With so many excellent new world wines now being available at extremely affordable prices, wines are no longer the drink of the aristocrat. Although I love drinking wines, I possessed little knowledge about the, and mostly picked my wines at random. So, I was delighted to be able to attend a Wine and Food pairing event hosted by Lemon Tree and organized by Food Drifter.
Mr. Gautam, a certified sommelier and the F&B manager at Lemon Tree, was our guide for the night. And what a gorgeous night it was! The session was organized on the rooftop of the hotel, beneath a dreamy moonlit sky, next to a clear blue pool.
We were served a three course meal from Kebab Theatre that started off with a Shorba, and were followed up by starters. The mushroom starter Kumbh Hariyali was nothing short of brilliant, but the Tikha Paneer Tikka was disappointing. The paneer was dry and tough. The non-veg starters included Pudina Neza and Chapli Kebab. Chapli is a famous Pakistani dish, which is typically prepared from minced beef or lamb. However, the one served by Lemon Tree was a chicken variant. This Chapli was pretty decent, and went well with the various yoghurt accompaniments. The Neza, which is a chicken kebab with mint and cilantro, proved to be a disappointment due to its uneven marination. We paired the starters with a Sula Chenin Blanc. Wine tasting as well as pairing is a very subjective process that depends on the drinker’s personal preferences. However, Mr. Gautam did share a few general pointers with us. While sparkling wines are often paired with starters because of their acidity which cleanses the palate, they aren’t very suitable for spicy Indian starters. Most people prefer to have more mellow and fruity wines with spicy Indian food, as they cut the richness of the food. Red wines are generally considered too tannic for starters.
Red wines are more full bodied and have a longer finish (after taste). They are ideal for pairing with lamb or other red meats. So, for our main course, which consisted of Naan, Vilayti Subz, Dal-e-Balai, and Gosht Bamiya, we were served Sula Cabernet Shiraz. The wine went wonderfully with the Gosht. All the dishes had a rich texture, but weren’t very hot. A dish that’s exceedingly hot can be a challenge to pair with any wine. The creamy Gosht Bamiya went really well with the Shiraz, although I wasn’t too happy with how tough the meat was. I finished off the night with a plate of Haleem, which is served around the year at the Lemon Tree. On the whole, the food served by Kebab Theatre turned out to be average at best. But, the excellent ambiance, the presence of friends, and the knowledgeable and interactive session lifted my spirits.