Celebrating friendship with good food and wine

"Would you like some wine?", Inderjit with host KC

"Would you like some wine?", Inderjit with host KC

It’s Saturday evening and the invitation is 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start.

We have been invited to a wine tasting party hosted by our friends KC and Molly at their home. Among those invited are KC’s friends from medical school at the National University of Singapore.

They have remained long-time friends and through a common passion for good food and wine, a tasting is organised every so often to perpetuate their love for a good drop and to celebrate friendship that has spanned many decades.

A selection of wines where their identities are concealed for blind tasting

A selection of wines where their identities are concealed for blind tasting

I feel somewhat privileged because neither am I a medical doctor nor a wine connoisseur.

It is rather exciting to think of the prospect of a blind tasting where each bottle’s identity is kept in confidence until each and every participant has had a chance to scrutinize, sniff, twirl, taste and decide to their hearts’ content on the type of wine and the region of the world which it hails from.

Tasting notes for each participant

Tasting notes for each participant

The scene is set where each participant brings a bottle of wine and is seated with a set of tasting glasses and tasting notes.

Lena with a loaf of freshly baked bread

Lena with a loaf of freshly baked bread

This is serious business because the tasting would last a couple of hours and to avoid hunger pangs or any clashes of tastes and flavours to the taste buds, a loaf of relatively neutral tasting bread that is freshly baked is the only accompaniment to seven bottles of wines on the tasting menu this evening.

Fresh bread to accompany wine tasting

Fresh bread to accompany wine tasting

The theme of these wine tasting parties will vary to keep things exciting and to introduce new elements with each wine tasting.

KC is the host on this occasion and he explains the theme for the evening is “Wines from the old world”, meaning each participant brings a bottle from the traditional wine-growing regions in Europe such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain among many other countries.

Essential tool: A non-drip wine lip for pouring up to 50 glasses of wine

Essential tool: A non-drip wine lip for pouring up to 50 glasses of wine

As the clock ticks towards seven, KC uncorks each bottle of wine and pours them into the assigned glass for each wine.

The beautiful setting on the dining table appears inviting and fun yet the serious side of this tasting is ringing loudly with the sheer number of glasses on the table. A quick count tells me there are at least 63 glasses in total on the table.

A simple and ingenious bottle lip is attached to each bottle and those annoying little drips become a non-issue.

"We are ready for the taste test!" Joe, Inderjit and Peter

"We are ready for the taste test!" Joe, Inderjit and Peter

Para is the president of this club of wine lovers and being a pediatrician, a joke is passed that he never gets any complains from his “customers” as they are obviously too young to object should they be dissatisfied with his work.

"There are only 2 opinions about wine, my opinion or the wrong opinion", Para residing over proceedings

"There are only 2 opinions about wine, my opinion or the wrong opinion", Para residing over proceedings

He keeps us eagerly waiting with a couple of jokes of his own to start proceedings.

As soon as the word go is signalled, each of us begin the fun and delightful process of sniffing, twirling, more sniffing and finally tasting these beautiful wines.

"This is worst than the water torture, when can we start drinking this stuff?" Inderjit, Sue and Margaret

"This is worst than the water torture, when can we start drinking this stuff?" Inderjit, Sue and Margaret

The real fun begins when each participant is asked by Para to describe the nose, aroma or bouquet of the wine and the subjectivity of wine is such that adjectives as wide ranging as “smelly cheese”, “sweaty armpits”, “cassis”, “cigar box”, “pineapple”, “just loads of black berries”, “forest floor” and “kerosene” are used. I find myself laughing at the vivid image of someone sniffing on the grounds of a forest.

The friendly banter becomes even more heated and most of us have yet to taste the wine.

Compare and contrast - "What the hell, they all taste the same after the fifth glass!"

Compare and contrast - "What the hell, they all taste the same after the fifth glass!"

The colour of each wine also brings up differing views and Para’s opinion of a ruby colour being definitive of a wine from Bordeaux is jokingly chided upon whilst some of us are even undecided on aromas.

“Musky is an aroma rather a colour” someone correctly points out.

