My Taste Club

The perfect grape pairings for al fresco dining this Dubai winter

Lindsay Trivers, The Tasting Class

We’re quite literally chomping at the bit to eat outside. But what’s the best accompanying grape for the alfresco dining season ahead? The Great Food Club took some expert advice from Lindsay Trivers, founder of The Tasting Class

For the BBQ with friends

Assuming the main offering from the grill is steak or burgers, I’d go for a rich, fruity red, with a hint of smoke and ripe, mellow tannins like a Rioja Crianza or an Argentine Malbec. I’m enjoying the Navajas Rioja Crianza from African + Eastern at the moment, as well as the Zuccardi Malbecs from MMI.

For the outdoor brunch

Keep it fruity, dry and refreshing so you don’t tire out your palate for those long al fresco sessions with too many rich, complex flavours. Prosecco fits the bill for outdoor daytime drinking and so does rosé. While the pale rosés of Provence have long been a go-to of mine, I’m turning a corner and coming back to non-European rosés of late. Generally, they too are dry, but they are a bit more aromatic and powerful. The Langmeil Bella Rouge from the Barossa Valley in Australia, available locally from Euro Star Cellars, really hits the spot.

For sundowners on the terrace

Sundowners generally mean that you don’t need to think about a food pairing. I can just pick something and I want to enjoy a little quiet time with. I love good Chardonnay, and this would be a perfect time to splash out on one, as Chardonnay costs a lot to make well. Great Chardonnays are made all over the world. I’ve been savoring a Domaine J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé that I picked up at Le Clos with my Coravin for a few weeks now. I’ll also take a Cloudy Bay Chardonnay over their Sauvs any day (shhhh…). One that really performs while offering good value is from organic producer Bonterra in California, and is available locally at both Barracuda and MMI.

For a romantic al fresco dinner

My answer would change depending what’s on the menu, but a drop that is quite versatile with food, and quite special for an occasion is Pinot Noir. I love New Zealand Pinot Noir. If it’s a ‘treat yourself’ kind of night look for one from the nation’s more premium Pinot Noir production areas of Central Otago or Martinborough. Top producers that you can find here are Craggy Range at MMI and Seresin from select African + Eastern shops.

For a special occasion splurge (think Xmas/NYE)

Upgrade your usual celebratory fizz and go for a large format bottle. You’re likely celebrating with friends and going to drink more than one bottle anyway, right? I recently picked up a magnum of Pol Roger Brut NV at Le Clos for about 400 AED. Not only is it a fun bottle to turn up to a party with, but I’m pretty happy with that value for the equivalent of two bottles of Champagne. Now, my challenge is to avoid opening it before Christmas.

Lindsay Trivers is the founder of The Tasting Class, and a woman on a mission to improve grape culture in the Middle East through education. With 15 years of experience in the beverage and hospitality sectors, spanning five continents, Lindsay came to the UAE in 2013 to join Dubai’s glittering five-star hotel repertoire, but has made her biggest impact in the industry since launching The Tasting Class in 2015.

Lindsay holds qualifications with WSET, The Court of Master Sommeliers, Auckland University of Technology and also studied beer in Belgium under Master Beer Sommelier, Sofie Vanraflegehm. Before launching The Tasting Class, her beverage career was punctuated by roles at Decanter Magazine, Café Belge, Ritz Carlton DIFC in Dubai, The Vines of Mendoza resort in Argentina, Villa Maria Estate and Hancock’s Wine & Spirit Merchant in New Zealand and Voyager Estate in Australia.

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