It seems like yesterday when I was appointed as consultant and in-charge of Lions Bar and Restaurant at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel in the mid 1990s. This was the time when South Africa was emancipated from apartheid, and coincidentally, when Ugandans got to become serious about wines thanks to our brothers from down South who have been in the wine business since 1659.
So, as the Grape Revolution gains ground in the country, we join the cause, gently proclaiming the appreciation of wine as one of the Rights of Man, and make a few primer remarks that may serve as a preamble for those learning to develop an individual taste. To those far ahead of us we cite Rabelais: “Fays ce que vouldras” ---which, from fifteenth-century French to twentieth-century English means “Do your own thing” --- still the best advice about wine drinking. For the whole point of wine, as our ancestors well knew, is that it should be enjoyed, whether you pour it from a raffia-skirted Chianti bottle or the crystal and silver walrus or the traditional and conventional and familiar Burgundy bottle with which we are all familiar.
Notwithstanding the pomp and trappings surrounding it, wine is essentially the product of the grape and the airborne yeast that turns the sugar or the grape juice into alcohol. Wine is very much alive, and unlike soft drinks or hard liquor, it can be bottled up by its makers and forgotten. From the time the grape is picked until the wine is poured, it is responding to its surroundings with an almost feminine way.
Anyway, so much for the discourse on wine and now to the real deal over at the Park Lane situate at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel. I am, of course, speaking of the rather unusual wine and cheese tasting taking place every Saturday evening, and for only Shs60,000, you will get to savor an assortment of nibbles with different cheeses, such as, Brie, Feta, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Blue Cheese etc.
These were accompanied by crackers, breadsticks and real earthy old-world bread the likes of rye, farmers and multigrain. Interspersed among these were fruits, such as, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, pickled cucumber, artichokes, pineapples, cherries and a few others.
The layout of the repast was so eye-catching and beautifully but, then, of course with acting Executive Chef, Alexander Pavlovic, in charge, there were no surprises. This wine tasting paired with cheese is relatively new at the Park Lane but I am sure given the benefit of time, it is bound to catch on and where else in such a decent and wonderfully serene setting can you get a chance to nibble on some great cheeses while tasting a Drostdy-Hoff Adelpracht wine which is packed with aromas of dried apricots, peaches and a touch of honey.
Or if you hanker for something even more adventuresome then surely the exquisite Reserve Chardonnay will not disappoint you.
Place: Sheraton Kampala Hotel, wine tasting at the Park Lane
Wine tasting: Every Saturday from 6pm to 10pm
Address: Ternan Avenue
Smoke-Free Zone: Not allowed
Recommended items: The nibbles and wine
Service: Always professional
Ambience: Elegant and classic
Open: Daily from 8am till 10pm
Our Rating: Worth a visit
The Space: Very nicely and thoughtfully arranged
The Crowd: The up-market crowd and hotel guests
Menu: Various cheeses viz. Brie, Camembert, Feta, Cheddar, Gorgonzola etc.
The Bar: Wines, such as, Hardy Nottage Hill Riesling, Primitivo, Bottega-Amarone, Reserve Chardonnay, Queru Syrah, Durban Ville Hills, Moscato-Vineto and Drostdy-Hoff Adelpracht
The damage: Shs60,000
Sound level: Comfortable
Parking: Always available and abundant