What does Alzheimer’s disease and wine pairing have in common? The short answer is Beta Alpha Chi sorority.

The local Beta Chi chapter hosted their annual wine pairing fundraiser at Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard in Bristol this past week. Proceeds from this and other activities through the past two years will be donated to the organization’s Alzheimer’s research during their national convention next month in Kalamazoo.

This was the third year that I was asked to coordinate with the winery and present selected wine pairing with food. Food items were provided by sorority members based on my suggestions.

The owner/winemaker of Fruit Hills is David Muir, who is assisted by his wife, Michele, and son and daughter-in-law Nathan and Brittany. Since the winery opened in 2010, his wines have won a number of medals in competition.

Take a peek below at the tasting lineup, with some feedback on the wine pairing.

  • Dry Riesling (0 percent residual sugar [RS]): There were both chilled shrimp in cocktail sauce and a veggie pizza bites for sampling. Consensus was the veggie bites were the favored pairing, although the shrimp was a close second.
  • Semi-dry Pinot Grigio (1.5 percent RS): Chicken tenders were offered with several sauces. To my amazement, the horseradish mustard was preferred with the fruity, medium-bodied wine. I had to agree.
  • This and That White (5.5 percent RS): A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Traminette. Skewers of Asian spiced beef dipped in a peanut sauce worked nicely with the complex, aromatic wine.
  • This and That Red (0 percent RS): A blend of Noiret, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Ham roll-ups were available, but I thought the ham flavors were muted by the cream cheese filling, which didn’t match well with the dark fruit flavors of the wine.
  • Marquette (0 percent RS): This medium-bodied wine, with a hint of oak, was enjoyed with barbecue meatballs.
  • Cherry (7 percent RS): This wine was more tart than sweet. but when paired with ripe strawberries it resulted in a pleasing rhubarb profile. Dark chocolates also showcased well with the wine.
Beta Alpha Chi member Karol Phillips wore event appropriate footwear to the Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard wine pairing fundraising. Photo supplied by Michele Muir, Fruit Hills Winery
Beta Alpha Chi member Karol Phillips wore event appropriate footwear to the Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard wine pairing fundraising.
Photo supplied by Michele Muir, Fruit Hills Winery

The evening concluded with a refreshing slush drink made with Make Me Blush (8 percent RS), a predominately Concord grape wine. It was terrific with peanut butter cookies.

Wine slushies have recently become a popular summer option at wineries, even in California. Slushies may be made with either white or red wine by adding water and a powdered mix. A Divine Icy Wine mix product, Sweet Red, was used. Several powdered mixes are available for purchase at the winery.

For readers who prefer dry reds, sample the Malbec (0 percent RS) that David recently released. I suggest the Bordeaux-style Two Shades of Red (0 percent RS), which is a Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend.

From all indications, the attendees enjoyed themselves and left with new insights about wine, their preferences and how wine can complement food. And besides, it was for a good cause!

VIGNETTES:

  • Beta Chi is a national philanthropic sorority which celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2018. The local Alpha chapter has been active in Elkhart County since 1971.
  • Fruit Hills Winery traces its history to the original family homestead, which was established in 1852 at the Bristol location. Fruit farming, which has included pears, apples, cherries and peaches, began in 1898. Grapes have been grown since the winery opened. David represents the sixth generation living and working on the property.
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