Most of us look at wine as an intimidation. We don’t understand it. We feel compelled to appreciate it. The ones that are known to be really good, most of us can’t afford it. The wine consumers are worried about how much to age a wine, the cork and how much is ideal to pay for a wine. Unlike the west, in India, wine remains strictly in the connoisseur’s domain. And, everyone wants that to change.
So far, I had stayed clear of the wine debates. Then, I got invited to the first longtable meet, called the Reserve Table, by Jacob’s Creek in India. The concept was well known in other global cities and has created quite a stir. In the classic Australian tradition, the long table was intended to promote communal food sharing and conversations.
The Delhi edition was organized at JW Marriott, Aerocity. The table could sit a hundred and was planned as an outdoor event. However, on the morning of the Sunday, it rained. Apart from ruining mango flowers in the east and wheat crop in the north, it also ruined a perfect photo op in Delhi.
Anyway, the indoor setting was not any less spectacular. We had received the menu for the lunch much earlier and I was looking forward to the pairing. As the hall slowly filled up, it seemed the organizers had carefully sampled cross section of Delhi’s population. There were young ones who were shaking legs after a glass of wine; there were old ones who needed glasses to read the menu, there were families, couples and singles like me. All sorts at a common table to sample a selection of wines. The biggest gathering of its kind in Delhi.
There were no speeches. No brand talk. No pitch before the food. The table was impeccably set. Flowers, five wine glasses, beautiful cutlery and a copy of the menu. Serving started with the amuse bouche of sous vide chicken, roasted pears and crispy frisee with a Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay. The chicken was of a different texture altogether, soft, but very different results of any other cooking method. The wine was a delight though. Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay as light, crisp and an easy to drink wine that can be the perfect first step for beginners or those who find earthy red wines too strong.
Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay went well with the sour cream and onion crisps soup as well as the asparagus salad. Especially, with the salad. The crunchy and fresh green and white asparagus complimented the fruity flavours of the wine and it was the pairing of the evening for me.
Next for main course, we had red snapper with brown butter, celeriac puree and caper crumbs. With this we were first served Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet. The fish was intense with the bed of mashed potatoes providing respite. The Shiraz Cabernet was smooth, medium bodied with beautiful aroma. This went wonderfully with the fish.We were served two wines with the main course, the other one being Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. This was the finest of the wines served; rich, full bodied and complex wine that will take an amateur some time to appreciate. I gave the glass a gentle twirl and smelt, someone more trained could have smelt wonderful things. I was overpowered by the brute strength of it.
For dessert, we had a cherry, lemon and mascarpone tart with mulled Jacob’s creek ice cream. With that came the Rose Sparkling wine. Soft pink in colour, it had elements of the Chardonnay and was citrusy. I loved it and could have endless glasses of it too.
Inbetween all the food and wine, we had a discussion around the table and even the experts from the brand echoed the same thought. You should not think of wine in terms of brand names, labels or prices, you should go for the ones that taste good to you. Once you find out what you like, tell the sommelier about it when you order a wine. The idea is to start with trusting the palate and let it guide you, in due time.