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Organizing a Wine Dinner

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

As the wine culture in India is rapidly taking momentum, more and more people have started taking their wines seriously. You will find wines being served not only at big lavish parties but also at casual home dinners. You can organize your own wine dinner and make a success of it by following a few guidelines.

The first rule of thumb is to pair your wine well with the kind of food you are serving as the subtle taste of wine can bring out the fine flavors of the food. If you are serving more than one kind of wine with the meal, the general theory is to serve white wines before reds, light wines before heavier and bolder ones, and dry wines prior to sweeter ones.

Every wine lover knows the rule of pairing the meat with red wine and fishes with white wine but when it comes to multi-course Indian cuisine, with its complex flavors of spices and sauces, it becomes a different ballgame altogether. In here, it would be better to consider the manner in which the dish is cooked, which part of the country the dish belongs to, what the key ingredients are and which spices have been used. And finally the key is to trust your own sense of taste and what you think you enjoy the most.

For the aperitifs, serve your guests some dry and refreshing wines. A glass of bubbly (champagne) and sparkling wines with delicate hors d’oeuvres should be ideal to start with. They cleanse the palate and their neat acidity helps in working up the salivary glands. Our Nine Hills Shiraz Rose with its fruity aromas is perfect for appetizers and light entrées.

Red wine is a good match for red meat, barbeques and chicken. Our feisty red wines, Nine Hills Shiraz and Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon can stand up to fiery and intense food favoring chilly, garlic and spices.

For lightly spiced vegetarian dishes or sea food, you will do amazingly well by choosing a crisp and delicate white wine like our own Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc.

And finally, to satiate your sweet tooth, you can serve sweet wines also called dessert wines (as the late harvests have a generous amount of residue sugar in it) as an accompaniment to a dessert or as the dessert itself.

If you are ever in doubt, then champagne is your savior as you can never go wrong with serving champagne. The bubbly sparkling wine pairs tremendously well with most Indian dishes.

Now make a child’s play out of your wine dinner. Bon Appétit!

Say Cheese. Say Cheers.

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

A recent post on our Facebook page, “Cheese and Grapes – Divine Combination” with a matching photograph, garnered quite a few ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. This prompted us to do a complete blog-post on how superbly cheese compliments wine, their specific pairing.

The globe-trotting Indians need not depend on foreign tours or duty-free stores in airports for their regular stock of good cheese. Several high-end super-marts across our cities now stock a wide range of cheese from the best brands around the world. Be it the softer varieties like Feta, Mozarella, goat cheese or the hard ones like cheddar, Edam, Provolone from the choicest of hamlets in Europe, you get them all in our country.

But just as wine-drinking is new in India, so is the appreciation for cheese. We therefore bring to you a feature which does not delve into an exotic and uber discussion on cheese and wine. For ‘starters’ let’s take the cheese that are easily available in the market and see how well we can pair them with our Nine Hills wines.

  • Cheddar:   Hails from England, is semi-hard and can be mild or sharp. The mild cheddar goes well with Sauvignon Blanc while you will love the sharp one with our Shiraz Reserve.
  •  Edam: Belongs to the Dutch country and is a hard cheese. Once again, you will simply love it with Nine Hills Shiraz Reserve.
  • Feta: This soft cheese comes from the currently financially-troubled country in Europe, Greece. Drink it with Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc and see how it opens up the taste buds in your tongue.
  • Goat Cheese: Primarily a product from France, a number of other European countries excel in it too. It belongs to the soft cheese category and blends most beautifully with Nine Hills Chenin Blanc.
  • Mozarella: The country which gave the world Michaelangelo, gave Mozarella cheese too. A widely used cheese in pizza, pasta dishes and lasagna, mozzarella can be Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella) or mozzarella fior di latte (made from cow’s milk). Both are the soft variety and blend well with light red wines and the white wines. Nine Hills’ Sauvignon Blanc is the best match.
  • Parmesan: Named after an area in Italy, Parmesan is one of the world’s most popular and widely-enjoyed cheeses. It is usually grated and is used to make spaghetti and pasta dishes. Pairs exceedingly well with Nine Hills’ Shiraz Reserve.
  • Provolone: Once again from Italy, this cheese belongs to the semi-hard category. Provolone can be both piquant in taste (Provolone Piccante) as well as mild and sweet, Provolone Dolce. Both the types go well with Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvigyon.

