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Read the full article. Start your free trial. Want to read more? Subscribe now and get unlimited digital access on web and our smartphone and tablet apps, free for your first month. Several heavily bejewelled and beautifully dressed young men are standing around gossiping and laughing as they sip Bollinger from Baccarat glasses.
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It has to be said that the whole effect is rather exotic. Von Strunckel takes us through each zodiac sign. Scorpio, tonight's theme, is identified with intense, bitter or extreme flavours and with aromas such as patchouli, anise, rosemary, pine, ginger, black pepper and turmeric. The head chef, Tim Tolley a Scorpio , explains how the menu reflects the sign's signature ''peppery intensity''. The head sommelier, Michael Simms an Aquarius , gamely links Tolley's dishes with appropriate wines. Between courses, Dove gives a fascinating master-class on scent, with each sign represented on 12 different spills laid out before us.
At one stage we are given a spill of patchouli to characterise Scorpio and one of geranium to symbolise Libra. I invite you to sniff.
There is nothing polite about this wine, nothing reticent. Think rosemary and think pine, both closely associated with this sign. We slurp away. The wine is powerful all right. It is a retsina, that pine-impregnated acquired taste from Greece. I am relieved to hear that we are not expected to finish the glass. It is vigorous, peppery and tannic - all characteristics of Scorpio.
Do you feel the aftertaste? Just like a Scorpio that always leaves something behind. Both have what I would call Scorpionic muscle.
It all gets a bit blurry at this stage, thanks to the heat of the room, the competing scents, the wine and the Moscow Mules that suddenly appear. I am not helped by the arrival of a dark chocolate fondant and white pepper ice cream with an accompanying glass of Klein Constantia dessert wine.
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As von Strunckel winds up her discourse on the last signs, I find my attention wandering. Capricorn seems to be about status and Aquarius about ideals, or it might be the other way around, and Pisces seems to love humankind. It is well past midnight when I slip away.
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It has been a novel approach to food and wine, and hugely entertaining, if outlandish. I decide that instead of being an Aries, characterised by a love of onions, I would rather be Pisces whose associated foods, flavours and tastes are typified by von Strunckel as "alcohol in general". For further details, call Plateau on Having heard Shelley von Strunckel explain that each sign of the zodiac enjoys certain flavours and aromas, I decided to undertake some research of my own.
It's written in the stars
In an act of selfless mysticism, I sat for hours poring over charts and uncorking bottles, and came up with the following groundbreaking conclusions:. Aries likes pungent, spicy flavours, so an exuberant Gewurztraminer from Alsace would be ideal. Taurus has a sweet tooth and should be looking for a top-class German Trockenbeerenauslese or Sauternes. Gemini likes sharp, snappy flavours and icy-cold drinks. Would be suited to a well-chilled, zingy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.