Discover Benelux, Issue 31, July 2016

Page 54

Photo: © Kris Vlegels

Photo: © Heikki Verdurme

Photo: Divin by Sepi

Craftily selected wines, meals and finger foods TEXT: KOEN GUIKING

Any wine lover that visits Antwerp should make a stop at Divin by Sepi. This wine bar and restaurant is managed by wine connoisseur Sepideh Sedaghatnia, who was crowned ‘Benelux sommelier of the year 2013’ by the prestigious restaurant guide Gault & Millau. Sepideh Sedaghatnia, commonly known as Sepi, was just 30 years old when she received the highest prize a wine steward can win. At that moment she was the sommelier of a restaurant with two Michelin stars, which is already a remarkable achievement for someone that age. Less than two years later she 54 | Issue 31 | July 2016

opened her own ‘gastro-bar’, participated in the Flemish TV show My Pop-Up Restaurant and published a book called 69 things you have always wanted to know about wine. It shows Sedaghatnia’s ambition and work ethic, as well as her passion to share her love for good wines and flavoursome foods with others. Both the restaurant Divin by Sepi and her book are a big hit; and for obvious reasons.

Flemish cuisine with Iranian influences Besides great wines, Divin by Sepi serves excellent food, prepared with high-quality ingredients. Some products used in the kitchen are rather exotic, such as saffron,

lentils, pomegranate and pistachios. This is owed to Sedaghatnia’s roots. She grew up in Iran and came to Belgium when she was 17 years old. “My recipes are a based on Flemish cuisine, but with influences of the Iranian kitchen,” says the restaurant owner. Sedaghatnia carefully sources her products. She understands the importance of what she refers to as “terroir”; a term commonly used in the world of wines to describe the impact of environmental factors on the taste of a product. As a wine connoisseur, she has learnt that everything in the production process has an influence on the end quality – from the grape variety to the climate, soil and