Heated debate: "Cabernet sauvignon is definitely left bank OK!"

Heated debate: "Cabernet sauvignon is definitely left bank OK!"

The first of two white wines for the evening turn out to be a rather dry and spectacular 2010 Heilder Gruner Veltliner that Patrick lugged all the way home from Austria.

Guessing the correct varietal also proves contentious with suggestions of pinot gris and riesling.

Essential tool to settle any lingering doubts

Essential tool to settle any lingering doubts

KC’s handbook becomes a handy tool to try resolve whether cabernet sauvignon is dominant on the left or right bank of the Gironde estuary.

2005 Rioja Bodegas Palacio Especial

2005 Rioja Bodegas Palacio Especial

Throughout the evening, we taste a bold and earthy 2005 Rioja Bodegas Palacio Especial from Spain.

2009 Clos Des Loyeres Maranges

2009 Clos Des Loyeres Maranges

For the record, cabernet sauvignon being the second-most planted grape varietal in Bordeaux, is the dominant red wine from the Medoc and left bank region of France.

2005 Mischief and Mayhem Pinot Noir

2005 Mischief and Mayhem Pinot Noir

2005 Mischief and Mayhem Pinot Noir has aromas and flavours that are rather different and more subtle from the Australian pinot noir. Personally, my favourite are the mildly aged unfiltered pinot noir from the Tamar valley in Tasmania.

Tough task: Tasting each wine by the glass

Tough task: Tasting each wine by the glass

2005 Chateau Gazin L'Hospitalet de Gazin, Pomerol

2005 Chateau Gazin L'Hospitalet de Gazin, Pomerol

Mysaucepan and I both agree on a personal favourite for the evening being a 2005 Chateau Gazin L’Hospitalet de Gazin, Pomerol. With a hint of rusty red, I detect faint hints of berries on the nose and a very smooth lingering finish.

The line up of wines for the evening

The line up of wines for the evening

As the wine tasting draws to a close, it is almost 9pm and we are being enticed by other aromas, those that are now whafting from the kitchen.

Raw fish salad or yee sang

Raw fish salad or "yee sang"

True to form, Molly being the great home cook has made another beautiful raw fish salad or yee sang that can only be topped by her yee sang from the Chinese new year dinner a few weeks ago.

Tossing the salad or "lo hei"

Tossing the salad or "lo hei"

The fact that Chinese new year is already over is irrelevant because I truly believe yee sang is a delicious and refreshing salad that is good for any happy occasion.

Everyone tucks into two giant plates of this raw fish salad with extra long chopsticks to toss a delightful mix of finely julienne carrots, white radish, pomelo, roasted peanuts, prawn crackers, fresh raw salmon and a tangy plum sauce.

Molly's king prawns with chilli and curry leaves

Molly's king prawns with chilli and curry leaves

No sooner has the heady aromas of king prawns with chilli and curry leaves tossed in a hot wok fill the kitchen, the smoky flavours of a chai tow kway or stir fried rice cakes have us salivating about how good these dishes will go with the wines we have just tasted.

Stir fried rice cakes or "chai tow kway"

Stir fried rice cakes or "chai tow kway"

Malaysian style "achar" or pickled vegetables

Malaysian style "achar" or pickled vegetables

A Malaysian style pickled vegetables is tangy and served chilled with its crunchy carrots, beans and cauliflower.

Cuttlefish and cucumber

Cuttlefish and cucumber

Cuttlefish with hoisin sauce and chilli oil is my perennial favourite of Molly’s cooking. I love the firm texture of cuttlefish with the kick of the spicy chilli oil.

Lena's vegetable curry

Lena's vegetable curry

Lena’s vegetable curry with snake beans, cabbage, eggplant and tofu puffs in a piquant curry sauce is the perfect accompaniment for some steamed white rice.

Chicken, jelly fish and cucumber salad

Chicken, jelly fish and cucumber salad

Shredded chicken and cucumber with slivers of jelly fish are tossed with light soy sauce and sesame oil. This cold salad is both refreshing and delicious with the crunch of the jelly fish and cucumber.

