remain an easy to please wine drinker. The WineDown referee said it appeared to be an even tie between the two wine regions. Our empty glasses could attest that we truly enjoyed each, but when it came to tallying our tastings, Sonoma won by a hair.

Click here to read about one of Terrapin’s delectable desserts.

Add your comment: