Sommeliers are an interesting bunch. Most people’s exposure to them consists of a brief conversation at a restaurant table when they are selecting a wine or wines to go with their food, but there is a lot more to the sommelier’s job than pulling corks and waxing lyrical with adjective-rich descriptions of the wine.
The sommelier is responsible for the construction of the wine list in a restaurant, which in itself is a complex process. Rather than a simple group of wines that take the sommeliers fancy, the wine list must fulfil a number of important criteria: it must balance with a complex food offering and it must balance with the spending range of the restaurant guests.
Sankara hotel recently held a small introductory lunch to welcome their new sommelier Lisa Gordge. Her duties include creating wine pairing for the ever-changing 7 course Asian pairing menu, and building a small, diverse wine list while keeping within strict budgets.
The menu we tried out echoed her roots and was dubbed ‘South Africa’s cool climate regions’. It included a sumptuous 4-course session paired with the region’s fine wines.
We started with some delicious ham and sweet melon, salmon and olive canapés that were meticulously paired with the Steenberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2010. Fresh, crisp, this pairing cleared the palate for an even more interesting flavour-fillede main course.
Prawn and coconut candies, green papaya salad, tomato and ginger jam were paired with the Paul Cluver Riesling 2010.
Duck confit tortellini and a 28 days aged Angus rump followed closely after, as Lisa went round explaining the intricacies that made the food pair perfectly with the wines she had picked out.
Concluding the fine lunch with some mango coconut and chocolate terrine, lemongrass and lychee granite paired with the Vin de Constance 2006, it was an afternoon well spent.