Enjoy wines the Singapore way

Chef Malcolm Lee's Caramelised Pork Cheek Bun With Lemongrass Blue Ginger Soy Reduction.
Chef Malcolm Lee's Caramelised Pork Cheek Bun With Lemongrass Blue Ginger Soy Reduction.PHOTO: WINE FIESTA

Visitors to this year's Wine Fiesta are in for a triple treat. Besides having more than 350 wines to choose from, they can pair some of these wines with dishes specially created for the event by four home-grown chefs, and watch performances by Singapore musicians such as soul-pop singer-songwriter Dru Chen, electronica artist Weish and Tim De Cotta of renowned R&B/hip-hop/future-soul acts such as TAJ.

In its eighth edition, next month's outdoor wine festival will offer "Singapore-style food, wine and music to commemorate Singapore's Golden Jubilee", says its organiser, Ms Kathy Lim-Sheehy, 42.

The group chief executive officer of The Straits Wine Company adds: "Wine is nothing without food; with this year being SG50, we want to promote local talents with chefs designing bespoke food to pair with the wines and performances by local musicians to give a 360-degree multi-sensory experience for visitors."

The three-day event, which starts on Oct 23, will be held in a 9,200 sq ft tent in Clifford Square, the open plaza between One Fullerton and The Fullerton Bay Hotel.

Ms Lim-Sheehy says that Wine Fiesta will proceed even if hazy conditions persist. "We'll continue to monitor the haze situation and will also prepare masks for festival-goers as a contingency."

About 10,000 people turned up for the event last year.

As with previous editions, visitors can taste and purchase wines from more than 80 wineries including those from France, Australia, Italy, India and South Africa.

Noteworthy wines making their debut here include biodynamic red wines such as Matthieu Barret Cornas Brise Cailloux 2012 from France and Carrick Pinot Noir Bannockburn 2013 from New Zealand. White wines include Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2014 from South Africa and Scott Fiano 2014 from Australia. Wines sold at the event are priced from $31 a bottle.

Visitors can pair selected labels with 15 dishes, ranging from finger food, mains to desserts, cooked by chefs on site.

Mr Malcolm Lee, 31, chef-owner of Peranakan restaurant Candlenut in New Bridge Road, will present dishes such as grilled buah keluak with garlic, chilli sausages and mustard greens.

Mr Matthew Mok, 40, chef-owner of contemporary Western restaurant The Rabbit Stash in Outram Road, will serve beef cheek rendang burger with achar and cheddar cheese, among others.

Mr Bjorn Shen, 33, who owns Mediterranean restaurant Artichoke in Sculpture Square, will prepare snacks such as a chicken sausage bun with red curry mayonnaise, topped with crispy noodles.

Sweets such as chouquettes with dark chocolate and lemon curd dip and assorted tarts will be whipped up by pastry chef Cheryl Koh, 34, of Les Amis group's Tarte by Cheryl Koh in Shaw Centre. Prices of food start from $5.

The chefs proposed their dishes and discussed wine pairing notes with Mr Moritz Deyle, 35, head of sales and chief sommelier at The Straits Wine Company.

For Shen, his repertoire centres on "what people would like to eat at funfairs".

His creations for Wine Fiesta include Loukoumades or Greek honey-soaked doughnuts and a cherry cheesecake creamsicle, which explores the pairing of wine with cheese, nuts and fruits. He says: "I hope the wines make my food taste better by bringing out more of the flavours."

For The Rabbit Stash's Mok, his beef cheek rendang burger will be paired with red wines such as those made from Shiraz and Malbec grapes.

He says: "We chose wines that are less tannic and more spicy, which matches the spiciness of the rendang."

Candlenut's Lee hopes to introduce the idea that wines can work with Peranakan food. He says: "It is usually hard to pair wines with Peranakan dishes as they are usually very spicy and kill the flavours of wines. For these dishes, I had to tone down their full-on spiciness."

Besides wine and food pairings, visitors can look forward to 30 free masterclasses by wine experts such as Mr Tim Lovett of Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River in Australia and Mr Francesco Cordero of Italy's Vietti Winery. The classes are limited to 20 people, on a first- come-first-served basis.

Wine Fiesta kicks off with a Winemaker's Table Night Dinner on Oct 22, where diners can sample 75 wines presented by winemakers. The buffet-style dinner will offer dishes by chefs Lee, Mok, Shen and Koh.

Through Wine Fiesta, Ms Lim- Sheehy hopes to debunk the misconception that wines can only be paired with Western food. She says: "You don't have to go to a French restaurant to drink French wine; we love our local food and can enjoy a glass of wine with chicken rice and rojak, and have a great time."

  • For more information or to purchase tickets, go to winefiesta.com.sg
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2015, with the headline 'Enjoy wines the Singapore way'. Print Edition | Subscribe