World’s Largest Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill

written by Julie Cohn

World’s Largest Wine Dinner.  It’s not every day one can say they attended such an event, yet on March 21st, I visited my local Carrabba’s Italian Grill, raised a glass (or two…or three) with 7,000 of my closest friends, and did exactly that.   See why Carrabba’s Italian Grill is becoming as well known for their wines as their Italian dishes, and find out how you can attend one of Carrabba’s fabulous wine dinners.

Thank you to Carrabba’s for hosting me.  My opinions are my own.

World’s Largest Wine Dinner

What did it take for Carrabba’s Italian Grill to achieve the world’s largest wine dinner?  In a nutshell, it involved one night (March 21st), all 244 of Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations across the United States, and over 7,000 guests collectively gathering for an exclusive wine dinner.  It also involved 28,000 Italian dishes and 4,000 uncorked bottles of wine.  In fact, the dinner was conceived to celebrate Carrabba’s new wine menu, featuring forty-two new wines hand picked by Carrabba’s sommelier, Brittany DeLoach, including four new appellations, three new varietals, pairing suggestions, and flavor profiles to guide dining guests.

Carabba’s Wine Dinner

I attended the dinner with my friend, Kathy, not sure what to expect.  We were led to two long tables, with twelve seats at each table.  The dining room was full of guests, and everyone looked at us like we were celebrities, and that night we were, as we were part of the World’s Largest Wine Dinner!  At our table were a group of teachers on spring break, their festive mood contagious.  We were greeted cordially by staff, who explained the four-course dinner and the wines that would be paired with each course.  As each dish arrived, I kept thinking to myself “this is Carrabba’s?”  I was surprised not just by the presentation and quality of the dishes, but by the wonderful selection of wines, and by staff knowledge of each wine.  I was already familiar with several of the wines, including the Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, and was impressed with the care that had been taken to pair the flavors.

First Course:  Insalata Fiorucci

  • Wine Pairing: Chloe Pinot Grigio

Mixed field greens with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and grilled eggplant topped with hazelnut-crusted goat cheese.

  • Note:  I am not a fan of hazelnut, but the hazelnut-crusted goat cheese on top of the grilled eggplant, then blended into the salad with the roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts was incredible.  The Chloe Pinot Grigio, a crisp wine with a hint of lemon and green grass, paired perfectly with the salad.

Second Course: Calabrian Cavatappi

  • Wine Pairing: Pieropan Soave

Cavatappi (spiral) pasta tossed with spicy Italian peppers, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, and basil, then topped with creamy half melted burrata.

  • Note:  The burrata (mozzarella) melted into the pasta was heavenly.  The Soave was light and fruity, balancing the bold flavors of the peppers in the pasta.

Third Course: Choice of Veal Marsala or Tuscan-Grilled Sirloin

  • Wine Pairing: Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon

Veal, sauteed in a marsala sauce with mushrooms, or 9 oz. sirloin grilled in olive oil and herbs.

  • Note:  I had the veal marsala and Kathy had the sirloin.  My veal was cooked perfectly and sauteed in a light marsala sauce so the flavor was not overpowering.  Kathy enjoyed her sirloin, but 9 oz is a large piece, so she took half home for later. The Sequoia Grove is already one of my favorite go-to Cabs, so I was thrilled to see it on the menu.  A bold red wine with notes of cherry and vanilla, this wine ends with a smooth smoky finish.

Fourth Course: Sogno Di Cioccolata “Chocolate Dream”

  • Wine Pairing: Joel Gatt Zinfandal

A chocolate brownie topped with chocolate mousse, whipped cream. and drenched in a decadent chocolate sauce.

  • Note:  O-M-G.  This dessert was delightful and all the ladies at the table were swooning.  No one skipped dessert that night.  The Zinfandel, with black cherry and spice notes, paired well with the chocolate.

Carrabba’s Wine & Food Festival Menu

If you did not get a chance to make the World’s Largest Wine Dinner, there is still hope.  For a limited time, Carrabba’s Italian Grill will continue to feature their new wines with a Signature Pairings menu, showcasing several wines, including those that are specific to Carrabba’s, such as the Pieropan Soave.  Carrabba’s will also feature a Festival of Wine flights, where guests can sample three wines paired with small plates.

Carrabba’s will continue to host a monthly wine dinner at most of their locations, by reservation only.  For more information about the new wine menu and wine dinners, please visit Carrabba’s Italian Grill website for more information.

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