Imagine escaping to a French chateau, where nouvelle cuisine is paired with the best wines of the world. Imagine no more, as the Four Seasons inaugurates the next best thing...
I'm not a wine man. I mean, I'd like to be a wine man. I would like to sit down at a restaurant with an inordinate amount of cutlery at the table, give the leggy blonde sitting opposite me a cultivated smirk, look up at the Sommelier and summon a vintage 1967 Bordeux because I know that in that year and at that time, the powers that be pointed at the grapes in the Château de Pitray vineyard, producing the perfect tannin level in the plant. I would swirl my glass, take a satisfied whiff and remark on its earthy palette whilst the leggy blonde goes week at the knees.
I am not that man. I usually like to pair a 2015 Omar Khayyam white with tomato Bake Rolls, or a Peach Frusion with the early hours of the morning, and make crude quips relating Sommeliers to Somalian pirates.
Last week Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza’s Bella opened up their new Wine Cellar and invited me to have their full wine pairing experience. An invitation to be that new man, to learn the difference between Chablis and Chardonnay and indulge in a six-course menu catered specifically to wine enthusiasts.
The venue is about as intimate as intimate gets, seating three people (with plans for expansion to seat six); a closed room just off the main restaurant that oozes this kind of pop art sophistication with bright red bar stools and striking abstract paintings fighting for attention against dark wood finishings and opposite walls filled to the brim with French and Italian wine.
The Bella cellar currently stocks 300 varieties of wine from France and Italy, and before it opened as a dining experience, would service connoisseurs from all over the world, once moving a 26,000 LE bottle of Château Latour to a certain Saudi prince.
With the infinite stories of millions of grapes gazing onward at a small table in the middle of this amaranthine cellar, and Girgis, our excitable waiter for the evening, bursting at the seams with an intricate lexicon of wine know-how, we put hand to mouth for course number one; lobster, olive and tomato bruschetta whose freshness and crunch was brought out with the dainty rosé the dish was paired with.
Before being swept off our stools by a taste bud seducing squid ink ravioli and champagne reduction that paired with a refined Chardonnay to give the feeling of being lovingly hugged by the tentacles of that same squid, we were given a few insights on understanding Italian wines. For starters, 80% of all Italian wines must include Sangiovese grapes for quality control; they must be pretty bad-ass grapes. And if there’s a little label on the back of the bottle that says ‘DOCG’ it meant the wine was 100% grown and harvested in Italy. I’m about 90% sure this information is correct, by this point the continuous alcohol tasting may have turned my notes into squiggles, although I do recall, rather importantly, that a Gavi de Gave, one of these DOCGs, is the perfect Italian wine to start the night for ladies.
There’s something very visceral and satisfying about dining with wine as an audience; like being left to decanter, the energy and aroma of the cellar amplifies every sip and taste and by the time the third course of roasted seabass from Alexandria and asparagus came along, my gustatory receptors were veritably purring.
“Light with light… heavy with heavy!” Girgis crammed into our curriculum, the foundation of wine and food pairing, as we were served a raspberry sorbet pallet cleanser before moving onto an audacious veal fillet, mashed potato and truffle oil dish served in a specially made tiny hotpot, paired with our first red of the evening, poured into one of three glasses designed specifically for the Four Seasons.
Finally, the pièce de résistance, a masterpiece of a dessert that we were told we would not forget soon. Bella’s Cassata cake: layers of vanilla, pistachio and chocolate ice cream with meringue skin, splattered with seasoned dry fruits and served with Castello Banfi Florus Italian dessert wine. A starburst of taste that was like frolicking through a field of fruit pastilles whilst the wine centered the palette. The plate was thoroughly licked clean.
Good food is paired with even better wine at The Wine Cellar. We've gathered exquisite wines from around the world that go with every taste and every dish! Call +(202) 27916875 to reserve your intimate private table.Posted by Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza on Monday, 10 August 2015
I’d like to think the Bella Wine Cellar did change me, I feel like I’m on my way to becoming that man I want to be thanks to this exquisite menu and treasure trove of wine knowledge from the Sommelier, who unlike a Somalian pirate, only stole our hearts.
Reserve for Bella's Wine Cellar: 0227916875