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Delhi Wine Club
Terroir One: Party with Portuguese Wines n Spice

Posted: Friday, 28 October 2011 17:55

Terroir One: Party with Portuguese Wines n Spice

Oct 28: Terroir One, Mumbai Chapter of the Delhi Wine Club had a Pre-Diwali dinner with Portuguese Wines from Sogrape, at the evening organised at the Spice Restaurant in J W Marriott with the Chief Guest being Mr. Mahendra K. Sanghi, a prominent Mumbai business man and the Honorary Consul of Portugal, writes Subhash Arora who went from Delhi specially to welcome him on behalf of the Club and present the wines of the evening.

To say that it was a wine dinner in the traditional sense would be far from reality. The evening of October 21 turned out to be a grand party where the Portuguese wines were the protagonists- thanks courtesy Mr. Sanghi who is passionate about Portugal and had been keen for the Club to organise an informal event with Portuguese wines. What better time than Diwali with members  in a festive mood happy to spend a long evening with excellent Pan Asian food and wines to match from Sogrape, the Dão-based biggest family owned biggest producer that exports to India through Aspri Spirits and Wines. As the club President Bindu Malhotra said this was meant to be a Diwali Party and had really lived up to the expectation of the members, 

It seemed nightmarish to pair the wide variety of dishes with  the five wines of the evening- Mateus Rosé, Sparkling Rosé , Gazela Vinho Verde (white), and Callabriga Dão red and Callabriga Douro red. Thankfully, I could break down the umpteen dishes into four segments for service with pre-selected wines.

The Sogrape Rosé sparkling wine, a blend of indigenous grapes was a perfect match for the unending stream of delicious appetizers- Crisp fried mushroom in black pepper sauce, Steamed chicken sui mai, Chilly Chicken, Vegetable Pepper salt, Salt & pepper fish. The continued fine bubbles and the fizz on the palate with floral aromas and flavours of apples and pears kept on cleansing the palate, while the fruitiness of the wine tamed the spices in most of these dishes.  

Earlier, we had decided to shift the California Roll- Cucumber, carrot, avocado and cream-cheese roll with sesame seeds from the appetizer section to serving at the table along with the soup as the second course, in the sit-down area carved out of the seating within the Spice, including the PDR. Many members who are otherwise regulars at this highly popular restaurant for Pan Asian cuisine in the whole of North Mumbai, wowed that they had never seen the restaurant so beautifully dressed up for an occasion.

Steamed basa with spicy garlic sauce, Clay pot chicken, Vegetarian clay pot braised, SzechwanStir Stir fried Mix greens, Tossed Vegetables flat Noodles, Foojin Fried rice as the third and Main course would make any foodie salivate. But with the finger licking appetizers in generous quantities, they would have to wait and be served with the two serious superior quality serious reds-much awarded Portuguese wines from the wineries owned by Sogrape.

Since the Mateus Rosé was a tad too sweet for the appetizers or the main course, we had decided to pair it with the dessert- Dark chocolate Mousse and vanilla ice cream, caramelized nuts and Seasonal fresh fruits. But before the main course could be served on the table, most members and the guests whose number had swelled from the planned 60 to well over 90 were in no mood to settle down and continued to mill around throughout the restaurant and enjoy the finger food with the Rosé Sparkling, Mateus Rosé and the white wine Gazela. For the record, Mateus Rosé turned out to be too mild for the dessert later-one would have needed a much sweeter wine to match.

The find of the evening was Gazela- a moderately priced white wine from Vinho Verde, the North-eastern region known for its young and fruity white wine as Arora briefly talked about Portugal, its wine making history, various regions and the indigenous grapes that made the wines unique- besides Port wine which was the pride of Portugal and could be produced only in the Douro/Porto. According to the information from the Portuguese embassy, it has been registered in India and the Goan ‘Port’ might have a short life left.

Made from the local grape Loureiro blended with Pedernã, Trajadura and Azal, Gazela was rather pale in colour with a slight hue of green, accentuated by the clear bottle but the flavour was very fruity-citrus and full of zest. There was a slight fizz which is apparently left in the bottle by many producers intentionally before bottling so that the bubbles tingle on the palate, besides keeping the freshness and crisp acidity. The light bodied wine is fruity enough and the touch of sugar can handle any spicy food with limited hot chili flavour.

The more serious wines from Dão and Douro, two of the highly rated areas of Portugal for red wines- Callabriga red, are both highly recognized for their superior quality, and are made from another set of local grapes Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro Preto for Dão and the traditional Portuguese blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo),Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional  for Duoro Valley. They would make any wine connoisseur make a mental note of it for future reference and match with their local cuisine. Both these wines were full-bodied, with good structure and plenty of berry fruits and a long finish and would be a great match for a steak, mutton chops, sikandri raan, game, duck and several red meat dishes.

While welcoming the members Mr. M.K Sanghi said he was very happy to see so many people collected for this occasion and all enjoying themselves with Portuguese wines. He assured them that there would be many more such events in future with different wines in Mumbai- also in South Mumbai and appreciated the efforts made by Subhash Arora to come from Delhi for the event. Always offering to help promote the cause of wines, Arora also exhorted the members to plan one visit to Duoro and Porto, which are some of the most beautiful sights Portugal has to offer.

Of course, Mr. Sanghi did not know at that time that the members would stay on well after he left-till after 3 am and that many of the members were basically whisky lovers who nevertheless enjoyed the evening in the company of other members and wines which were fresh and juicy and added a lot to the evening. The food service was deftly handled by Sudeep Sharma, the F & B Manager who was on his toes with his team, making sure that the food and wine service was handled seamlessly right till the end.

Thanks to Mr. M; K. Sanghi, the Honorary Consul of Portugal in Mumbai, one could say that not only are the Portuguese wines acceptable as quaffable wines, one can think out-of-the-box event like this to promote wine as a fun time beverage. For serious red wines and Port, one will have to revert to the well tried 9-year old formula of the Delhi Wine Club- sit down 5-course meal with each dish paired with wine.
Subhash Arora 



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