Pairings | Food and wine pairing
So what stood out in the way of food and wine matches - and pairings with other drinks - in 2013?
I’ve just spent the past two days at What Food What Wine? tasting wine alongside dishes as disparate as smoked salmon and apple crumble, Stilton and steak and lasagne and lamb - a bit of an assault on the palate (and stomach!) but one of the best ways to work out what wine really works with your favourite recipes
Over lunch with Peter Klosse the other day I re-discovered what a huge difference the way an ingredient is cooked and sauced can make to the wine you choose.
I went to a really interesting seminar last week on matching champagne with food. It was based on the chemical compounds flavourist Danny Hodrien of F & F projects had identified in Mumm champagnes using gas chromatography, solid phase micro-extraction and mass spectrometry (No, I don’t know what they are either). Based on those findings Iain Graham, the executive chef at the Caprice had devised a range of canapes that incorporated the flavours rather than seeking to complement them
There was a fascinating report in The Drinks Business this week of a speech by Dr Peter Klosse of the Academy of Gastronomy at the Fine & Rare Specialist Course in Vienna in which he argued that white wine is easier to match with food than red.
So sophisticated is the South African food and drink scene now that you can expect to find suggested wine pairings at practically every restaurant you go to but some wine farms have made even more of a feature of their skill at combining the two - a fun way of learning the art of matching food and wine.
Author (and self-proclaimed shopkeeper) Sally Butcher of Persepolis asks whether Grenache rosé reminds you of patchouli and Malbec of Beethoven. And are we missing out if we’re not fellow synaesthetes?
The results of this year’s What Food, What Wine? competition were announced yesterday and, as in previous years, I’m sure eyebrows will be raised at some of the trophy winners.
This week I had a really fascinating vegetarian tasting menu at the Lecture Room and Library at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s London restaurant. The sommelier, Fred Brugues, claims not to believe in food and wine matching (too complicated, he says, with large tables all ordering different dishes) but he actually came up with some inspired pairings.
One of the problems about today’s ultra-complicated restaurant food is that dishes tend to be what I once heard aptly described as ‘ingredient-heavy’. Which can mean that a wine of character may just be one flavour too much.
One of the most useful tricks to master, especially when you’re dealing with a tricky-to-match ingredient, is to introduce a ‘bridge’ ingredient - in other words an element in the dish that makes it easier to pair with the wine you want to drink. It can be something as simple as cream or mashed potato or something rather more specific that picks out a flavour in the wine you’re serving.