Over the New Year, we vacationed in Melbourne with our munchkins, our first family holiday since baby girl C entered the brood. Since the hubby and I love visiting vineyards when we travel, we were looking forward to exploring the best of Yarra Valley. I was anticipating neat rows of lush green vines, well-manicured vast lawns for the kids to run around in, endless wine-tasting, delicious seasonal food served at the restaurants, all set in the vineyards’ peaceful and tranquil surroundings.
As we usher in the year of the snake, the most important event for many of us is the reunion dinner. In Singapore, where families are typically small, most people would be spending their Chinese (or Lunar) New Year’s eve dinner at home with a home-cooked spread. That usually works for me too. But this year, to spare our homemakers from pre and post meal slaving over the kitchen stoves, we have included our extended families to come together for an eight course feast. I believe a bottle of wine ought to be in order.
If you ask almost anyone to name a source region for America’s wines, there is a 90 per cent chance someone will quickly respond with Napa Valley. Napa Valley is a narrow valley to the north of San Francisco, flanked by two mountain ranges, Mayacamas and Vacas. This is home to the wines that propelled California to international stardom in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. In October, I got the exciting opportunity to visit Napa and was hosted by a reputable wine company, the Trinchero Family Estates.
Cloud 9 Living is a provider of experience gifts – instead of providing the traditional physical gift, they organise experiences so that that wonderful memories can be made. They pride themselves on providing premium class customer service and I personally found that to be true. Founded in 2005, they have 1,700 experiences in 43 regions in the United States. When I was contacted by Aun about experiencing firsthand one of Cloud 9 Living’s experiences, I was ecstatic! There are several categories for me to choose from: food and wine, driving, fighter pilot for a day, golf, learn to fly, action and adventure and more! The experiences look amazing and are appropriate for birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gifts and more. I picked the private winery tour and picnic as I wanted to take the opportunity to go out to the Long Island wineries in a more intimate setting, enjoy the good weather while it lasted and spend some quality time with my sister.
“God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the devil made Pinot noir.”
As famously declared by André Tchelistcheff, America’s most influential wine maker in the post prohibitions period (post-1930s). The Pinot Noir demands undivided attention from growers and wine makers, seduces drinkers with subtle nuances and excites those who adore it. If I am to draw literature reference from “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, then Pinot Noir can be described as “lust” manifested in, the not so glamorous, berry form.
Everyone loves to try out a product befor
e buying. This is especially so for wines. Fortunately, many retailers today are organising theme-based wine tastings (by varietal, region or same producer across different vintages) so that we can test their wares before committing to purchase. Travellers are also putting scenic winery visits into holiday itineraries; once you’ve worked your way through a cellar door tasting, you’ll find it’s a highly addictive and enjoyable process. In a restaurant setting, however, a tasting is a very different thing. Because –when ordering by the bottle–you can’t just move on to the next wine if the one you tried isn’t to your exact tastes. Every kind of tasting has its own set of rules.
Australian wine – almost a market synonym for Shiraz from South Australia. Known for its strong flavour, overwhelming ripeness and full body texture, Shiraz appears to one of be the favourite varietals for most Singaporean drinkers. Grown on a small corner of South Western Australia, with terrain and climate akin to the highly prized and reputable Bordeaux region in France, Margaret River has been setting the stage on fire with its own class of style.
My wife S and I, like so many in our generation, are passionate about wine. That doesn’t make us experts. In fact, I’d say we’re pretty far from being considered experts. But we’ve tasted enough to both know what we like as well as to appreciate something really special. Unfortunately, the kind of wine we both enjoy the most, and drink the most of, is Champagne… I say “unfortunately” because Champagne is far from cheap. Sometimes it feels like we’re constantly stocking up and running out of bubbly, while our other white and red wine supplies stay pretty much constant.
Ah, Summer. The season of dressing light, ditching the covered shoes and bringing out the flip-flops. Hit the beach and bake the skin to a crisp brown. This may sound great for most people in the world but when you’re actually here in the midst of drowning humidity between 80 to 90 per cent and combined with average temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, it’s almost as if Singapore is a giant dim sum steamer.
For our second night attending the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, S and I chose to attend a guest chef dinner at Embassy XO, a small but chic local East meets West restaurant. In addition to the one we went to, there were four other guest chef dinners happening in town, plus a massive eight course, eight (celebrity) chef Mediterranean Degustation experience held at Berardo’s restaurant and bar. S and I had chosen the Embassy XO dinner because the guest chef in question was Teage Ezard.