Sipping Smarts 2018 – Classic Sips and Creative Bites – Wine Tasting Class

In case you missed it, March 24th was a fun day of wine tasting. My class – Classic Sips and Creative Bites was the largest class we’ve ever had and thanks to the impressive crew at Sessions at the Presidio, it was another ROUSING success. The wines flowed like water, Chef Bilger prepared sumptuous nibbles for us to enjoy and Jordan Spaulding, Sessions’ Cicerone, proved to us that beer is as complex as any glass of wine.

sessions presidio leslie sbrocco wine tasting beer bubbles

We tasted wines from around the globe and as usual I was changing the wine list up until the very last minute… there’s just so much to taste. We started with a variety of bubbles, matched with my favorite pairing, popcorn. Nothing complements a beautiful glass of sparkling wine better than the salty bite of popcorn, especially since Chef Bilger created three types of popcorn that were to die for. A Francophile, with thyme butter and truffle salt, the Iberian, with olive oil, lemon zest and pimenton and the Mumbai with madras curry and ghee.

I selected five different bubbles, but two favorites included the affordable, crisp and elegant Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rosé, Cremant de Loire, France ($15) and the crowd-pleasing Mionetto Brut Prosecco, Treviso DOC, Italy (in magnum $30). Our other super-star sparklers were the elegant J Rosé , Sonoma County, California $45 and the surprising New Mexico bubbly from French wine producer Gruet $17.

The beer chosen by Jordan, the Magnolia – Aliciella – Botanical ESB, was an herbaceous contrast that paired amazingly with all of the snacks, but especially with the spices in the Mumbai Popcorn.



Our first pairing after we got everyone to sit down and I finished telling everyone about my broken ribs… a long but funny story, just ask me some day… we paired a decadent pork belly with a 2016 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Rosado, Rioja Spain  ($18 – 20) and the 2014 The Calling Chardonnay, Sullivan Vineyard, Dutton Ranch, Sonoma ($44 – 46) as well as Jordan’s pick, the Ninkasi – Dawn of the Red – Red IPA

These tastings paired beautifully with the richness of the pork and the citrusy tang of the kumquats.

Our next course we experimented with a farmhouse cheese plate and another rosé, the 2016 Benovia Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River, Sonoma ($22 – 24). We also had the privilege of tasting the 2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, Napa ($84 – 86) and the Modern Times – Lomaland – Farmhouse Saison.

They complemented and contrasted with the freshness of certain cheeses and the strong flavors of the others.



Steak tartare was to follow, paired with delicious wines, and another rosé! I was on quite the pink kick, and showcasing the different varietals that rosé can be made from and how it changes the complexity and flavors of the wine, especially with food! The 2014 Addendum, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($90 – 94) was an elegant choice and the 2016 Chateau Bonnet Rosé of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux ($16 – 18) actually went so fast on the tables that we couldn’t even get a picture of it. Our beer selection with the tartare was the Bosteels – Tripel Karmeliet – Belgian Tripel.


Portobello Arancini, paired with a 2014 Clos de los Siete Red Blend from Argentina ($18 – 20) and the intensely different Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer finished the savory selections.


The true masterpiece of the evening though was Chef Bilger’s Stilton Cheesecake. Sweet yet savory it paired amazingly well with the Taylor Fladgate 325th Anniversary Port, Portugal ($30 – 32) and a Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Cicerone Spaulding.


The party continued as Sessions helped make reservations on a busy Saturday night for our class-goers but as usual with this crowd there wasn’t a single.drop.left at the end of the night. Uber certainly made some money off of us!


Did you have fun at the event? Were you bummed to miss it? Then come spend a week with me in SPAIN!! I’ll be hosting my first international Vino Voyages in September and I’d love to have you along!


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