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When East meets West

“Food matching is all about taking risks and thinking outside the box,” says Enotria&Coe Wine Director, Direu Vianna Junior MW.

Last Wednesday we were able to bring this sentiment to life, with an event for a select group of customers, pairing a prestigious line-up of sparkling and white wines from the North East of Italy, with the sophisticated, contemporary Japanese delicacies dished up at Sake no Hana.

With an Italian portfolio and set of producers that are second to none – vibrant, interesting and classic in equal parts – we wanted to break down the pre-conceived idea that wines from the boot are best paired with Italian food.

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Indeed, E&C’s Italian Director of Buying, Sergio De Luca, believes the freshness and diversity of Italian wines – in particular white varieties –  means they’re a perfect match for Japanese cuisine.

“The fragrance and elegance of Japanese food, is extremely well complemented by Italian wines.

“Rather than aromatic or spicy wines, this range of white wines from the North of Italy have a beautiful freshness and subtle fruit, which can be successfully explored through Sake no Hana’s dishes,” Sergio says.

Wednesday’s tasting journey began with Ruggeri, one of our most historic suppliers and a quality benchmark in the area. The success of Prosecco has opened the door to other sparkling wines from Italy, and next up we explored the most recognised bottle-fermented Italian wines from Ferrari. As for the whites, guests delighted in a selection of wines from Bertani and Anselmi in Venteto, to Colterenzio in Alto Adige and Jermann in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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After tasting a bounty of impressive sparklers and whites – true expressions of their terroir and that capture the elegance of Italy – guests were treated to an array of inspired Japanese delicacies, including white miso soup with nameko mushrooms, sea bass sashimi, smoked duck breast, and tempura sushi.

Interestingly, the concept of pairing Italian wines with Japanese food isn’t a foreign one for premium sparkling producer Ferrari.

“Japan is a historic market for Ferrari, not only for the blanc de blanc, but also for the rosé. It works very well with sashimi, for example,” says Ferrari Export Manager Dean Lapthorne.

“In Italy we don’t generally tend to pair our wines with Japanese food, but when it is done, people generally go for something like a Barolo, which is fine if you have a fish like salmon which is quite fatty, but if you’re having white sashimi these clean whites and sparklers are ideal.”

Considering Ferrari’s President Matteo Lunelli’s favourite cuisine is Japanese – with a glass of bubbly on the side – it’s no surprise that Alfio Ghezzi, the chef at Ferrari’s two Michelin Star restaurant does experiment with some sashimi elements. 

IMG_-mgvf5qTAKE FIVE: Tobias Brauweiler, Master Sommelier and General Manager at Sake no Hana

What do you look for in a wine for your list at Sake no Hana?

As with all of our restaurants around the globe, Asian food is very challenging to match, yet very exciting. We run a very selective wine program where all wines are challenged to the limits, and really need to perform on all levels in order to make it onto the wine list. At Sake no Hana we hold a monthly ‘Oshuban’ tasting, which identifies wines which do particularly well with sashimi. These wines have a special place on the wine list; they are unpredictable, follow no pattern, and surprise all of us every time.

Why, as a Master Sommelier, do you believe intimate events with producers are important?

It is always informative to attend a wine tasting in a big event space, but to get the best from the winemakers and their wines it needs to be intimate and almost one on one. These small, individual, focused tastings are important for the relationship between the customer or sommelier and the winemaker.

Share with us the most rewarding part of your job.

Being with people who appreciate the same good things in life. Good service, good food, and good wine.

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