Perfecting the fine art of food and wine matching takes nothing more than practice. And what better way to hone your expertise than diving in to the sinful world of gluttony.
There are times it just goes all wrong but those are out weighed massively for the times it goes all right!
Just before Christmas I was invited by Scott Burton (@scottburton) of Cube Communications to what seemed to be a very interesting food and wine tasting: ‘we’ll see if top end Aussie wine can stand up to Michelin starred French cuisine’.
Hmmmm…Besides steak I didn’t know Oz had anything ‘top end’, and the restaurant was Roussillon so I at least knew one variable in the equation would work out!
Each dish matched individually to a McGuigan wine – and must say overall Roussillon’s food is superb.
Here are descriptions of my three favourite food and wine matchings (out of the 5)
Milk Fed Lamb & Thyme – Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Lamb and Bordeaux is a classic food and wine match and the Aussie substitute didn’t by any means back down from this challenge.
There was loads of blackcurrant with this Cabernet but also a mistletoe/mint leaf flavour that slotted in like a puzzle piece with the thyme rubbed lamb.
Lobster & Purple Basil – Light Lobster Bisque infused with Purple Basil, Scallops & Confit Tomatoes Tortellini Mcguigan’s Earth’s Portrait Riesling 2004
Matching a wine here would be especially difficult as it would need to fit snugly between the buttery exploding richness of the lobster bisque and the delicate scallop flavour and texture.
Riesling is perfect for the job! And Earth’s Portrait is an amazing example of what Australia can do with grape. The distinct Riesling nose of kerosin/diesel backed by raw peach and stone fruits filled the acidity gaps in the dish. The wine is very fresh too and almost cleans the palate with every sip, that is despite it being 6 years old.
Riesling is a go to wine for many of London’s sommeliers, the Aus stuff is especially good for matching with a variety of winged and finned foods.
Wild Sea Bass & Razor Clams with Sechuan Pepper matched perfectly with the Bin 9000 Semillon 2003
Australian Semillon is some of the best in the world and, as you can see, this wine came littered with awards. This little guy threw out pear skin and apple pulp from the glass and was especially crisp.
Bin 9000 went perfect with the fish/clam duo – the sea aromas from the plate stacked up well with the chalky/mineral/saline sparkling water flavours in the wine. But even better, the wine did not shy away from the light touch of spiciness in the dish.
When things get spicy in food it’s usually time to call up some off-dry and even semi-sweet wine, but no, this dry bastard was having none of it!
Above all the combined freshness of the wine and food really stood out.
Sadly, you won’t find any of these premium wines in the UK, however, I’ve heard reliable rumours that Tesco.com will be doing a VERY limited premium mix case soonish and it might have some of this stuff in it…..stay tuned I will let you know when it’s out.
Any chef who openly winds up their sommelier on Twitter deserves a mention on this blog! In fact any chef who twitters from the kitchen deserves recognition. Follow Alexis here @roussillon_sw1
Finally, had to add a picture of this guy. Neil McGuigan is chief winemaker and heir to McGuigan wines. He is hilarious, and really knows how to have a good time. Despite being completely jet-lagged and on a very regimented wine tour, he was by far the most energetic in the room.
It’s when you meet personalities like Neil that you realise all is not pompous in the wine trade.