My friend received an invitation for Villandry’s Christmas food sampling, and I was her plus one. I have been to Villandry St Jame’s branch with the girls just couple of months ago for brunch and was not overly impressed by the decor or the food. Although slightly weary about this invitation, the Great Portland Street branch certainly redeemed itself. There, we walked through the colourful flowers in the hallway, and entered into the red room which sang to me modern French.
We were offered a glass of bubblies as soon as we arrived, then we just happily settled down into the ambiance. What followed were those delicately made canapes, ranging from crispy duck, salmon, mushroom… Perfect assortment of party finger food. Great service and wonderful sense of humours from the handsome waiters certainly put a smile onto my friend’s already blushing cheeks.
The best part for me was the gin tasting. As a massive fan of gin & tonic, Fishers’ gin was just right. Besides, new trick learned: combining rosemary twigs and grape fruit slice in gin & tonic for added flavour and decoration, noted down for Christmas.
What impressed me the most had to be the wine on tap. We usually hear about beer on tap, cider on tap, what about wine on tap? Is that a real thing? When it comes to wine, we often get very picky on the containers of this particular beverage. When the screw top first came out, it was deemed to be a “big no, no” by the wine connoisseurs. Many vouched for the corked way as the only way.
A quick whiz on the web showed this wine on tap is not novel, I am already one year behind! The sommelier of the night was Monique Ziervogel. She is the first female sommelier I have encountered, who was very knowledgeable with the wine available; together with her wonderful personality and enthusiasm gave us a greater appreciation for winery.
Monique walked us through the tap system, and showed us the kegs supplying the taps, where one single keg is equivalent to 26 bottles of wine. Still skeptical about the quality? Well, apparently the kegs were flushed by nitrogen before being filled with the wine, so there is ‘zero’ oxidation. It is as if drinking the wine fresh from the fermenter. We tried all that were available; from the clean and fresh Grillo; the rustic and tannic Malbec; and our favourite was Riesling, which does not only have the petroleum note, but also had a citric and fruity after-taste.
I can definitely see the appeal of the tap system:
- No wine wastage
- Good for the environment
- Reduced cost for transport
- and Hopefully lower cost for the customers
- I am deeply intrigued…
Just now, my boyfriend walked in as I write this post. I commented to him that this ‘wine on tap’ is going to be next biggest thing in the London foodie world, yet his response to this was, “what, boxed wine?
Overall, this had been a wonderful experience. So thinking about where to host your Christmas party? Villandry may be your place!