The upmarket Thai restaurant in the centre of town has introduced a wine tasting dinner session. Jemima Forbes went along to try some carefully selected bottles and the accompanying set menu
Chaophraya is known for its smart interiors and fine dining ethos. With an open kitchen, private dining room and stylish bar area, it is a stunning location for an intimate meal, after work drinks, cocktail masterclass or casual lunch.
Their new wine tasting evening takes place in a private area just off the entrance and aims to be relaxing and enlightening, allowing guests the chance to learn more about the wines on offer and try out some tasty authentic Thai cuisine.
Greeted with a glass of cool Thai beer and directed to our table in the allocated room for the evening, I had to admire the understated décor, great live band at the bar, and the professionalism and friendliness of the staff.
When you picture a wine tasting evening, you may think it’ll involve milling around a room awkwardly making conversation with strangers and sipping on tiny glasses of indistinct white or red.
Thankfully, Chaophraya’s set up for the evening was far more sophisticated. With around twenty of us taking part in the evening, each couple or group were given their own table. Ed Cross, the friendly and passionate wine expert hosting the evening, had a table up front laden with the wines and told us about the history, quality and correct way to taste each bottle.
This included assessing the colour in order to determine age (who knew that the yellower the white wine the older it is?), sniffing it to decipher any distinct traits, and finally swilling a sip around your mouth to test for sweetness on the tip of your tongue and sourness on the sides. We tried four generous glasses of different wines, each accompanied by a delicious Thai dish introduced to us and cooked up by the restaurants Thai head chef.
We started off the tasting session with a glass of Rude Mechanicals Viognier Pinot Gris. This slightly peachy wine takes its name from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was matched up with Thai classic and personal favourite, chicken satay. Made from chicken pieces that had been marinating for over a day in spices, sugar and condensed milk, the perfectly tender meat skewers were particularly moreish when covered in the tasty peanut dipping sauce. This dish came with a small side salad and bread to mop up any of the leftover sauce.
The second wine was another white, although drier and sourced from France. With its lack of sweetness, the Domaine de la Motte Petit Chablis was the perfect companion to the Pad Thai dish served up next. A noodle dish consisting of fresh vegetables and giant king prawns in a sweet and sour tamarind infused sauce, it was a perfect version of the popular dish served in most restaurants and street markets in Thailand.
The third course was a red meat dish accompanied by a glass of Pablo y Walter, an Argentinian Malbec. This smooth red had hints of vanilla and blackberries and went down easily with the Weeping Tiger, a dish of peppery marinated beef and onions. The flavoursome beef was very tender and came with pak choi greens and roasted garlic swimming in a simple sauce, and fluffy jasmine rice. While the two previous dishes were served up individually, this course was designed for sharing with all the dishes being placed in the centre of your table- a prelude to the sharing dessert.
The fourth and final course of the evening was a refreshing dessert of healthy pineapple and melon skewers and bunches of grapes paired with a decadent chocolate fondue. Unfortunately, I had given up chocolate for Lent so had to endure the wafts of chocolatey goodness while I ate the healthy fruit.
For this final course, a sweet Mirabello Sparkling Rose was served- the ideal drink to finish off the evening.
The entire experience was very informative and relaxing, a great way to spend an evening with friends or as a couple. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were a wine novice or a connoisseur and while the Thai dishes were fairly typical choices, each one was tasty, well-made and a tempting reason to return to Chaophraya again.
Chaophraya’s wine tasting evenings will take place every few months with the next one scheduled for April 7th. While the set menu I tried was all meat dishes, the restaurant can also serve up some amazing vegetarian dishes as well as accommodating other dietary requirements. The evening costs £50 per person.