World Pairing and the Jewel from Hampi

Published: 09th February 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2014 04:09 PM   |  A+A-


Recently, a wine brand was launched in Bangalore and it had many firsts to its credit. KRSMA will go down in history as the first wine to come from the historic region of Hampi (the appellation they are rooting for is Hampi Hills), the first to be released in Magnums, and also the first world class Cabernet Sauvignon that is worthy of medals from the very first vintage.

And then, there is this: the first wine launch that organised a black tie dinner but one that wasn’t centered around one themed cuisine but rather a melee of cuisines from around the world. As the wines from the house were introduced and poured one course after another, the food courses that accompanied didn’t belong to any one part of the world. In fact, by the end of the meal one had pretty much been around the world and back, without as much as inviting any jetlag, although after all that lovely food and delicious wine, we were in that zone that many an enthusiastic blogger and Twitter-er has referred to as ‘food coma’.

So, did it work? Is it possible to pair wines with a range of cuisines spanning the length of one meal and does it provide any sense of satiety at all? These were questions that I was asking myself when I started planning this meal for the winery with the chefs and continued through many an email exchange, right down until I sat down for the meal myself on the final day: I was still not sure whether we had decided well by choosing to hop continents for each course. Even the liberal in me was too conservative for such leaps of ingenious creativity.

And so it began, an aperitif session which served up over half a dozen snacks from at least three different cuisines and regions, as if offering a preview of what was to come. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc calmly took it all and didn’t as much as wince.

The next few courses journeyed from Italy to the Orient and finally with the main course, landed back here in India. Meanwhile the wines too had spanned grapes equally diverse in strength and character. What was the point, if any, that the dinner was out to make?

Just this: food and wine pairing is a subjective exercise. It is also a secular exercise where versatility is the skill most at display. The idea is not to show how one wine can pair with all sorts of dishes but instead to highlight that no matter the part of the world and the food eaten, there is surely a wine that can accompany it.

The food, on the other hand, needs more understanding for even I feel that satiety as one understands it may feel a tad compromised if the meal is not made up of similar elements. In such, jumping cuisines can lead to too much of a mishmash wherein one eats sufficiently but doesn’t feel satiated. It is similar to the horror of restaurants of yesteryear when the same eatery claimed to specialise in Indian, Chinese & Mughlai, thereby discounting its own work collectively. I call this the ‘Buffet Syndrome’. Or I will call it so; I only just coined it.

The KRSMA dinner then managed to overcome two crossings rather successfully. It first managed to bridge the gap between continents, showing that it is possible to eat pasta, Hon Dashi (Japanese seafood stock), and Nalli in one meal without OD-ing on any. And then, it showed that there now exists a versatile Indian wine that can stand alongside foreign variants in the most astute of gastronomic exercises, one that won’t be shunned for being technically flawed like some other local brands.


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