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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, July 27 2009. 15:41

Blog : Chicken Samosa and Champagne

The reports about US President Barack Obama and the First Lady serving chicken samosas among other mouthwatering dishes and Champagne at a White House reception hosted on Monday for several ambassadors including our new envoy to the US Meera Shankar makes me salivate.

It was splashy affair, held under the chandelier glint of the Grand Foyer, and the music of the Marine String Ensemble which performed a few light jazz songs including ‘Shadow of Your Smile’ and ‘Come Back to Sorrento’, as the Champagne flowed, describe the multitudes of reports.

Besides this popular Indian snack food which is generally vegetarian- based on spicy potato and peas filling in the rolled floor pastry and deep fried till crispy brown , tequila smoked salmon on crisps, leek tartlets, petit filet mignon sandwiches, cream brulee and blueberry vanilla tartlettes were also served reportedly.

A chicken samosa would make a perfect match with the bubbly, with the crisp acidity cutting into the grease in which it is fried (although the baked, healthier but less tasty version is also available). The yogurt based dip served in the White House would have been selected to tone down the spices and chilies, though the combination would not enhance the taste of  champagne on the palate as much, because of the yogurt.

The tangy bubbles would also cleanse the palate with each morsel. Chardonnay in the sparkler would be a perfect match for the minced chicken. Hopefully, the champagne would have been off dry so the slight touch of sugar tamed the chilies. In fact, it would have been a perfect match for the music and this ever-increasingly popular snack in America.  

But was it in fact Champagne that was served?

The Frenchies would be delighted if it were. With the exports of champagne going down, they would have loved to send a few cases with their compliments for the immense publicity they would get. But I very much doubt it was the real McCoy.

White House normally serves only American produced wines. (A policy our political and bureaucratic leadership could evolve!) What they served was most likely a California Champagne. The wine laws as mutually accepted between the US and EU specifically ban the use of the term Champagne for wines made in the US. The only exception has been granted to those wineries in California which had been making the sparkling wine and calling it Champagne (under the Grandfather Clause) when the treaty was signed, provided they called it California Champagne.

Although a lot of these California Champagnes are of cheap quality sweet bubblies for those on a budget of as low as $5, there are a few renowned labels available too. Korbel is one such producer which finds the White House a very happy client. In fact, during the last five presidential inaugurations, their special Cuvee has been selected. Perhaps, the same label was used to serve to the Ambassadors at this reception.

However, this is one time CIVC and the champagne producers are not likely to be complaining and moaning about the illicit use of their ‘bread and butter’. They would not be spending any of the €2million they have kept aside to sue the errant name users and would be basking in the free publicity instead.

Brown-Forman launched the Korbel label in India about 4 months ago. The two variants — Korbel Brut and Korbel Natural are priced at Rs 3500 and Rs 6000 respectively and are available in high end restaurants.

So the next time you find this California Champagne in a 5-star hotel, order and try it with a chicken samosa, if they have it on their Menu. And let me know if it makes you feel like you are in the White House.

Cav. Subhash Arora


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