Four Courses of Deliciousness at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival Taster’s Banquet

What happens when you finish up day one of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival? You celebrate by attending their Tasting Banquet, of course! This four course meal, created by the chef from the New York Wine and Culinary Center, is perfectly designed to pair with not one, but three different types of wine which you can choose from. Hosted in the Glen Club at Watkins Glen International, it was the perfect way to end our first day of the festival.


When we entered the tasting, we were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine of our choosing, either the Damiani Bollicini, Atwater Riesling Bubble, Lakewood Sparkling Catawba, or Swedish Hill Spumante Blush. We selected the Atwater because it was the least sweet of the four options, and were rewarded with a delightfully citrusy nose and clean acidity, perfect for resetting our palates for the dinner.

Course One

IMG_2234 2Dish: Grilled Asparagus Salad with Old Grey Mare Cheese, Cured Egg Yolk, Friseé, and Arugula Black Olive Vinaigrette

Wine 1 was an Inspire Moore Grüner Veltliner, with notes of lemongrass, boxwood, and slate, followed by melon and pear on the palate with a lower acidity. When sipped with the food the citrus and acidity was highlighted, but it didn’t pair as well with the more bitter friseé.

Wine 2 was a Lucas Vineyards 2012 Reserve Cabernet France that had notes of leather, smoke, red berries and cherry, and green pepper, finishing with a nice chewy tannin. This complemented the bitter notes in the meal better and increased the flavor of the olive vinaigrette.

Course 2

IMG_2238 2Dish: Pan Seared Scallop with Compressed Watermelon, Crushed Tomato, and Crispy Prosciutto

Wine 1 was the Damiani Davis Vineyard Pinot Noir, which had notes of cherry, leather, and grapefruit, with a light chewy tannin. When tasted with the food, it made the dish taste meatier and more savory, accentuating the tomato and prosciutto.

Wine 2 was a Three Brothers Second Degree Riesling that had notes of lime curd, lemon, mineral and slate, a moderately sweet palate with a balanced moderate acidity and lingering notes of citrus. This took the dish in the opposite direction, emphasizing the brightness of the watermelon and minerality of the scallop.

Course 3

IMG_2244 2Dish: Buttermilk Chicken Breast with Confit Chicken Thigh, Natural Chicken Jus, Patty Pan Squash and Smoked Potato

Wine 1 was a Standing Stone Chardonnay that tasted of candied green apple, pear, and vanilla, with a nice bright acidity to set off the oaky notes. With the food, it really emphasized the butter and spice notes, making it taste even more indulgent.

Wine 2 was the Wagner Select Riesling, which had notes of stonefruit, lime and tangerine that continued on the palate with a moderate sweetness and citrus acidity. With the food it was interesting, but lost some of the brightness that I originally liked about the wine.

Wine 3 was thrown in as a curveball, Standing Stone’s 2015 Saperavi which had notes of plum, black cherry, tobacco and leather, with a nice acidity and grippy tannin. When tried with the chicken, the big tannin became silky smooth and mellowed out, making it delightful to sip.

Course 4

IMG_2247Dish: Grilled Sponge Cake, Whipped Ricotta, Strawberry Consommé, and Macerated Berries

Wine 1 was a Casa Larga Dry Rosé that had notes of watermelon and strawberry, and an earthiness that continued on the palate with nice acidity. With the dessert it really increased in acidity and brightness, making the berries taste even fresher and more delicious.

Wine 2 was a Fulkerson 2016 Syrah, which had a nose of white pepper, cherry, and tobacco, with a chalky tannin. When tried with food, the pepper notes of the wine were accentuated and it brought out some interesting grilled notes in the cake.

As a fun finale, we also tried the Saperavi with the dessert since we had some leftover from the previous course, and it really emphasized the fruit notes in the wine and made the dish taste much richer.

Final Tasting Notes

This dinner was an incredibly fun exercise in food pairing and wine preferences. All of the wines paired incredibly well with the food, and some that I didn’t prefer on their own became perfect when sipped with the right dish. What made it so interesting was our conversations about which we preferred and why, like in Course 2 how one wine made the dish more meaty and the other made it brighter, so depending on your mood you could pick either as the winner!

Need More Food?

If the dinner isn’t enough, you can also attend their Champagne Brunch hosted by Great Western Champagne. We attended on Sunday morning, and the mimosas and omelette station were the perfect way to prime ourselves for another day of tasting!


During the festival if you’re looking for lunch or a snack, they have a diverse selection of food trucks for you to eat at. We had lunch at Silo Food Truck, which focuses on deliciously crispy fried chicken and super cheesy macaroni and cheese. It is THE BEST fried chicken I’ve ever had, and was a great indulgent way to prepare for wine tasting. A big thank you to Katie for inviting us to come taste the food.





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