I attended one of my favourite restaurants, MemSaab in Nottingham last week to try their 5 course Spring Menu (offered with 5 wine selections).

You can see the Spring Menu by clicking here

First of all I must declare an interest: I myself choose the wines from the MemSaab wine list to accompany this Menu. Even more than that, I was part of the team responsible for listing them all in the first place. So I must take responsibility for any lack of satisfactions with the wines, whereas any real credit goes to Amita and the kitchen at MemSaab for their expertise…

The menu was a delight – balanced, with a variety of flavours, styles and wine demands that made for evolving interest. In addition the dishes focus on the flavours of the principle ingredients and (apart from a couple of presentation issues that I will mention) didn’t swamp the plate with filling accompaniments. All very good… so how was it in detail:

We opened with a Deakin Estate Sparkler – a bright frothy wine with grapefruit notes and accompanied by a tasty bready puff of potato and chickpeas in a cumin and mint broth. In this case the food actually made the wine seem more complex, a great result for wine-food matching and together a truly mouthwatering start.

The spring chicken was lovely and full of spring flavours, and with a warm, salty inflection needed a cool but aromatic white. I love this Pinot Gris with tikka marsala, but that dish has a sweeter balance and although the flavour match was – I think – good, perhaps the wine could be a bit richer – my bad!

The cod course was brilliant and absolutely perfectly cooked, such a stellar dish that the fresh, but slightly structured, Provence Rosé worked very well indeed. This was my highlight, personally – my only very minor cavil that the fish needed little distraction and the presentation (which also included a sort of tartare sauce) a little over the top.

After a palate cleanser we were swerved a lovely dish of lamb served in two ways: a roasted lamb rump and a diced lamb with pea curry. Both were excellent but made different wine demands, and the Shiraz/Viognier, with black fruit and some lightness of touch, showed very well – but more particularly with the diced lamb which I found very expressive. As to the lamb rump, a classic which really merited a Grand Cru St. Emillion or a Rioja Reserva. On balance the Shiraz worked to complement the savoury then hot then sweet contrasts of lamb and curry.

Finally a little trio of desserts (banana rice, mango, sorbet) cooled and offset the meal a treat. I selected the Moscatel from the list rather than the Chenin based dessert wine. The Moscatel has more caramel and darker flavours, and offsets the coolness of the mango and the liquidity of the rice a treat – a very happy wine match in my view…

This is a Wine blog, so to take a more critical assessment of the wines: I felt four were good to very good matches (the Shiraz/Viognier both: good with the roast lamb, very good with the lamb curry). However the Pinot Gris was a slight disappointment. Although Pinot Gris is a reasonable choice with the food a richer example with a hint of residual sugar (Hugel maybe?) would be better. In addition a rather more expensive wine might be found to complement both the lamb dishes.

These changes would disturb the cost balance, however, and that illustrates the problem of matching such great food… it deserves wines a couple of notches up from the established market for Indian Restaurants. The MemSaab by-the-glass list is already one notch up – to go further would take us higher up the list and perhaps double the total wine cost… Worth it to accompany food this good, in my view… but I’m not really a mainstream Wine for Indian food customer…

All in all a fabulous meal with pretty good wine matches and two or three that worked very well indeed.

I recommend this menu to wine-with-Indian-food enthusiasts.

Available to the end of May the menu is (I think) £30, with another £15 for wines.
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