Finally, there is no final word on ‘which cheese for which wine’. But remember, at the outset, the cheese you choose is dependent upon the type of wine you choose. Stronger cheeses should be paired with stronger wines, such as Cabernet. Lighter cheeses are best paired with delicate wines such as a Sauvignon Blanc.

Lastly, experiment with your own pairings and see if you can come up with a new ‘divine’ combination.

Cheese. And Cheers!!

Nine Hills – Floored byJMJ

Hmmmm….. Didn’t we tell you that Jean Manuel Jacquinot is passionate about grapes and the wines he makes from them? Didn’t we tell you that you’d encounter a ‘never before’ exploration of food and wine under the gaze of the master himself? Didn’t we tell you that the events, both in Mumbai and Bangalore, would be ‘rocking’? We told you, we told you, we told you…………..

Is it surprising then that the events in both the cities were much-appreciated and raved about? Actually they surpassed the expectations…..In both the dinners, JMJ tutored all guests on the choice of wines that were being served and the logic behind pairing them with the food/snack chosen. The guests couldn’t have asked for more…tuitions from the wine wizard………

All right, we have enticed you enough….here’s sharing the entire gourmet delights…..

The Park, Navi Mumbai: Corporate honchos as guests from across industries. Host Nine Hills team – JMJ (needs introduction?), Adrian Pinto (Business Head, Nine Hills India), Satwinder Pal Singh (Wineries Head, Nine Hills), Nine Hills Marketing team (Navi Mumbai ). Meal – Italian (and boy, was it some good food!!)

With Nine Hills Shiraz Rose doing the rounds amidst a good spread of assorted cheese and snacks on the tables, the evening started with a guided tour of the Nine Hills vineyard — via projector!!! (Did enough to make every guest pine away to go there…) Antipasti was a choice between Involtini of chicken with basil & gorgonzola (Non-veg) or Pomodori Semi Secco, mozzarella di buffalo with pesto (Veg), served with the sparkling Nine Hills Chenin Blanc. Then came fresh asparagus soup with Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Main course was once again a choice between veg potato gnocchi with spinach, gorgonzola cream (absolutely the right consistency and taste…yummm) and non-veg herb crusted salmon on a bed of parsley mash potato, peppers and beans. Drinks doing the rounds at this stage were the Reserves of Nine Hills – Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Desserts? But obviously – Tiramisu  — and the evening was made.

Adrian pointed out that there was Dance after Dinner..…perhaps to burn all those cream and cheese that had been admiringly slurped at the table.

Fava at UB City, Bangalore: Guests — Once again, heads from various corporations, expats. Hosts –JMJ, Adrian Pinto, Nine Hills marketing team (Bangalore). Meal – Mediterranean.

Nine Hills Shiraz Rose opening the ceremony with crispy cheese and fresh herb cigars with spicy tomato dip, slow roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella melted with pesto and balsamic reduction, chicken shish kebab and assorted non-veg crostini. For salads, it was Ceasar Salad with Asparagus tips(veg) and Prawn Nicoise Salad(non-veg), served with Nine Hills Chenin Blanc. One the salads were over, came the most loved Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli with Sage Butter sauce, served with Sauvignon Blanc. Dinner, once again, saw the Nine Hills Reserves – Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon – with Chickpea Kofte and seven Vegetable Tagine with Cous Cous (veg) and Grilled Lamb with Polenta grilled vegetable and Red Wine sauce. Dessert – Alphonsos to enslave the guests – Vanilla and Mango Par Fait with the mango king.

This time no dance…..guess the wines and food had cast their spell — guests kept gushing about the eclectic mix until the wee hours of the morning……..and when they left for home, they left with goodies – bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc, candles and a bell-pepper sapling………..

Excellence redefined. Inspirational.

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