“In ‘Vino Veritas’ – An Italian Wine Dinner”


The phrase ‘In Vino Veritas’ has been used for centuries by all societies, recognizing the fact that wine can loosen lips.  In actual fact, the phrase in its entirety is ‘In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas’, i.e., “In wine there is truth, in water there is health.”  At the latest wine dinner promoted by the Royal Cliff’s deVine Wine Club, there were more than adequate volumes of both!

This wine club is the oldest in Pattaya, having commenced in 2001.  The Royal Cliff’s GM, Antonello Passa, himself a passionate Italian, welcomed the members and their guests to the dinner, proclaiming that Italy was the oldest wine producing country in the world.  That could be a point of discussion with native Georgians, for example, but no-one will contest that winemaking technology improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire: many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known; the design of the wine press advanced; and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.

Antonello introduced John Pesci, the MD of the I wine company, another passionate Italian.  John related the story behind his name – having been christened Gian-Andrea he found that the Asian tongues found this a bit of a mouthful, with the result coming out as “John-Underwear”.  He suggested they drop the ‘underwear’ to allow him to be plain ‘John’ so John Pesci he is!

Royal Cliff GM Antonello Passa.Royal Cliff GM Antonello Passa.

John Pesci’s family has been in viticulture since 1890, and with young John furtively sampling wine from the age of five, the family expected him to stay in Italy and work in the family business.  However, John was attracted to Asia and settled in Hong Kong.  It was then that the family could see the advantage in having one of their own based in Asia to represent their wine, and it would be difficult to imagine a better match.

John Pesci, MD of I wine.John Pesci, MD of I wine.

The evening had begun with a Prosecco at the reception, with John Pesci stating that if French champagne is the king of sparkling wines, then the Italian Prosecco is the prince!  We had drunk the Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry Villa Cornaro Veneto and enjoyed the princely quaff.

John told the members that “…the only way to learn about wine is to drink it.”  He also said that he had the best job in the world, being paid to eat fine food and drink fine wines!

The ‘fine food’ at the Royal Cliff is presided over by the Executive Chef Walter Thenisch, who never ceases to amaze with his command of such a variety of cuisines, and this wine dinner was another to highlight his talents, and that of his culinary team.  It was held in the Royal Grill Room and Wine Cellar, a venue which is superb for these kinds of events.

The first of the five courses was a pan-seared Yellowfin tuna eaten with a Sensi Orvieto DOC Umbria, a wine with a wonderful nose and pleasant drinking.

The second course was an Italian spring lasagna with green asparagus and ricotta cheese and risotto with gorgonzola.  A touch more gorgonzola and this would have been just perfect for me (an opinion not shared by the others at my table, I must add).  The wine with this was the Sensi Collezione Pinot Grigio IGT Veneto 2012, a fine example of the current interest in the Pinot Grigio grape.

The main course was Australian Black Angus beef tenderloin on roasted vegetables accompanied by white truffle oil enhanced with red wine jus.The main course was Australian Black Angus beef tenderloin on roasted vegetables accompanied by white truffle oil enhanced with red wine jus.

The main course of the five was not Italian, but an Australian Black Angus beef tenderloin on roasted vegetables accompanied by white truffle oil enhanced with red wine jus.  My steak was so tender I could have cut it with a spoon.

As always, the service was impeccable.As always, the service was impeccable.

The wine with this was a superb Sensi Sabbiato Bolgheri IGT Tuscany 2009.  A fine example of the ‘Super Tuscans’ which can be difficult to find.  K. Anurut of Wine Dee Dee was looking very pleased over this one!

The final two courses were a selection of Italian cheeses followed by Italian dessert, with the final two wines being an Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Villa Cornaro, Veneto 2007, and the finale a Bizzarro Manzoni Moscato Spumante Rose Veneto.

It had been another exceptional dinner promoted by the deVine Wine Club.  You can contact the wine club via email [email protected]