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Under the Influence Wine Tasting

10 Feb

I write this post with a headache, because I have discovered that you can have too much of a good thing – and an Under the Influence wine tasting is a very good thing. Each tasting has a particular theme, whether it be region, terroir or varietal. The heavenly tasting I attended was “Great Whites” , perfectly up my street as red would give me much more than an innocent headache.

The Cape Town tastings are in one of the most beautiful setting the city has to offer – The Roundhouse lawn. I found myself looking over Camps Bay and the sea on a warm summer night, with friends and delicious wine – it doesn’t get much better. Oh wait it does – there were two potbellied piglets running around! Pancetta and Crackling (hopfeully just a cruel joke and not their fate) run free on the lawn, rooting in the grass and nuzzling offered hands. Just don’t pick them up unless you want the entire veranda to stare at you while they squeal.

Under the Influence tastings are all about learning, not showing off who has read the latest issue of Wine Magazine or knows the most about wine. You are free to make silly suggestions about the smell (sorry, nose!), use the wrong words and actually swallow the wine – all of which made me, an avid quaffer but useless sommelier, really comfortable. The hosts are also relaxed, joking about crib notes and bantering with the guests. While being incredibly knowledgeable about winemakers, wine and regions, they take nothing too seriously.

Each tasting consists of three flights or sets of wines, usually three wines per flight. The “Great White” flights were sauvignon blanc, viognier and chenin blanc blends. Wonderful! Not being a connoisseur, I will just give you my favourite of the evening: Lismore sauvignon blanc (2009), delicious and affordable.

I was eager to line my stomach before the tasting as last time there was only ciabatta to snack on. It wasn’t necessay though as Under the Influence has teamed up with the Rumbullion outdoor restaurant at the Roundhouse to offer not only scrummy ciabatta, but also pizzas (for an added cost). As we had eaten ourselves silly already, my friends and I ordered a simple margarita to share. It was crispy and cheesy – everything a pizza should be and it went excellently with the wine!

As the wine flowed, the inappropriate comments and giggles increased and everyone around the table became acquainted. One of the wonderful things about these tastings is the intimate setting – the tasting groups are normally only about 20 people, seated at a long picnic table. This lends itself to everyone sharing stories and opinions – I discovered that the girl across the table was also my next door neighbour! After the tasting, left over bottles are handed round and you are free to drink a full glass of whatever especially delighted you that evening – the perfect way to get to know your new  freinds. Unfortunately the Lismore was no more, but I refilled on Elgin Heights a few times.

Under the Influence also now does some tastings in Joburg and Durban, but I don’t think these will be able to beat the setting in Cape Town. I can’t wait for the bubbly tasting next week!

Tastings R120 per person (incudes tasted wine and ciabatta). Pizzas from R40. For tastings in your area and upcoming events, visit the website: www.undertheinfluence.co.za You can also buy wine on the website.

House of Kink – bachelorette party!

22 Aug

Sex shops scare me. Especially when they are called things like “Kink”. But add a bar and suddenly it becomes far more comfortable! House of Kink mixes a classy sex shop upstairs, with a cocktail bar and kitchen downstairs. This blends together for their fitting bachelorette party venue.

One of the upstairs rooms was cleared of merchandise for the party (I was pretty glad about this; I don’t know if I could have lasted the night with those things staring at me!). A private bar in the corner was filled with whatever the bridesmaids chose to stock it with and anything else for the cash bar.

Then the food arrived and, wow, did it make an entrance! The delicious snacks made by the House of Kink kitchen were brought in by Bare Butt Butlers! I must say the snacks were tastier than the bare bums on display. These poor boys had to wear only bowties and very small aprons – now that takes guts in a room of pretty girls. The boys were clean and not at all sleazy, which was great because I was not at all interested in seeing greased up male strippers!

The food was great – platters of sushi, calamari, prawn, sesame chicken skewers and bruschetta with parma ham and tomato. Peanut, tartar, tzatziki, pesto – the sauces were brilliant. I loved every mouthful, but could only have wished for a little bit more on the platters.

With flowing wine, chilled background music, bare bums and good food, House of Kink made for an excellent venue and I’m sure the Bride (because she deserves a capital) loved the atmosphere and being surrounded by her girlfriends.

House of Kink is also open as a sex shop, restaurant  and cocktail bar from Monday to Saturday. I’m sure the more adventurous (or maybe I’m just a scaredy cat prude!) will enjoy venturing upstairs. And for the rest of you, Kink serves up a mean cosmopolitan and snack platter!

House of Kink: 3 Park Road, off Kloof Street, Gardens, 021 4240757. Bare Butt Butlers: www.barebuttbutlers.co.za