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
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
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
Cooked egg dishes like quiches, frittatas and omelettes
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
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
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?
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