Not all wine dinners are fancy

Over the last two years I created a number of wine events in Perth inviting wine lovers to 'Wine & Dine" experiences. Wine dinners have become popular and these days you can attend them on a regular basis. Some of you may think theses dinners are quite fancy and why would we want to drink so many wines with a number of dishes when we can just have one wine and one dish? Well, when I go out with my husband Sonny we always order at least 2-3 dishes and wines so we can share. This is when we use our favourite one-liner 'You know, just like Sonny and Cher'.

What I'm trying to say is, that wine dinners don't have to be fancy. They can be casual, fun and really good value. When your favourite restaurant creates a wine dinner, it most often means that the chef has specially created dishes they don't have on the regular menu. When I host a wine dinner, it is important to me, that I'm creating an unique experience by selecting wines you may not usually order, because they are only available by the bottle or you are not familiar with the producer or grape variety. Selecting wines to pair with a dinner menu does sound fancy, I agree, though in reality it's not. When we cook a meal at home we chose ingredients that work together (just like meat and veg) so why not choose a wine that works really well with the food? 

Let's say our wine itself is a good drop and the meal on it's own is delicious. Now imagine marrying both of them together and creating a whole new experience. It's not fancy, it's fun! 

Over the next few weeks I'm hosting a number of wine dinners and I wanted to share a few insights to help you find your wine dinner style. Let's have a look. 

One - The casual wine dinner at your local fish pub in Perth. Hang on, does fish pub and wine dinner go together? Isn't your local pub all about beer, well lets say craft beer? Yes, totally correct, but there are pub's, like Clancy's in Fremantle who don't just promote small breweries but also small boutique wineries. And that's why we decided to shine some light onto these small, cool, local Western Australian, South Australian and New Zealand winemaking friends. Think fish & chips, pulled lamb sliders and a scrumptious slow-cooked beef, along with two wines each course for you to pick your favourite, all for $59 per person. You don't need a 5-star restaurant to enjoy a wine pairing dinner. Check out all details for Clancy's Sipper Club #6 - Wine Pairing Supper on Thursday September 6 here

 Enjoying local food with local wines at Clancy's Fremantle

Enjoying local food with local wines at Clancy's Fremantle

Two - Long Table Wine Dinner. What does that actually mean? This is a dinner style where you get to meet other wine & food lovers, seated on one long table enjoying a selection of wines and in our case shared plates of traditional Thai food by Itsara. This is not your intimate romantic date option but a perfect opportunity dining out with friends or making new friends over great dinner conversations. 'Aromatics & Thai' is a collaboration of Itsara in Nedlands and Canny Grapes where we create an unique dining experience, set in Itsara's tropical garden, selecting aromatic wines (you most likely haven't had before) and pair them with exceptional food prepared by Itsara Pracharoenwattana. Again this is not necessary a fancy dinner, its a wine & dine experience of Royal Thai Food paired with eight wines that compliment each group of dishes, plus myself sharing a story about each wine. Our fourth edition of 'Aromatics & Thai' - Long Table Dinner attracting new and regular diners, is on October 4th. All details, including menu and how to book your tickets are available here

 'Aromatics & Thai' Long Table Dinner at Itsara in Nedlands

'Aromatics & Thai' Long Table Dinner at Itsara in Nedlands

Three - Degustation Wine Dinner. This certainly can be a special occasion, fine dining wine dinner, something we don't do every other week. The restaurant creates a spectacular menu based on each wine served with each course selected by their sommelier or a consultant like myself, who loves finding the perfect match for each dish or even better, creating a particular dish that pairs perfectly with the wine, taking the dining experience to a another level. One of my favourite degustation restaurants in Perth is Petite Mort in Shenton Park. I host a number of 'meet the maker' wine events here as well as my annual 'Champagne Degustation Dinner' celebrating  Global Champagne Day and our love for champagne. This is a dinner where I select six wines from Champagne, France creating a unique journey showcasing wines and special vintages from exclusive champagne producers, not necessarily the biggest and most famous. So if you share a love of champagne like me and want to experience an exclusive Champagne Degustation Dinner at Petite Mort, indulging in six selected champagnes and a five-course degustation menu, book in 18th October 2018. For details and tickets follow the link here.

 
 Annual Champagne Degustation Dinner at Petite Mort, Shenton Park

Annual Champagne Degustation Dinner at Petite Mort, Shenton Park

 

Then there are also 'meet the maker' wine dinners where each winery collaborates with their favourite restaurant to showcase their new releases. Here you get to meet the people from your favourite winery while enjoying a delicious dinner. 

Three dinner styles, three dates. I look forward seeing you.

Cheers Anja

 

2017 - What an amazing year!

So it's the last day of 2017 and I'm excited about welcoming the new year! I love looking forward as new ideas, projects and wine travels awaiting me, though it is also a good exercise to look back acknowledging how far I have come!

