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Good Food and Wine and how to match them

December 10th, 2009

A great time was had last night in the Clonmel Park Hotel where a cookery demonstration was held by James Whelan Butchers and Jenny Flynn of The Sweetest Thing. Red Nose Wine were on hand to match the foods to wine. It was no surprise that Christmas dinner was on the agenda. Of course with this in mind, i pushed the boat out with the wines. Everyone was greeted with a glasss of Domaine des Anges Red and White on arrival and the chattering amongst the crowd intenstified as Jenny and Pat and their team got everything in place. I poured the wine as quickly as I could, but I had to go to back to the van quicker than I anticipated. The ladies ( for there was not one man in the audience ) were out for a good night and that is what they got. Jenny and Alaister ( one of Pat’s senior butchers ) chopped and prep’d their way through a feast. In between courses I would jump up and try and control the crowd with talk of the best wines for turkey and ham and then duck. We opened Vincent Chidaine’s magnificant Vouvray and it went down a treat. This wine is full bodied for a white and offers a good match for a white drinker who is taking on all of the turkey trimmings. We then brought out GreenHough New Zealand Pinot Noir. I was considering bringing a Premier Cru Burgundy, but it’s hard to go back once you have tasted it. No need to be cruel. Turkey is difficult because it has light and dark meat and the meat can be earthy & dry so needs a wine with lots of flavour. Pinot Noire also matches well to the gravy especially if you use giblets for more flavour, which Jenny did ( I think ).
For the gamier food I decanted some Chateauneuf du Pape and it needed the 2 hours open. It was worth the wait though as all who tasted it were enchanted. This is a real example of traditional CDP and I told them all about my greatest ever meal. It was in a small family resteraunt in the village of Chateauneuf du Pape and I had wild duck with a bottle of CDP. I can still taste both. Anyway, back to reality and the basic points about matching the right wine with your foods are :

Match the weight & texture of the food to the weight & texture of the wine, such as Sole with a light wine like Pinot Grigio but Salmon could take on a more full bodied Chardonnay.

Balance the intensity of flavors in the food and wine – plain turkey requires a very different wine to turkey with all the trimmings

Balance Tastes – Salty and sour will make a wine taste milder, but Sweet & savoury will make a wine taste stronger. e.g. Beef tames a wine’s tannin, but chocolate brings it out

Match flavours – Roast duck with plum sauce like red wines with plum flavours

Counterpoint flavours – The opposite to matching flavours can also be true. Spicy oriental dish should not be matched with a high alchol red as the heat in the dish ignites the alchol in the wine. A low alchol wine is better, and a Riesling will frame and tame the spicy flavours. The added sugar will also help cool down the dish.

Alaister getting ready

Alaister getting ready

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