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Delhi Wine Club
DWC: Wine, Food and Zerzura are Delightful Combination

Posted: Thursday, 05 February 2015 18:48

DWC: Wine, Food and Zerzura are Delightful Combination

Feb 05: If some people feel that wine is a serious drink that entails drinking with serious food and conversation, Zerzura may not be an ideal place for a wine dinner but for members of the Delhi Wine Club it was an excellent change where we were part of the total clientele of over 200 people and yet the service was good and the atmosphere charged with the belly dancer making sporadic appearances in the different sections of this Restaurant and Lounge, writes Subhash Arora who specially paired wines from Italy (Moletto), Chile (Valdivieso) and Bordeaux with delicious food

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewWhen I was invited by Shagun Somani, owner of Zerzura Restaurant at the Clarion Collections (formerly Qutab Hotel) to check out the Lounge and Restaurant to host a Delhi Wine Club dinner I was a bit skeptical. It may be a nice lounge for youngsters but with belly dancing as a regular feature, I wasn’t sure if the place could spell trouble. But when I met Shagun, the young son of an IIM alumnus, I sensed an interesting food tasting that might end up in an enjoyable wine dinner.

I had Puneet Ralhan, the Director of Gurgaon-based Agnetta International join us for dinner too. Puneet is a pleasant person with an added bonus for us that two of the brands they are importing are old guards in India. Valdivieso from Chile and Moletto in Italy were earlier imported by Sovereign Impex and had developed a good reputation with Caballo Loco, being one of the star wines from the former during those days.

The food was delicious, a couple of wines we tasted matched beautifully and I decided to have the Valdivieso Pinot Noir. For good measure I also selected Moletto Pinot Grigio- the Italian varietal that hardly disappoints when we choose it for the DWC dinners. Very surprised that the restaurant didn’t have a Prosecco in the wine list-a place vibrating with rocking music and fiery belly dancers does require Pinot Grigio to quench the thirst at various levels. Prosecco from Moletto is Extra Dry (meaning sugar level is between 12-17 gms/ liter) which makes it a better partner with the specialty of the restaurant- Moroccan Cuisine, though they do have a few Mediterranean dishes, including the wood-fired oven pizzas.

Click For Large ViewI had to take a chance with a Rose from Bordeaux that Puneet assured me would be a winner and as the price was right, I could take a gamble. To give it a slight Bordeaux slant, I decided to choose Etoiles De Mondorion Ch Mondorion Grand Cru St Emilion 2010 but not before I concluded that the food was really swaad (delicious+) and could be paired with the wines I had in mind. Equally importantly the wines didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Shagun tried to keep me calm and assured me that the restaurant was very careful in admitting people and that stags were not allowed. He had other things correctly in place too- no one could dance with the belly-dancer or throw money at her. No pictures allowed and of course there were two bouncers, probably dancing in their minds, flanking the girls and keeping trouble at bay.

We decided to have a smaller dinner on February 1, barely a week after I went for the tasting-not enough time to give the otherwise busy members decent notice. So this was going to be a trial for us all. And I sure am glad I took the risk.

The evening started off on a good note with pizzas that were a natural partner with the Moletto Prosecco. Though one would unfairly compare with the ubiquitous Italian pizzas in various avatars, it was different, interesting and a good start to the evening. Tarsillo Nataloni, the Restaurateur member of the Club and hailing from Italy, was disappointed with the toppings- and told the humble Shagun who didn’t mind getting a pizza with different toppings-which Nataloni loved.

Click For Large ViewTapas and Meze were the real stars even though the wine that did wonders on the palate was the Rose.

Chelo Kebab- Char grilled mince lamb kebab, marinated in sumac and saffron served with black pepper dip was really an excellent choice even though slightly dry- we had asked Shagun to deconstruct the Main course dish. Jujeh Kebab- the Classic Iranian char grilled Chicken kebab, marinated in yoghurt and saffron was so outstanding that even our Italiano friend could not resist acclaiming this as the best chicken kebabs  he’d ever had in this form. What was not surprising was that the Prosecco and even the Rose went very well with both kebabs.  

This is one dinner where the wine could also enhance the flavours of the kebabs because of the Bordeaux blend with low alcohol . For vegetarians there was the Falafel that was delicious. They also  had a field day with the Grilled summer vegetables rolled in thin phyllo pastries, stuffed and crispy fried with cheese.

Pineapple & Pomegranate Tabouleh- A refreshing parsley salad with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes dressed with lemon vinaigrette was pedestrian but the Chicken Shawarma Caesar with Romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper and topped with Chicken Shawarma, was quite tasty though one would not consider it unique.

Click For Large ViewThe Moletto Pinot Grigio we started drinking at the table was typical of the Veneto Friuli area. It had medium body with fruity flavours and a concentration of the citrus fruit persistent on the palate with a rather seductive and quite long end; as usual a very well liked wine.

Bulgar & Zafran Broth, a flavorful broth of fresh vegetables, Bulgar wheat and saffron was not what I ordered but I took it anyway as it was brought to me. I told the waiter to get me another bowl because I had ordered the Moroccan Harira Lamb and been looking forward to this dish. After a few repeated requests and a course later, one waiter brought it along with the main course-but placed it in front of another member at the table! So I never got to taste it but was told that the traditional lamb soup, flavoured with garlic, cinnamon and preserved lemon, garnished with broken noodles, was quite extraordinary.

Valdivieso Pinot Noir Reserva 2011  from Casablanca Valley is a cool climate Pinot Nor from the wine-growing region of Chile, located 60 miles (100km) north-west of the country's Click For Large Viewcapital, Santiago. The east-west-oriented valley is roughly 30km long, stretching to the eastern border of the Valparaiso province. It is best known for its crisp white wines, but also  Pinot Noir, which is responsive to the cooler climates found in this coastal area. This was a perfect accompaniment for the chicken tagine which on its own was a bit too salty for me. Perhaps the Chef did not account for the liberal portion of olives having a substantial contribution to the saltiness of the dish.

Etoiles De Mondorion Ch Mondorion Grand Cru St Emilion 2010 was a heavenly match with the lamb tagine– This was the second wine of the Grand Cru St Emilion Chateau, made from the younger vines of the Chateau. The Merlot- Cabernet blend with 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc has given it good structure, mildly oaked flavour. It was perfect with the lamb Tagine. The wine had good balance with berry flavours and persistent back end.

A special mention must be made of the dessert platter, and more specifically, the baklawa which is over-rated at times. Here it is a finger-smacking, sinful dessert that one must try, with or without a dessert wine; something like an ice-wine might superbly match this dish.

The restaurant service at the macro level is fine-in fact commendable if one looks at around 200 people in the restaurant being served though we had our exclusive corner. With Shagun at the helm the restaurant seems to be managed quite professionally. It is definitely worth a repeat visit or to organize a party because it has a vibrant party atmosphere.

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Shagun Somani, Zerzura, Agnetta International, Valdivieso, Moletto, Chile


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