Friday, November 16, 2012


As the year draws to a close, the season of parties will be in full swing. While champagnes and wines are the choice drinks for most revellers, what are teetotalers to do?
This is where the 1688 Grand Rose from France and Inah from South Africa premium non-alcoholic beverages aim to fill the gap and make their flowing presence felt. Made from pure fruit juices, the twist in these imported drinks by Ambrosia Trading Sdn Bhd lie in the luxurious product packaging - at first glance the labels, foil coverings and wire cages holding the corks in place are dead-ringers for the real wines that are prevalent during revelries.
Unveiled with some fanfare at Dato' Chef Ismail Ahmad's Rebung restaurant in Bangsar, Mr Remi Rossano, Principal of 1688 Grand Rose believed that both products will be the toast of our multi-racial country. Because the beverages contain absolutely NO alcohol at all, people from all walks of life regardless of their age and race can raise their glasses of these drinks without fear of being intoxicated.
Besides drinking it straight from the bottle, the beverages can also be used to create interesting dishes such as Mediterranean Roast Chicken, Seafood Skewers, Stewed Lamb, Prawns Nyonya Style, Assam Pedas Fish and Steamed Caramel Apam as demonstrated by Dato' Chef Ismail.

With its salmon pink hues and fine bubbles, the 1688 Grand Rose is perfect as a pre-dinner aperitif that's not unlike a sparkling rose (minus the alcoholic bitter aftertaste). Concocted from 100% red and white grape blends, it boasts a bouquet of floral and fruity notes, and a muted Muscat flavour. Served it chilled at 6-8 degrees Celsius to complement sweet and sour seafood or white meat dishes.

I opened two bottles recently for a dinner party where seasoned wine lovers and teens attended. Needless to say, the drinks were an absolute hit to counter the sweltering heat and prime the palate.

Amazingly, the premium beverages even mimic the real wines. The Inah Merlot has distinctly strawberry and blackcurrant notes; its nectar sweetness best enjoyed well-chilled at 16 degrees Celsius. Goes superbly well with curries and spicy food.
Ripe plums and blackberry accents reign in the Inah Cabernet Sauvignon with a subtle oaky finish. Pair this with steaks or rich stews or even a hearty roast chicken.
I like the Shiraz for its berry accent with hints of spice - imagine matching it with some nice cheese.

You can buy the 1688 Grand Rose (RM56.90) and Inah series (RM43.90 each) at major supermarts like BIG, Cold Storage, Mercato, Village Grocer and AEON.

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