An enquiry back in April to organise and run a Wine Tasting Event and Lunch for a Gentlemen’s Club evolved into quite a happening! Firstly, the club is called the CRAFT Club – I envisaged (foolishly), a group of sedate gentlemen whose hobbies included building Sydney Opera House out of toothpicks or wild flower photography and happily started planning a gentle and not too challenging wine tasting for these charming chaps. When I was advised sometime into my planning exercise that CRAFT stood for “Can’t Remember A Flipping Thing” Club and that there are branches in all sorts of exotic places round the world, I realised that a more tongue in cheek and fun day was more appropriate.

So we kicked off with our legendary FWW Welcome cocktail (home-made Vin d’Orange with Sparkling wine) and bowls of Spiced Nuts and Olives on the back terrace. A real cosmopolitan and international set started to arrive – really interesting men with tales to tell and hailing from Germany, Sri Lanka, the UK, Holland, America and beyond. Through to the front terrace with a view of the Mediterranean and the first challenge was the Guess the Grape – a brief introduction to Wine Tasting (how to Swirl, Sniff & Slurp – Spitting was optional), although I have a sneaky suspicion that most of them were already well versed in the art! Then 2 Mystery Whites and 2 Reds were poured and using my potted Bluffer’s Guide to Grape Varieties the guessing commenced. A very different atmosphere to our Fun Wine 4 Women event back in April, as the chaps, split across two tables on the terrace immediately started issuing challenges & competitive bets to each other.

Having well and truly earned their lunch, we started with a Goat’s Cheese & Spinach Tart with Citrus & Pine-nut Dressing – a perfect match for our now revealed, “Villa Maria” Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. We then invited them to partake of a splendid cold buffet with dishes designed to be sampled with each of the Challenge wines. As usual, I’d over-catered and there was easily enough for 20+ (we had 15 Club members attending), but when I saw some of them returning to the buffet table for 2nds, 3rds and even 4ths, I gathered they must be quite enjoying the grub! A Smoked Salmon & Crayfish Salad (with a delicately oaked Beringer Chardonnay from California), Griddled Tuna with Mediterranean Vegetables (heavenly with a lightly chilled French Pinot Noir) and a Rare Roast Beef with Pickled Red Onions and Salsa Verde (coped admirably with a juicy Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon). Our standard cracking value “Sweetie” (the Sauternes lookalike, Ste Croix du Mont) was served with Roquefort Cheese and following hot on its heels was a squidgy Eton Mess (Strawberries, Meringue & Cream with a Raspberry Sauce), again a delightful foil for the pudding wine.

A round of Vin Triv, our much loved Wine Quiz over coffee and then a spirited final Wine Wizard Challenge (the question “Can you tell the difference between Red, White & Rosé wine?” gave us a duelling representative from each table) – I can’t tell you the “twist” in the challenge here as it will give
the game away……! But a Champion for the Day was duly crowned and our happy guests finally started to wend their way home. If I mention at this point that it was gone 4.30pm when the last one left, I think you’ll get some idea of the day! George Kasilyake did a magnificent job of organising the lunch from the Club’s point of view and FWW certainly excelled themselves with the presentation on the day. An e-mailed thank you from a Craftsman ended with the quote: “….a landmark occasion. A great and enjoyable lunch.”

Helen Brotherton