This fall, The Mick Brasserie in Scottsdale will kick off the inaugural World Cup of Wine, a series of multi-course pairing dinners that will allow different viticultural regions to go head-to-head in a competition to crown the global victor of vino. The events will be nearly weekly, on Mondays, and each dinner will feature a four-course tasting menu.
“We dreamt up this friendly competition to showcase the diversity of wines from across countries around the world,” says Jeff Menzer, The Mick’s wine director, who is affectionately called The Cork Dork by patrons and works hand in hand with co-owners and best friends, Chef Brent Menke and John Krause.
According to Menzer, when each course is served, it will be paired with two glasses of wine, each representing a popular wine region in the world.
“The wines will be poured side by side, but their labels will be completely hidden from our guests, allowing diners to blind taste each wine with the food and then vote on their favorites with no knowledge which region they are favoring,” says Menzer.
The blind pairings will be repeated all night long until all courses are served. At the close of the evening, Menzer will tally up the votes for each course, sharing which region came out victorious round by round, and which region won the evening. Throughout the interactive dinner, Menzer and special guests – including representatives from vineyards around the world – will share fun facts about each of the two regions competing that night as well as take questions from the crowd.
“We have eight total regions competing, including France, Argentina, Portugal, Chile, Italy, Australia, Spain and Mexico. Think of the competition like one might think of March Madness, where each country is in a bracket, and winners move on to our version of the Final Four and Championship Game,” says Menzer. “Each event will begin at 6 p.m. sharp and end roughly at 8:30 p.m.”
Portugal will take on Chile on Sept. 18. The menu boasts scallop crudo with squid ink aioli and a truffle vinaigrette; chicken thigh with sweet corn mousseline; smoked pork loin with potato risotto; and coconut panna cotta with mongo sorbet.
On Sept. 25, Italian wines will battle bottles from Down Under (a k a Australia), pairing with a menu featuring shallot tartare tatin with bitter greens and grape molasses; smoked steelhead trout with potato pave and seafood salad; braised lamb crepinette with English peas; and olive oil cake with lemongrass semifreddo.
The final menu of the first round, set for Oct. 3 and featuring Spain versus Mexico, is also available. It boasts shrimp ceviche with tapioca and gooseberries; braised short rib tostada with a cumin-infused corn tortilla and avocado crema; Iberico pork belly paella with chorizo and octopus; and pineapple upside down cake with coconut cream anglaise.
“Each of these first four competition dinners – our quarterfinals – is $139 plus tax and gratuity and reservations are required in advance,” said Menzer. “The winner from each of these dinners will move on to the semifinal rounds, which will take place on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23. Those dinners will be $159 plus tax and gratuity, and menus will be developed based on who is competing.” The world finals are set for Nov. 6 at the price point of $179, plus tax and gratuity.
“Oh, but that is not all,” teases Menzer. “Did you really think we would omit the United States?” Menzer plans to pit the world champion that is named on November 6 in one final dinner against wines from the United States on Nov. 13 to crown a grand champion.
While the first World Cup of Wine for the award-winning restaurant, it is not The Mick’s first competition series. This past winter, the restaurant hosted its 2nd Somm Brawl series, a similar weekly wine dinner but instead of pitting regions against each other, it gave sommeliers from across Arizona the chance to compete with their colleagues and friends. The series brought together the biggest experts in wine from across State 48, including Katherine Janowiak of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits; Wesam Kawa of Du Coeur Restaurant; Sarah Byrne of Breakthru Beverage Group; Laura Bruno of elements; Samantha Fank of Quench Fine Wines; Daniel Webber of Maple & Ash; Jason Caballero of Wrigley Mansion; and Troy Tranzow of Prime, A Shula’s Steak House.
Webber ended up pulling the victory in the finals against Bruno in front of a sold-out crowd, helping put the wheels in motion for this fall-timed series.
“Our aim with these events is to bring people together, and also to open guests’ eyes to the big world of food and wine out there just waiting for them to sink their teeth into,” said Menzer. “And, of course, it is just damn fun.”
For more information or for reservations, visit www.themickaz.com.
9719 N. Hayden Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258