How to: aerate and decant wine

Our Head Sommelier at Constance, Jérome Faure, takes you through the steps to aerate and decant wine.

Decanted wine

Decanted wine

There’s a French word, carafage, which you probably won’t find in any dictionary even though it’s regularly used by wine experts and enthusiasts. For some, it simply means ‘pouring the contents of a bottle into a carafe’.

There are 2 ways that explain the why and how of carafage – to aerate (or let wine breathe) and to decant.

Aerating wine

Aerating is used with a young wine. Some wines need to be allowed to breathe to be at their best. Full-bodied young wines as well as certain types of wine made from particular grape varieties such as chardonnays, rieslings and pinots (blanc and gris) need to be aerated so they can flourish.

There are other wines that don’t need aerating, such as sauvignons. Wines with an oaky flavour and wines with a musty taste (gout de reduit) benefit from being transferred into a carafe, as do wines with a slight effervescence.

Aeration is also good for wines that taste strongly of tannin, to soften its impact.

Decanting wine

White wine in a glass

Letting the wine breathe

Decanting is used for wines of a certain age (usually 10 years or older) to separate the liquid from any sediment, or solid particles.

But decanting aged wine isn’t always appropriate because some old wines simply can’t take the process. The purpose of decanting isn’t oxygenation, quite the opposite in fact.

Choosing the right carafe

Even though some people are of the opinion that only red wines need decanting – when in fact white wines may need it more often – it’s always good to bear in mind that each wine is unique and requires a particular kind of carafe.

For aerating wine, it’s best to use a carafe with a broad base and a wide neck so that the wine has plenty of contact with the air. The more full-bodied the wine, the more important aeration becomes – so the carafe should be flatter and broader. The aim is to bring the wine into contact with the air.

However, an old wine needs to be handled with care, and requires a carafe with a narrow neck and fairly narrow base.

When choosing a carafe, also ask yourself these questions:

  • will the shape of the neck allow you to pour the wine easily into a glass?
  • is it a carafe that can be easily handled?
  • will the carafe be easy to wash and dry?
  • is it a carafe that will be really stable when filled with wine and placed on the table?

Find out more

If you’ve got any specific questions about this topic, you can contact us via Twitter, Facebook or use the comments section below.

Recipe: Fruity tropical dessert with white chocolate

Bring paradise to your home with this delicious fruity dessert. Guaranteed to pep up the finale to a weekend dinner party.

Beach Deck at Le Prince Maurice

Beach Deck at Le Prince Maurice

Serves 4
Preparation time: 1 hour
Marinating time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Freezing time: 1 hour
Refrigerating time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes
  • juice and grated zest of 2 limes
  • pulp and seeds of 2 passion fruit

For the custard:

  • 10cl milk
  • 10cl crème fraîche
  • 40g sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 vanilla pod

For the white chocolate mousse:

  • 150g white chocolate
  • 1 leaf gelatin
  • 15g chilled whipping cream

For the coconut croustillant

  • 60g grated coconut
  • 70g syrup (made from 40g sugar boiled with 30cl water)

1. To make the custard: in a saucepan, scald the milk with crème fraîche and vanilla, then remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, briskly whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Pour the hot milk on the sugar-yolks mixture, whisk well, pour this back into the saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring with a spatula until thickened. Remove from heat, pour custard through a sieve and keep 100g aside for the mousse.
3. Make the white chocolate mousse: soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water. Finely chop the white chocolate with a knife.
4. After 10 minutes, drain the gelatine and squeeze it between your fingers to remove moisture. Incorporate it to the warm custard, then pour the custard onto the chocolate and mix until smooth and creamy.
5. In a chilled bowl, whip the chilled cream until stiff. Fold this whipped cream into the chocolate cream, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour.
6. Wash the mangoes, peel them and finely slice them with a sharp knife. Let them macerate in a dish for 20 minutes with the lime juice and grated zest.
7. Make the coconut croustillant: mix grated coconut with syrup to make a thick paste. Spread this paste between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out as thinly as possible. Deep-freeze for 1 hour until very hard.
8. Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper and bake the coconut croustillant for 20 minutes in a 160ºC oven, checking often so that it doesn’t burn.
9. Use a tablespoon to drop a little white chocolate mousse into a stemmed glass. Place a few well-drained slices of mango on top. Cover with white chocolate mousse and top again with mango slices.
10. Break pieces of coconut croustillant and stick them into the mousse. Sprinkle with passion fruit pulp and seeds, and serve well chilled.

