The Jakarta Post
Wine as a social lubricant and a mood-creating beverage can make or break a meal or special celebration. The following are some tips for matching the right libations to five very different types of occasion.
Pairing with Indonesian food
Rich, full-bodied wines can best neutralize spicy foods or balance the creaminess of coconut milk, a common ingredient in Indonesian dishes, says Ebby Reyhani, the corporate wine ambassador at VIN+ wine bar. He cites Morgon and Moulin-Ã -Vent, two varieties of Beaujolais Crus, as examples. Made from the Gamay grape, Beaujolais Crus is the highest Beaujolais classification and as such its product is darker in color, longer-lived and heartier.
'In both cases ' because it doesn't have too much tannin, it's a good fruit, it's not too sweet, not too dry ' it's a very safe bet,' assures Reyhani, referring to the bitter-tasting polyphenol found in the immature fruit, leaves and bark of plants. Conversely, tannin-concentrated wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Montepulciano, only fan the flames where pepper is concerned. 'It's a bit like drinking Coca Cola and biting on a chili,' he warns.
Wedding celebrations, formal events
A recurring misassumption is that ritzy events require high-priced wines. Even more important is finding one that spans guests' disparate tastes, says Reyhani. 'If you go for very specific regions which have very unique, powerful characteristics, one person might love it, one person might hate it. If you go for something that's neither too fruity, neither too spicy, neither too tannic [nor] too acidic then it might not be the best wine in the world for somebody but you can please a whole crowd.'
Fortunately, these crowd-pleasing vintages also tend to be mid-range pricewise, says Reyhani. 'Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignons are great; it's a slightly warmer climate than Bordeaux so you get riper fruits but you also get a little bit of tannin in there.'
He also recommends the
CÃ´tes du RhÃ´ne wines made
from Grenache grapes, one of the mostly widel planted grape varieties in the world. 'That gives you white wine that doesn't have too much acidity [and which] has a nice roundness to it.' Marlborough Sauvignon blancs, he adds, are the most reliably 'middle ground' wines. 'They're crispy, they're aromatic, they're not too expensive as well but they're not the cheapest wines, either.'
A semi-casual celebration
Sparkling wine adds literal and metaphorical fizz to any semi-swanky get-together, such as
a wedding anniversary or birthday celebration. 'Australia does
some really, really good sparkling wines these days ' Argentina do, Chile do. But you can't beat champagne. Champagne is by far the best for any celebration,' Reyhani says. Try Argentine Pinot noir and Australian Shiraz or Chardonnay.
A romantic dinner
When striving to impress, people tend to fall back on status-symbol varieties, says Reyhani. 'The great thing about a romantic dinner for me is you always go French,' he chuckles. Naturally, these premium wines are pricier for being mainstays. 'You could go for a nice vintage ChÃ¢teau Margaux or ChÃ¢teau Haut-Brion or a RomanÃ©e Conti [...] If you go for those iconic wines, it impresses, it looks good and it shows that you're making the effort.'
The wallet-friendly alternative is, again, champagne, says Nicholas Delion, export manager for the Asia Pacific region at Champagne Taittinger. 'If you talk to Mr. Taittinger, he would say champagne is half a premium wine and half a symbol. And
if you disregard one of the two aspects, then you're wasting your money in one way. The idea is to transform a normal moment
into a special moment. That's something that champagne does which not many other wines do,' Delion says.
Novice drinkers should begin by building on established preferences, says Reyhani. 'I start by asking them what they drink normally, because say, for example, if people drink iced tea without sugar or iced tea with lots of sugar then there's a good chance that they're going to have different tastes.' The less sugar-inclined may gravitate toward drier (less sweet) wines with higher tannin levels, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
The sweet tooth, meanwhile, may appreciate a dessert wine such as the fruity, floral-scented Moscato d'Asti, German Auslese Riesling or Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. 'The best thing to do is not to get too expensive [...] If you go straight to the top end, the more expensive wines are harder to drink, harder to understand
and it can scare people away,' warns Reyhani.