Merry Edwards

Merry Edwards

I recently had the privilege of serving as master of ceremonies at the Women of Influence Awards Dinner here in Tucson. It was my 11th year as emcee for this event, which I’m told is enough to make me an honorary woman of influence.

 Talk about your bio booster.

 This got me thinking about the industries historically dominated by men that have started to see women emerge as influential in their own right.

The wine industry tops the list, and the work of one of the most influential women in the business, Merry Edwards, will be showcased at a wine dinner on April 12 at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road.

In 2013, Edwards was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame, and became the fourth woman ever to have earned the James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional in the United States.

“I have always been a fan of Merry and her wines,” said John Kulikowski, director of wine and spirits at the Hacienda del Sol. “The Merry Edwards Winery, in the heart of California’s Russian River Valley, puts out top quality wines year in and year out, and we’ll be presenting some of her very best at our Merry Edwards wine dinner.”

The first course will pair Edwards’ Fume Blanc with a crab and pear salad with avocado mousse, limonium gelee, fennel and cucumber.

“This is possibly the best fume ever,” said Kulikowski. “Its grassy and herbal notes, together with its bracing acidity, make it the perfect pairing with this lovely salad.”

Course number two features Edwards’ chardonnay alongside a carrot custard brulee with a pea emulsion, greens, puffed quinoa, and young fern fronds known as fiddleheads.

Kulikowski raves about this pairing, promising that the “creamy richness of this chardonnay, balanced by its vanilla and butterscotch notes, will make a natural connection with the custard.”

Two of the winery’s pinot noir selections will be served with the third course to give guests the opportunity to decide which they prefer as a companion for the hay roast squab with a date-pancetta relish, crumbled pistachio, rhubarb foam, and Cognac cumin demi.

“The dark meat of this squab screams for some extracted pinots with suggestions of dried cherry, cranberry and earth,” he said.

If you have room for the dessert course, Kulikowski points to Edwards’ Late Harvest Sauvignon as the ideal pairing with the mango cardamom mousse with pineapple granita, lychees, toasted meringue, and sweet potato gaufrette.

He tells me that these grapes are left on the vine a little longer to spike the sugar content. When the acid and sugar work together, it creates a balance that he says will bring out the best in that mousse.

“The sugar and the acid are like the yin and the yang,” he said.

The Merry Edwards wine dinner is $95 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 529-3500.

Edwards’ bio suggests that she is much like her wines in many ways, “complex, balanced, and memorable.”

The only thing missing in this description is “influence” and there’s no question that this woman wields it with every wine she makes.

 (Editor’s Note: Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at mrussell@russellpublic.com. Russell is also the host of “On the Menu Live” that airs 4-5 p.m. Saturdays on KEVT Power Talk 1210-AM, as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030-AM.)