SAVOUR THE JOUR­NEY

Wine colum­nist Jean-Sébastien Morin says trust own palate to set off epi­curean fire­works be­tween the kitchen and the cel­lar

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - Jean-Sébastien Morin

Food and wine pair­ing should not be a stress­ful ex­er­cise.

It is about tak­ing two great things and bring­ing them to­gether so that the sum is bet­ter than the parts. It is not an ex­act sci­ence gov­erned by im­mutable rules. It is best ap­proached with cu­rios­ity and a keen­ness to try new and some­times un­usual per­mu­ta­tions.

As with ev­ery­thing in the wine world, food and wine pair­ing is a jour­ney to be savoured, not a des­ti­na­tion.

A few sim­ple guid­ing prin­ci­ples and a will­ing­ness to trust your own palate are all you re­ally need to set off epi­curean fire­works be­tween the kitchen and the cel­lar.

Match the weight of the wine to the weight of the dish.

The body of a wine, or how it feels in your mouth, is gen­er­ally de­scribed as be­ing light, medium or full. A good way to as­sess this is to ask yourself if the mouth­feel and vis­cos­ity of a wine re­mind you skim milk, 2 per cent milk or ho­mogenised milk.

In terms of dishes, poached sole served with noth­ing more than le­mon juice would be a lighter dish than pan-seared hal­ibut served with a but­ter sauce.

Sim­i­larly, beef Carpac­cio would be lighter than braised beef with root veg­eta­bles in a red wine sauce.

A light bod­ied wine, ei­ther red or white, will be over­pow­ered by a heavy/hearty dish.

In most cases, it will seem thin and flavour­less. It may not clash with the dish, but a great pair­ing is un­likely.

Con­versely, a full-bod­ied wine will over­whelm a light, del­i­cate dish mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pick up any flavour nu­ances. As­sess­ing the per­ceived weight of a dish, in­clud­ing con­tribut­ing fac­tors such as cook­ing tech­niques (e.g. poach­ing vs. brais­ing) and sauces, may take a lit­tle prac­tice but once you start think­ing about your cook­ing or or­der­ing in restau­rants in that light, it be­comes fairly easy.

Match the flavours of the wines with the dom­i­nant flavours of a dish.

Imag­ine, for ex­am­ple, match­ing herb-roasted rack of lamb with a gar­rigue-in­flected red from the South­ern Rhone Val­ley such as a Gigondas or a Châ­te­uneuf-du-Pape.

Gar­rigue is what the French call the dry, low scrub­land ad­ja­cent to vine­yards where wild thyme, sage and rose­mary grow. No sur­prise that this would be a match made in heaven given that th­ese wines are per­fect echoes of the flavours of the dish.

Sim­i­larly, a riper style of Ries­ling from Aus­tralia or New Zealand with citrus and trop­i­cal notes would be in per­fect har­mony with roast pork served with a mango salsa. When match­ing flavours, it is also

Er­razuriz Es­tate Se­ries Car­menère 2014 Aconcagua Val­ley, Chile 07467Z $16.99

An ap­proach­able in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Chile sig­na­ture red grape va­ri­ety. This Car­menère dis­plays straw­berry and black­berry along with some text­book bell pep­per notes and hints of vanilla and cof­fee bean on the fin­ish. The dis­creet and vel­vety tan­nins and the re­fresh­ing acid­ity make this another great medi­um­bod­ied red for the sum­mer. It will pair well with most BBQ fare from wings and ribs to sausages and burg­ers. Don’t hes­i­tate to chill slightly be­fore serv­ing – 10 to 15 min­utes in re­frig­er­a­tor.

San­dal­ford Wine­mak­ers Shi­raz 2015 West­ern Aus­tralia (Mar­garet River and Swan Val­ley), Aus­tralia 07643Z $20.06

A lighter, fresher style of Shi­raz great for the warm weather. Dis­plays blue­ber­ries, eu­ca­lyp­tus, rasp­ber­ries with hints of flo­ral and to­bacco. A ver­sa­tile red with lots of pair­ing po­ten­tial from quat­tro for­maggi thin crust pizza to turkey sand­wich with cran­berry-chipo­tle may­on­naise. Don’t hes­i­tate to chill slightly be­fore serv­ing – 10 to 15 min­utes in re­frig­er­a­tor.

Stoneleigh Ries­ling 2012 Marl­bor­ough, New Zealand 09533Z $20.49

Beeswax, lime and can­died le­mon peel on the nose. On the palate, flavours of Red De­li­cious ap­ple, apri­cot, white peach and pink grape­fruit are bol­stered by and al­most creamy tex­ture and lively acid­ity. Pair with roast pork stuffed with apri­cots or served with mango salsa. Also a great pair­ing with Pad Thai and other Thai dishes.

Do­maine du Tari­quet Clas­sic 2015 Côtes de Gascogne, France 09589Z $15.18

An ap­peal­ing blend of Ugni Blanc, Colom­bard, Gros Maseng and Sauvi­gnon Blanc. Aro­matic nose of ripe pear and quince.

On the palate, nice ten­sion be­tween yel­low ap­ple and pear fruit and vi­brant acid­ity. Medi­um­bod­ied with richer mouth­feel and pleas­ant fresh­ness on fin­ish. Great to sip on its own or pair with chicken salad with blue cheese and pears or most squash dishes.

im­por­tant to match wines and dishes with sim­i­lar flavour in­ten­sity.

A vari­ant of this prin­ci­ple is to in­ten­tion­ally con­trast the flavours of a dish with those of a wine. Pair­ing the sweet, berry flavours of Port with the salty tang of Stil­ton cheese is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of this ap­proach. This pair­ing works in part be­cause both the wine and the cheese are in­tensely flavoured and are both heavy/rich.

A ques­tion that of­ten comes up when dis­cussing pair­ings is how to make red wines work with dishes tra­di­tion­ally paired with white wines and vice-versa for guests that pre­fer white or red wines ex­clu­sively re­gard­less of the food be­ing served. There is al­ways a way to tweak dishes to op­ti­mise the pair­ing with a given wine.

In Por­tu­gal, for ex­am­ple, many fish or seafood dished are pre­pared in a hearty style with toma­toes and sausages that make them very red wine friendly.

Pre­par­ing flank steak in a citrus mari­nade and serv­ing it with grilled veg­eta­bles would be a way to make a red meat­based dish work won­der­fully with a full-bod­ied, oaky Cal­i­for­nia Chardon­nay.

Much more could be said about food and wine pair­ing, but in the end it is about eat­ing what you like with wines that you en­joy and trust­ing your palate to let you know what works for you.

Jean-Sébastien Morin is a cat­e­gory man­ager with P.E.I. Liquor. He is an ac­cred­ited som­me­lier, wine writer, ed­u­ca­tor, and wine judge. His love of wine was born in the late 1980s, while study­ing and work­ing in Europe. In­spired Grapes aims to trans­mit Morin’s pas­sion for wine while never for­get­ting that the plea­sure of a glass of wine of­ten re­sides in the mo­ment and the com­pany in which it is shared. To reach, Morin email in­fopeilcc@liquor­pei.com

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