Markus Iseli, who just left Ningxia as the GM of Kempinski Yinchuan Hotel, talks about his Ningxia wine dinners, the best wineries to visit and what local wine pairs with cheese fondue, a dish from his native land.
1 You did a series of Ningxia wine dinners at the Kempinski this year. What inspired the project?
This unique location where I combine Western delicacies and local wines from boutique Ningxia wineries. This is to promote food and wine pairing culture as well as to spread Ningxia wine culture around the world.
2 Who is the typical guest at these dinners? Those with wine experience or novices?
Both I would say. All guests have their own unique wine viewpoints. Most have wine experience and some like to experience how Western food can be paired with local wines.
3 Cheese fondue is among the famous dishes from your homeland, Switzerland. What Ningxia wine would you pair?
Kanaan Riesling or the Kempinski house wine, which I created together with Kanaan winery. It provides a nice crispness and balanced acidity.
4 You are pretty handy in the kitchen. Have you tried making local foods?
Yes, I did, especially lamb dishes for which Yinchuan is known.
5 If a hotel guest knows wine pretty well and wants to visit three Ningxia wineries in one afternoon, where would you recommend?
Kanaan Winery, Jia Bei Lan Estate [Helan Qing Xue] and Lansai.
6 The Kempinski’s bar is also known for beer! Do you ever “double down” with beer and wine?
Absolutely. Start with a few beers as an aperitif and continue with wine, depending on the food to be consumed. It’s common in our country to start with a beer before dinner.
7 What Ningxia wines do you regularly list in the hotel’s restaurants?
Domaine Helan Mountain, Chateau Hedong, Kanaan, Jade, Xige Estate, Jia Bei Lan Estate [Helan Qing Xue] and Mihope. We keep on adding, focusing on niche and boutique wineries.
8. How do you spend your free time in Yinchuan / Ningxia?
Creating new dishes and tasting at local wineries to explore the culture of food and wine pairing. Besides that, hiking and biking provide a great work-life balance.
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