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Second Tuesday Wine Dinner Series

Arizona's only AAA Five-Diamond/Forbes Five-Star restaurant, Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa will host a wine dinner series in partnership with several acclaimed vineyards the second Tuesday of every month, April through July, 2012.

Kai's Wine Dinner Series invites you on a virtual driving tour of the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. Join us for food and drink that celebrates the epic vistas, rich terrior and great diversity that together create our nation's Pacific Coastline. Like the PCH, as it bends, rises and boasts, so too will our events inspire you along the journey.

Beginning in April of 2012, and hosting one each month through July, Kai will pair its award-winning cuisine with wines from vineyards along the West Coast. Kai will present (4) six-course dinner events that will pair the month's winery with cuisine influenced by its flavors. These events will be offered to a limited number of guests and will be priced at $140 per person. Each guest is invited to a private reception with hors d'oeuvres beginning at 6:30 p.m. The six-course dinner with wine pairings will then follow with seating at 7:00 p.m.
  • Beginning in Washington and working south, the first event on Tuesday, April 10, will be held in partnership with DeLille Cellars of Woodinville, Washington.
    • Founded in 1992, DeLille Cellars is a family and independently-owned winery located in Woodinville, Washington. Earning a reputation for its Bordeaux-style blended red and white wines, and Rhône and Provence-style blended red and white wines, DeLille Cellars aims to make the very best handcrafted, old-world style red and white wines made in Eastern Washington State. With an uncompromising philosophy about the quality of wine in each bottle, DeLille Cellars has received many accolades from Wine Spectator, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Steven Tanzer's International Wine Review, The Robb Report, Decanter Magazine, The Wine Enthusiast, Connoisseur's Guide, Food and Wine and has been selected as the Winery of the Year 2000 by New York Times on the web.

  • The second wine dinner on Tuesday, May 8, will be held in partnership with the iconic Elk Cove of Willamette Valley, Oregon.
    • Founded in 1974, Elk Cove Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery that covers over 220 acres on four separate sites in Northern Willamette Valley, Oregon. With a focus to produce hand-crafted, estate-grown wines that rival the best in the world, Elk Cove Vineyards uses sustainable agricultural practices on all its vineyards. The steep south facing slopes of Willakenzie and Laurelwood soil types with excellent drainage, provide the perfect environment to grow the world class wine grapes that are the basis for creating Elk Cove wines.

  • The third wine dinner on Tuesday, June 12, will be held in partnership with Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, California.
    • Located on the west side of Paso Robles, this property dates to the 1880s, when it was part of a 3,000-acre ranch owned by Paso Robles pioneer Edwin Smith. The vineyard is planted to many different grape varieties both Bordeaux and Rhone-style, plus Zinfandel, Tannat and Tempranillo. The vines are planted on steep, south-facing slopes reaching 1800 feet in elevation and boasting soils rich in limestone, a feature of many of the world's finest vineyards. High-density plantings, multiple clones and rootstocks, and low yields enable us to produce fruit of superb quality.

  • And the final wine dinner of this series will be held on Tuesday, July 10. Fittingly, it will be held in partnership with one of our very own, the celebrated Pillsbury Winery of Cottonwood, Arizona.
    • Pillsbury Wine Company is the dream-come-true project by New Zealand Film Director and Winemaker, Sam Pillsbury. Sam flew into Arizona to shoot a pilot for Universal Pictures and fell in love with an Arizona girl and the Arizona landscape simultaneously. Growing up in New Zealand, Sam witnessed the phenomenon of growing classical wine grapes in unusual places. Then on a camping trip in Arizona thought he could try the same thing here. The location he picked was a high-altitude desert valley in Cochise County, 200 miles SE of Phoenix. This all came from a desire to create a distinctive regional Boutique wine that was 100% Arizona and 100% original. He gambled that the high-altitude, endless sunshine, sandy loam and dry desert would make for a perfect Terroir, and in 2000 he planted 20 acres of Rhone varieties. It worked. The Vineyard lies at 4,300 feet above sea level. The soil is an almost perfectly PH balanced well-drained sandy loam. This altitude yields day temperatures identical to the Rhone Valley, with high-desert cool nights, perfect for grape-ripening (average summer high, June, 96 degrees, dropping more than 30 degrees at night to the low '60s).
Please save the date(s). Reservations for these special evenings will be limited and required. To secure your reservations please contact, Rosina Dee at 602-385-5726 or Rosina.Dee@sheraton.com.
Executive Chef Michael O'Dowd's Flavor of the Month:

How to Blind Taste

The art of blind tasting is a finely tuned skill of sommeliers the world over. And yet, it has no practical purpose on the dining room floor. It can, however, allow sommeliers to better describe wines and pair them with food with ease. As for the casual drinker, it can greatly enhance your enjoyment of a nice wine. With that said, here we present a crash course in blind tasting. For brevity we will focus on reds.

