I often start an evening with a handcrafted cocktail but if I’m running short on time or my guests aren’t into spirits, I want to ensure my wine pairing is the perfect match for whatever I’m serving. Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I whipped up this Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears for a little pre-feast snack. As I was mid-prep, slicing pears and stripping thyme, a wave of panic washed over me as I realized I didn’t have any wine to serve with this decadent appetizer.
Knowing I’d be losing precious minutes of prep time to make a last-minute run to my local LCBO, I didn’t want to run down the clock Googling suggested wine pairings for brie. Luckily, a few months ago I was introduced to a new app called Somm™.
This post is sponsored by Somm™.
I downloaded the (FREE!) app immediately after sharing a virtual stage with Jennifer Tremblay, founder of Somm™, on a panel during the Restaurants Canada show back in the spring. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with how the app has continued to evolve in the intervening months to offer a multifaceted platform that takes the intimidation factor out of wine, offers enhanced hospitality experiences, and connects consumers to independent bottle shops, wineries, and agencies across Ontario. Toronto Life and even Forbes have noticed how this new Canadian tech company is shaking up the hospitality scene in the best way for consumers and businesses alike.
In the midst of my wine emergency on Saturday, I whipped out my phone and used the app’s brilliant recommendation engine to take the guesswork out of selecting the perfect wine (press play on the Instagram Reel embedded above to watch the app in action). The app is fully integrated with the LCBO inventory and uses data science to suggest a carefully curated array of bottles suited to whatever you’re serving. It also lets you pick your ideal price point by organizing wines into cheaper, moderate, and pricier bottles. I opted for a moderate bottle and picked a Chablis called La Chablisienne Les Venerables Vielles Vignes that was available at my nearest LCBO.
When I got home, I popped the cork to do a little quality assurance before serving it to my guests (and maybe to calm my frayed nerves, just a little). The Chablis was serving me a crisp and concentrated palate of green apple, nuts, and herbs – utter perfection with my Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears.
I’m delighted to report that the rest of my meal prep went off without a hitch and my guests and I thoroughly enjoyed our perfect pairing. I’m definitely going to be leaning heavily on Somm™ for all my future wine needs.
Aside from the genius recommendation engine, another favourite feature of the app is its Marketplace which unlocks the world of wine and lets you support local bottle shops, wineries, and independent agencies. Somm™ users and members can access wines that were previously reserved for private buyers and commercial clientele. There are few things I like better than an exclusive food and drink experience and being able to support local businesses is really the cherry (or should I say grape?) on top.
I’ve also found that it comes in handy when I’m at a restaurant and want to get a better sense of which wines would work best with my meal. Yes, I could talk to the sommelier at the restaurant, and I often do, but not all sommeliers leave you with the warm and fuzzies when you have questions. With the app, I have a Somm in my pocket, without the pretension.
If you’re looking for a perfect wine pairing in seconds or want to tap into a wider world of wine and enhanced hospitality experiences, I encourage you to download the Somm™ app today. iPhone users can download the app Apple App Store and Android users can find it in the Google Play Store.
And don’t worry, if the dreamy cheese pull shot above has you drooling, I’ve included the recipe for my Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears below. Cheers!
Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears
These Caramelized Pears and Baked Brie are a perfect fall or winter appetizer served with crostini, toasted pecans and fresh thyme.
- 1 baguette sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 8 oz/250 g round Brie cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped toasted pecans
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1 pear thinly sliced
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup pear juice
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 tbsp cognac
- 1 tbsp pear juice
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1 tsp packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Arrange baguette slices on a large rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 6 minutes, flipping halfway. Let cool partially on baking sheets.
In nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat; fry shallot, pear, salt and pepper until shallot is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add pear juice, apple cider, cognac, thyme and sugar; bring to boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until no liquid remains and pear is softened, about 5 minutes. (Make-ahead: Let cool. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours.)
Place brie in the centre of a cast iron skillet; top with pear mixture. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until cheese is softened, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and fresh thyme.
Surround the wheel of brie with crostini – serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from: “Baked Brie with Caramelized Pear” Canadian Living. December 2005.