Last night, Amy and I attended Old Ebbitt Grill's 10th Annual International Wines for Oysters Competition where we were asked to be judges. This, to me, was interesting since I have a fairly novice palete when it comes to pairing wines with oysters, but I was assured by the organizers that the only requirement was a love of oysters, which I most definitely have.
The purpose of the competition is to judge how each wine pairs with oysters. In this case, the oysters were Olympia Oysters, from Washington. Michael Franz (from The Washington Post) and Paul Lucaks (from The Times and Washingtonian), both oyster enthusiasts and wine columnsts, managed to pare down the list of wines from over 400 to 20. Those 20 wines were the ones that Amy and I were responsible for judging which paired best with oysters. The winning 10 wines will be served at Old Ebbits Oyster Riot on November 18th and 19th.
Amy and I humbly accepted the honor of judging the wines and at the time, we didn't know who the other judges were. We found out later that the list of judges was quite distinguished and I was quite proud to be included with them. Here's the list of judges:
- Phyllis Richman, author, freelance writer, former food critic for The Washington Post
- Gerald Boyd, wine writer, San Francisco Chronicle
- Michael Birchenall, Editor & Publisher, Foodservice Monthly
- Michael Franz, former wine columnist for The Washington Post and wine consultant
- Tom Meyer, executive vice president, Clyde's Restaurant Group
- Antonin Scalia, US Supreme Court Justice
- Marc Silverstein, author, host of Food Network's "The Best Of" and a new Discovery Channel show
- Ronald Kessler, author
- Alexandra Greeley, author, freelance writer, Slow Food
- Sabato Sagaria, F&B Director at Greenbriar Sporting Club
- Traci Dutton, F&B manager & at CIA in Napa
- Amanda McClements, Roll Call, Washingtonian, (and also of Metrocurean!)
- Peter Abrahams, publisher of DC Magazine
The event was very organized right down to the pouring of the wines which was completely synchronized. I guess that comes from doing this event 10 years in a row. Props go to the organizers who had a tough job organizing the selection of the wines and judges.
The judges all sat around a large table in a private room downstairs at Old Ebbitt Grill. Each seat had a complete setting of 20 glasses and each glass was labeled with a letter. We also had a clipboard for scoring each wine. Once everyone was seated and the rules were explained to us, an entire plate of Olympia Oysters were put in front of each of us and the blind tasting began. All in all, I probably ate close to 30 or 40 oysters. The oysters were all perfect -- briney and salty like they should be and incredibly fresh.
After the judging, we all assembled upstairs in a private bar area, ate more oysters and had dinner -- I don't think I've ever eaten so many oysters, but it was all wonderful. Dinner was great and very typical of just about every meal I've eaten at Old Ebbitt. Of course, I only ordered the fish and chips since I wasn't that hungry. But the waiter brought some of the utterly delicious crab artichoke dip, which I couldn't help but dig into.
I'd tell you the list of wines that won, but they're in a "lock box" until they're announced officially by Clydes Restaurant Group themselves. Last year's winners can be found here.