The first step is to evaluate what the wine looks like. The things you are evaluating are the color, opacity, rim variation, presence of sediment and extraction. To evaluate, tilt the glass away from you at a 45 degree angle. The color tells you several things instantly. Is it light red and easy to read through? You should start to edge towards thinner skinned grapes like Pinot Noir and Grenache. Or is it, inky, dark purple and stains the glass as you roll it around? You might have a thick skinned grape like Zin, Cab, Merlot, or even Petite Sirah. Rim variation refers to a changing of the color of the wine from the center to the outer edge. If the color goes from darker ruby to a brick red on the outside, it could be an older wine. Presence of sediment can also indicate an older wine and it also should naturally exclude lighter grapes like Pinot. A bright, almost glowing magenta can be a sign of Malbec. Of course none of these are 100% truths, but you can start to narrow down choices as you move along the process.

The nose comes next. This is often hailed as the most important part of blind tasting. Conversely, it is also the most difficult. This is where building a strong vocabulary of aromas lets you pull from memory to describe what you are smelling. As subjective as it may be, wines from the same grape and area can frequently share many similar aromas. Wines from the Old World tend to have less fruit and more rustic Earth tones, or even tobacco in the case of Bordeaux. New World wines tend to have much more fruit and higher alcohol. A common tactic is to close your eyes and try to imagine that you are not smelling wine at all. This can help jog your memory of smelling other fruits and objects. Some basics: Lighter strawberry/cherry fruits with earth notes? Think Pinot Noir. Darker berry, cassis, pencil shavings? Cab. Plum, figs and cocoa? Merlot. Spicy, big mix of blue and black fruit? Syrah. Smells like alcoholic fruit jam? Zinfandel.

The palate is essentially confirming that it tastes the same way it smells. You also want to evaluate the wine's structure. If the wine tastes tart and makes your mouth water, it may have high acidity. If it grips your mouth and makes your lips stick to your teeth it has high tannin. Wines low in each may be said to taste "round" or "flabby." Examples of wines that can be high in each include: Cab, Syrah, Sangiovese and Bordeaux. Pinot Noir and Merlot are generally high acid but very low in tannin. You also want to evaluate how long the flavor lingers on the palate after you swallow or the "finish." If it lasts more than 8 seconds the finish is considered to be good and the wine of potentially high quality. Vanilla or caramel can be an indication of American oak. Herbal, cedar and pepper notes can indicate use of French oak.

So concludes this very brief primer on blind tasting. None of these are an always constant rule, which makes our job a continual learning process. A process that involves many tastings - not the worst part of the job!
Allow us to introduce you to one of Kai's elite members, Jason Tanigawa.

A passionate team-member, Jason has been contributing to Kai for two years. A Scottsdale Culinary Institute graduate with a passion for perfection, he brings a great amount of experience to Kai and his role as a Garde Manger Cook. Prior to joining the Kai team, Jason served in several other fine-dining restaurants, such as The Phoenician, Roy's and the Boulders Resort.

In his free time, Jason loves to read cookbooks and spend time with his new wife.

Jason aspires to one day move back to Hawaii and open his own restaurant, which he plans to name "Woo's."
Kai is proud to once again be participating in Devoured Culinary Classic, a premier food and wine festival presented by The Arizona Republic, and benefiting Phoenix Art Museum and Local First Arizona, which will be held on March 10-11, from 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at Phoenix Art Museum. Experience a creative fusion of Native American cuisine with Global accents when Kai is in attendance on Sunday, March 11th, the second of this two-day affair.

Enjoy a picture-perfect desert springtime afternoon, as you indulge, sip and amble through the museum's Sculpture Gardens, where the event will be held. From lively food experiences assembled by some of Phoenix's most creative chefs, to the bountiful showcase of local artisans, farms and food purveyors, this event promises to please.

Devoured guests will also receive general admission to Phoenix Art Museum, where Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century, will be on view during the festival.

Daily tickets are $69 through March 9 and $79 at the door. Two-day tickets are $130 in advance and $150 at the door. For tickets visit: www.ProTix.com or call 1.866.977.6849. For complete event information visit: www.devouredphoenix.com.
5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler, AZ 85226  |  Get Directions  |  Phone: 602.385.5726
Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM | Friday - Saturday 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Closed Sunday - Monday | Reservations are strongly recommended