When I first decided to start blogging I’d just moved back to Sydney and had decided to give the world of winemaking a break. A job where your feet weren’t wet all the time and where there was no need to lift heavy things was all I was after really.
At the time I thought that I’d go back to the wine world at some stage. But in the mean time I decided stick to showing my love for wine by just drinking it whenever I could and of course blogging about it every now and then.
Three years later and I’ve enjoyed many a tasty glass (Ok, bottle) of vino and have no plans to go back to the drudgery of winemaking. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that my blogging has remained very food-centric. But I do still love my wine and have recently had the pleasure of collaborating with a couple of Sydney wine entrepreneurs as their food correspondent.
So I thought that this week I’d share with you a piece I wrote for the gals at Kampai. It’s really my philosophy on how to maximise the pleasure in your food and wine partnerships that I’ve pulled together in the form of some basic ‘rules’. Please enjoy and feel free to add in any of your own tips for making the marriage between wine and food a rich and rewarding one…. all good things.
the stonesoup food & wine matching rules
i. There are no rules
OK so I know this sounds a little Monty Python-esque but really the most important thing with putting food and wine together is to use your imagination. There are no rules that work for every situation and every person so relax and don’t waste your time worrying about breaking them.
At the end of the day as long as you and your guests are enjoying yourselves then your food and wine matching has been a success, regardless of what the rules would have us believe.
ii. Match wine with people first
Just as some people always have and always will hate anchovies, some people just don’t enjoy certain styles of wine, regardless of the quality of the vino. And sure sometimes this may be based on a bad experience with a poor quality example, and if the person in question did actually try a decent Sauvignon Blanc they may find that they love it. But forcing people to try new things while you are meant to be enjoying yourselves is not going to do anyone any favours.
If you suspect that the person in question may be open to giving it another chance, by all means make the offer but please, please do not insist that they try your perfect match. No matter how well those oysters and that minerally fresh Riesling go together in your mouth, to someone who just loves to drink big reds it’s unlikely to taste any good.
So please respect that everyone’s palate is different and think about your guests and their wine preferences first and think about the food second.
iii. The food and wine must both taste great on their own
Sure duck and pinot have been known to make a little magic on the taste buds when the two are united it’s not necessarily always the case. A watery, insipid cheap pinot is still going to taste sad and bland even if it is teamed with the most tasty succulent duck confit. And the same goes for the food, if it’s not going to taste any good on its own, it is very and I mean very unlikely that your wine match, no matter how delicious, is going to make the food taste better.
iv. Weight is important
Lighter, more delicately flavoured food generally works best with lighter style wines and your heavy tannic reds tend to be best hooked up with more robust meaty dishes but of course there will always be times when a light wine could team marvelously with a heavy rich dish (see rule number v.)
v.Wine and food can contrast one another
Contrast is something that we personally love to play with. Using a light acidic wine like Hunter Valley Semillon to cut through the oiliness of fried fish and chips is always a winner. Unless of course you’re with someone who hates acidic wine (see rule ii).
v. Wine and food can compliment each other
Sometimes finding flavour similarities can result in a harmonious food & wine matching experience. Matching the earthiness of mushrooms in a mushroom risotto can work a treat with a funky earthy Pinot Noir. Or a fresh minty Cabernet Sauvignon to compliment your classic roast lamb with mint sauce can also be a flavour explosion.
vi. Trust your own instincts.
Like most things in life, if it feels like it’s a bit dodgy and it isn’t going to work then you’re probably on the right track. But of course it isn’t going to be the end of the world if the food and wine are more at the divorce end of the relationship spectrum as long as you follow rule number three, you’ll be able to enjoy each on their own. A judicious sip of palate cleansing water in between mouthfuls can make all the difference.
Check out Kampai.com.au for some recipes and ideas for food and wine matching. And while you’re at it check out their online wine store or if you’re based in Sydney even go all out and book yourself in for a Kampai wine tasting.