While many of us have become adept at experimenting with new culinary styles and ingredients, navigating a wine menu is still viewed as a little more intimidating, often solved through the simple technique of ordering the third cheapest on the menu.
But the art of understanding wines is a skill for which our sommeliers at Constance Hotels and Resorts have earned themselves a world-class reputation. The world’s leading authority on wine, the magazine Wine Spectator, agrees and recently awarded six of Constance’s restaurants with their 2016 Restaurant Awards, in recognition of outstanding wine lists.
Our wine lists are beautifully crafted by our sommeliers to offer a balance from different regions, old and new world wines, without compromising on the quality. From affordable wines, to those that sit in the very special occasion bracket, we believe passionately that the dining experience is enhanced by the quality of the wines we are able to offer our guests.
So what do you need to know, when you first open the wine menu?
A good place to start is to consider the potential of the pairing with the food you choose. According to the Wine Spectator, there are three important rules:
1. Drink and eat what you like
Go for what you like, or for what you like the sound of if you are experimenting with new tastes. No matter the pairing, you need to enjoy what you are drinking. If you know you don’t like a particular grape, or don’t like the sound of it, steer away. Our sommeliers will talk to you about your personal preferences, and guide you to find a wine that will sit well with those.
2. Look for balance
This is a great technique when you’re choosing the pairing – you want to find food and wine that are “equal partners, with neither overwhelming the other”. What does that mean? As Wine Spectator goes on to describe: “Hearty food needs a hearty wine. In contrast, a light Soave washes down a subtly flavoured poached fish because they are equals in delicacy”.
The other consideration is weight – which for food is largely determined by fat content, while for the wine comes in the form of “the colour, grape variety and alcohol level, along with the winemaking techniques and the region’s climate’. Those latter two are fascinating and broad subjects that our sommeliers can discuss with you to determine which one will work best with your meal, to create the culinary experience you want to enjoy.
3. Match the wine to the most prominent element in the dish
While it sounds more technical, this is also a brilliant approach to getting the pairing right.
“Identify the dominant character; more often it is the sauce, seasonings or cooking method, rather than the main ingredient”. For example, Wine Spectator cites, a chicken masala dish is quite different from a lightly poached chicken breast in a delicate sauce.
Find out more
Read more about the more advanced rules that take in the subtleties of the wines you are choosing on the Wine Spectator site here.
At Constance, we pride ourselves on the stock we maintain in our vast cellars, some of the biggest in the Indian Ocean. You can find out more about our wine menu at Constance in our recent article on the Art of the wine cellar.
And if you’re travelling to Constance soon, be sure to try something you wouldn’t normally, at least once during your holiday. Our sommeliers at all our restaurants can point you to a wine that will beautifully complement the food you are enjoying. In the words our charismatic Head Sommelier, Jerôme Faure, on the tradition of sommellerie at Constance: “More than just having long wine lists, we have committed sommeliers who work hard all year long and who are eager to discover new wineries all around the world. It says practice makes perfect. I would add that passion brings excellence.”