There are a number of local eateries that allow you to bring your own bottle, and on certain nights you can bring your favourite wine for free! Free-corkage nights are beneficial for the restaurant as well as the diner, it is a great way to fill tables on slower nights (most BYOW nights are Sunday-Wednesdays), and the cost savings are an obvious advantage to the customer. However, BYOW isn’t about being a penny-pincher, it’s an opportunity for you to share a special bottle with your company and pair it with an elegant meal, and not be restricted to your own culinary abilities.
I brought a bottle of 2010 Poplar Grove Chardonnay to Farm last Monday. I was excited to share this bottle with a friend that I knew would appreciate it. I wanted to make sure the pairing was perfect, so we had asked our server to select our meal based on the tasting notes of the Chardonnay.
A richly textured Chardonnay, with aromas of honeyed cashew and toffee. Toasted nut and oak integrate nicely with clean, bright acidity on the palate. Soft hints of vanilla linger with the long finish on this voluptuous Reserve Chardonnay.
We made our own notes on the Chardonnay, and found toasted nuts and warm honey on the nose with baked apples. The palate was luscious with soft flavours of melon, apples and vanilla. There was surprising acidity that added a crisp and fresh component . Our server first brought us a charcuterie plate of P’tit Basque Sheep cheese from France, Coppa (like proscuitto but with less oily-ness) and air-dried strawberries. We had the steelhead trout with an herbed vinaigrette and almonds as our main.
The creamy cheese complemented the mouth feel of the oaked and full Chard, while the Coppa’s salt helped to enhance the fruit presence in the wine. The trout was a perfect fish pair to the wine, it had an almost sweet miso-glaze. I would hold off on the Asian slaw next time, too much acid for the wine can bring out an undesireable tart-ness. Post-Chardonnay, we indulged on an eccentric selection of truffles: goat cheese, vanilla bean, bacon and dark chocolate paired with Moscato.
A few tips if you are going to take advantage of a BYOW: give the restaurant a head-up that you will be bringing your own bottle, if you want the kitchen to pair with your wine, let them know what it is and any tasting notes you have. I gave the server the tasting card for the Poplar Chardonnay, your WineCollective tasting cards are perfect reference for the server or chef. Avenue Magazine has a list of corkage nights in both Calgary and Edmonton. Even if restaurants don’t promote BYOW, if you ask, most will accomodate you at a price.