Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2014 Contents |WINE|
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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 21, 2014
IT'S CHRISTMAS WEEK, and I am super excited as it's
my favourite time of the year. In most kitchens there
will be serious culinary activity; as Trinidadians, we cer-
tainly know how to let the good times roll with good
food, music and drinks, from fine wines to babash. The
menu can be extensive; ham, pastelles, pork and turkey
prepared in a hundred different ways, pigeon peas,
callaloo, and the menu goes on. And let's not forget the
ponche a crème and black cake...yum...yum!
Now what are the wines we can have with these Christ-
mas dishes? The subject of pairing wines with food is
very complex, and is rooted in science, both for the wine
and food. Wine is paired to what we call "centre of the
plate," which is normally the protein, and if there is a
sauce, that changes the pairing dynamics. Wine has been
a major part of cuisine and culture since its invention.
Wine and food pairing goes back to over 250 years, but
our perception of food and the wine to go with it has
changed considerably in recent times. It is very easy to
understand that traditional wine and food pairing con-
cepts are a combination of cuisine and culture, that is,
local cuisine with local wine. In Medieval France one
would not have lived in Burgundy and drunk wines from
Bordeaux, much less Spain or Italy. Modern wine and
food pairing is primarily an invention of the last three
decades or so. Changes in our eating habits have re-
sulted in renewed consideration for how wine and food
work together, or do not work together.
• The food comes first and foremost, and the wine fol-
lows. The experience is initiated and directed by the
food and not the wine; that is, you pair wine to food,
not food to wine.
• You must have an understanding and knowledge of
the many types and styles of wines.
• Wine and food pairing is an in-mouth experience: it
does not rely on either the colour of the food and wine,
or the smell. Serving wine by colour convention (white
before red, etc.) is not a good approach to making
wine and food pairing decisions.
• There is no such thing as a single correct wine for a
particular dish or food.
• Not every component of the dish
needs to be considered, just the
dominant characteristics and chem-
istry; therefore, the starting point for
making any wine and food pairing
decisions is breaking down the dish
into its components parts.
A well-designed wine and food pairing means you can
taste the food, taste the wine, and the two together
create a third set of flavours that are better than the
flavours of the two apart.
THE FOUR BASIC PRINCIPLES
OF PAIRING WINE AND FOOD
• Marry the wine with the food --- wine can be an ingre-
dient in your recipe, either in the cooking or in prepa-
ration, e.g. marinating.
• Complement the food to the wine --- this occurs when
the food is accentuated by using something with sim-
ilar character or chemistry in the wine to bring out
that component in the food.
• Contrast the food to the wine --- this occurs when
some tension between attributes or chemistry of the
food and wine is created. Then there is extreme con-
trast, which delves far too much in science and can be
too complicated to discuss here.
• Cross-cultural pairings --- occurs when a wine is paired
to food from countries without a wine-making tradition.
As you can see, wine and food pairing can be very com-
plicated, and requires some basic knowledge of wines
and food. As a wine professional, I was also a chemistry
and culinary student; it was the only way to fully under-
stand the impact the different production and cooking
techniques have on the final product.
Back to our basic Christmas menu: pork is a favourite,
whether as baked ham or roasted, or we love to fire up
the grill and drop a couple of ribs on. Then there are
pastelles, turkey with cranberry sauce, or the thousand
other sauces we invent to go with it, and the all-time
favourite fruit cake. So what wines can be have with
our Christmas lunch or dinner?
• Pork --- roasted, grilled or baked, with heavy sauce like
barbeque, go for some robust red wines, like an Aus-
tralian Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz or an Argentin-
ian Malbec. These wines, unlike their European
counterparts, can be heavy on extractions. It's almost
as if you can chew them, to quote one French wine-
maker. Now, if the sauce is removed, or the sauce is
lighter, challenge your pork to a duo with a Vouvray or
a Californian Riesling or a Beaujolais. Now you can see
how a pairing can take on both a white and red wine,
effectively dismissing (in part) the fallacy of red with
red meats and white with white meats.
• Turkey --- with a lighter sauce than cranberry, go for
Californian Sauvignon Blanc or Beaujolais. With cran-
berry sauce, Chianti Classico, Pomerol, or Pinot Noir,
or even try a white wine which is medium dry, medium
bodied, like Australian Semillon or Graves.
• Fruit/Black cake --- be different and daring; try a Cana-
dian ice wine or stay traditional with Ruby Port, or a
Crème Sherry or, like me, go for a Sauternes.
• Pastelles --- German Riesling, or be adventurous; try a
Provence Rose or Lambrusco.
Merry Christmas to our readers and families. Next
week, we bid farewell to the old and welcome the New
Year, 2015 with the world's most alluring, sophisticated
and irresistible drink. Let's talk Champagne. Pop!
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