Guests treated to five-course wine dinner experience

Neil Underhill, left, with Sam Miranda during the wine dinner at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

MANY travellers who choose to holiday in Fiji tend to prefer a laid-back vacation that allows them the opportunity to experience local culture in its entirety. There is also a segment of holiday makers who travel out of the desire to experience something unique and high end.

For these particular tourists, wine dinners are becoming an activity of choice. Resorts such as the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa are taking a lead in offering this experience.

Just last week the Yanuca Island property organised a wine dinner where guests were treated to a five-course Italian meal that was complemented by a range of wines produced by Italian-Australian winemaker, Sam Miranda.

Mr Miranda, whose range of wines has been distributed in Fiji through Lawhill Wines and Spirits, said his family had been in the wine making business for generations.

“So my family has been making wines since the 1920s and obviously, we just loved making wine and it became a passion of mine,” he said.

“I worked for the family in the 90s and then in 2003, opportunity came along to buy King Valley. We had three wineries in the family and King Valley, which is a region in Victoria, is one of them. “I had the opportunity to buy that off the family so I bought that. The family business was Miranda Wines and when I bought the winery in 2003 I called it Sam Miranda, being a marketing guru and ever since then we have forged our own styles and unusual varieties.”

Mr Miranda said the food and wine offering in Fiji had improved exponentially over the years.

“People are coming away, they obviously want to experience the Fijian lifestyle and the Fijian people are your biggest assets and to come here and experience the food and wine is just a bonus. “So I think it is so important that this continues to grow and evolve and even though they are more expensive wine, but the wine style suits your food and food offerings that you have in the hotels and resorts. As far as the Fijian perspective, I think it is so important to continue to grow it.”

During the event, Mr Miranda worked with the Italian sous chef Bruno Bettinazzi and his team in preparing and matching the five-course meal to his rage of wines.

“The feedback has been great, a lot of people have been coming here for years and they said the same thing, how in general across all of Fiji the food and wine has improved. “They have been bringing their friends back because obviously it is a competition and they are trying to get the tourism dollar. “Like I said, in Fiji you have the people, the climate and if you have the food and wine, it’s a no-brainer in terms of winning the tourism dollar.”

Presently, he said their wine distributors Lawhill Wines and Spirits had worked well in bringing the product to resorts and hotels around the country. “We are also happy to work with them in the future and have more of these dinners. “The more we can do, the more we can show our style of wine and get people on board and this is better for all of us.”