Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
It used to be that the fine art of wine drinking was a specialised art form mainly confined to the upper classes and viewed suspiciously by those not privy to the joys and bounties to be found in not just wine drinking, but the socialised rituals and customs that were part and parcel of this indulgence.
And, to be sure, the fact that most oenophiles approached the art of wine drinking as if it were a specialised art form that required some kind of superior intellect and, as such, was not accessible to the majority, made those who were curious, but not to the manner born, more than suspicious of those who did, and, in some instances, rather hostile.
The air of haughtiness and snobbery that became synonymous with wine drinkers never engendered this social and recreational indulgence to the majority, but rather restricted its appeal. Over the years, however, there has been a global awareness of the beauty of wine drinking aided by studies which have been promoting and heralding the supposed health benefits of wine, thus, more and more people have embraced the culture.
Here in Jamaica, the indefatigable Judith Douglas has been working tirelessly as unofficial wine ambassador for J. Wray & Nephew Limited, for decades, not only to promote the culture of wine drinking but, more important, to demystify the culture.
To her credit, wine drinking has taken firm roots, and is expanding and being embraced by the now generation that once resisted the appeal.
And so, it is that today, Jamaica not only boasts many a wine bar, but the majority of leading supermarkets and mega shopping establishments carry aisle upon aisle dedicated to wines; not to mention the many speciality wine establishments that have sprung up across the island.
Spreading the gospel of wine
Well, today, Judith Douglas is still the country's foremost wine authority/ambassador, and she is always looking for new and different ways of spreading the gospel of wine. So, it was no surprise to those in the know when invitations went out, asking a number of oenophiles and aficionados to join J. Wray & Nephew at the Infinity Pool deck at the Spanish Court Hotel for the first of what was dubbed 'Wine Tasting Mondays'.
Well, my dears, last Monday was the first of such events held under the stars to a critically hand-picked shortlist of wine lovers, with the multi-talented one-man musical ensemble, Floyd Folkes, providing the musical treats. And, pumpkins, what a treat it proved to be!
Dears, to begin with, the Spanish Court Hotel is not only Kingston's most fabulous hotel, the hotel has earned the ranking of being the city's most charming place to dine and to see and be seen.
And so it was that last Monday, the place to be was the hotel's pool deck, being mesmerised by the beauty of the city lights and silhouetted hills. Judith Douglas and her team from Edwin Charley, in partnership with the hotel's Food and Beverage Manager Anthony Matthews, prepped and presented a fare of goodies to complement the fine wine, and dears, taken all together, it made for a fabulous feast!
We are talking an introductory Cadet d'Oc Sauvignon Blanc, here - mild on the lips easier on the taste buds, and when paired with the simply dee-vine pepper-seared tuna with sesame seaweed salad, make for a rather smooth sensation and experience.
And there was the Cadet d'Oc Chardonnay, proving very easy on the senses, tantalisingly so with its fruity allure; and when paired with the ackee and radish crostini, sensitised the palate to its many secrets.
The hotel served up a simply fabulous smoked salmon mousse, with red caviar on a cucumber disc that proved a culinary enchantress. This, my dears, proved the perfect companion to the arrestingly smooth Cadet d'Oc Merlot, a simply fabulous wine that tells its own story, with a deceptively simple appeal to the esoteric in that it would go equally fab with a spicy escoveitched, or Gorgonzola, and complement both.
Indeed, its sister Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Roast Filet Mignon, that had their own party on the palate - the Cabernet simply dee-vine and the filet mignon, doing a classic waltz, with the palate being a most appreciative and welcoming audience.
And then there was the Patch Block Pinot Noir by Georges DuBouf, taken by this here scribe as a nightcap, that was truly the music of the night, and a Libretto no less. Dears, we are talking fab like that and then some!
The notables out sharing in the occasion were: The new Chilean Ambassador HE Eduardo Borilla; the esteemed Robert MacMillan; Celia Barretto de Hunter; the elegant Carole Fullerton; legal luminary Harold Brady; Jimmy Moss-Solomon and his fab wife Raquel Jenkins Moss-Solomon; Ewan Fletcher; the elegantly charming Eleanor Jones; the lovely Dennis and Chhaya Hawkins; Shirley Chang Fombrun; Doug Brown; the charming Jeanie Bell and her daughter the gorgeous Wendy Bell; the fab Judith Chai and her lovely daughter Lisanne Chai; Sharon Asphall; the dapper Patrick Casserly; Patricia Garel; Thierry Mertens; Novia McDonald-Whyte, looking stunning in black; Christopher Record; Pamella Palmer; the stunning