Note – The Sommeliers’ Themed Lunch is a special event by Italian winemaker Zonin 1821, and they take place at restaurants selected for their atmosphere and excellence. Top sommeliers of the locale get together for a special meal that includes blind tasting. This time, the event takes place on June 8 at Huvafen Fushi’s Vinum, a swanky underground cellar holding 6,000 bottles with many rare wines and vintages.
“It’s very important to showcase good wines in the right location, to approach them with the right mindset,” Lorenzo Zonin, famed Italian winemaker tells Hotel Insider. “I felt that sometimes when I was travelling with my samples and approaching sommeliers, they’d often be busy – I’d be interfering with their daily routine. So, I thought I would invite them to a special lunch at a very nice place and have their full attention.”
That’s, in brief, how the Sommeliers’ Themed Lunch was born. It’s Lorenzo’s brainchild, and it meant much more than gathering a group of top sommeliers together. It’s an event for wine-experts to enrich their knowledge in selected settings the world, with great food in between drinks.
And now, here we are at comely Huvafen Fushi, with eight sommeliers from across the country. We venture down beneath the sea to have bubblies and canapes at Pearl, the world’s first underwater spa, blue ocean light on our bodies.
Then we head over to Vinum where the show takes place.
The cave-like subterranean cellar lit up in a welcoming amber, boasts circular walls home to thousands of wines. The tasting happens here. It’s little wonder that Vinum is the chosen venue, all these years later it still feels fresh and impresses.
“I know it’s a busy time in the Maldives, and it takes a long time to get here for some of you,” says Huvafen Fushi’s GM. “Your presence is genuinely appreciated.”
Wines are brought before the sommeliers, poured blind and they are made to guess from their quality and properties, the wines’ origin (Apulia or Sicily) and their vintage. It’s much harder than it seems although some clever sommeliers occasionally get things right.
Food arrives intermittently. And not ordinary food but goat cheese souffle, slow cooked lamb shank with meat falling off the bone, seafood stuffed ravioli paired with lobster bisque. All made specially for the occasion.
Midway through the lunch, Lorenzo cautions us against the Dunning-Kruger effect.
“When some people know a little bit about something, they might overestimate themselves and their knowledge and I don’t want you to fall into that trap.”
“I’m still learning,” continues the 45-year old. “I still get completely surprised from time to time.”
After the event, we meet Kamal Malik from Dubai-headquartered Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI). “We’re very pleased with the turnout,” he says. “We’ve been distributing Zonin for the past thirty years in Dubai and we’re distributing them now in the Maldives. It’s all about passion really. You pass on only what you understand. When you experience our wines first-hand, you’re in a better position to tell your customers about them.”
MMI has similar events with great winemakers planned in the coming days. Keep your eyes peeled.