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Matching Food & Wine

Wine and food matching is the process of pairing food dishes with wine to enhance the dining experience.  It can be a terrific way of enhancing the flavours and enjoyment of both the food and wine, and with just a few simple guidelines, you can find your perfect match.

Matching food and wine is as much about personal taste as anything else. Often billed as a complicated science, food and wine pairing is really fairly straightforward, but there’s just a few simple rules to stick to.  Firstly, consider all the primary characteristics of the food: the weight, flavour (intensity and character) acidity, saltiness, bitterness and sweetness. Then do exactly the same thing for the wine. The idea is to try and marry up these aspects as closely as possible. For example, rich mouthfilling foods like a steak or a casserole will balance the weight and texture of a full bodied Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or even an aged Riesling.

Then have a look at the component flavours in the dish; not simply the main food ingredient but the sauces, spices or cooking technique. For example, a seared barramundi with a dash of lemon would suit a fresh Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling with its zesty lemon, lime and citrus flavours; or a steak with peppercorn sauce – try a big spicy Shiraz. Here we’re not simply looking at the flavour, but the intensity of that main flavour as well.

Here is a simple chart to help guide you on what to eat with our wines:

White Wine Varieties

 

Sparkling Cuvee
On its own as an aperitif, with salads or fish.  Other suggestions include:

  • Oysters
  • Mushrooms
  • Caviar
  • Chicken dishes
  • Fried foods

 

Semillon & Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood, chicken/turkey or creamy pasta dishes.  Other suggestions include:
Olive oil based dishes

  • Vegetable dishes
  • Pork
  • Prawns
  • Asparagus
  • Creamy cheeses

 

Riesling
Seafood such as salmon and scallops or spicy dishes.  Other suggestions include:

  • Creamy cheeses
  • Chicken or duck
  • Vegetable dishes
  • Pasta
  • Pork
  • Fruit

 

Riscato
On its own as an aperitif or with spicy dishes.  Other suggestions include:

  • Spring rolls
  • Sushi
  • Spicy foods
  • Camembert cheese

 

Botrytis Semillon
Fruit desserts and cheese platters particularly with blue cheeses.  Other suggestions include:

  • Peach tart tatin
  • Mousses
  • Creme brulee
  • Fruit flan or tart

Red Wine Varieties

 

Shiraz

Barbecued red meats, mushrooms and aged cheeses.  Other suggestions include:

  • Beef
  • Rich, spicy meals
  • Veal and kangaroo
  • Duck and pork
  • Mexican food
  • Tuna and barramundi

 

Merlot

Light meats such as duck, quail and veal, and pasta dishes.  Other suggestions include:

  • Roast lamb
  • Beef
  • Pizza
  • Antipasto
  • Creamy cheese

 

Cabernet Shiraz

Pasta or gnocchi with a meat based sauce or vegetarian pizza.  Other suggestions include:

  • Beef
  • Rich, spicy meals
  • Pheasant, pigeon, quail
  • Duck
  • Pork
  • Tuna

 

Cabernet Merlot

Steak or game meats, and tomato based pasta dishes.  Other suggestions include:

  • Lamb and pork
  • Pizza
  • Vegetable dishes
  • Tuna
  • Risotto
  • Turkey, chicken and rabbit

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Braised and roasted meats with vegetables, and aromatic herbs. Other suggestions include:

  • Beef and lamb
  • Duck and pork
  • Tomato based pasta dishes
  • Kangaroo
  • Casseroles
  • Robust cheeses

Tannins and Acids

 

Cleanse the palate with tannins or acids.  If you’re eating a relatively rich, ‘fatty’ dish and thinking about drinking a red wine (when you eat a beef steak, for example) you probably want a wine with some good tannins in it to help cleanse the palate.

If you’re eating a very rich, ‘fatty’ dish and thinking about drinking a white wine (when you eat fried chicken, for example) you probably want to contrast the meal with a refreshingly crisp acidic wine such as a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. You can ignore this rule for dishes that are just relatively fatty – such as Chicken in Cream Sauce – which will probably do better with a rich aged white that can match their rich flavors.

More about Tannins – Tannins can come from many places, including the skins and seeds of the grapes used in winemaking as well as the wood barrels a wine may have been aged in.  Tannin tastes similar to the flavor you would get if you sucked on a tea bag.  This astringent flavor is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal.

Why the Red tongue?

 

So glad you asked.  It is a well known fact that red wines can stain your tongue and teeth.  The myth being low quality wines will stain more, quite the contrary, good quality wines will often create more staining.

 

The main stain-causing component in red wines is the skin pigment of the grapes that mingle with the juice for a certain amount of time before, during and sometimes after fermentation thus giving the wine it’s colour.  The level of skin pigmentation in a grape, known as anthocyanins, is affected by many factors including the grape variety (Petite Sirah is darker than Pinot Noir), climate, farming techniques, among many others.

For example, increased exposure of grapes to sunlight will result in higher anthocyanins, so certain canopy management methods can be employed to control this.  Additionally, warmer climates tend to produce grapes of less red skin color than cooler climates.  Increasing the amount of time the juice is in contact with the grape skins, called extended maceration, can also impart a higher level of pigmentation phenols into the resulting wine up to a point.  Possibly, extreme fining and filtering practices could actually reduce some of these phenols from being present in the resulting wine but this practice also reduces flavour and quality.  From a biological perspective, the level staining depends on how dehydrated you are and what you have eaten as well.