By NIKA ROQUE
July 18, 2019
An intimate dinner is always best had with the perfect person and the perfect pair of food and wine.
However, unless you’ve got quite a bit of knowledge on which specific wine brings out this particular flavor in such and such and dish, then intimate dinners can become very daunting.
But fear not because The Manila Times Lifestyle is coming to your rescue.
Via Conrad Manila’s swanky C Lounge, that is, which has cleverly launched the “Perfect Pair” series where intimate dinners and wine pairing lessons are beautifully rolled into one!
The series features a special three-course menu that changes weekly and an impressively wide array of red and white wines.
The dinners are genuinely intimate because no more that 20 seats are available every time on Wednesday nights.
“The three dishes are not heavy dishes so it’s not something that could fill you up. It’s more to enjoy the culinary experience,” Conrad Manila Food and Beverage Director Clement Huguet said, as he led the pairings for the media launch.
“People are always interested in food and wine pairing. There’s always a bit of education when the guests are coming here, which is why we want to make it small and interactive so they can understand the process behind it,” he continued.
Part of the #EatDrinkHilton campaign that began in May — where one seasonal ingredient would take the spotlight per month — Conrad Manila’s chosen produce for the month of July is chili, which is present in both the food and cocktail menus. Apart from these being sourced organically and sustainably, it is a way for the culinary team to get creative while still highlighting local ingredients.
Bring in the wines
Variations of French wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir play a large role in bringing out the flavors of each dish. For example, Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine commonly paired with chicken or seafood. This has a more fresh flavor, with fruity tastes of peach and grapefruit.
At the media launch, the citrus flavors of a chilled salad of raw papaya and tandoori chicken in a rice paper wrap with sweet chili sauce and watermelon reduction was complemented by the citrus flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc.
On the other hand, Pinot Noir is a light red wine that is best paired with the main course as to not overpower the dish. Despite it being lighter than others, Pinot Noir still has a rich taste which mostly comes from the morello, cherry, and black currant.
For the second course of blackened salmon with nam cham chili dressing with avocado mango micro salad, Huguet explained that the dish itself would be too strong for white wine, which is why Pinot Noir was chosen instead even though red wine is more common with meat.
“[Wine pairing] always starts from the dish itself — its main flavor and its secondary flavor. From there, we try to find a wine of the same strength and the same flavors,” explained Huguet. “It should not overpower nor underpower [the flavor of the food]. It should be a straight line. Basically, the chef makes a dish, I try a little bit, and from experience, we know what is the best wine for pairing,” he explained.
“But then again, people have their own personal tastes. So what we give is the best recommendation, and if somebody wants to change and prefers a different glass of wine then it’s something that we are open to also,” Huguet ended.
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