Everyone I mentioned this event to reacted with the same quizzical raised eyebrow. “Polish wines?” “Yes,” I said. “Polish wines”. Even typing it now does seem a little odd. How could such a such a perceptively cold country grow enough grapes to make wine? Well, one obvious answer is climate change. A slight uplift in temperature has allowed Poland to develop a viable wine industry. That and developments in production technologies, Adam Michocki of Central Wines informs us.
Michocki hosted a tasting at The Spärrows in Manchester. The evening consisted of five wines of Poland paired with a five-course meal provided by the wonderful Kasia and Franco, owners of The Spärrows. The restaurant moved during lockdown to a spacious railway arch on Red Bank and is the purveyor of the finest Central Europeans dishes to be had outside of Central Europe. It is an evening I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
Michocki is the former head sommelier of some of the best Michelin-starred eateries in the region and now, director of Central Wines, a UK-based importer which stocks and sells a wide range of award-winning wines from Central Europe with a particular focus on Poland. He is obviously knowledgeable but also friendly with extra charm. He gave a short informative talk before each course. I’m afraid I was too busy sampling the wine to write it all down but, thankfully, there is an equally informative website.
We start with an easy drinking sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres. My favourite pierogi is paired with a fruity Chardonnay from West Pomerania. It is easy on the palate with a slight, pleasing fizz. The pierogi are stuffed full of potato and cheese, flavoured with butter and chives. Crab and crayfish ravioli is partnered by a Johaniter Sur Lie from Lower Silesia. I know ravioli aren’t strictly Polish, but the pairing is delicious.
The main course is a tender roast venison in a sour cherry jus washed down with a deep, chocolatey L’Opera Triada from the Trzebnickie Hills. This leisurely, cultured evening is finished with a near perfect apple strudel, paired with a sweet dessert wine from Solaris Kojder. It was so good I bought a bottle for Christmas (if it lasts that long). I also purchased an excellent Riesling, which didn’t make it beyond the next day. The wine and food were great. I even felt a tinge of the festive spirit to my normal ‘bah humbug’ demeanour. Thankfully, not a grilled sausage or mulled wine in sight.
The whole event gave a warm glow to what was, otherwise, a dreichit Monday night. The Spärrows is always a special place and I love eating there. Kasia and Franco really know how to warm a welcome, o much so I went back three days later for my birthday dinner. But that, as they say, is another story.