Molly's Chinese roast pork

Molly's Chinese roast pork

Everyone is heaving into a huge plate of Chinese roast pork  with the crispy and unmistakable crunch of beautiful crackling.

Pineapple or "ang lai" to usher in prosperity

Pineapple or "ang lai" to usher in prosperity

We are thankful for so much good food but it’s not over before some beautiful desserts.

Margaret's gula melaka agar agar with cherries, strawberries and grapes

Margaret's gula melaka agar agar with cherries, strawberries and grapes

A gula melaka agar agar has smoky sweet flavours of palm sugar to accompany the sweetness of strawberries, cherries and grapes.

Ingredients for ice-kachang

Ingredients for ice-kachang

Molly has prepared a spread of sweet corn, red bean paste and black jelly for her signature ice kachang.

Cheese platter

Cheese platter

Love letters

Love letters

Ice kachang is a beautiful Malaysian dessert because one can choose from all the different fillings of sweet red bean paste, sweet corn, gula melaka and red syrup.

Ice-shaver that makes the finest shavings

Ice-shaver that makes the finest shavings

Drizzling varying amounts of gula melaka, red syrup and condense milk will alter the sweet complexity of this cold and refreshing dessert.

A drizzle of gula melaka or palm sugar

A drizzle of gula melaka or palm sugar

Another drizzle of red sugar syrup

Another drizzle of red sugar syrup

Drizzling condensed milk

Drizzling condensed milk

And it appears that everyone will have their own preference and combination of all the different accompaniment to the ice kachang.

Drizzling condensed milk

Drizzling condensed milk

There is so much food and great wines this evening.

Thanks again to our friends Molly and KC for being such gracious hosts. It has been a wonderful and memorable evening with equally wonderful company.

The mark of a memorable evening

The mark of a memorable evening

So dear readers, how do you like to celebrate friendship with your friends?

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46 Responses to Celebrating friendship with good food and wine

  1. OohLookBel says:

    What a very fun evening. Not being much of a drinker, I can’t comment on the wine, but the food looks incredible. Don’t envy the washer-upper of those glasses, though!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear OohLookBel,

      I think there is a systematic technique to washing many wine glasses that cuts down washing time which the washer-uppers need to know :)

  2. What a fabulous night with great friends and incredible food!

  3. Sissi says:

    Nothing makes better friends than a passion for good wine and food… I always feel it’s such a pity few of my friends share both with me.
    The wine tasting is something I have never tried yet, but I have always dreamt about it. Your evening and night seem unforgettable! I’m happy for once to recognise some appelations (althought I haven’t tasted any of these producers’ wines). Grüner veltliner is my recent discovery. Alas, I have had a very basic bottle only (it’s not easy to get Austrian wine in this part of Switzerland). Thanks for sharing this extraordinary evening with us!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Sissi,

      The wine tasting is fun because it is so subjective and if you can smell or taste something in particular, who’s to say otherwise? I liked the dry style of the Gruner Veltliner as I can either drink it on its own or with some nice seafood.

  4. You’re quite the party gal. Looks like another fun evening!

  5. Sure looks like a fun night, but I’m sadly aware I don’t know nearly enough about wines- except if I like it or not!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear InTolerantChef,

      Sometimes, just knowing whether you like it or not may be the best way to go. Simple and effective without all the fuss about aromas, tastes, colours etc :)

  6. Kimby says:

    Chopinand, this looked like a spectacular evening and I’m so glad you shared your thoughts and photos and captions! I haven’t been to a wine tasting for years, but may have to reintroduce the idea this summer on our deck — with friends. :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Kimby,

      You have one of the most beautiful decks that I have seen and that’s not even mentioning views to die for! It would be a most wonderful place to entertain your friends.

  7. Alice says:

    What a fabulous spread…………. I soooooo miss the ‘do’s’ at Aunty Molly’s and Uncle KC’s
    Great friendship is a wonderful thing to be cherished . Well Done !!!

  8. Dear Chopinand, what a wonderful, wonderful feast. Yummy! Those prawns look especially tasty. I wish my palate was more educated when it comes to wines… thank you for sharing this.

