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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, July 07 2009. 14:00

Blog : Poor Wine Show at the Deck

The Deck, a Mediterranean restaurant in Delhi may be great value for money, with diverse and delicious dishes but it has a very disappointing and indifferent wine list and service including glasses as Subhash Arora discovered on a recent visit to the restaurant.

Have you ever been to a Mediterranean restaurant that has no Italian wine on its list? I had an occasion to visit one, which is perhaps typical of many restaurants in town though it is a pity that a restaurant of this standard would be so poor in its wine service.

The Deck is a members-only restaurant in the Habitat Center, a very contemporary echo-friendly complex  boasting of specialty restaurants- serving Indian, oriental and yes- the Mediterranean cuisine, besides a very popular bar known as much for its vibrancy, ambience and snacks as for the alcoholic beverages that do include wine as well. These are open only to the members, who are a privileged lot due to the extensive screening and a long waiting list.

Limited wines on the list

The compact wine list has a limited choice- with 10 red and 10 white wines including a mix of Indian and the foreign varieties. Also available are 4 sparkling and 4 Rosé wines. Our host had ordered a Beaujolais Villages 2007 (Rs.2100) from a non- descript producer from this region, south of Burgundy. Made from Gamay grapes, the light bodied fruity wine has to be served chilled.

Beaujolais Nouveau is the basic, young wine made with carbonic maceration, released on the third Thursday of November and must be finished by the following summer. Slightly more quaffable is the Villages (pronounced vi-laa-jh), which is from the specified areas within the region and is good for 1-3 years before it loses its freshness. Best from this region is Cru Beaujolais which is more serious, value for money French wine and is drinkable for 4-6 years. Villages 2007 ordered by my host would pass muster for the vintage, except it was not very fresh, perhaps due to poor storage somewhere in the supply chain.

The next bottle had to be a repeat, no matter how ‘not-so-fresh’ it was. Waiter brought another bottle of Beaujolais Village, totally oblivious of the fact that it was neither the same producer, not the same vintage. A 2005, I felt was too risky to order, because it was another unknown producer and a couple of years older Villages must have passed its prime and 2 years more of poor storage in the system might have more than bruised the wine.

So I started to go through the list with a comb. There was a Saint Emilion (2400), Chateau Neuf du Pape (3900) and a Cote du Rhone (1700), all with no names of the producer or the vintage. Surprise! Surprise! No listing of Italian wines-what with pizzas, pastas and several Italian dishes adorning the menu! After having re-assured that the restaurant was in fact a Mediterranean restaurant, it made sense for us to order some Italian wine. However, there was none on the Menu.

On my persistent request, the waiter went outside the restaurant and came back with a bottle of an entry-level Valpolicella with a medium range price. Perhaps, he hurriedly picked it up from another restaurant or the central store. It was warm and undrinkable. At Rs.2500 (the price is before the current excise increase), it was not a steal- but a robbery. Anyhow, we asked the waiter to quickly chill it to 12-14 º C, the right temperature for a Valpolicella (it was not even a Classico) and he was polite enough to follow the instructions.

The restaurant otherwise was very reasonable in prices. Where else would you find a thin crust pepperoni pizza for Rs.225? Of course, you have to be a member or his guest to eat here. But the point is, it could be a great culinary destination, with eyes on the wines. There should be more wines with proper description of producers and vintages-and the Italian wines have to be the part of the core list even if it has a total of 10 wines!

The glasses being used by the restaurant are also the ones rendered redundant by the other sister restaurants in the Habitat Center. Those small glasses with thick and short stems do not come under the stemware category.

Perhaps the restaurant should take a lesson from its sister restaurant, the Indian Accent at the Manor Hotel in Friends Colony-a touch of class would not hurt the image of the restaurant. It would certainly attract more members in the medium term although I must add that the waiters were extremely polite and quite efficient.

Cavaliere Subhash Arora


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