Flight Plan Wine and Tapas
As a self-proclaimed Food Ambassador for Huntsville and the greater area, I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that offer unique experiences. Located in the Jones Valley shopping center of South Huntsville, Flight Plan Wine and Tapas is a hidden gem in the city’s flourishing food scene. Whether you fancy yourself as a budding wine expert or simply desire elegant eats in casual digs, it’s easy to see why Flight Plan has quickly become a must-visit culinary destination of the city.
From the moment you walk in, you’re greeted with a friendly smile. That’s Belinda Taylor and she’ll waste no time personally guiding you through this experience. Along with her husband, Chef Jim, it’s their sense of passion and dedication that’s immediately apparent when your gaze meets careful attention put into the ambiance and décor. The menu takes that assumption a step further by merging a variety of culinary influences with an extensive selection of wine. Not a wine fan? Don’t worry, they have you covered with ample beer and whisky offerings.
One of the things I love about Flight Plan is how they approach their wine program. It’s not an exhausting wine menu inundating onlookers with endless possibilities, selections are clearly categorized, and the wines rotate frequently. Still, there’s a wide selection representing the predominant wine-making regions of the world. Flights are a fun way to try these varieties without committing to a full glass. Aptly named because they feel more like a journey around the world full of education and excitement. Partakers even get a specialized placemat that clues them in on which wine they are sampling, the tasting notes for each, and the order in which they should drink.
I chose the “Hurrah for Syrah” wine flight, which featured four different wines, each with its unique flavor profile. I’ll incorporate these throughout the article, along with my personal food pairings, since that was how I enjoyed them. Try them for yourself and relive the moment!
Appetizer: Stuffed Dates
Wine Pairing: The Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone 2021
Everyone whose ever been to Flight Plan knows one thing: you must start with the Stuffed Dates. These really are the perfect beginning to the meal. Stuffed with Spanish chorizo, wrapped with bacon, and deep-fried, these delicious morsels of goodness are drizzled with a balsamic glaze to give that perfect contrast of savory and sweet.
The Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone 2021 from Rhône, France was the first wine on the flight. This wine presents a deep ruby color with a fruity aroma of blackberries, plums, and gingerbread-like spice. On the palate, the wine had medium tannins with flavors of black cherries and black pepper.
Tapas: Beef and Potato Empanadas
Tapas: Spicy Pork Belly
Wine Pairing: Penfolds Max’s Shiraz 2020
The Beef and Potato Empanadas were a delightfully indulgent small plate choice. The empanadas were filled with a mixture of specially seasoned beef, potatoes, and Manchego cheese, all encased in a perfectly crisp, deep-fried crust. The salsa and sour cream cilantro lime sauce added a bright and tangy note that complemented the savory filling. The empanadas were also surprisingly filling, making them a perfect shareable option or a satisfying small meal on their own. The recommended Malbec wine pairing would be a perfect match, but the Syrah selections I enjoyed stood against these dishes perfectly.
Pork Belly seems to be a permanent fixture on many menus these days. Almost always, you’ll see these as an Asian-inspired dish. That’s not the case at Flight Plan. Instead, Chef Jim Taylor infuses the dish with a Caribbean twist, with the spicy and sweet flavors from the rum and orange juice barbecue sauce, which perfectly complemented the rich and fatty pork belly. Paired with crispy, seasoned fries, it’s hard to believe why you don’t see this combination more often.
I paired these tapas options with the Penfolds Max’s Shiraz 2020 from South Australia. This wine had a deep, dark color with a bouquet of blackcurrant, blackberry, and a hint of vanilla. Boasting a full-bodied taste with a velvety texture, I loved how the sweetness of this wine played well with the fatty Pork Belly thanks to its lingering finish of dark fruit and spice.
Tapas: Polenta and Shrimp
Wine Pairing: Torbreck Vintners Shiraz 2020
The Polenta and Shrimp is a very Alabama spin on a Southern classic. The creamy and cheesy polenta was topped with house-seasoned shrimp, Conecuh sausage, and a bell pepper and onion mix. If you’ve never sampled Polenta, don’t fear. It’s like grits, but heartier, and stands up nicely to the abundance of trimmings. This was the perfect fusion of Cajun and Gulf Coast flavors.
Up next was the Torbreck Vintners Shiraz 2020 from Barossa Valley, Australia. This wine had a dark color with a nose of dark fruit and spice. The wine was full-bodied with flavors of dark plum, cherries, blackberries, and pepper accompanied by a slight finish of woody oak. The richness of this wine was the perfect accouterment to the delicate flavors of the shrimp.
Tapas: Butternut Squash Ravioli (Weekly Special)
Wine Pairing: Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2021
The Butternut Squash Ravioli was the weekly special and was handmade from scratch. The ravioli was perfectly cooked to al-dente, and the filling invoked all the flavors of a fresh harvest. The combination of the butternut squash and sage was perfect for the cold weather. Since this dish is no longer the weekly special at the time of writing this article, these kinds of specials allow the restaurant-goer to taste something unique. I appreciate how this gives Chef Jim and his kitchen the opportunity to take chances and create something interesting. You’ll never know what he comes up with next.
The final wine of the flight was the Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2021 from McLaren Vale, Australia. This wine had a deep color with a nose of black fruit and spice. This wine had a deep purple color and a nose of plum and vanilla. On the palate, the wine was full-bodied with a rich, velvety texture. The notes of blackberry, plum, and spice were prominent, with a long, smooth finish. This lent it to pair expertly with the creamy savoriness of the brown butter that dressed the Ravioli.
What I love about locally owned restaurants is how they offer a unique and memorable dining experience. Flight Plan Wine & Tapas is one of those restaurants. Next time you’re near, be sure to stop by and try some of their delicious offerings. The focus on high-quality ingredients is undeniable. You might even find your new favorite wine. Whether you’re looking for an easy entry into wine, delectable bites, or both, Flight Plan can satisfy the gamut of possibilities.
Growing up between the Washington DC suburbs and Savannah, GA, Brett always found music and food to bridge the gap between the two worlds. Musician, US Army veteran, Software Engineer, dedicated home chef, Brett has worn a variety of proverbial hats and is used to traveling outside his comfort zone in pursuit of new experiences. Whether studying abroad in Greece or deploying to Afghanistan, food and the people involved in the process, became a way to relate to his ever-changing world view.
While an engineering career may have led Brett from Tampa, FL to Huntsville, more importantly, there was a flourishing food scene to explore. After discovering most of his coworkers had no idea what their city had to offer, he started a food blog to catalog his experiences and share recipes that demystify culinary techniques. He has found an audience in fellow foodies and industry professionals alike.
Aside from food, Brett also enjoys building his vinyl collection, sipping craft beer and whiskey, and building websites for small business owners. He loves exploring the city through the stories told by its long-time locals.
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