  9. Terri says:

    Enjoyed this post! Albert visited recently. happy new year btw:)

  10. heidi says:

    Wow- you and your friends really know how to celebrate!

    When we get together, we have cook-offs (chili, potato dishes, chocolate desserts, and once we had an Asian cook-off where we had to choose from a variety of ingredients and come up with an appetizer, entree, and dessert) where everyone votes for the best dish. It is fun- and there are prizes- but the best part is spending time together eating great food!

    On my brother’s birthday we all made different cakes and then piled them up on top of each other! He couldn’t believe the tower of 8 cakes!

    I’m happy to have a family of foodies- as well as friends.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear heidi,

      Cook-offs are really great fun because there is always the element of suprise :) That must have been one truly unique birthday cake for your brother!

  11. Ahh good wine and good friends-sounds like the makings to a fun evening! :)

  12. What a fantastic evening you had! I’m not a big wine drinker, but I can definitely appreciate good food!

  13. Hotly Spiced says:

    I have friends who go to these wine and food nights and they’re doctors as well! I would love to go to one of these because I think it would be a lot of fun except that I think I would fail – I know I could discern the difference between a red and a white but not sure I could be more sophisticated than that. Happy to drink though! Great post and lovely story.

  14. Hannah says:

    OH MY GOD MAKE YOUR OWN ICE KACHANG THIS IS DESTROYING MY SOUL. I’ve never even had ice kachang, despite longing to for years! Oh oh oh!

  15. Juliana says:

    Wow, what a fun evening…wine tasting party and all the variety of food…I am far from being a wine connoisseur…but love wine and enjoy tasting them.
    Shaved ice? Fantastic!
    Thanks for sharing such a great event, I truly enjoyed the pictures and descriptions, although I rather be tasting it ;-)
    Hope you have a wonderful week!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Juliana,

      It really fun at wine tasting because I normally cut the pleasantries and just say whatever I think it’s right.

  16. Carolyn Jung says:

    Whoa, talk about a lot of glasses! LOL
    Nothing more fun than sharing sips with friends who share the same passion and interests.

  17. I think good food and wine are probably two of the best ways to celebrate friendship. I have yet to taste a wine that has a flavor like cigar box or kerosene. :D

    Also: Jelly fish?!?!?! Like this?

    http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ljy9v6RUsc1qf1hl1o1_500.jpg

    Seriously??????????????? :D

  18. sophia says:

    Oh wow, love this! I’m going to a wine tasting in San Diego this weekend. I can’t wait! By the way, that is a HUGE loaf of bread! Is it weird that I’m more fascinated by that hunk of carb than the wine?

  19. Sounds like you had such a wonderful time with your friends! I am not much of a drinker and I totally wish I was…especially when the get together is around wine… sigh. I still can have fun (because I enjoy eating) but still, it’s just not the same! I’ve never seen so many glasses in the house! All these food make me very hungry as I’m about to go to sleep…. I love jellyfish salad! My son’s favorite nowadays. =)

  20. jaded says:

    That’s a LOT of wine! I would happily have forgone all the other post-dinner treats and the wine for Ice Kachang, though. MmmmMMmmm! Great way to celebrate friendship.

  21. Charles says:

    Oh, what fun Chopinand! You know, I’ve always wanted to get into wine tasting. I’m in the perfect country for it as well, but I find the whole prospect rather intimidating – everyone seems so knowledgeable and seems to focus more on “serious wine business” than having fun! :(

  22. Looks like a terrific evening you had with your friends!!!!
    God all that luscious food is making me so hungry…..
    Everything from food to drink looks so much fun..

  23. It all looks like so much fun!! We’re all about celebrating friendships with food too. Usually a wood fired oven & pizza!
    Heidi xo

  24. An amazing evening. I really need to brush up on my wine knowledge. Reading this I would not have known the forest floor from the cigars ;)

  25. I grew up enjoying shaved ice — this brought back so many sweet memories!!

    Nothing like a great company, delicious foods and toasting to a wonderful year ahead :)

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