The choices are endless, and there’s only so much we can gather from the label. It’s also impossible to judge a bottle’s agreeability based on the price tag, if the Judgement of Paris (a monumental blind tasting held in 1976 where esteemed French judges chose California wines over France’s best) is anything to go by. Which is why we need sommeliers and convivial wine places like Rebel Rebel to expand our limited vino horizons, so we can drink more of the good stuff.
The name gives it away: Rebel Rebel rallies behind rebellious viticulturists who are disrupting the wine industry with their small-batch, terroir-driven bottles made with minimal intervention. In other words, expect fantastic wines from regions you wouldn’t expect and makers you’ve never heard of. Burgundies, grower champagnes, roses, whites, reds, skin contacts, and rare old vintages of both Old and New Worlds make up the 200-bottle strong list. But don’t be afraid of the unknown or paralysed by the wide variety. That’s part of the fun. Should you need someone to point you to the right direction, the folks at Rebel Rebel are more than happy to share the stories behind the labels.
If you’d heed our humble recommendations, the 2019 Fujimaru Table Top Daidai Iro, available by the glass for low-risk enjoyment, is a great place to start your exploration of non-traditional wine. A pink-tinged skin contact (in which juice from white grapes sit in contact with their skins during production), the house-made Daidai Iro is incredibly aromatic on the nose like a fruity perfume, with hints of guava that continue onto the palate, and a surprisingly dry finish. The 2018 Pure Oh!rigine 2018 from Les Bertrand in Beaujolais is also a delightful pick if you like the sound of a light-bodied red that has fresh, juicy flavours of cherries and plum and a touch of minerality.
We could go on and on about the wines — Rebel Rebel is a treasure trove of lovely vino tales — but there’s something to be said about chef Deborah Yeo’s food. She has quite the resume, having worked with Dave Pynt at Burnt Ends and The Ledge at The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, so we’d say skip the cheese and charcuterie (although they are on the menu for nibbles) if you want a taste of her culinary risk-taking. Instead, get the whipped pork fat with crunchy farro and barley, and slather it generously on thick slices of excellent, slightly charred sourdough. Try the riotous octopus, which is marinated for 48 hours and tossed with olives, sun dried tomatoes, corn, coriander, and chillies for big Southeast Asian flavours. The pig’s head tagliatelle is further evidence of Yeo’s flair in using unexpected pig’s parts: al dente pasta combines fried pig’s face, lime, chilli and topped with fried pig’s ears for a spicy, glorious mess. Finish with the lime-coated churros, which is accompanied by a curious, salty-sweet miso chocolate dipping sauce.
Chances are, you’ll leave wanting more out of Rebel Rebel — if not for Yeo’s toothsome plates, then for the discovery of trendy and exotic viticulture. Because having some solid feel-good food and wine, especially those that challenge your tastebuds, can help shake up a funk.
Rebel Rebel, 14 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089828, +65 94317040