Top pairings | Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

Top pairings

Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire

It struck me while I was there that food matching with Chenin is quite easy to explain. Treat young, fresh unoaked styles like Sauvignon Blanc - in other words think about seafood and salads and richer, fuller styles in the same way as white burgundy or Viognier.

Here are some suggestions - some of which will, of course, apply to other Chenin Blancs.

Fresh crisp young zesty Chenin Blanc

All kinds of fresh seafood including crab, prawns and, most particularly, oysters

Seafood tartares like tuna tartare or salmon and avocado tartare

In fact, avocado generally

Smoked salmon or trout

Fish and chips

Salt and pepper squid

Fish patés

Sushi

Spring vegetables like asparagus and peas (see this pairing with asparagus mousse at Rust-en-Vrede)

Salads, especially chicken, cheese or ham salads or ones containing apples or pears. Chenin Blanc can handle an element of fruit

Light seafood pasta dishes and risottos

Goats cheese

Medium bodied smooth or old vine Chenin Blanc (made more in the style of an unoaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Blanc) will work with many of the dishes above but also:

Scallops (wonderful with Chenin)

Simply cooked fish dishes

Fishcakes

Cooked egg dishes like quiches, frittatas and omelettes

Onion tart

Mild cheeses like Caerphilly and white-rinded cheeses like Brie so long as they're not too ripe.

Richer, fuller styles more similar to an oaked chardonnay or Viognier:

Almost anything with a creamy sauce - a good fish pie, for example or chicken with a cream and mushroom sauce.

Richer fish dishes such as salmon en croute

Scallops (again)

Lobster

Roast chicken

Roast pork belly, especially with apple sauce

Roast root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes

Roast butternut squash

Medium-dry chenins with a touch of sweetness

Can handle spicy food particularly those containing some kind of fruit such as Cape Malay or other mild, fruity curries

Southeast Asian-inspired salads

Gravadlax - Chenin is one of the few wines that can handle that devilishly difficult sweet mustard sauce

Sweet chenin

Always wonderful with apple or pear tarts

Peach and apricot-flavoured desserts like a peach and blueberry cobbler

And try with cheese served with a fruit compote like this white cheddar and spiced apricot compote

Photo © Ricardo Garza - Fotolia.com

Do you have any favourite pairings for Chenin I've missed out?

Got other ideas? Do email your favourite pairings to us at greatmatches@matchingfoodandwine.com. To subscribe to our free monthly newsletter and be eligible to enter our fabulous prize draws click here or to get notice of posts as soon as they're published click here.

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