Wine, Whine and then more Wine!!!
I often get asked the question when I am wine pairing “where do you get your wines from and how do you decide which wines you select for pairing with each dish?”
My response to that was that I have a really… really difficult job (she says with a sigh and hand on forehead, palm facing upwards).
I mean, I get to be guinea pig when a new menu or dish is being developed. And I get to consider different types of wines that may work with the food. It’s really tough, I can assure you 😉
No… in all serious-ness, it isn’t the easiest, only because we are extremely spoilt for choice when it comes to local wine.
According to WOSA (Wines of South Africa) in 2017 there were 3 029 primary producers, 546 cellars, 48 co-operatives and 26 producing wholesalers. Looking at those numbers, I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface.
I have been exposed to roughly about 65 new labels this year. Within those labels possibly on average 4-6 wines. I try to understand all there is in relation to the wine, but with all these different wines, the question is how do you select, and settle on something that is appropriate for a specific dish?
Firstly, I must state off the bat, I support our local hero’s. We have some magnificent wines here, and I like to play homage to these local winemaker heros and their wines.
And even further to that I believe (contrary to aficionados) that there is no exact science.
Some wine tastings I have been to.
I get invited to wine tastings on a weekly basis, whether it is attending a wine tasting or fortunately having a wine maker come to Est Est Alea to showcase their wines. And each time I am exposed to these wines, I try to ensure that I have understood all aspects of these wines.
I do admit, I have my “go to’s” and favourites.
Confession time – I am a sucker for anything Burgundy style, your Pinot Noirs, Puilly Montrachets (red or white), Gammy Noirs or Chablis. Having lived in London for nearly 15 years allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively through Europe, and with that travelling came a lot of wine drinking. I couldn’t tell you now any labels that stood out, but what I do know is that Italy has some 377 varietals and France 56 varietals. We (South Africa) grow 43 varietals. Talk about not even scratching the surface.
A few wines I discovered whilst recently visiting London.
But I have to be objective with the wines, I can’t just pair a Pouilly Montrachet style wine with every course (DAMN!!!), and so comes the challenge of deciding what wine goes with which dish.
I have a great appreciation for the process of devising a new dish. Dario unfortunately doesn’t just press “Apple + Create Dish” on his Mac and Voila! a dish is “magic-ed” up – which I am sure you’ve come to understand in his first blog of devising a menu. There is a long process of ensuring all the elements to the dish work.
I do try to completely understand the components of each dish:
- the elements that go into the dishes
- the taste profiles from the dishes
- and the textures
Once the dish has been finalised it’s then a case of working through the library of varietals in my head which should work with the various dishes. But then it’s a case of constantly refining and changing… as the dishes are constantly perfected, so do the wines and the pairings.
It was just the other day a Pinotage I recently found goes really well with our MOQUECA DE CAMARÃO e LAGOSTA (essentially a fish stew that draws from South American sour flavor notes). I tasted the Pinotage, and realised it had almost green plum flavours with velvety tannins. The Moqueca having those sour notes, really highlighted the wine or vice versa and the soft velvety tannins just balanced the palate. Oh, and I am completely breaking the rules here… I hear you say “fish and red wine she’s making the biggest faux pas”. It works though!
Tonight, whilst finishing off this blog, I had our Blackened Chicken Pilzcadas (haven’t had that in a while) and ran into the bar to taste a Viognier I have just received delivery of… my goodness what a match made in heaven.
So you see, it’s a constant evolutionary process, one which will never be complete, no matter how long we keep the menu running for, and equally whenever you join us for dinner, and you decide on the wine pairing, expect something different to be served as your wine, in most cases.
However, there is one last and final thought… some wines nowadays will have on the back of the label what food is good to pair with the wine. I sometimes like to be a rebel and not even consider that… but here’s a thought, maybe I can ask Dario to devise a menu from the back of wine bottles, could make for an easier job for us, which could lead to more time on the golf course 😉