For others, it was a regular Tuesday evening. But for a few Select Brands guests, Tuesday, November 23, allowed them to travel to Italy through glasses of Santa Margherita wines. The event, casually dubbed “Sip with Select”, was a five-course, wine-paired meal. It succeeded in reminding those present what it felt like to dress up, go out and eat well, pre-COVID.
Select Brands Luxury Portfolio Manager Debra Taylor-Smith chose prosecco, Pinot Grigio, sparkling rosé and Sangiovese to accompany the meal prepared by host restaurant Uncorked Too. The “lively bubbles” of the Prosecco Superiore Di Valdobbiadene dance across the tongue, imprinting flavours of ripe pineapples, peaches, and apples on the palate. The finish is slightly sweet, crisp and dry, making the perfect drink to begin the evening.
The antipasti (starter) course — gazpacho shots and seared scallops with tart apple slaw — was paired with Pinot Grigio. The gazpacho was bright, fresh and flavourful — the addition of chopped scallions atop added much-needed minerality to balance the tomato-based soup. The scallops were well executed. The salinity of the fresh molluscs and the tartness of the apple slaw were made even more delightful with the pinot grigio, with its luscious golden delicious apple and citrus notes. The natural sweetness of the tomatoes emerged and then intensified with subsequent sips.
Sparkling wine is festivity in a bottle, and the sparkling rosé lived up to its tasting notes, which describe it as “lively”. It accompanied the primo piatto (first course) — roasted salmon with rosemary balsamic reduction served alongside black rice pudding. The salmon was well-seared, with a cool pink centre. The rice pudding was a revelation. The infusion of rosemary and garlic complemented the earthy flavour of the black rice. The hints of red berry and floral notes in the rosé enhanced, rather than competed with, the meal. A lot was happening on the plate, but the rosé held its own.
The secondi piatti (second course) saw steak medallions finished with mushroom tapenade served atop Parmesan mashed potatoes. The dish was a woodland delight — earthy, toothsome and relied upon the natural flavours of the quality ingredients used. Who doesn't love a chilled red wine? The Sangiovese was delightful with hints of morello cherries, wild berries and a moderate spiciness. Taylor-Smith described it best. “It's like a tun up pinot noir.” So true. The wine's oakiness made the beef and delicately-flavoured mushrooms bask in the light of its intensity. The creaminess of the mashed potatoes redolent with nutty Parmesan made each forkful swoon-worthy.
Platters of the best Parmesan Reggiano you'll find on the island followed the steak course. “You need an Italian wine for an Italian cheese,” quipped Taylor-Smith, and the Sangiovese continued to impress guests with its “full and firm” flavour. The meal ended with an almost flawless vanilla-bean limoncello panna cotta. It was apportioned suitably to satisfy a craving for something sweet without making one regret having dessert.
Select Brands is celebrating its 10th anniversary, while Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is enjoying its 60th. Both brands are synonymous with conviviality. As simple as it seems, the pops of bottles throughout the evening rang home the importance of celebrating not just milestones but the small things.
Photos: Garfield Robinson