The Benihana restaurant (beach side in the Avani Pattaya) promoted a wine tasting under the heading of Mediterranean Wines with a twist of American Japanese. If this sounds ambitious, it was, but the theatrical side of Benihana plus the knowledgeable opinions from the Bangkok Beer and Beverages’ Sales Manager Teera Weerawan. To assist the diners, we were all supplied with a review sheet allowing us to grade the six wines we would meet during the evening.
The format was simple with a welcome drink and nibbles, including crispy nori sheet, cheese and oysters (and more) in the outer part of the Benihana.
The welcome tipple was a very more-ish Villa Sandi Blanc de Blancs, Spumante Brut (Italian), just enough bubbles to make it interesting and drier than the usual Italian starter of a Prosecco.
A brief mention of the Italian wine grading is in order before venturing further. The Italian Wine Classification system (similar to the U.S. appellation system) is made up of four categories: top of the bottle is the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) followed by Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) then Indicazione di Geografica Tipica (IGT) and finally Vino Da Tavola (VdT).
After our welcome spumante brut, we retired to the inner section of Benihana where the liveried chefs were waiting with a hot BBQ plate. We were also given the second wine for the evening, a Danzante Pinot Grigio Veneto IGT (Italian). This was an excellent pinot with a very long finish and I took the proffered second glass gladly.
The Benihana theatre continued with a French Joseph Mellot Destinea, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley to go with the chef’s patter and flying food! The chef presented us with Gindara fish with Miso sauce, and I did enjoy this wine as well, but the Pinot was just a little better for my palate.
The first red was next, the Marques de Riscal Vina Collada Rioja DOC (Spain), an accompaniment to a rack of lamb with mint jelly. As always I caution that wine appreciation is a very personal factor, and for me this was very pleasant.
The next course was a Chateau Lagrezette Seigneur de Grezette Malbec (France) paired with an Australian marbled tenderloin. This was the wine of the night and the course of the night for me. The meat was cooked exactly to my order and the wine was excellent, and the winery claims 500 years of Malbec tradition.
We all began to slow down by this stage with a cheese platter and desserts including a ‘Death by Chocolate’ with a San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria Talo DOC (Italy) otherwise known as a Zinfandel in the USA and thank you K. Teera for enlightening us.
It was a fun evening and I have always said that food should be fun. This was, and congratulations K. Asanee (Avani) for promoting this event.
Benihana the Japanese Steakhouse, Avani Pattaya Resort and Spa, 218/2-4 Moo 10, Beach Road, Pattaya, plenty of parking in the car park in the basement but remember to get your token validated at the Avani front desk, tel 038 412 120, email [email protected].