On a cloudy spring afternoon, the flowers and tress planted in the garden outside of Galaxy Macau’s Italian restaurant, Terrazza, seem more colorful to the eye than ever. Kelvin So, Chief Sommelier of Galaxy Macau, recommends that I take a sip of the Perrier Jouet, Belle Epoque 2007 Champagne. As the golden, bubbly liquid reaches the tongue, the citrus note of lemon and lime immediately awakens the senses.
Gentle breezes brush through the trees, making a soothing sound while touching the leaves. Breathing lightly, I feel unusually relaxed. My eyes are hypnotized, fixed on the bubbles of the champagne ascending happily upwards.
“This Champagne is well balanced, with bright and forward acidity. It finishes with a sea spray aroma, a great wine to start your meal,” says Kelvin So, award-winning sommelier in charge of wine cellar operations at Galaxy Macau.
Confident and bold, Kelvin strikes me as someone who likes to speak his mind, never afraid of suggesting a wine that, in his opinion, will pair well with a dish in perfect harmony.
“I have worked as a chef in the past. That is the reason why when I look at a menu, I know exactly the types of wine that will go well with the food,” he explains. In addition to his expertise in wine, Kelvin gained his culinary skills from his family business running a Western restaurant. In his youth, he received a Professional Culinary Diploma from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, which contributes to his current food and wine pairing skills.
According to Kelvin, asparagus is one ingredient that is very difficult to pair with wine. “One time, I had this customer who ordered a red wine to go with an asparagus salad. In my mind, a red wine is never a good choice for asparagus. Therefore, I went to the guests and offered them several complimentary small glasses of Sauvignon Blanc to try with the asparagus. In the end they were very happy with my suggestion,” he adds.
While food and wine pairing is often a challenge for many sommeliers, knowing how to decant a bottle of wine is also a work of art that requires wine knowledge and a hint of sensibility. Silveroak, Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, 2006 is one of Kelvin’s personal favorites, but he claims that he has his own little secrets when it comes to making the most out of the tasting experience for this particular wine.
“This wine take time to decant, but after some good rest in the decanter, the aroma will slowly express in your glass, the interaction with red fruit, dark fruit and herbal note will display in front of you. Not clear if this is a long-term ager, but you definitely want to give it a good decanting of at least four hours. You should even pour the glasses and let them to stand for an hour. The interaction with oxygen will open the wine up and allow it to express its soft deliciousness. Airing also emphasizes the cherry and red currant fruit,” he comments.
Inside the glass, the wine has a garnet color and a nose of cassis liqueur, nutmeg and dark chocolate. On the palate, the beautifully integrated tannins lead to a long, spicy finish. No questions about it, Kelvin knows how to have his way with the wine.
“If you don’t mind, I want all of your secrets,” I say.
“To be honest, I have never been to this garden. It’s getting late. Maybe I will tell you another day,” he replies.