There’s something interesting going on at the new Mannings Heath Wine Lounge. And, of course, it involves wine and food! Happy days.
Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate has been a notable Horsham venue for as long as I can remember. Most locals know of its golf and its connection with Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens. And some know of its connection with Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in South Africa. All three venues are, of course, owned by South African entrepreneur Penny Streeter, OBE. But what’s exciting about what’s going on at Mannings Heath is that they are creating a unique wine experience and a fusion of cultures as well as showcasing Sussex produce.
The new Mannings Heath Wine Lounge
Who doesn’t want to hang out in a wine lounge trying a selection of great quality wines along with some seriously good grub? It feels like a no-brainer to me, and the concept behind the new lounge is that it will be relaxed, slightly edgy and a “jeans and a nice top” style venue. I’ve seen the plans and this is a completely new look for Mannings Heath. It is suitably stylish and will have terrace seating with views over newly planted vines, soft sofas and a hint of moody.
Food and wine pairing
It probably comes as no surprise that I loved this food and wine pairing experience not least because I learnt so much. The menu has been very carefully put together with the dishes created by South African chef Kelly Pietersen using locally sourced Sussex ingredients. This gets a massive tick from me and it genuinely feels like the folk at Mannings Heath are passionate about both supporting and being part of the local community. The wines have also been very carefully chosen to go with each dish and to be tried in a certain order.
Your wine guide is on hand if you need them to take you through all four dishes and wines (two whites and two reds) explaining what ingredients have what impact on both your palate and your wine. This is great for wine aficionados who can enjoy good wine and food but even better for a novice like me who wants an improved understanding of wine, what works well and why. But it’s also fun, choosing your favourite and noticing subtle changes that you might not notice when quaffing a bottle in front of the TV!
Experiencing how the creamy flavours of smoked cod in a cream cheese sauce can quieten down the strong flavours of a Chardonnay, how spices can make the fruit flavours of a Sauvignon Blanc really pop, or how Chicken Ballentine and exotic mushrooms can calm down the punchy flavours of a Collage Bordeaux is fascinating. What a way to spend an afternoon!
And at the same time, you’re learning which of the reds you’d prefer and when, and the impact of the “terroir” and how the salty slopes of South Africa and oak barrels can influence the flavours of your wine. I have long held the view that the wine industry needs to be more accessible to the likes of me, and this experience achieves exactly that.
What’s on the menu
The wines are a Sauvignon Blanc 2022 Vintage, a Chardonnay 2021 Vintage, a Collage Bordeaux and a Cabernet Sauvignon all from the Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate. By way of food, the four dishes include some of the best beef I’ve ever had (from nearby Trenchmore Farm). Or you can opt for sharing platters or cheese and wine. And of course, you can always add pudding and a glass or two of bubbles to finish off.
I know I tend to get over-excited about Sussex produce. But actually, this fusion of cultures is exactly as it should be. After all, our Sussex heritage has been all about cultural diversity ever since the Romans arrived if not before. To have an edgy venue with this mix of local and South African produce right on our doorstep is a treat indeed. The new Wine Lounge opens next month.
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