Holiday Inn joins the battle of the bottles

Anyone for a jam tart?
Anyone for a jam tart?

Wine appreciation is always a very personal thing, but the Holiday Inn sailed into the fray last week with one of their monthly Wine Tastings, taking the Chilean and Australian wines and directly comparing, bottle to bottle, grape to grape. Held in the Havana Bar, and with the Respect Band in the background, it was a very relaxed ambience.

The format of the tasting evening remains the same – laid back with new wines every 20 to 30 minutes and a very full buffet laid out both inside and outside the Havana Bar. The Holiday Inn buffets are very well known for their spread and this one was no exception to the rule. Two kinds of cheese (a blue and a brie), sliced Italian antipasto meats, beef/bacon/mushroom kebabs, spicy pork ribs, lamb chops in red wine, pork in sherry, seabass parcels grilled eggplant and cantaloupe. Plus many more in the desserts such as a wonderfully cloying jam tart.

Beautiful smooth Brie cheese.
Beautiful smooth Brie cheese.

The tasting in earnest began promptly at 6.30 p.m. with the bell being run and the fun began. The first wine was a Jansz Brut Cuvee, which was not sweet and I tried it out against the blue cheese. A great combination where the Brut Cuvee held its own. Try it someday.

The next wine was the Cono Sur Tocornal Sauvignon Blanc. This was again a very enjoyable white, and I had more than one of the offered glasses. I tried the chicken pate with this wine, but the pate was not up to it. However, being a buffet I could try something else, in this case a couple of kebabs, which turned into two couples of kebabs!

The next wine was a well-known Australian label, Yalumba with their Y Series. To be honest, this wine did little for me (personal taste remember) but the jam tart did! Wonderfully sweet and cloying.

Next up was the Oxford Landing Chardonnay, at the lower end of the scale, but still very enjoyable. For my palate, this is a fine example of Australian picnic wines.

Enter the red with a Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, a full bodied and robust wine, able to handle another jam tart with ease.

To contrast, the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia also mastered the jam tart. Head to head, this was a draw.

Finally, the wordy Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere. Robust and full bodied. I could have drunk this wine all night, but a cab for home was the sensible choice. Thank you GM Kate and F&B Dan. A great night.

All the wines were able to be purchased between 1,500 and 2,600 a bottle, and all bargains at those prices…

The chef getting the ribs ready for display.

During the wine tasting, the guests were given evaluation sheets to facilitate scoring. Holiday Inn’s F&B guru Dan Boswell was responsible for the arithmetic, and he, being an expatriate Aussie, I am sure there was no fiddling behind the judge’s screen, but suffice to say, despite Chile having some interesting vineyards such as Hugo Casanova, related to the famous oyster eater, the result on the night was a win for Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy Oy Oy, rather than Chile Ole Ole Ole.

However, Dan’s battle of the bottles could not compare with the numbers from each of the two countries. Take these numbers to heart:

A huge roast carved on the spot.
A huge roast carved on the spot.

Total wine consumption in Chile in 2017 was 308 million liters, at a per capita consumption of 15.7 liters/capita, while Australia’s production was 588 million liters, with per capita consumption of 24.2 liters/capita. If the Chileans themselves cannot drink their own wines (15.7 versus 24.2), the end result is a no-contest win for Australia.

Holiday Inn is to be congratulated in providing a fun evening, with lots of wines to taste and the quiz and evaluation adding to the experience. These wine tasting evenings are held monthly with the next (I think) on November 21 but check with the Holiday Inn 038 725 555. Get a taxi, I will!