Operation Dagger’s Cabbage Wine. By Natasha Hong.
What is it? ‘Natural’ wine, but when it’s uttered by Operation Dagger’s Luke Whearty, you know he’s moved the conversation beyond the wine world’s current biodynamic sweetheart. The barman’s been fermenting mead, tepache and banana wines for intrepid sippers in his caged lab since the basement bar’s inception in 2015. Now, he’s tasked a shy understudy, Sasha, to take the experiment to new shades of flavour for the bar’s suite of Dangerous Drinking Water. Cabbage Wine is the product of her r&d. Looking up pairings for the earthy flavoured leaves threw up complements like rose for its top notes and apples for tartness. After tinkering with ratios, her perfected recipe joins other such vegetable and fruit wines like the Tomberry (fermented cherry tomatoes, pickled strawberries in junmai daiginjo) on the menu.
How is it made? Red cabbage, rose vinegar and red apples ferment in naturally occurring lactobacillus cultures on a high shelf in the bar’s cool, underground room for a week. Asked if he’s ever worried about the clientele bringing in bad cultures to contaminate his open fermentation set-up, he quips, “I’m more worried about the bad attitudes.” Practical.
How does it taste? Lacto’s signature, palate-whetting tang, and sweetness that cleans up after itself with floral notes and tartness opens up food pairing possibilities for this naturally fuchsia pink drink. Doing just that was Modern Australian restaurant Cheek by Jowl at a collaboration dinner with the bar, where this wine was paired with chef Rishi Naleendra’s soy and ginger-inflected pork belly with pig ears and miso. A match that hits the spot.
Operation Dagger 7 Ann Siang Hill, #B1-01, Singapore, +65 6438 4057, www.fb.com/operationdagger.