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The perfect match: How to find the right culinary pairing for your favorite wine

Sebastian Partogi

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, April 25, 2017  /  11:12 am
The perfect match: How to find the right culinary pairing for your favorite wine

Wine is perhaps one of the oldest drinks in the history of mankind. (Shutterstock/File)

Wine is perhaps one of the oldest drinks in the history of mankind. It is a great drink by itself, but when you consume it with the right food pairing, both the food and the wine enhance your palatial enjoyment, bringing it to a higher level.

People’s tastes are very personal; therefore it can be difficult to come up with exact rules on food-and-wine pairing, according to the Vasse Felix head of sales and marketing and wine expert, Lloyd Constantine. Although he encourages you to be more adventurous, he does give some advice to beginners on where to start with their food-and-wine pairing experience.

Some basics

According to sources gathered online by J+, many pairings that are considered classics today originated from a centuries-old relationship between a region’s cuisine and the wines they produce.

In Europe, to cite an example, lamb was a staple meat of the diet in many areas that today are leading wine regions. The red wine-lamb meat pairing has also been adopted by other regions such as Bordeaux, Rhone and Provence in France, Greece, Rioja and Ribera Del Duero in Spain.

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Historically, the Italians also rarely dined without wine and a region’s wine was crafted to be food friendly, often with bright acidity. While some Italian wines may seem lean or tart by themselves. They often will showcase a very different palatial profile when paired with boldly flavored Italian foods.

“Basically, the flavors of wine will differ according to the place where they are planted. Different soil minerals, wind intensity and temperature will produce different yeast components. This is why the best chardonnays and sauvignons always come from only one tiny little block, which happens to be the best plot of land in that area for wine-growing,” Constantine explained to J+ during an interview at the Shangri-La Hotel’s Rosso restaurant on the sidelines of a wine and dine event recently organized in cooperation with wine restaurant and lounge VIN+ in Jakarta.

VIN+ was established in Kemang, South Jakarta, in 2004 and has expanded by opening a retail shop in the Central Park Mall, as well as wine boutiques in Senayan Arcadia and Street Gallery at Pondok Indah. VIN+ Seminyak Bali, meanwhile, is a restaurant, lounge and retail space. Currently, it has an inventory of more than 1,000 labels, including Vasse Felix, from more than 10 wine-growing regions in the world.

“Get some guidelines before you buy in order not to waste your money,” he suggested. For beginners who would like to understand the different types of wine as well as their flavors, Constantine suggested a number of high-quality resources you can go to as points of reference, such as the website and books by Australian wine writer, maker and critic James Halliday.

“Generally, red wines get better with age, but for the delicate and aromatic ones, drink young,” he said.

How to find the right match

“The basic foundation of foodand-wine pairing is making sure that neither the food nor the wine overpowers one another’s taste. In a way, there has to be a balance between both. When you can find the right match, the food could actually make the wine taste better,” Constantine explained.

You also have to adjust the strength of the wine flavor to that of the food so that the food’s flavor will not be destroyed by the strong wine.

Read also: Drinking wine a form of exercise, study says

For instance, if you like to drink chardonnay from the Margaret River area in Western Australia, which has a fruity yet light flavor, it will make a great match for strong seafood. Chardonnay also works for foods that are more delicate and have high acidity, such as seafood or sashimi. When you eat red meat with strong taste, however, go for a darker red wine, which has a stronger taste.

Apparently, in real life, wine lovers are looking for taste compatibility when finding the right food match for their wine.

According to VIN+ Kemang chef Deni Sugiarto, the best-selling food-wine pairing in the outlet is wild flower ginger chicken (ayam kecombrang) served with Filius Cabernet Merlot produced by Vasse Felix.

“The combination between the chicken’s flavor, which has many spices and herbs, and the fresh and fruity taste of the Cabernet Merlot, works together to create a desirable taste,” Deni said.

Once you know the basics of wine-and-food pairing, you could go beyond these basic standards to discover the match that works best for you.

“It’s more fun to discover your favorite flavor your way. You can do it by keep trying different kinds of wine. In order to find the right match that works for a particular wine, I suggest you try eating the same dish with two different types of wine back-to-back. This way you can compare and find out what is best for you,” Constantine said.