Wine, food, and art: the delectable dinner table

The great thing about inspiration is that it can strike from anywhere, and most recently it struck in the form of Maureen Loebus, who is endowed with much presence, even without  her red hat!

She approached me in our local Country Grocer to ask about cheese for a raclette dinner, and voila! Our discussion sparked a theme for my next wine column —“the dinner table.”

The dinner table has provided a legendary backdrop for everything from Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, to the Tracey and Hepburn flick Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and wine often plays a starring role.

Great beginnings can feature a pre-dinner cocktail, and for we who live in blackberryland, what better to include than an award-winning Wild Blackberry 2008 wine from the local boutique estate winery Rocky Creek.

A couple of their suggestions include the” Blacktini,” which you can make by adding two ounces of vodka to one ounce of blackberry wine shaken with ice, or the elegant Mure Royale, which requires one ounce of blackberry wine to three ounces of champagne, to be stirred and served. The leftover champagne can then accompany a crisp green salad.

For any leftover ham from Easter,  a rose would work well, and the local Deol Winery  puts out a lovely crisp Gamay Rose, which is now available in the Riverside Beer and Wine Store.

Remember that a wine that’s too full-bodied can mask the delectable sweet and salty flavor of ham. The fruity flavors of a slightly sweet German Riesling would please those who enjoy off- dry whites, or the light fruit- forward Gamay red wine, for us who insist that reds rule.

If rosemary herbed lamb is on the menu, bear in mind that rosemary is a very good friend to red wines. Shiraz is always a fine choice, as is any Bordeaux blend, such as Mouton Cadet.

For something a little different, serve up a pork tenderloin with a lovely chilled Normandie Cider from Merridale Cidery here on the Island. And while you’re at it, snag a bottle of their winter apple cider. It’s an absolutely stunning dessert wine, and would be wonderful with a recently-released recipe from Food & Wine magazine: apple pie sundae with cheddar crust shards (hint: cheese shards go well with blackberry wine). For this dessert recipe, contact

To provide an artistic finish to the table, why not use a sculpture of marble, stone, ceramic or wood  as a centerpiece on a white table cloth (the better to see your wine, my dear!). People have wonderful large pieces tucked away in cabinets. Bring them out, dust them off, and place them on a plain white, or clear glass cake stand for more impact on a round table, on an inverted plain white oval casserole dish for a rectangular table. Check out the sculptures (and much more!) at our upcoming Kaatza Art Group spring show in May.

Dianne Coutts lives in Lake Cowichan. She writes about wine, and works in the tasting rooms of two local vineyards.