Anatomy of a Wine Dinner

What happens at a Delhi Wine Club wine dinner? Subhash Arora takes a look at the recent dinner organized at Hyatt Regency Hotel where some of the best Chilean wines were selected to match with the Indian Cuisine at the Aangan Restaurant

CLICK TO VIEW LARGER PICTURE AND SAVEThere are good wines, fine wines and occasionally great wines. Difference, at times, may not be in elegance, flavour or balance but the great wines have a long after-taste. The flavour lingers on well after the sip.

This dinner at Hyatt was great! It was elegant, well balanced in terms of food and wine quality and service, participation. The flavour was full with notes of paired food and wine, excellent weather and ambience at the poolside and inside, where Hyatt had pulled out all their aces. The welcome drink, an Anakena Riesling, and speeches by the chief guest, Mr. Jorge Heine, the Ambassador of Chile and the warm and welcoming General Manager, Mr. Roger Lienhard, were fresh, short and crisp.

One could already feel the bonhomie and good mood the 60 persons attending were in, as they trooped into the Aangan Restaurant where the theme of food and music for the evening was Nouvelle Indian. Both the sitar and saxophone paired well with the tabla. The Executive Chef Marcus had reinvented himself by crafting the Indian cuisine to dance to the beat of Top Chilean reds; Caballo Loco No.7, Errazuriz Max Reserva and Don Melchor were the eclectic performers. Roger had already announced the secret formula. 'We have tweaked the dishes for the evening so as not to take the flavour away but make them sing well with the wines selected by the Delhi Wine Club', he said.

The delicious appetizers created from baingan would have been overwhelmed by the powerful reds. So we had selected the medium bodied Chardonnay from a Top producer, Montes Alpha, whose high end 'M' we had tasted at the Top Chile events carried out earlier this year. It would also double up as a wine partner with the opposite colour gender, Caballo Loco No.7, the top end hocus-pocus blend (read secret formula) from Valdivieso which is quite popular.

The Montes was a bit heavy on the oak in the initial attack but a heavenly match for the full bodied prawns prepared to match its medium body. It had earlier added significant synergy to the aubergine appetizer. Due to the soft tannins, the well rounded Caballo had been sent to face the challenge of matching the unlikely dish of prawns. Surely, it would have preferred to wait for the main course of hearty red meat dishes following, but it did performed quite well, earning itself the respect as the all-rounder wine of the evening.

The intermission was a welcome orange and ginger Sorbet, pleasing to the eye and the palate, not forgetting the soothing effect and a short break from the wines.

Ready for more action, the Errazuriz and Don Melchor took position to accompany the main lamb dish with Indian condiments. This dish was an excellent choice not only because it matched the two wines extremely well, the 'al dente' dish dislodged any doubts people might have had in the past about the Indian food in this restaurant. The tannins of both wines went docile in front of the meat proteins. Both wines were superb, more encores for the Don notwithstanding. This might have been the result of the record-breaking recent release of the Bollywood movie, Don (which incidentally means a respectful 'Mr.' in front of a Spanish name) or a previous knowledge of its top-end price in a restaurant, Rs.6000+. I would like to believe, it was also due to the much evolved palates of the members and guests after participating in many of the 94 events we had organized before this event.

Suffice it to say that the dozen-case of each had been polished off well before the cuppa-coffee for the road accompanied by the delectable deserts. One would never have imagined that ghulab jamun could transcend to any higher level.

Our special guests H.E. William Ehlers, Ambassador of Uruguay and H.E. Francis Moloi, the High Commissioner of South Africa and his wife had a wonderful time. So did others; one of them even wondered if we could have the volume of the music turned down (there were no electronics being used!).

CLICK TO VIEW LARGER PICTURE AND SAVEThe only common comment by most members was how Indian the food was. I believe that Indian food has to be tweaked a little to stand up to wines. The traditional curries and hot spices make the wine enjoyable not. Their was daal, there were rotis , there were meats using some of the Indian spices, but the shape and presentation (which was excellent) had been changed to the nouvelle style.

Wine is all about having a great time, with good food and good friends, talking of which Mr. Prasanjit Singh, the affable EAM of the hotel and his team of chefs and waiting staff were magnifique. Chefs Rakshit Sharma and Khurana and the battery of Chefs who joined in to take the bow before the final curtain, were the special stars for creating the mouth-watering dishes. A special word of thanks for Rakesh Rathore, the restaurant manager. Service is usually the first victim of a pre-plated dinner for more than 40 persons in most restaurants. No such nightmares here; it was so-oh smooth and efficient! And w here else do you find the General Manager of a hotel personally receiving all the guests and seeing them off?

I have a hypothesis that Hyatt organizes the best wine dinners in town. Their food quality, service, ingenuity and hospitality are matched only by the creativity at each wine dinner. This is what made it a great dinner, with the flavour that will stay long on our minds and palates.

Subhash Arora

November 3, 2006


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