Every night as the kitchen fills with tantalising aromas there is an important decision to be made: what wine will be the perfect match for the food?
The old adage that white wines go with white meats and red wines go with red meats is a useful start but there are several other things to consider. One of the most crucial is the ‘weight’ of a wine, which is largely driven by alcohol content.
In general, lighter wines are best enjoyed with lighter dishes. A sparkling wine or a riesling may only contain 12% alcohol and will work a treat with lighter weight seafoods, such as oysters or sashimi. But a richer seafood dish in creamy sauce demands a wine with more weight, perhaps one of our chardonnays. White wines work well with salmon or prawns but our Pinot Rosé works beautifully too. Rosé is really versatile and can be matched with all sorts of rice and pasta dishes.
Higher alcohol wines tend to go better with heavier dishes. When there is a chicken roasting in the oven we’ll normally pull out a chardonnay but if duck is on the menu its richer flavours really demand pinot noir.
Mid-weight meats, pork for instance, can work equally well with a full-bodied white wine or a lighter bodied red, such as our Pinot Noir. Lamb tends to go nicely with a big pinot or an elegant, cool climate shiraz, or maybe a sangiovese. Mid-weight wines. If slow-cooked beef is hitting the table then perhaps it’s time to pull out a full-bodied shiraz. However, we tend to steer clear of the big monsters with 15-16% alcohol as they can dominate rather than complement a meal.
So far, so good, especially if you enjoy French and Italian cuisines which evolved with wine as the expected accompaniment.
Spicy Asian cuisine poses more of a challenge as chili can really argue with oak in chardonnay and tannin in red wines. This is where off-dry white wines, such as our Le Moche, come into their own - their gentle sweetness tending to quench the fire in chili. Not surprisingly, off-dry wines also tend to work nicely with foods carrying a little sweetness, like many Thai dishes, whereas dry wines can just taste too dry with foods like these.
Matching really sweet wines with foods is another story. Some advice: don’t drink dessert wines with dessert! We drink sweet wines, such as our La Belle Riesling, with cheese or a terrine. The combination of protein and fat in these foods being the perfect foil for the intense sweetness in the wine.
So, there are no hard and fast rules for matching wine with food, just broad guidelines. Feel free to experiment and see what works for you.