If one were to go by the bottles of wine consumed at the dinner on 15 th December at the cozy restaurant at the Manor Hotel, one would realize what the food and wine combination can do to build up mood and the evening as a dining experience. The full house on a full moon night seemed to love, as starters, the combination of the JC Chardonnay/Pinot sparkler that went so well with the lobster and. caviar, chicken and vegetarian canapés so deliciously well. A bit on the sweet side when taken on its own, the sparkling wine had enough bubbles to celebrate a F1 victory.
It also mated with the Starters; Cocktail a la Ritz, beautifully in the mouth, giving credence to the school of thought that sparkling wine can be a good match for many foods. Those who switched to the designated Rose` might have found even the mild tannins of the Shiraz fighting with the shrimp in the cocktail. Members with some patience would have found that the Rose` was a very good match for the lamb soup. It is another matter that this wine should have been colder and the soup warmer. But more of that later.
It was a pleasure to see, Mr. Sumeet Lamba, Executive VP, Marketing of Seagram's with his full sales team, spearheaded by Mr. Bikram Basu, General Manager Marketing and Mr. Rukn Luthra , General Manager Business Development and a wine connoisseur in his own right. Rukn presented and talked about the Jacobs Creek wines with full-bodied passion. It was the first time one heard even the talk of whisky in our club (officially, that is. Seagram's is famous for its 100 Pipers, Blenders pride etc) and a few faces did show sign of surprise that makers of Something Special and Chivas Regal are also heavily into Jacobs Creek wines that are considered Australia's top drop and for a while had been the official drink at Wimbledon. The international sales team comprising of Ajay Kakkar, Mukund Trivedi , and Aditi Chauhan who had helped us efficiently for the event were at hand to make sure the wines were at proper temperature (the sparkling was delightfully chilled) and the right glasses were chosen and laid properly on the table.
Chardonnay Reserva was perhaps the best wine of the evening though the hard core red wine drinkers voted for the red Shiraz Reserva, especially those who had selected the lamb tajines .. I must confess though, that the chicken Marrakech also matched the spicy Shiraz , giving further boost to our theory that it is the sauces which are more important than the colour of the meet for matching food with wine.
The fun quizzes organised by us impromptu, set the happy sponsors further by three bottles while proving the adage that one doesn't need extensive wine knowledge to quaff a couple of glasses of wine. Monica Gulati did know that the Jacobs Creek Sparkling is made form the two royal grapes of Champagne- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And Poonam Mehra not only knew that any Rose is made from red grapes and that the JC version comes from Shiraz grapes and that their Reserva Chardonnay is aged in wooden barrels for 10-12 months, a fact that Rukn had shared moments earlier with the diners, rapt in attention.
Gautam Gulati and Jonathan Blitz, the General Manager of Manor from South Africa had mulled over the menu and discussed with the chef several times and the result showed in the excellent variety. Excepting a few minor glitches the food was rated ‘very good' by most present. Service was not impeccable. But ours is not to reason why. The petit 14-room hotel with lovely manicured lawns caters mostly to the visitors at their Ranthambore Wild life Resort. The traffic in the restaurant is small but selective. So ‘the concentration is on the personal service', said Gautam Gulati who is the CFO. ‘We make sure we use the best of ingredients and that is why our food tastes so good,' he added. They are not geared to such heavy traffic and that too each wanting his or her plate at the same time, whether Lamb, chicken or vegetarian. So we do not rate the service but hope that future sees smaller number of people enjoying a more cozy dinner with wines selected by us.
Please click here for the fabulous mouth-watering menu.
December 16, 2005