Want the hot tip on pairing wine with food? Wine people from around the country share their thoughts on getting it right, plus their favourite combinations – from the fanciest of matches to downright guilty pleasures.
Emma Farrelly State Buildings, Perth
(seven venues, including Petition Kitchen, Petition Wine, Long Chim and Wildflower)
HOT TIP: I talk about trying to complement or contrast your food and wine, so you’re either looking for similar flavours or completely opposing ones. When working with an array of food, as we do at Petition Kitchen, which has a focus on share plates, we like juicy, aromatic, mid-weight reds and bright, crunchy whites – wines that don’t have too much tannin or structure.
CLASSIC MATCH: If I’m being extravagant, I’d drink aged white Burgundy with comté. That’s my favourite thing in the world – you’ve got all those beautiful creamy, buttery characters in the wine and the same things in the cheese.
LEFTFIELD MATCH: Castelli Estate has a savoury, complex sparkling shiraz, which works really well with a charry noodle dish at Long Chim. It has a lot of roasted chilli and tamarind, and it just works!
GUILTY PLEASURE: I sometimes buy that terrible cheddar cheese popcorn, and love it with skin-contact sauvignon blanc!
Patrick Madden Mother Vine, Adelaide
HOT TIP: We’re more of a small bar, where we serve things like charcuterie and cheese, so I find it’s either about complementing or contrasting wine with the food. If you’re having a dish that's a bit fatty, you either want something with tannin to enhance it or acidity to offset it. For example, if we’re serving a soft cheese, I’d recommend a textured white wine or light Italian red.
CLASSIC MATCH: I’m quite partial to pork, which is fatty, so I usually like a wine with tannin to go with it. If I’m eating pork belly, I’ll go for something like nebbiolo to enhance it.
LEFTFIELD MATCH: I’ve been drinking a bit of [French dry red] Mondeuse at the moment and enjoying that with everything! I really like it with the fattiness of duck rillettes, which is not really a traditional match, but it’s delicious.
Jacq Turner Chin Chin, Sydney
HOT TIP: I always say, drink what you love, find the best examples and follow those producers because the stories are always more fun than the points. And really, just look for balance between the wine and the food, and don’t overthink it – that’s so boring! And don’t pair high alcohol with heavy protein. It won't work and it's also not 1985 anymore!
CLASSIC MATCH: I have this go-to where I crave Chablis with aged comté, but that’s a bit highbrow!
LEFTFIELD MATCH: I recently had a great match of Greek assyrtiko with fava, sardines and pickled shallots.
GUILTY PLEASURE: G&T with plain chips! And it has to be a large gin pour.
“I have this go-to where I crave Chablis with aged comté, but that’s a bit highbrow!" Jacq Turner, Chin Chin Sydney
Michael Leopold, Rick Shores, Gold Coast
HOT TIP: We’re an Asian-fusion restaurant with many seafood dishes with a lot of spice, so we like low-tannin wines; they tend to work best. I always try to read the guests to find out what they prefer. If they're keen to try something new, I’ll move away from the sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio, and steer them to other varieties. I’m really liking Italian wines, like Cortese. And the Ricca Terra Bronco Buster [white blend] works particularly well with many of our dishes.”
CLASSIC MATCH: I’m a sucker for seafood, so I love fresh-cooked king prawns with riesling, whether it’s Tasmanian or South Australian. They just really complement the saltiness of the prawns. And Champagnes with oysters works really well too, as do prosecco and cava.
LEFTFIELD MATCH: We’ve had a Blaufrankisch on the list for a while and it works really well with our Asianinspired pork hock. It’s nice to offer a wine some people haven’t heard of, and it goes so well with the richness of the XO sauce in this dish.
GUILTY-PLEASURE MATCH: I love a good homemade meat pie with an Aussie shiraz. They really complement each other, especially with a little tomato sauce on top of the pie!
Alice Chugg Ettie’s, Hobart
HOT TIP: For me, I think you can steer away from the old ideas, like if you have a big, heavy piece of meat, you need a big, heavy red. Opposed to going for richness, I think freshness works much better. We have things like charcuterie and terrine, which is rich, so we offer a number of wines with a lot of acid that cleans and refreshes the palate. It works much better than rich on rich.
CLASSIC MATCH: Oysters and Chablis! I love the salty, mineral elements of the wine and they go so well with oysters. Plus, we have such great oysters here in Tasmania.
LEFTFIELD MATCH: Here, we match an Olorosso sherry with our crème caramel. Instead of going for a sweet wine, this nice, oxidative sherry creates a whole different flavour.
GUILTY PLEASURE: I just love fish and chips with a cold beer!
Sebastian Crowther MS, The Rockpool Dining Group
HOT TIP: People often get told to focus on the protein, but in my experience, it’s never the main protein that’s the main influence. In modern cooking and the cooking you do at home, the sauce can have the most impact. I call those things the ‘spikes’ – the things that really stand out. When a chef puts on a new dish, we’ll talk more about the sauce it’s getting served with or what it’s being accompanied with than the actual protein. I try to find a wine that has those same elements – either a sweet, salty, spicy or bitter component. Texture is another factor to consider and the cooking technique comes into it too, whether it’s steamed or poached or cooked on a grill with big char-grilled flavours.
CLASSIC MATCH: Lamb with Bordeaux, and duck with Burgundy.
LEFTFIELD MATCH: I really like fried chicken with Champagne, and Beaujolais or cabernet franc from the Loire with burgers. These types of wines with a bit of acid work well with these ‘dude foods’ and freshen it all up.
“I really like fried chicken with Champagne, and Beaujolais or cabernet franc from the Loire with burgers. These types of wines with a bit of acid work well with these ‘dude foods’ and freshen it all up.” Sebastian Crowther, Master Sommelier “Oysters and Chablis! I love the salty, mineral elements of the wine and they go so well with oysters.” Alice Chugg, Etties