Role reversal at Quebec City restaurant: Diners choose the wine before the food

The Canadian Press

QUEBEC - An upscale restaurant in Quebec City's Old Port says it has come up with a "reinvented dining experience" that puts wine front and centre.

Instead of choosing the food and then deciding on an appropriate wine, diners at Auberge Saint-Antoine's Panache restaurant can do it the other way around.

With the once-a-week "reverse wine and food tasting program," guests start by discussing their preferred wine styles with the sommelier, said Ingrid Lemm, director of sales and marketing for the Relais & Chateaux member hotel.

After that, chef Julien Dumas prepares four courses that match. The restaurant emphasizes French-Canadian cuisine with local, seasonal produce.

Panache, housed in a former 19th-century warehouse, boasts a 40-page wine list and a cellar housing more than 12,000 bottles.

"It's really huge," Lemm says of the inventory. "When people see our wine list, they go 'Wow.'"

The new program is intended to spotlight the richness of the cellar — which Lemm calls "a well-kept secret" — and the five-member team of sommeliers.

"La Table du Sommelier," priced at $120 per person which includes a glass of wine with each course, starts Feb. 27.