Galgorm Gourmet Wine Evening

Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to the Galgorm Hotel’s Gourmet Wine Evening.

This exclusive event, which is being run just four times in 2017, pairs gourmet cooking with expert wine tasting.

Guests are treated to a drinks and canapés reception, a five course dinner and a selected glass of wine with each course.

I attended the event on 1st June which was being hosted by Robert Neill from Neill Wine, a boutique wine merchants with stores in Helen’s Bay, Groomsport and Carrickfergus.

The theme for the night was “Outstanding Grape Discoveries: Taste the Difference” which wanted to introduce us to grape varieties that we, perhaps, would not be familiar with.

The venue for the evening was the hotel’s stunning River Room which we were individually taken to after the drinks and canapés reception.

We were given a introduction to the wine by Robert Neill before each course, and Robert expertly talked about the region in which the grapes were grown, the style of the wine, the type of food it works well with and generally got us excited about trying it out.

The first wine we sampled was a Antech Cuvee Heritage 2012 from Limoux in France. It’s believed the world’s first sparkling wine was, in fact, produced in Limoux and so, certainly dates back further than Champagne.

The Antech Cuvee Heritage has a international style of sparking wine, a mix of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac.

It has a dry, but slightly spicy taste and pairs well with canapés and aperitifs.

The first course on the menu was sole with squid ink, sea lettuce and tomato. This was served with Raidis Estate Cheeky Goat Pinot Gris Rose (2014) from Coonawarra in Australia.

The Connawarra region is synonymous for Cabernet Sauvignon so it I was very interested to try its Rose!

The wine is medium to full body (which you don’t get for Rose) and more importantly, is dry.

As to be expected, this wine goes well with fish and accompanied the light, flaky and tender sole perfectly.

The second course was cured beef with radish, black garlic and lovage (sea parsley). This course was matched with Casar de Burbia Mencia 2013 from Bierzo in Spain.

The Mencia grape produces dark fruit flavours, such as blackcurrant, cherry and plum, with acidity being one of the distinguishing factors of this wine.

The Spanish tend to serve Mencia with cured meats, as was the case at the Galgorm.

The beef course was one of my favourite of the evening and I was left wanting more.

The third course was monkfish served with scallops, peas, smoked butter and samphire.

This was matched with Deu La Deu Alvarinho Reserve 2014, a vinho verde (‘green wine’) from Portugal.

This is a fruity and fresh wine- the grape just as ripe as the day it was picked.

It has citrus and mineral characteristics which made it the most enjoyable for me to drink.  It really complimented the slightly sweet but mild taste of the monkfish.

The fourth course was lamb, girolles, artichoke, nettle and courgette flower. This was paired with Terra Noble Gran Reserve Carmenere 2013 from Maule Valley in Chile.

This full-bodied wine, which is matured in oak for up to two years, has the most intense aroma of freshly ground coffee beans.

It is rich and smooth with a very tart finish, which is why it worked very well with the strong flavour of the lamb. The dish was beautifully presented and was very appetising.

The final course of the evening was the dessert- lemon with bee pollen, strawberry and local yoghurt.

This was served with Antech Cuvee Ancestrale 2014, again from Limoux in France. This medium sweet wine has incredible hints of red apples and pears and makes for the perfect wine to accompany dessert.

I mentioned that the cured beef was one of my favourite courses of the night and this was certainly the other. Refreshing, cleansing, sweet and tasty!

We finished with tea/coffee and petit four. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable evenings in terms of the range of food and drink I’ve had in a long time. I cannot fault anything.

With more than 6 glasses of wine (as often we were topped up!), a 5 course dinner, as well as canapé reception and petit four, you leave completely satisfied.

The next Gourmet Wine Evenings are Thursday 5th October 2017 and Thursday 7th December 2017 and cost £95 per person.

Check out for more.







Launch of La Taverna at Fratelli

Italian restaurant Fratelli opened in Great Victoria Street in 2015 and has grown from strength to strength.

Two weeks ago saw the launch of an elegant new wine bar on the premises, La Taverna, situated in the transformed upstairs area!

As well as stocking a huge selection of wine, La Taverna will also be offering tapas-style sharing plates known as Cicchetti. These include Piadina (filled flatbreads) and Cicchetti Fritti (a Fried Calamari dish).

The big draw for me is the balcony where guests can watch the world go by under the awning with outdoor heating! We sat out there for ages!

At the launch we sampled the wine and sharing plates on offer and were even treated to performances from fire-breathers and an Opera singer!

La Taverna is fresh and sophisticated, offering a real treat for wine enthusiasts, and I think it will work very well in Belfast!


Food and wine matching with John Torode and McGuigan Wines

Sometimes, as part of this blog, I get invited to places which completely blow me away and one such event was a special food and wine matching last week.

The event, which took place in the stunning venue of Ulster Museum, was dinner cooked by none other than John Torode from Masterchef (yes, really!) with wines to compliment the delicious food from McGuigan Wines.

Australian celebrity chef John Torode has presented Masterchef  since 2005 so it really was a delight to have been invited along. McGuigan Wines, also a famous Aussie export, is one of the most successful wineries in the county.

The evening was a celebration of a new range of wines called the Founders’ series. McGuigans has just launched Founders Chardonnay, Founders Cabernet Sauvignon and Founders Shiraz which will be available in the UK at the end of June.

Myself and my husband went along last Thursday evening and were treated to a sparkling wine reception outside (McGuigan Frizzante) as we mingled with other guests and listened to a wonderful harpist. The Frizzante, which was only launched last year, was refreshing with tones of lemon and apple.

We then made our way inside and were thrilled to see a live cooking station where, for the rest of the night, John was to show us how quick and easy it was to make the dishes which were about to be served.

As the food was being cooked, chief winemaker Neil McGuigan talked through the different wines and why they complimented the food so much. It was a great learning experience for me, both in terms of the cooking and the knowledge about wine matching.

The first course was Grilled Duck Salad which was large pieces of duck served with crushed peas, mint, watercress, parsley, pecorino and bacon with Sherry & Vinegar Dressing. The mint worked really well with the Duck and the crispy bacon added another strong flavour. The first course was served with the new Founders Chardonnay.

The second course was Grilled Squid which was served with lemon and rocket and matched with MT Pinot Noir Rose. The Rose, which also isn’t available to purchase until June, is a special collaboration between McGuigan Wines and John Torode. The idea behind the Rose is that they wanted to create a light, summer wine which is very easy to drink.This was my favourite wine of the evening.

The third course was roast fish (sea bass) served with champ and capers. I’m not a huge fan of fish but this didn’t have an overly strong “fishy” taste and I devoured the whole thing. The sea bass was paired with the new Founders Cabernet Sauvingnon which left a long taste on the palette and had an obvious tannin but not a hard tannin.

The fourth course (getting greedy now, aren’t we?!) was grilled lamb cutlets with gremolata, radishes, fresh mint and ricotta. The dish was simple but the lamb was deliciously juicy. This course was matched with Founders Shiraz which was a rich and intense wine with an incredibly dry tannin. (My husband’s favourite of the night!)

The final course of the evening was a selection of cheeses, crackers and grapes. It was a lovely way to finish what was a spectacular evening. I enjoyed every dish and every wine and cannot wait to get my hands on the Pinot Noir Rose again!