Tag: Harrods

Sake sommeliery at Harrods

sake sommelier at Harrods wine shop

Sake, that illusive Japanese drink which, despite its increasing popularity in restaurants and elsewhere, remains a bit of a mystery to the public.

For one, there is often misconceptions about what it is. Despite the fact that basic versions are now widely available in supermarkets, it is still often mistakenly called Japanese rice wine. In reality, the process of making sake is more like that of beer – the starch in rice must be converted to sugars before it can be fermented using yeast. And in Japan, the establishments which make sake are called breweries.

Then there is the matter of how to drink sake. Should you have it warm or cold? And how does this then affect that food you might have with it? After all, sake is reported to have completely different characteristics on the palate compared to the nose.

Luckily these, and other intricate matters, are covered in the first and only sake sommelier course in the UK.

sake sommelier at Harrods wine shop

Held in the private room of Harrod’s wine shop, the course is run by the Sake Sommelier Association and offers an introduction to the history of sake, its making and its characteristics. Although the course is only intended as an introduction, you do get a serious overview of everything. Particularly useful, perhaps, is the classification of sake – a very confusing matter when you realise there are names for every variation!

Theory aside, you will also get to sample a few sakes from different categories and at different temperatures – everything from super polished to slightly aged. The tasting is tutored and with specially designed glasses by Riedel as well as more traditional glassware so you leave with a great set of tasting notes and ideas on how to match particular sakes with food. And as you leave, you will receive a sake sommelier certificate too. Just think, a newly qualified sake sommelier in just one session.

(First seen on BespokeRSVP)

Dining with Bisol Prosecco at Le Café Anglais

Bisol Dinner

When Harrods officially opened the doors to the new Wine Shop on the 16th of November, Bisol threw a little celebratory dinner party. You see, Bisol now has a rather nice display amongst Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Taittinger and Pommery in the new Wine Shop’s champagne section.

Readers familiar with Bisol will know that it is a very highly regarded Italian prosecco producer. First established in 1542, Bisol remains a family run business focusing on producing quality prosecco. As the largest vineyard owner in the Valdobbiadene region, Bisol produces the smallest yield of prosecco. Restricting the amount of grapes produced means that the characteristics of the grapes can be carefully controlled and therefore shaping the wines produced from the grapes.

And those familiar with wines will know that prosecco is not the same as champagne. Champagne must be sparkling wine produced within the Champagne region of France. Prosecco, while primarily Italian, is also produced elsewhere in the world using only glera (prosecco) grapes. The production method is different too. Champagnes go through secondary fermentation in the bottle while for proseccos, the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks.

The placement of Bisol proseccos amongst champagne heavy-weights can only signify the quality of Bisol prosecco and the increasing popularity of proseccos in general among the British public.

The dinner took place in the private room at Le Café Anglais, the French inspired restaurant of FT columnist and chef Rowley Leigh.

To start there was a nice little introduction to Bisol at the bar with the Jeio Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Spumante as an aperitif, served with small bar snacks. It was light, refreshing and rather fruity, a perfect facilitator for meeting and mingling.

Once the entire party has arrived, a mix of Italian and British media, we moved into the Private Dining Room of Le Café Anglais. The President of Bisol Wines, Gianluca Bisol, was on hand to introduce the evening and also a little bit about each of the Bisol proseccos we were enjoying.

The first course was a wild duck pâté en croute served with a dandelion and orange salad, matched with Bisol Cartizze Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze D.O.C.G. 2009 Spumante Dry. It is usually served as a dessert wine or aperitif and it’s actually quite sweet in taste despite being labelled dry thanks to the natural sweetness of the grapes. You are probably also beginning to wonder whether all Bisol wines have such long names. In most cases they do and it’s all down to the careful classification of the wines in the region to define variety and quality. This one is produced from grapes harvested from the hills of Cartizze, a location so prime that a hectare is estimated to be worth over $1million. That is, if there were any willing sellers.

The second course was roast partridge with radicchio, cobnuts and fondant potatoes matched with Jeio Rosé Spumante Brut. This wine contrasts sharply with the last one – it is a lot drier and almost tastes a little bitter. As I prefer sweeter wines, it wasn’t for me although it did pair very well with the gamey partridge.

For the final course, we had the bitter chocolate tart with Bisol Duca di Dolle Prosecco Vino Passito. There was also a cheese course available for those more savoury minded. The bitter chocolate tart was truly delicious. It was a rich melting delight of dark chocolate on a very thin crust. I was pleased to find that the wine was back to sweet and this one was super sweet with a sugar content of 100g per litre. It’s also considered a rare wine, as production is limited to a few thousand a year. This was certainly one to be savoured as we wound down the evening. But not before Rowley Leigh enters to meet his happy diners and offer us teas and coffees.

(First seen on Foodepedia)

Rum ‘n’ Reason at Harrods

Lorena Vasquez with Ron ZacapaWith London Cocktail Week and Chocolate Week running at the same time, 11-17th October was pretty hectic. For me, there was one event that really helped to pull the week together – Rum ‘n’ Reason at Harrods Wine Shop – an evening of chocolates and rums.

I was given a glass and tasting sheets before being invited to make my way around the Wine Shop. The idea was to sample some of the premium sipping rums available at Harrods, along with the Godiva chocolates selected matched to them. This was an unusually relaxed consumer event held in Harrods’ newly renovated Wine Shop. In some ways it was also a special preview as the renovation hasn’t been completed yet. The official re-launch is currently planned for mid November and the new Wine Shop is said to contain 900 new lines plus an Aroma Zone, a Tasting Room and a temperature controlled Wine Vault. It all sounds very exciting.

Anyway, back to the rum. For most people, rum conjures up images of the Caribbean. While there were a fair few rums from the Caribbean, there were also many more that had their roots in Central and South America.

Take Ron Zacapa, for example, the rum created to celebrate the centenary of the city of Zacapa in Guatemala. Then there is El Dorado, the first brand in the world to produce a sipping rum, made in Guyana using old Navy rum distillation equipment. Of course Flor de Caña from Nicaragua, the rum with the highest number of accolades, was also present.

Unlike most tastings, there was no formal coaching. The different brands were laid out on different tables with a representative from the brand to assist the tasting. This was an opportunity to talk to the people who either produce or distribute the rums, who really knew their products inside out. It was very educational and eye-opening in terms of learning about the variety of different rums available, the different ways of producing rum and the different histories behind the brands.

All in all, there were 30 different rums available to sample and purchase at a special promotional price, including one very expensive 30-year-old rum from Appleton Estate which retails at £495. But if you wanted to fork out for some serious rum, the most expensive rum available for purchase that night was the Havana Club Maximo, priced at an astounding £1,350. There were none available for sampling unfortunately.

And if you were wondering how we all managed to stand up afterwards, there were lined vases acting as spittoons, mineral water for rinsing and canapés being served. No doubt, we all left feeling a bit merrier though.

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