 

 

Exciting new menu at Jing, Constance Halaveli

Jing restaurant

Fabulous setting at Jing

Awaken the senses with a tantalising new menu at Jing, our South East Asian restaurant at Constance Halaveli.

The new menu has been inspired by the fresh flavours from South East Asia coupled with modern day cooking techniques. Our chef will take you on an intrepid culinary journey of discovery.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on offer:

  • Waldoff Made Over –  a modern twist on a classic salad
  • Lobster Bisque – rock lobster croquette & warm artichoke salad
  • Asian Mushroom Soup – summer truffles with Shimeji & Pencil Asparagus
  • Red Thai Curry Cappuncino – a Jing signature red thai curry soup with coconut air
  • Seared Diver Scallops – with Teriyaki Risotto and Hijiki & Kaffir Lime Cloud
  • Soya Raviolli Alaskan King Crab & Sevruga Caviar
  • Roasted Kumera & Ginger Gnocchi – kumera is a native New Zealand sweet potato
  • Garlic & Curry Leaf Spiced Chicken Sous Vide – this dish requires a special cooking method called Sous Vide. It cooks in a warm water bath for approximately 1 hour to deliver succulent tender meat.
  • Textures of Apple, 5 different ways to have an apple – apple as gelée, apple sorbet, apple espuma, apple compote and apple crumble.

Jing - the perfect venue for a taste discovery.

The spirit of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival

The European chef and the island cook sharing their passion

The European chef and the island cook sharing their passion

Bruno Le Gac, our corporate chef and a key mastermind behind the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival,  gives an insight into the history behind the remarkable event, now entering its 7th year.

The Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival takes place in March, and is a major event for everyone at Constance Hotels Experience.

It started 6 years ago with an idea – to honour the legacy of the great chef Bernard Loiseau, and propose something that he would be proud of.

The spirit of the festival

When we first had the idea, we didn’t know what or how we would do it… but we knew that we wanted to create something true, sincere, with spirit. Not just a business event, but a festival with soul.

The European chefs coaching the island cooks for the competition

The European chefs coaching the island cooks for the competition

We wanted it to be an event that would showcase our passion for food and the human values that we cherish.

As I always say, several brains work better than one and the result of this great team work has progressively turned into reality.

The concept for a festival in which we could share our passion and knowledge was born.

Mrs Dominique Loiseau immediately gave us all her support and allowed us to name the event after her late husband.

Chef Patrick Bertron, Loiseau’s protége, has been sensational since day one.

Michelin star chefs join cooks from the Indian Ocean

We wanted to put the spotlight on the people that we never see. The way the festival works is that we put together 6 Michelin star rated European chefs with 6 young cooks from our kitchens.

European chef and island cook prepare for competition day

Feel the tension in the kitchen, competition day is near...

During the festival, they train together for 3 days to create 2 dishes of their own making. Then on the day of the competition, the European chefs are not allowed in the kitchen. In the spirit of Loiseau’s legacy, it’s about sharing, it’s about training and it’s about transmission.

We showcase the best of the produce and culinary wonders of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. One of the basic rules of the competition is to use local produce and spices as much as possible. I believe that after 6 years we have pretty much seen everything that you could possibly make with fresh heart of palmtree!

What we’ve achieved so far

To date, we’ve managed to create a high profile event that exudes warmth and humanity. Those who were present at the first festival immediately felt that something very special had happened during the week. And the spirit keeps on building up every year…

We wanted this to be an elegant event that represents the image of our hotels. Our partners responded with equal enthusiasm – it’s not every day of the week that you get to drink magnums of Amour de DeutzChampagne…

The festival in 2012

I am extremely proud of Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival, and so are all of the great people who have participated, who shared their time, hard work and passion.

The 2012 edition will be even more intense and fascinating… watch this space for more news of next year’s unmissable festival.

