There are many things I want from a wine shop and boutique gourmet food store. But love in its literal sense is not one of them. What does it mean when someone proclaims to you that the food and wine has been prepared “with love?” Wait, you personally pressed the grapes? You dressed the undressed spinach leaves with a special vinaigrette? You had a long distance relationship with the truffles that just flew in from Europe? But there are exceptions.
The exception is Le Decanter, a small wine and gourmet food shop at ABC Place in Nairobi, Kenya, with shelves of French wine and unique gourmet food products to match.
Standing-room only, Le Decanter, the brainchild of Julie Smith, transforms from a store into a space that offers intimate wine and champagne tasting sessions of only specially curated French products. The staff is extremely friendly and welcomes you to the tasting session with welcoming smiles and declares the shop “closed” for the evening. Yes, they close shop just for you and your guests.
When a wine enthusiast and hotelier such as Julie tells you she prefers wine tastings than crunching numbers from the POS system of her shop, you feel warm inside – even before you start sipping.
Elegant wine glasses with delicate stems line the table. All of it screams indulgence and poise, from the platter – salmon pâté smeared baguettes, cubes of aged cheeses and crunchy bread sticks – to the more involved. We sipped our way through France from Bordeaux to Burgundy to Alsace, and finally to Provence until the late hours of the evening.
Don’t worry, at Julie’s private wine and champagne tastings, you won’t have to deal with inconsiderate wine tasters who smell of foreign odours – pungent perfume or after-shave – that ultimately interfere with your senses and makes it difficult to detect a wine’s complex aroma. Thanks to the modest size of the shop and a maximum capacity of 10 people, your experience will always be informal and intimate, even questions that you may feel intimidated to ask in larger groups are welcomed.
Quaint, intimate, an adequate selection of wines (though there will always be someone who wants more), and reasonably priced; Le Decanter is definitely Nairobi’s haven for French wines, champagnes and gourmet food products – one built from passion and love.
PHOTO: COURTESY YUMMY.CO.KE