Ménage à Trois, Anyone?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

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There is a saying that a rose by any other name is still a rose. So this week, when I encountered Ménage à Trois, I thought to myself, Oops, what have I gotten into? A ménage à trois is the French term describing a relationship or domestic arrangement in which three people, often a married couple and another lover, share an intimate relationship, although the relationship might or might not involve all three persons having intimate relations with each other. The French phrase literally translates as “household of three”. In this case then, as we talk about the wine brand, I will take it to mean that the wine will be the third element of the relationship — I can work with that! Now that I have calmed down the excitement felt by your reading of the intro, let's talk Ménage à Trois, the wine brand.


The Encounter

It was a Thursday afternoon and all the elements were aligned: great food, great people and great wines (triple combination, OK, stay focused). The Harbour Wines and Spirits team set the tone for lunch at Fromage Market Place. As usual, Fromage presented menu items that whetted our taste buds and sent us all into a sensory discussion and evaluation of this excellent portfolio. I sat with Sharice Fernander, brand manager – wines, and Denzie Sinclair, sales manager, both of Harbour Wines and Spirits, who were eager to share the story of Ménage à Trois and Jamaica.


Thursday Food (TF): Share with us some background about the Ménage à Trois brand.

Denzie Sinclair (DS): The Ménage à Trois brand was launched by the Folie a Deux Winery, Napa Valley in 1996. That year, it released two red blends. Fast-forward to 2018, the brand has within its portfolio 20 offerings. Ménage à Trois is the category creator and pioneer of red blends winning over 1,000 medals. Consistency and innovation are at the brand's core having won for four consecutive years the “#1 New Wine Item”: Midnight, Silk, Gold, and Decadence.


TF: How was Ménage à Trois introduced to Jamaica?

DS: In 2011, Kevin Levee, general manager of Hedonism Negril, requested that we source the brand for his hotel. In 2012, we sourced and imported into Jamaica starting with the Ménage à Trois white blend (Chardonnay, Muscat Blanc, and Chenin Blanc); Rosé (Merlot, Syrah, and Gewürztraminer); and the Red Blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon).

Sharice Fernander (SF): Since then we have expanded the portfolio to include:

• Silk — Pinot Noir, Malbec and Petite Sirah

• Midnight — Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Petite Verdot

• Decadence — 98% Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot

• Gold — Chardonnay, Viognier and Verdelho

• Luscious —Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel

• Lavish — Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Petite Verdot

DS: By year-end, we will add Ménage à Trois Bourbon Barrels — a Cabernet Sauvignon blend aged for three months in Bourbon barrels.


TF: Which variant in the portfolio do you find most appealing to Jamaicans?

SF: Midnight, Lavish and the Red Blends do very well. However, the full range is easy to drink. New wine drinkers love the Luscious and Silk as they prefer wines with fruit-forward expressions and a sweeter taste. The red varietals however represent approximately 75 per cent of sales within the range. Jamaica is one of the fast-growing markets for the brand. The price point is also very attractive, with retail average prices at approximately $1,900 + GCT.


TF: Where can we find the Ménage à Trois range of wines?

DS: Of course, here at Fromage, The Patio, Hedonism Negril, Wine With Me, Negril, Jewel's Dunn's River, Broken Plate, Tensing Pen, Red Bones, Hilton Rosehall Hotel, MegaMart. These are just a few of our partners that carry the brand.


Bolivar Blake, general manager of the Fromage Group, joined the conversation, sharing his experience with the brand and Fromage.


TF: Share with us your journey with Ménage à Trois.

Bolivar Blake (BB): Fromage initially started with the Silk (soft, sweet undertones) and Midnight (more manly, robust, appealing to the discerning wine drinker). The rest of the line was introduced over time. The Chardonnay provided a flowery, but robust 'knock you off your rocks' taste and complemented our menu items well. The big seller though is the Decadence (Cabernet Sauvignon) — excellent and robust but still with an undertone of softness, unusual for a Cab.


TF: What is your clientele saying?

BB: We keep receiving great reviews about the wines and our wine service. Our clients expect us to be innovative, and our wine selection must also reflect that. Novelty is expected by our clientele; therefore, we anticipate their needs and satisfy accordingly. The Ménage à Trois brand adds something new each year which helps us in ensuring we satisfy that need for novelty.



Counting down to the 21st staging of the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards....


The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 2019 committee is pleased to announce the nominations of Melisa Fletcher and Renee Watt as finalists of the inaugural Bartender of the Year Award.


Melisa Fletcher — Bartender, The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, St James.

Born and raised in Lucea, Hanover, Fletcher attended Clapham All-Age School, Black River High School, and the Kenilworth HEART Academy. At HEART, Fletcher was trained as a garde manger chef and later proceeded to work at the Wyndham Hotel in 2006. Fletcher was further trained as a banquet server and bartender. Fletcher excelled in the bartender training provided and became very passionate about it as a career. In 2011, Fletcher was selected as a candidate to compete with other food and beverage specialists across Jamaica in the Taste of Jamaica competition. In 2012 and 2013, Fletcher shone bright and earned two trophies, six gold medals, seven silver medals, and four bronze medals. In 2014, the management of the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa asked Fletcher to assist in the preparation of the new coffee and juice bars, which also were successful. In 2015, Fletcher was selected for the general manager Merit Award at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa.


Renee Watt — Mixologist at Chillin, Murray's Fish & Jerk Hut, Porus Clarendon

Watt's initial entry into the world of bars and bar service was in 2007 at Nan's Bar. Watt describes this experience as challenging as she knew nothing about alcohol and alcohol service, with the exception of seeing her dad, a rum lover, enjoy this libation with his friends. In 2013, she decided to focus on her career and began to research as well as engage in short courses. In 2017, Watt was employed by Kaluga Café as a bartender. During her time at Kaluga Café she further honed her skills. Watt explained that even though, at first, she found the role challenging, after a while she was dominating the bar. Watt felt very accomplished and more so as a woman dominating what is considered a man's profession. Watt furthered her skills at the JWN Academy in 2017. In 2018, Watt entered the Taste of Jamaica competition and walked away with numerous medals, winning overall second place/silver in the Bartender of the Year competition.



Continue to follow @jamaicaobserver and @bartendingacademyja for more information about the other nominees and this very prestigious and exciting designation.


Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.


Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

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