2017 started with a big milestone as I turned 40 - BAM - yep that big four - zero. I had a fabulous party with some great friends. My highlight of the day was that I learned how to saber champagne. I loved it!

In February I was able to show international visitors, who introduced me to their extensive wine cellar many many years ago, a few vineyards in South Australia, including Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. Our favourite winery visits included cellar doors of Tapanappa Wines, Ashton Hills, Deviation Road, meeting the people behind Ulithorne, wandering through their McLaren Vale vineyard, a private tasting with Craig Stansborough of Purple Hands at the Stansborough vineyard in Barossa, as well as visiting Charles Melton cellar door and experiencing Yalumba's history and a Rare & Fine wine tasting in Angaston. Also in February, I started running my monthly wine tasting classes, collaborating at Swallow Bar in Maylands, which continued until December and 2018. Certainly a lot of fun meeting other wine enthusiasts, wine lovers and those who like to learn more about wine. We certainly had a lot of fun together. Last day of summer in 2017, I launched www.cannygrapes.com, two Canny Grapes milestones in one month! 

March was my month of travel! For three years I wanted to visit the largest wine show in the world, the Prowein. Over 6000 exhibitors come to the Prowein every year. It was quite overwhelming to start with, having literally every single winemaking country and region in the world right in front of you. I spent three days meeting winemakers, tasting their wines, taking my notes, attending masterclasses by renowned wine professionals and chilling in the Champagne lounge. From the Prowein in Duesseldorf I travelled to the Mosel to meet the legendary Ernst Loosen at his Dr Loosen Estate in Bernkastel. You think you can't top anything after visiting Prowein, think again. I learned so much and was finally able to understand Mosel Riesling and how German's drink their Riesling. The tasting with 'Erni' was very entertaining and lasted only for 3.5 hours. Even though I have German heritage, I didn't know much about German wines until I started working in the wine industry and started my WSET wine education courses. From Mosel my trip went to France, Champagne in particular. After my amazing champagne journey in 2016 entering and experiencing the Vin de Champagne Awards I had to go and visit champagne to see it with my own eyes. I wanted to feel it, making sense of all the stories I read and champagne I tasted. For me, visiting wine regions, your acquired wine knowledge finally comes to life, because you are right there, you can touch the soil, see the vines, feel the grapes, meet the people behind the wines and listen to their stories. I stayed in Chouilly, a small commune south of Epernay. It was amazing to wake up so close to the vineyards, fetch your croissants from the boulangerie and go for a wander, or let locals take you a champagne tour of their own vineyards sharing their family traditions. My top visits were in Vertus at Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils, and in Epernay Champagne Pol Roger and Champagne Alfred Gratien. This is by far the shortest version of my trip to Champagne, but its a quick review I have to remind myself. I also did a quick day trip to Beaune to tick the tiniest box of Burgundy, driving past DRC via back roads (so much fun) and stopping for a wine tasting and tour at Dubreuil-Fontaine in Pernaud-Vergelesses. I will be back for sure. 

In April I got to see my family in Germany for two days, not at my hometown, but in Sachsen, Germany's smallest wine region. It was great inviting my mum to cellar doors around Meissen, along the river Elbe and taking her to the famous opera house, the Semperoper in Dresden. Back in Oz, I couldn't wait but taking wine lovers on a Sparkling and Spanish Wine tasting journey. 

May, June and July were relatively quiet in regards to wine travel as I only went once to Margaret River. I continued my wine tasting classes and loved sharing wines in the hospitality world representing eight Australian wineries. Ulithorne at 'Game of Rhones', Grace Farm at City Wine and Petite Mort for a wine dinner.  

August was another big 'Champagne' month with Tyson Stelzer's 'Champagne Taste' hosted in most Australian capital cities. I took the chance and flew to Brisbane, my home for 7 years. A quick drive and visit to the Sunshine Coast, followed by the big day of Champagne Tasting at the Sofitel in Brisbane. What a fantastic event and finally a chance to experience champagnes I had not tasted before. From Brisbane I went straight back to Perth as I could not miss out on the Perth's Champagne Taste. Oh I nearly forgot, apart from champagne, another highlight this month was to learn some pruning techniques from viticulturist Tim Quinlan, big 'thank you' here as I love spending time in the vineyards.

