A trip to a restaurant for us is primarily associated with a pleasant pastime and good food. For many, a restaurant is also a place where you can taste excellent wine, get advice from a sommelier and discover new impressions of combining it with a dish. After all, as you know, wine and food are inseparable. However, what do the owners of the kitchen, namely the chef, think about this? Do they share a passion for wine and where does it fit into their lives? With four similar questions, we turned to experienced chefs of various restaurants in Riga in order to find out what wine means to a chef.
1. When did you first taste wine?
2. Who selects the wine in your restaurant and do you consult with you when drawing up the wine list, and, conversely, when you think over the menu, do you consider how the dishes will be combined with the wines?
3. In your opinion, is the wine or the dish more important?
4. What was the last wine that surprised you?
Maris Astičs, founder of Restorānu servisa skola
1. It’s hard to say, but I really began to delve into the differences between wines and tastes when I began to select wines for dishes, at about 23 years old.
2. In none of the restaurants did those who made the wine list consult with the cuisine. This is the responsibility of the head of the restaurant.
3. Equivalent, because wine complements the dish, and there are situations when wine saves the dish. And wine without food is completely different.
4. I’m not a wine expert. I hardly understand red wines. But if I drink, then Riesling.
Martins Ritins, chef of Vincents restaurant
1. I didn’t want to confess, but I have to tell the truth. It happened at the funeral of my Latvian language teacher, I was 12 years old. The guys and I on the sly, while no one saw, tasted the wine, I even remember its name – Liebfraumilch. At first it caused laughter and giggles, but in the end we were scolded by our parents.
2. In a restaurant, everyone has their own area of responsibility. The wines are selected by our sommelier Raimonds Tomsons. He has enough time to visit all tastings and wine-producing countries: from France to Chile. I take care of our local farming and, following Raymond’s example, seek out the very best fish and meat from Katlakalns to Miyazaki in Japan. The first place on the menu is given to dishes, depending on the season, followed by wines.
3. You asked the chef the question. The guest visits the restaurant to enjoy good food. Bad food will ruin even the finest wine.
4. A very difficult question. Raimonds often treats me to wine, and almost every time the wine surprises me. An important role is played not only by wine, but also by the dish, the company, the environment. If you can call sake wine, then when I was in Tokyo, a different sake was served with each dish. I never imagined that sake can be so crystal clear, refreshing and different.
Ivan Smigarev, chef of the M’archers dining restaurant
1. I tried wine at the age of 16, at the birthday party of one of my relatives. I took up wine professionally at the age of 21, when Raimonds Tomsons started his career, and I passed by and decided to join.
2. I am not consulted when choosing wines, and I do not impose myself, but if a special evening is planned, then the wines are sure to be matched to the dishes. Ronalds Petersons helps me.
3. Both are important, but food is a priority.
4. Surprised – it’s hard to say, but there are those who even really like the taste.
Inna Polischenko, head chef, Restorāns 3
1. I first tasted good wine when I worked as an assistant chef in the Italian restaurant Vino Rosso; my boss was a real connoisseur of wines and always consulted the kitchen when coordinating wines and menus. I don’t remember the name of the wine, because it was 8 years ago!
2. I had a great opportunity to work for a short time together with an excellent wine connoisseur Janis Gailis. He broadened my horizons in the world of wine, always consulted with the kitchen about the expected changes in the menu to find the perfect combination, and also advised the best wine for dessert or other dishes. I can say that the cooperation was mutual. Wine and food went side by side and continue to do so.
3. I believe that food without wine or wine without food is the same as a ballerina on stage without pointe shoes!
4. It will definitely be Olivers Pinot Grigio – it is very unusual and goes beyond the Pinot Grigio standards. As a rule, these are dry wines with a fruity taste, while Olivers Pinot Grigio is rounded and oily.