Recipe: Creole fish and seafood soup

Evening on the beach at Constance Halaveli

Evening on the beach at Constance Halaveli

There’s something wonderfully exotic about this fish soup – the spices give it the special Creole flavour. Ideal for a weekend meal, it’s simple to prepare and cooking time is under an hour.

Serves 4:
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 firm fleshed white fish fillets, about 80g each
  • 4 large prawn tails, shelled
  • 4 small cleaned squid
  • 2 spiny lobsters, about 500g each
  • 200g potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the broth

  • 1 fish head (red snapper)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 5 small or 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 coriander roots
  • 4 coriander leaves
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 10cl dry white wine
  • 1.5 litre fish stock
  • 20g butter
  • salt and pepper

Finishing touch

  • garlic croutons

1. Make the broth: peel and chop the onion and garlic. Peel the carrots. Dice carrots, celery and fennel bulb. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and slit the red chilli lengthwise.
2. Fry the onion, carrots, celery, fennel, chopped ginger, garlic, tomatoes and chilli in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the fish head, turmeric, coriander roots, thyme, curry leaves and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and let it brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce by 1/3. Add the fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and keep warm.
4. Pan-fry the fish and the prawn tails separately in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
5. Poach the squid and the spiny lobsters for 4 to 5 minutes in boiling salted water, then throw them into iced water to cool them. Drain, shell the lobsters and slice their tails.
6. Peel the potatoes and boil them for 12 minutes. Slice them into rounds.
7. Shortly before serving, coarsely chop the coriander leaves. Correct seasoning and, using a hand blender, emulsify the broth with the butter.
8. In a soup tureen, arrange the fish, shellfish, potatoes and cover with the hot broth. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with garlic croutons on the side.

You can purchase the Constance Prince Maurice recipe book from our online store - it includes 50 of our favourite recipes.

 

Recipe: Beef tenderloin in a cari chilli crust with Chinese cabbage and endive leaves

Colourful chillies

Colourful chillies

Here’s a wonderful beef tenderloin recipe from our kitchens at Constance Le Prince Maurice. It takes a little time to prepare but your efforts will be well rewarded.

Serves: 4
Preparation time:
1 1/2 hours
Cooking time:
20 minutes
Freezing time:
2 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 chunks of beef tenderloin, 160g each

For the chilli crust

  • 4 cari chillies
  • 60g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 40g soft butter

For the garnish

  • 1/4 head of Chinese cabbage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • 2 Belgian endives
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 pinch powdered cinnamon
  • 20cl green peppercorn sauce
  • 20g butter
  • salt and pepper

For the batter

  • 75g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • salt

1. Make the chilli crust: cut the cari chillies in 2, remove the seeds and blanch the chillies for 1 minute in boiling salted water. Cool in iced water. Repeat once.
2. Setting aside 4 half-chillies for frying later, purée the remaining chillies in a blender, then mix them with the breadcrumbs, horseradish and butter. Shape this into a cylinder, about 4cm thick, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate.
3. Cut the Chinese cabbage into large sticks. Blanch them in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, cool them in iced water, drain. Put them in a dish with the olive oil and cumin seeds. Add salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
4. Clean and halve the endives: brown them in the butter on both sides with the brown sugar and cinnamon for about 3 minutes. When they are nicely browned, set them aside and keep them warm.
5. Make the batter: separate the eggs. Mix the flour with 12.5cl water, the egg yolks, olive oil and some salt.
6. Heat the oil for frying to 180ºC.
7. Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them in to the previous mixture shortly before frying the chillies. Dip the half-chillies into this batter and fry them until golden (about 5 minutes).
8. Pan-sear the tenderloins to your taste, slice the chilli crust into rounds and lay them over the tenderloins. Put under the grill until brown and sizzling.
9. On each plate, lay the Chinese cabbage in a lattice pattern, top with tenderloin, arrange the endive around and top each tenderloin with one chilli fritter. Serve with the heated peppercorn sauce.

You can purchase the Constance Prince Maurice recipe book from our online store - it includes 50 of our favourite recipes.

And don’t miss our article on how to buy and cook beef.