The Art of Food and Wine matching does have some specific rules, but this should never interfere with your ability and right to experiment. In my work as a Master of Wine, I have worked in all parts of the globe, with a potpourri of cuisines. Here is a list of 17 great wine and food matches that you may have never considered…
A great Chianti Classico from Tuscany with duck – Pinot Noir is the traditional match considered, but a great ripe Chianti from a quality area is a terrific match. The natural acidity of the grape Sangiovese cuts through the fattiness of the duck, and the firm tannins soften and round out with the influence of the duck fat…Yum!
Aged Hunter Valley Semillon with vegetable samosas – The delicate herbal/citrus nuances of a lovely Hunter Semillon marry beautifully with a spicy vegetable samosa. Note a few years bottle age is essential. Young Semillon is too tart and lean.
Grenache, or Grenache/Shiraz /Mourvedre blend from the Barossa or McLaren Vale in South Australia with mid spicy Indian/Sri Lankan meat curry – The heat of these curries can be problematic for wine. If you are desperate for a red, rather than a beer, try these wines. The soft ripe fruit, rounded tannins and mouth filling characteristics of these wines, with a hint of spiciness, are a perfect foil for a curry. More tannic wines potentiate the heat of the curry, with in turns makes the wine seem hard and stripped of fruit.
Sauternes with blue cheese – Perhaps not a match that would come to mind straight away, but the intense saltiness of pungency of say a great Gorgonzola is perfectly harmonised by a lovely Sauternes. Try one from Sauternes or for a slightly lighter framed version, Barsac in France.
Chablis and oysters – Chablis is a lean, minerally driven Chardonnay from Chablis in France. These wines have a wonderful nuance of the sea and marine influences, that are a perfect match with the saltiness of oysters.
PX or Pedro Ximenez and chocolate – A sweet, treacle like deep brown sweet wine from the Sherry region of Southern Spain, which is an extraordinary match with chocolate. Try pouring over Ice Cream in summer too!
Bollinger and Parmigiano Reggiano – The richer, Pinot dominant characteristics of Bollinger with its intense yeastiness, is an amazing match with this classic cheese from Italy. Sit in a quiet corner and be prepared to be enthralled!
Sparkling Shiraz and bitter dark chocolate – The old vine Sparking Shiraz’s coming out of the Barossa and McLaren Vale are an experience in themselves. rich black berry fruit, in a Sparkling wine frame, chilled, and magnificent. Although usually associated with Christmas Turkey in this country, try it with a piece of bitter dark chocolate. Much South Australian Shiraz is matured in American Oak, and the overwhelming nuances of coconut and vanilla are a terrific foil for this black beauty of a wine.
Dry Amontillado Sherry and spicy Chinese dishes in XO sauce– In general, there is a resistance to consider Sherry in any form, due to the perception that is always sickly sweet. The alcohol levels and the dry nuttiness of these wines is a magnificent match with these spicy Chinese dishes. Serve the sherry chilled
Tempranillo and lamb – Tempranillo, a grape indigenous to Spain in areas such as Rioja and the Ribera del Duero, is also making its presence felt in many of the wine regions of Australia. The leafy tobacco notes, similar to Cabernet, without the deeply tannic, tight dry characteristics, makes this a great, if you like “lighter” alternative combination to try.
Sauvignon Blanc and goats cheese – The naturally high acidity of both wine and food, and that racy herbaceousness so much part of great Sauvignon Blanc, is a great match with the fresh tart acidity of a lovely fresh piece of Goats Cheers
Rose and Paella – We seem to have a natural resistance to considering Rose wines with food in this country, yet it’s fresh light strawberry characters and refreshing qualities is a perfect match to our climate. Imagine you are on the Costa de Sol, watching the sun set as the Paella and that Sparkling light pink beauty arrives to refresh your palate and touch your soul.
Fino dry Sherry and grilled fish – Once upon a time, when wines averaged 12-13% alcohol, Sherry could be discounted based on alcohol levels alone. But a great Fino (try a Manzanilla Fino from Jerez in Spain) is around 15% alcohol, and chilled it is a magnificent match to grilled sardines on the barby. The Manzanilla Sherries from Sanluca de Barrameda have an amazing nutty/saltiness, influenced as much by the maritime influence on the grapes as the grapes themselves.
Riesling and any seafood! – Again, there is a common misconception that all Riesling I sweet. Perhaps this is a leftover from the student, cask drinking days, but a great dry Riesling from Clare Valley in South Australia has an intense limey minerality that is a great combination with any fresh piece of fish.
Off dry whites and Thai food – The use of sugar in many Thai dishes allows us to utilise the many great slightly sweet wines of the world to match beautifully with Thai food. GO to Germany, look for a Kabinett or Spatlese style Riesling wine, and the residual sugar in the wine, the natural freshness and mineral qualities of these wines is a great combination with most Thai dishes, except for very hot curries.
Moscato d’Asti and fresh fruit – Every time I serve this wine to a guest for the first time, they are blown away by the experience. The wine originates from Piedmonte in North West Italy. It is frizzante (lightly Sparkling), only 5.5 % alcohol, and the lovely grapey qualities of the fruit is perfect for sitting under a tree and enjoy fresh chilled stone fruit especially.
Topaque (formerly Tokay) and nuts, dried fruit and chocolate – These beautiful fortified wines from Rutherglen are a heavenly match to nuts, dried fruit and chocolate at the end of a meal. Small volumes to start with, but your resistance to more will be tested. The intense “rancio” nuttiness and sweetness of these wines is a perfect way to end a great night out.
- Dr Ron Georgiou MW is one of 301 Masters of Wine in the world, His consultancy company, The Wine Oracle (www.wineoracle.com) works with major hotels and resorts and corporate entities around the world, designing cutting edge wine programs, underwater cellars and unique wine based events. His strong belief is that wine is a multi-sensorial experience that moves beyond taste and smell to one’s heart, spirit and mind”
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