Wouldn’t you like to know which wines go well with lemon, blue cheese or chocolate? Which wine to serve with smoked salmon, risotto or salad? I hear a roaring –Yes!
Am I headed to understand it better considering the names put together – Pernod Ricard India, Starwood Hotel and Chef Michael Swamy. A positive thought in all its probabilities. Driving to the hotel, I wondered what new I would learn in understanding nuances of new world wines, in a cooking and pairing pop-up workshop in the 7 cities series by Michael Swamy.
Seated at ‘al fresco’ Prego with Rose wine doing the rounds on each table along with cheese platters, I only wished if someone would reach out to the table and explain my fellow seaters a way of approaching the combination of cheese and wine together. Cheese and wines were wiped off like any other meal available as a complimentary centre-table placement.
Chef Swamy, showcased few applications of wines – Garlic wine dressing drizzled over greens, Rosemary-scented wine reduction over cherry tomatoes, cucumber and salad greens. A simple basic ‘homestyle’ salad menu, by replacing wine with vinegar was demonstrated. Age old French ‘coq au vin’ was made with chicken drumstick steeped overnight in Cabernet Sauvignon along with some herbs and condiments. Traditionally, to be made with a Burgundy wine, but the inclusion of a Sauvignon, was milder yet caught my fancy with the pronounced herbs and mild spice. For desserts, fruits poached in Shiraz, vanilla beans, clotted cream and finger biscuits looked tempting. Chef Swamy kept his audience entertained and in splits over glasses of wine, pots, pans and plates.
Following dinner menu entailed cream of broccoli soup, vegetable terrine with pumpkin coulis, red snapper with risotto and vanilla panacotta with fruits. Red and white wines did set a very luscious tone to the meal however; a thumb rule to pairing wines and desserts is that the dessert should not be sweeter than the wine. Did it apply to this? Absolutely not, to this bouncy gelatinous cooked cream. Was it intended to be that way? Definitely not at Prego! Can the wine and food pairing not enhance my dining experience, when there is such an impressive line up by nine hills ?
The wine market, in India, is at a very nascent stage today. Indian winemakers face formidable challenges today as youth with disposable incomes do not prefer wines as opposed to liquors which quickly makes them tipsy.Wine has alcohol content between 9 and 15 per cent by volume, while Indian spirits average 42.8 per cent. Experts agree that the road ahead for wine start-ups is unlikely to be smooth.
While people are moving up the value chain and choosing reserve, premium wines, it was a perfect opportunity curated by Chef Swamy and Adrian Pinto by engaging wine-lovers and food connoisseurs.