Bringing Out the Best

Local wine aficionado and business owner John Dykema Jr. talks wine pairing and the 29th Annual KEDT Food and Wine Classic.

By: Dayna Worchel

Pairing wine with food during special occasions doesn’t have to be a daunting task to intimidate the host. The goal of a fine wine should be to complement a meal and help bring out the best flavor in the food instead of overpowering it, according to John Dykema Jr., a local, self-described wine aficionado and business owner. For instance, with a main course of turkey or ham, he says it’s a good idea to serve a wine like a Pinot Noir, a Merlot, or a Cabernet. “White wines can be overpowered by the fruit, sugar and salts in a typical turkey dinner,” he says.

If someone serves a soup or salad as the first course, the type of wine depends on the type of appetizer. “A light soup doesn’t really need a wine because most wines would overpower the taste of it,” Dykema says. “Creamy soups or stuffed mushrooms would go well with Chablis and other inexpensive white burgundies such as Alsace Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and other neutral Italian whites such as Soave, Spanish Albarine and crisp Sauvignon Blancs like Pouilly Fumè or Sancerre.”

Choosing wines to be served with a salad can be complicated because there are so many kinds, he says. For instance, a Greek salad with the dominant ingredients of feta cheese and olives only can work well with a “good citrusy white Sauvignon Blanc.” The same wine is a good choice for a goat cheese salad. “Once you introduce meat into a salad, you’re better off to think in terms of reds than whites,” Dykema says. “Pinot Noir is the obvious pairing, and other light-bodied reds from southwest France work well, too.”

He recommends a sweet, white wine called a Sauterne as a good dessert wine that can stand on its own. “Alternatively, there are various Port wines, which are a delicious closer to a wonderful meal,” he says. And a good choice to accompany a slice of apple, pecan or pumpkin pie is an Ice Wine.

“They are generally made from Riesling, Vidal Blanc or Vignoles grapes harvested after the first frost. Silky and rich, Ice Wines are lusciously sweet and full of concentrated flavor, with a vibrant acidity that keeps them fresh-feeling,” Dykema says, adding that they usually pair well with desserts made with fruits such as nectarines, peaches or apples.

Dykema knows of what he speaks. He’s been co-host of both the 29th Annual KEDT Food and Wine Classic and the accompanying VIP Party for the past 20 years with his wife, Biby Dykema. Together, they own Dykema Architects, which designed the new KEDT studios on South Staples.

“I enjoy seeing all of my friends, and I enjoy giving back to the station. I listen to it all of the time,” Biby Dykema says. “The best part is that all of the money raised goes directly to the station. The wine is donated, and the place is donated. We don’t have a lot of overhead, so this is a really good fundraiser.”

The VIP reception on Jan. 24 will take place at the KEDT studios. “It’s a beautiful facility. We are excited to host our patrons while they enjoy an evening of great food, wine and fellowship in what is essentially their station,” says Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger, director of fundraising events at KEDT.

There will be live musical performances inside the Grace Dobson studio and throughout the building. A photographer will take photos of guests as they arrive to a red-carpet entrance, with guests receiving a four-by-six commemorative photo to keep. A top local caterer will provide a specialty food sampling, and presenting sponsor H-E-B will provide the selection of wine tastings at both the VIP and main events.

On Jan. 26 the Food and Wine Classic event will take place at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. “An assortment of wine tables with world-class imported and domestic wines and over 20 restaurants and caterers offering gourmet food will be featured throughout the museum,” Koepp-Stemplinger says. The semi-formal evening will include live musical performances and a photo booth.

The tradition of the partnership between the Butt family, owners of H-E-B, and South Texas Public Broadcasting goes back to the early 1970s. Charles Butt, then a Corpus Christi resident, collaborated with a group of Corpus Christi businessmen to bring a PBS station to South Texas.

If you go:
The VIP reception for the 29th Annual KEDT Food and Wine Classic will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 24 at KEDT Studios (3205 S. Staples). The cost is $200 for the VIP reception, which also allows for entry into the KEDT Food and Wine Classic at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History on Jan. 26.

And the 29th Annual Food and Wine Classic will be held from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History (1900 N. Chaparral St.). The cost to attend the Food and Wine Classic alone is $100.

Tickets may be purchased online, at the station or at the door on the night of the event. For more information, go to www.kedt.org.

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