Food & Drinks

Shops With Good Wine

wine

A gift option being sold at Enoteca wine shop, Village Market in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • Love and wine are the best pair. At least that is what Nebiat Tekle-Corino, the owner of Enoteca, a wine shop at the Village Market in Nairobi, says.
  • As Valentine’s Day beckons, a bottle of wine chilled to perfection over a candlelit dinner on a warm February night seems to be the most natural way to celebrate the day of lovers.
  • Once the choice outlet is narrowed down, the mood will determine the wine.

Love and wine are the best pair. At least that is what Nebiat Tekle-Corino, the owner of Enoteca, a wine shop at the Village Market in Nairobi, says.

As Valentine’s Day beckons, a bottle of wine chilled to perfection over a candlelit dinner on a warm February night seems to be the most natural way to celebrate the day of lovers.

“Go for a bubbly (a Champagne, Prosecco or any good sparkling wine),” says Nebiat, whose shop specialises in Italian wines.

Once a year, the furore to plan the perfect evening and gift for a loved one involves the daunting task of picking the perfect bottle of wine to toast the occasion.

“An evening should start with sparkling wine. It opens up the evening and sets the mood,” she says.

Being a newbie attempting to buy wine in Kenya over the past few years is no longer a choice between the four options of dry red, dry white, sweet white or sweet red. It is now a choice of new world wines versus old world wines, grapes, regions and even specific wine houses.

“Even before you get to the specifics of the wine, you need to know where to buy your wines,” says Melissa Mwende, a wine ambassador of Vergelegen, a historic wine estate in South Africa.

According to Melissa, there are shops in Nairobi that offer a good selection of wines including Chandarana ABC and Lavington Mall, which have a wide selection, 63 Wines in New Muthaiga, which offers boutique and collectible wines, and Lekker Wine and Cheese, that offers the added value or recommendations on pairings, just to name a few.

Once the choice outlet is narrowed down, the mood will determine the wine.

“A cold evening needs a big and bold wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon. A warm evening will be suited for a light refreshing white like a Sauvignon Blanc from the new world. This has more fruit than old world wines,” says Melissa.

“Australian wines are doing very well,” says Nebiat.

“There is a new wave of wine growing countries with world-class wines. These regions have warmer climates and terrains than the traditional wine growing areas,” she explains. The old wine world includes France and Italy with Australia, South Africa and South American countries making up the some of the new wine makers.

“Demand for the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is growing despite not being from the traditional wine growing regions. They are bringing a new dimension to wine,” says Nebiat.

The new wines are the best for newbies. They are good quality but not a ‘strong’ as old wines.

Sweet wines are still predominantly popular, but this does not have to be characterised by a cloyingly sweet wine with added sugar, but instead a wine from a sweet grape. Muscato and Riesling grapes work well for sweeter palates. Muscato pairs well with desserts.

“When pairing wine with chocolate, make sure the wine is sweeter than the chocolate,” says Melissa. For a meal, she advices a Chardonnay for chicken or fish. Chardonnay has more body and can hold up to a meal. If dinner is steak or Wagyu beef, a red wine would be the best option. This can be a Merlot.

A rosé from Provence in France is a perfect wine for Valentine ’s Day and goes well with fish, chicken or lamb.

Melissa recommends Miraval from Provence paired with strawberry and raspberry coated in chocolate sauce. She also suggests a Vergelegen V Red as a good option for a premium quality red wine.

Nebiat suggests a Planeta Rosé or a sparkling Lunetta Rosé or Ferrari Rosé for the day.

“I would also pair oysters or fish with champagne for a special occasion,” says Melissa.

Her top pick is Nicolas Feuillatte which has great quality and more fruit giving the perception of sweetness, unlike some other champagne brands available.

For Nebiat, a pepper steak dinner would pair well with a Syrah. Pick a Pinot Noir for starters because of its velvety floral notes and Muscato for dessert.

When it comes to picking the specific bottle, Nebiat advices a newbie to stick to known names.

“If it’s a Bordeaux wine, pick one that is well known and rated,” she says.

“In wine growing countries including France and Italy, wines are known by the region they are grown … for instance Sicilian wine.”

Melissa further adds that once you pick the region, you can narrow it down to the appellation and even the specific château (if French) or wine house.

“If you have a smartphone, the app Vivino is a cheat sheet and lifesaver. You take a photo of the label of the wine and it will give you the rating of the wine and price. This rating is based on user reviews,” she says.

When using the app, she advices to go for a four-star rating or higher.

“There is variety available in Kenya so you can afford to be picky,” she says.

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