LDV Winery owners Peggy Fianduca and Curt Dunham miss the comradery that comes with pouring glasses of wine for their customers at their Scottsdale tasting room. Forced to close amid coronavirus concerns, the couple came up with a way to bring people together virtually while sheltering in place at their vineyard in southeastern Arizona – online cooking classes.
“We’ve always loved to cook and we’ve always loved entertaining and everything about bringing people to the table and cooking together and drinking great wine,” Fianduca says. “In the past, we’ve done supper clubs where we cook and pair wine together and sit around the table and enjoy supper with people, so this is kind of an extension of our love of cooking and wine.”
“From the LDV Winery Vineyard Kitchen” is a series of Facebook Live sessions scheduled every Thursday at 4 p.m. through May 7. Guests can visit the LDV winery Facebook page and join Fianduca and Dunham as they prepare dinner made with items they currently have in their pantry, and provide wine tips and pairing suggestions for each meal.
Fianduca says cooking along is not required – participants can simply sit back, sip some LDV wine and socialize.
“It’s important for us to have people feel connected to our brand when we’re not open for daily business,” Fianduca says. “Our brand is about our connection to people, our customers, our community and this is just an extension of that virtually trying to connect with people, since we can’t do it on a daily basis through our tasting room.”
LDV specializes in single varietal wines such as Grenache, Petit Sirah, Viognier and Syrah.
“We make high quality, sustainable wine,” Fianduca says. “These are gluten-free, vegan wines and we try to reuse everything in the winemaking process.”
She adds that making a good meal isn’t all that different than making a good wine. A sense of smell is a key component in both processes, she says.
“When we’re making wine, we’re always smelling that wine all along the way to make sure it’s evolving and what stage the wine is in when it’s sitting in the barrel becoming a great bottle of wine,” she says. “Same thing with food. A lot of people depend on only tasting the food, but you should be able to smell it in order to really determine the nuances of the dish so you can tell if it’s over-spiced or undercooked.”
Fianduca planned the menu for the cooking series based on what she already had at home. She also wanted to showcase a variety of wines that pair well with each dish.
“Choose your wine first and then choose the dish to go with it because you can always modify your recipe, but you can’t modify the wine,” she advises.
She also suggests cooking with a dry or semi-dry wine and avoiding sweet wines, which will overpower the dish. A good rule of thumb, she says, is to serve the same wine that you cook with.
“Don’t ever cook with wine that you would not drink,” she says.
This Thursday, April 16, Fianduca and Dunham will be cooking spicy shrimp pasta paired with LDV’s 2014 Sky Island Syrah. April 23 will feature flatbreads three ways with 2013 Sky Island Petite Sirah. April 30 will focus on grilled ribeye steak with firecracker onions and roasted potatoes, paired with 2014 The Signature Petite Sirah and on May 7, they will prepare pork tenderloin with fire-roasted pepper sauce and Mexican corn paired with 2015 DECADE Red Wine Blend.
Fianduca hopes that the cooking classes will both boost sales and bring the community together.
“We’re very optimistic,” she says. “We’ll pull through and be better on the other side.”