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He Said: Winemaker dinners at Wright’s are delightful, tasty evenings

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For the past 27 seasons, Wright’s at the Arizona Biltmore has been hosting winemaker dinners.

I was invited to attend the Antinori Wine Company dinner to kickoff the 28th season. As it would turn out, it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had in sometime.

The physical characteristics of the Biltmore are perfect for an evening such as this and the atmosphere brings out moments where you forget its 2017 and may instead be running into the company of Marilyn Monroe or some other of Hollywood’s greatest.

We started the evening out on the patio of Wright’s with a brut sparkling wine and canapes. As to be expected at any Waldorf Astoria hotel, the service all night was top-notch and friendly without pretense.

The canapes were great to whet the appetite: Ahi tuna salad, charred artichoke in a spoon and a foie gras cannoli.

After some conversation — and the tasty morsels — we were ushered inside to our tables where we were greeted and told a little history of the night’s winemaker.

We started our four-course meal with a very light but interesting squid ink linguine with cuttlefish. It was nicely plated and, given what we had coming our way, it was the perfect amount.

It was paired with the Guado Al Tasso vermentino, which was very complimentary to the pasta and had a nice, clean finish, very similar to a sauvignon blanc.

My favorite dish was coming up and, in all honesty, I could have eaten a whole meal of this one dish.

It was Guinea hen roulade and consisted of the hen with Italian sausage stuffed under the skin. It was topped with lemon preserve — delectable and brought a huge smile to my face. I immediately though I could make this my new holiday dish, as it had a very wintery feel to it.

It came with two ricotta gnudi and, in case you have no idea what that is, it’s very similar to gnocchi in consistency but creamier and with more flavor.

I promise you, it is like no gnocchi you have ever tasted and I can only hope this dish and all its accompaniments become a regular menu item. It was paired with a beautiful Antinori Scalabrone rosato.

Our final two dishes were a braised pork shank which, unfortunately at this point, I was too full to finish. But it fell off the bone and served with a wonderful agrodolce sauce. It sat among roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and a wonderful parsnip puree.

It was paired with a Guado Al Tasso — a Super Tuscan — red which was the hit of the night.

We had to end on a sweet note, of course ,which was a black walnut peach torte set in an espresso cube with a vanilla bean chiboust crème and was just the right amount of sweet.

This was served with Antinori Muffato della sala, a dessert wine. With a very strong perfume and floral scent, it was a nice ending to the evening and accentuated the peach in the torte.

There is a full calendar of winemaker dinners coming up so you have plenty of time to get one on the books. They are held once a month and, at press time, there are different winemakers scheduled out through June 2018.

Dinners are $160 per person, plus tax and gratuity. They include a welcome reception and four-course meal, along with the wine pairings.

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