In September I was finally able to take a small break, have some fun learning how to make cheese with Tanya, Perth's ultimate Cheesemaker! Tanya runs classes at Shadow Wine Bar and in the Swan Valley

October, most of you know was one of my most important month in 2017 hosting my first ever Champagne Dinner at Petite Mort with Charles Fourny! Check out my previous blog post or the wine events section on my website. All I can say is, I love Champagne Veuve-Fourny & Fils and that I felt very honoured to have worked together with Charles Fourny and De Bortoli and the team of Petite Mort. It was an amazing 'Champagne Lover' event in Perth. October also meant for me to expand a little and follow my other passion other than champagne and sparkling wine, Spanish wines. I hosted not only one but two wine tasting events at Duende, a 'Chef's Table' dinner and my first Spanish wine tasting class: Whites of Northern Spain. And to top it all of, why not also travel to 'Thailand' by hosting Itsara's very first 'Aromatics & Thai' dinner inviting everyone on a journey exploring aromatic wines matched with Itsara's stunning Thai food. Casey from the Travelling Corkscrew wrote a fantastic blog about it here

November was certainly another highlight this year. How many times have I used the word 'highlight' and 'amazing' so far? I think I had an incredible amazing year! Reminding myself to 'keep believing in you' and 'follow your passion' which I have always done as this is what makes me happy, it was somehow meant to be that I got to meet one of my biggest role models in the world of wine! It was my first time to experience the 'Great Gourmet Escape' in Margaret River with this years 'special guest's' being Jancis Robinson and Huon Hooke. I met Huon last year and as a huge admirer I always wanted to meet Jancis. All events were either incredibly expensive or already booked out, but I just had to put it out there that I will just go and meet her! And I did, thanks to my wonderful husband. Best ever!!!! 2017 moment

In December I hosted my last 'Champagne Sunday' for the year and loved taking wine lovers on tasting journeys, at Swallow Bar, Duende as well as private functions. I went for a quick trip to Sydney visiting other wine enthusiasts and planning my new ventures for Canny Grapes. It's been an incredible ride with all of you and want to say 'thank you' to my biggest supporters. You know who you are. I loved enjoying a quiet and relaxing Christmas with my husband and very special friends. And now... I'm off to welcome 2018, with a sunset picnic by the beach and champagne, of course. 

Happy New Years!

Cheers Anja

Sharing my love and passion for champagne

Who does not love celebrating and indulging with champagne? Drinking champagne releases feelings of pure joy, takes us away from our daily routine and magically makes us smile. We should celebrate everyday, our little goals, our achievements and reward ourselves for our hard work. This can be in form of a holiday, a visit to the beach, attending a special event or drink champagne. To me, creating memories is such a special way of making us feel good, loving where we are and what we do.
My passion for wine and champagne has brought me a lot of joy, meeting others who hold a deep passion for their work, their family business and tradition. Making wine and champagne requires passion, skills and commitment far beyond our imagination. As much as Champagne is a brand, it is also a place with a unique history and a sense of belonging, tradition and innovation. Did you know that Champagne's hillsides, houses and cellars are recognised by UNESCO granting it the World Heritage status? I like to share with you that when you step into the world of champagne, truly discovering it’s magic; you learn that there is a lot more to it than just drinking it; that no two champagnes are the same; that each champagne represents its house, grower or maker; that there is a champagne for every time of the day; that you come across champagnes you never heard of and absolutely love for their purity, freshness and elegance. 
This is what happened to me and I'm incredibly proud and excited that I'm able to share my passion and love for champagne with others in my monthly tasting classes, Champagne Sunday events and my upcoming Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils Dinner on October 5th 2017.

When visiting Charles earlier this year I asked him if he would come to Perth sharing his story and showing us his pristine champagnes, he said 'yes'!  It is now my pleasure to invite you to meet 5th generation champagne grower and producer Charles-Henry Fourny from Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils. Charles will be taking us on an unique champagne journey to Vertus, his home in the Côte des Blancs, an opportunity exploring wines from one particular place, wines of terroir, wines that reflect family tradition, passion and dedication. The wonderful team of Petite Mort created an exceptional signature degustation menu highlighting each champagne in every course. Enough words, you need to experience it yourself to be able to feel the magic. See you on Thursday, 5th October at Petite Mort, Shenton Park. Santé!

 
 Clos Faubourg Notre-Dame, Vertus Premier Cru, belonging solely to the Fourny family

Clos Faubourg Notre-Dame, Vertus Premier Cru, belonging solely to the Fourny family

 
 The impressive Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils collection I tasted during my visit in March 2017

The impressive Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils collection I tasted during my visit in March 2017

 
 Meeting Charles-Henry Fourny learning all about Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils

Meeting Charles-Henry Fourny learning all about Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils

 
 Happy smiles finding the greatest Veuve Fourny & Fils collection in Perth

Happy smiles finding the greatest Veuve Fourny & Fils collection in Perth

Nearly there

Hello to my Canny Grapes visitors.

My wine travel blog is still fermenting, but out of the barrel and ready for bottling.  

Patience is the key in the world of wine. 


I'm still collecting stories for my blog, travelling and learning all about wine. 

Cheers Anja