Someone said (and the guy put his finger right on it), “Here’s to cold nights, warm friends and a good drink to give them.” And there can be little better to warm the cockles of your heart than being with a few friends and enjoying an evening of wine and food. So the idea of putting together an evening with wines from Sula Selections (the import wing of Sula) with food contributed by the attending guests, sounded fun.
Sula Selections was keen to showcase a part of their selection of Australian, Chilean and Italian wines, and rather than do the whole evening at a restaurant (the obvious choice), I thought a dinner at a home would add an extra glow of warmth. That the home in question was that of the extremely gracious couple, Sunil and Kiran Chainani, was an added bonus. The spacious lawns, patio and large rooms meant that 16 guests could even sit down to a four course meal with no problem. The group consisted of close friends, all wine lovers, and just incidentally all former presidents and committee members of the Bangalore Wine Club, the oldest wine club in the country.
The young sommelier from Sula, Najeshda Deshpande (her name has Russian origins, she told us) put the wine pairings together once the dishes for the dinner were decided. To begin, there was an excellent cheese platter with dips, toasts and more. We cracked open bottles of the extremely accessible and well priced (particularly for India) Hardy’s Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, and its freshness made for a perfect beginning. There is really nothing to top a sparkling start to any evening, I think. It lifts the spirits and adds an edge to any party. The good thing is that the sparkling wine market, Indian and imported, is looking up in India – such an exciting development.
The rest of the menu/pairings went like this:
Appetizer: Cold prawn salad in yoghurt dressing with Cono Sur Reisling (Chile)
First course: Baked fish with shallots and mushrooms with Ruffiono Orvieto Classico DOC (Italy).
Main course: Roast leg of pork with sides of roasted vegetables & potatoes, and a vegetarian platter (a medley of oven-roasted vegetables: bokchoy, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, grilled red and yellow peppers). This was with the Ruffino Chianti DOCG (Italy).
Dessert: Sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream, with the Cono Sur Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile).
The food was just perfect: no surprises here as it was all home cooked by master chefs (and I’m not being jocular – we had three professional chefs in the group of which two were men) (more…)