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High on wine with The Flying Sommeliers

Four members of the Sommelier Association of Singapore are taking on the personas of Star Wars supervillains in their upcoming series of fun fund-raising wine dinners.

By Joyce Huang | 04 May, 2017 | #thursdaytipples, Boozy, Drink
2017-05-04 15:01:28 2017-10-10 12:27:03
The Flying Sommeliers Super Villains
The Flying Sommeliers as Star Wars super villains

What has Star Wars got to do with wine? Sure, I guess you could refer to the almost-inky wines of grape varieties like Nero d’Avola, Touriga Nacional and Syrah as the Dark Side. But closer to home, four members of the Sommelier Association of Singapore are taking on the personas of Star Wars supervillains in their upcoming series of fun fund-raising wine dinners.

Comprising sommeliers Amir Solay, Group Wine Manager for Unlisted Collection; Fazil Mohamad, Group Sommelier for Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill and Tapas Restaurants; Michael Leitner, former Head Sommelier of the now defunct Ku De Ta; Gerald Lu, Vice President of the Sommelier Association of Singapore (otherwise known as that sommelier dude in suspenders in the NTUC Fairprice educational wine videos), The Flying Sommeliers was formed last year.

The Flying Sommeliers
The Flying Sommeliers: Amir Solay, Gerald Lu, Fazil Mohamad, and Michael Leitner

Inspired by the term flying winemakers—winemakers who fly around the world to make wines in different wineries, the group’s formation was brought about by the idea of making wine more approachable and lightening up the image of stuffy sommeliers. The Flying Sommeliers are also making a point to give back to society by raising funds for charity through a yearly series of educational wine dinners.

Taking place during the next two months is a series of five wine dinners in five different restaurants—Salted & Hung, Pollen Restaurant, Praelum Wine Bistro, Salt Tapas & Bar by Luke Mangan and Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan. Wines featured for each evening’s paired tasting menu all come from the personal collections of the sommeliers. For each dinner, 10% of each dinner’s revenue will be donated to the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). There’ll be silent auctions of top range wines at the end of each dinner to further raise funds for the organisation. Last year, a magnum (1.5 litre) of 1995 Cristal Champagne was auctioned off for S$1,200.

The Flying Sommeliers currently don’t fly around the world to serve wine, but as a play on the term ‘flying’, the sommeliers adopt fun superhero/supervillain identities. Last year saw the group donning super hero costumes for their dinners. This year, they’ve gone to the Dark Side are taking on the personas of Star Wars supervillains. So when you do attend any of the dinners, don’t be surprised to find Darth Vader breathing down your neck—he might just be trying to get a closer whiff of the wine in your glass.


“The Flying Sommelier” Dinner Series 2017

Salted & Hung
7pm – 10.30pm, Monday 8th May
Price: $168++ per head

Pollen Terrace
7pm – 10.30pm, Tuesday 30th May
Price: $168++ per head

Praelum Wine Bistro
7pm – 10.30pm, Monday 12th June 2017
Price: $168++ per head

Salt Tapas & Bar by Luke Mangan
7pm – 10.30pm, Thursday 29th June 2017
Price: $168++ per head

Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan
7pm – 10.30pm, Monday 10th July 2017
Price: $228++ per head

All dinners RSVP: [email protected]


SALT flirted with the Dark Side to find out more about The Flying Sommeliers.

This year’s The Flying Sommelier sees the addition of Gerald and a guest sommelier, are you guys looking to expand the group further?
If the cause takes flight (sorry for the pun) and public response is warming, I am sure we can work on either expanding the group or diversifying the sommeliers, and providing other activities besides dinners, say workshops or thematic tastings. I think the key is to balance our appetite for growth with the scale that we can manage. All of us are doing this out of our usual schedules and routines so it is key that we make sure whatever effort is fully committed to and not diluted!

Understand that there are plans to take this initiative international, could you share more?
It is an exciting thought that we have, to collaborate with our sommelier friends overseas and possibly including an overseas effort to raise funds! Dinners are the most direct, but there is talk of perhaps even doing a harvest with a bunch of individuals and eventually perhaps selling off a barrel of wine! Well, the ideas flow pretty creatively after a few bottles every time we meet. But in honesty, there are legal and international policies to consider should we decide to take the project overseas. So right now, it’s just a floating idea! But imagine if someday we could, somehow, convince sommeliers around the world on this movement—crazy thought isn’t it?

Are all the wines at every dinner going to be different? What can diners expect, especially in terms of wine education?
Yes. Every single dinner will consist of at least five different wines, none of which will be repeated. We are not going to bore diners with a three-hour dinner and sauvignon blanc seminar! There will of course be surprises as well so that’s the fun part. As the name “flying sommelier” suggests, we will share descriptors and stories about the origins of the wines, the region and landscape, the history of the producer and lastly, the profile of the wine itself. Through this, we hope to bring diners on a visual tour as they learn about the regions through the glass.

Do you have an inkling of what wines will be on silent auction this year? What are some that you guys are most excited about?
There will be a top vintage Champagne as always, a Grand Cru level wine from a classic French region. Knowing Fazil, he will ensure the appearance of a top class, cult New World wine from Oceania or South America. Some nice names under consideration are Salon, Roederer, Don Melchor.

You guys have donned Superhero (last year) and Supervillain (this year) get ups, so what’s on the cards next year? Do you encourage diners to dress up as well?
The Superhero/villain theme will stay throughout, but every year we’ll have different ones; well there’s even been talk of a Superheroine theme… With respect to diners dressing up, they are free to do so! But we rather they stay comfortable for the dinner. So as long as they are happy eating and drinking in masks, by all means.

Will you guys be acting out scenes from the movies during the dinners?
[laughs] Unfortunately no. Perhaps upon request Fazil may start speaking like Jabba the Hut.

Who’s your favourite Star Wars character and what do you think his/her favourite wine is?
Amir: Master Yoda, Austrian Gruner Veltliner – because it’s always green, and always refreshing like his words of wisdom.
Michael: Darth Vader, Barossa Valley Shiraz – he’s a dark character but has underlying beauty that needs to be potentially tapped
Fazil: C3PO, German Riesling – the petroleum nose in Rieslings is always loved and necessary for a droid who gets re-assembled every now and then.
Gerald: R2D2, white Burgundy –  the silent grand wines of Burgundy are sometimes overshadowed by the reds, but they are always reliable and great, like the droid.

Brought up on a diet of books and family dinner parties, it’s hard to ascertain which came first, Joyce’s love for words or her infatuation with food. A writing career that started at a local food magazine meant she didn’t have to choose between either – because her heart, and nose, became fixed on vino. Ever since the job opened her up to the wonderful world of wine, she’s been #alwaysthirsty.