BYOIV at the Peking Duck House


On what seemed to be the first really warm evening of Spring, May 12th,
the Wine Century Club hosted its first BYOIV event at the Peking Duck House
on Mott Street in Lower Manhattan.

The intent or idea of a Chinese restaurant was twofold, mainly to demonstrate
that there are lots of wines that you can pair with this popular style of
cuisine other than say a Riesling, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc whose
citrus and acidic properties perfectly offset the sometimes starchy and
glutinous qualities of Chinese food. But also due to the availability of
BYO at this particular restaurant, the focus could be on a gathered assortment
of wines served around an inexpensive yet banquet style meal.

The lower ground floor of the Peking Duck House was lined with 6 large
tables, each equipped with a revolving ‘lazy susan’, makeshift
spittoon and water jug, along with place settings for about 10 people per
table. As guests arrived, they were given tags to affix to their wine glass
marked with their name and the major wine grape variety found in the wine
they had chosen to bring. Some bottles were immediately opened at a central
table so that drinking could commence, while some of the whites were placed
in a large ice-bucket for cooling.

At about 7.30pm when the last of the guests were being seated Steve De
Long, President and founder of the Wine Century Club welcomed the crowd
and announced that three wines were to be blind tasted through the dinner.
Ballots were handed out with each wine presented as a multiple choice option,
guests were to fill them in and hand them back at the end of the meal before
answers would be revealed. Prizes were at hand for any winners as an additional

The ‘banquet’ style meal was five delicious courses long, which
gave plenty of time to not only blind taste the 3 bagged wines on each table,
but also to do considerable tasting of the ‘pot luck’ assortment
of wine that was travelling around each table on the lazy susan. For example
at Table F there was a Huxelrebe, Cabernet Franc, Pinotage, Chenin Blanc,
Colorino, Greco di Tufo, Trousseau Gris, Semillon and Gruner Veltliner,
all providing immense variety, many flavours and of course unexpected pairings!
One guest, Breck Baldwin, eager to try even more different grape varieties,
decided to rotate a few of the wines by doing a ‘swap’ with
other tables. As he circulated around the tables some clever bartering had
to come into play – one guest was not quite ready to share her Frick
Cinsaut, and the crowd at another table may have been unduly open to suggestion
when they parted with a 1990 Barolo!

There were four people that got 2 out of 3 wines correct for the blind
tasting; this was no small feat as there were 6 choices on each of the multiple
choices and the wines were somewhat out of the ordinary – a chardonnay
and cabernet sauvignon from China, and a Lemberger (more popularly known
as Austria’s Blaufrankisch) from Germany. The winners were Richard
Hochman, Willie Norkin, Georges Rouan and Sue Belau. Each was awarded
one of the new Grape Variety T Shirts from the makers of the De Long Wine
Grape Varietal table.

Blind-tasting wines for the evening were generously donated by Century Club Member Mark Bachmann of International Boutique Wines, LLC (WG Grantschen 2001 Lemberger).
and Arn Kawano of AK’s World of Wines (Dragon Seal Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon)