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|Sean Garrity • 2/10/17|
The Short Version: For more than 40 years, Silver Oak has been making food-friendly Cabernet Sauvignons that have been staples on the wine lists of restaurants across the United States. With two state-of-the-art, green locations in the Napa and Alexander Valleys, Silver Oak is a leader in innovative and ecologically-friendly wine production. In addition to winemaking, their Winery Chef, Dominic Orsini, is an authority in crafting delicious meals and pairing them with the perfect wines. He offers his expertise online through a robust recipes and pairings page that allows couples to create romantic and memorable date night meals. This, paired with events routinely held around the globe, makes Silver Oak a valuable resource to educate people on food and drink and refine their palates.
Nothing harkens to romance quite like visions of the Napa Valley. The landscape brings to mind idealized scenes of couples lounging on checkered blankets, clinking glasses over picnic baskets overflowing with baguettes and delectables that pair perfectly with a nice red.
While countryside dates in the rolling hills overlooking the vineyards of Northern California may not be possible for many, attaining the knowledge to effectively pair table fare with an ideal wine is simple. For 40 years, Silver Oak has been committed to producing Cabernet Sauvignons that seamlessly match well with a wide variety of cuisines.
With the help of Silver Oak Winery Chef Dominic Orsini, couples can get closer to realizing dreams of gourmet picnicking in wine country. Through Silver Oak’s website, the chef lets the public in on some of his most successful recipes and lends expert advice on the best wines to pair them with.
Silver Oak is proud of the food-friendly Cabernets they’ve been producing throughout their rich history in the Napa and Alexander Valleys. By employing a chef dedicated to educating the masses how to enrich drinking and dining experiences, and holding wine events across the globe, Silver Oak gives couples the know-how to refine palates when it comes to food and wine.
There is something to be said for doing one thing well, and Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer are a testament to that fact. In 1972, the two friends embarked on their bold vision of focusing on making one varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, and aging it exclusively in American Oak. Within two decades, their cabernets were in high demand on restaurant wine lists across the country. In 1994, Justin selected Daniel Baron to succeed him as winemaker and, in 2001, sold his shares to the Duncan family, who still run the business today.
In 2017, Silver Oak plans to open a new state-of-the-art winery in Alexander Valley. Silver Oak has a history of forward-thinking, which is displayed by employing new features such as alternative energy sources, water reuse systems, and reclaimed building materials.
Innovation isn’t just in the physical winery but in every part of Silver Oak’s process. Silver Oak takes pride in their fruit selection, so their winemaking team partners with other independent growers in the Napa and Alexander Valley to source the best grapes. After all, to make the finest Cabernet, they must begin with the highest caliber fruit.
They use only the best Silver Oak barrels to age their wine and, in 2015, became the sole owners of The Oak Cooperage where their wines are aged. Even the tiniest detail is considered, and that includes using the “dry soak” method. This gives Silver Oak one of the lowerest cork taint rates in the market: 0.53% vs. the 4% industry standard. Silver Oak wines spend more time in the bottle so they can mature to their fullest expressions.
Silver Oak touts the food-friendliness of their wines. An example of one of their palate-pleasing wines is the Napa Valley 2012 vintage, which is composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. After being blended in 2013, it was aged for 24 months in oak. Bottled in 2015, it was aged another 21 months for release on Feb. 4, 2017. This wine boasts complex aromatics with essences of sage, molasses, sandalwood, and nutmeg making it diverse for food coupling.
Silver Oak’s wines are accessible to a wide range of foods. Their cabernets can be enjoyed with pasta dishes with red sauces such as a Bolognese, a white Carbonara, or even an artisanal pizza. They complement the subtleties of a well-prepared chicken as well as steak, as the smoky-sweet flavors of oak barrels combine nicely with the char on the meat. You can even enjoy a class to add sophistication to an elevated appetizer like polenta fries or charcuterie.
With his unique philosophy of creating cuisine to enhance the enjoyment of wine, Chef Dominic Orsini is an expert in pairing wines with his elegantly crafted dishes. A Level I Sommelier and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Orsini honed his skills at fine dining establishments on both coasts.
After becoming the Silver Oak’s winery chef in 2008, Orsini not only takes the final product into consideration when preparing his menus but the environment that produced it. He takes inspiration from the seasons, the organic gardens, and even the leaves and vines to develop the most complementary environment for the food and wine to meet and mingle.
Along with leading the culinary program at Silver Oak, Chef Orsini produces a wide array of recipes for Silver Oak with suggested pairings. Silver Oak’s wines and their expert chef can help create the most memorable and delicious date nights, offers pairing suggestions for the wine connoisseur or novice.
A classic charcuterie is both a simple and impressive first course. By taking a variety of artisanal cheeses and cured meats, it makes an impressive display with rich flavors making for a perfect evening starter like those featured in Chef Orsini’s Cheese and Salumi Sampler. Try three kinds of cheese (like an aged cheddar for familiarity, a rich and creamy Spanish manchego, and a soft French Mimolette) to diversify the palate against a host of meats (like an aged salami, a delicate prosciutto di Parma, and a serrano ham) for satisfying saltiness and richness.
Accent the meat and cheese pairings with buttery olives, roasted peppers, and a sweet fig paste. Add the tactile experience of eating with your hands, and you have the start of a great night. Pair this with a vibrant Alexander Valley Cabernet with hints of blackcurrant and orange zest.
Not your average tomato soup for a wintery day, this Heirloom Tomato Soup recipe is based on traditional Spanish gazpacho and can be served hot or cold. Though completely vegan, the soup gets its silky texture from pureed bread and olive oil.
Garnish with artisanal croutons or add poached shrimp or crab with a burst of lime for a surprising twist. Pair this with a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet, which works nicely against the generous acidity of the tomato.
One of the most popular epicurean date night dishes, beef bourguignon, is reimagined in Chef Orsini’s Beef Short Rib Bourguignon. A dish steeped in the aromatics and flavors of wine, he recommends you choose a bottle you would like to drink and cook with it for a staggeringly brilliant experience.
The dish includes not only short ribs but bacon as well and finds grounding in mushrooms and the traditional French mirepoix. Serve this stew with mashed potatoes, creamy polenta, or egg noodles for a comforting finale. Pair with a Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or a Merlot to unearth the hidden flavors of the dish and the wine equally. This stew is even better the next day and can make for a casual, yet romantic, lunch.
If you feel like taking a night off from impressing your date with newly-minted cooking and wine pairing skills, you can always catch Silver Oak at wine events all over the world.
Globetrotting couples can cruise as far as South America on a Silver Oak Wine Cruise through Crystal Cruises. If you’re in Florida, you can reserve a spot for you and your special someone at the Wine Dinner at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.
Silver Oak’s events are an excellent way for people to spend time together and learn more about food and wine.
Picnicking hilltop overlooking vineyards sounds exquisite. However, people don’t have to travel to Northern California for a similar food and wine adventure. With Chef Orsini’s recipes and Silver Oak pairings, couples are can recreate the Napa Valley experience in their own kitchens.