This was a double act, with Nina leading the wine tasting, showing how wines can complement different foods, prepared brilliantly by Maggie. Nina began with some rules of thumb for food and wine matching. Firstly of course, the ‘body’ of the wine needs to match the fullness of the food its paired with. Second, acid will cut through fat, so a high acid wine will match with a fatty food. A rather less known effect is that salt will fight tannins, so a salty dish should not have a tannic wine alongside it. Tannic wines are good with protein-rich food (eg lamb or beef) as the chewed protein links to the tannins, leaving the wine feeling softer and the mouth refreshed. Wine with dessert needs to be sweeter than the food, and a handy tip for us chocaholics – a muscat or champagne being suggested!
Nina had us tasting the wines blind, so we had no preconceptions about the wine! Congratulations to the Members who got the wines – I didn’t!
Falanghina (13.5%) with milk-baked cod. Falanghina has a medium level of acidity which lifts the fish taste from the creamy sauce. The wine had a citrus nose with some florals, and on the palate were citrus peach and nut flavours, medium length. This is an Italian food and wine match! (WIne Society £8.75).
Joseph Cattin Gewurtztraminer 2016 (13%) with smoked salmon blini with caviar and dill. This is a classic pairing, although I felt the food lifted the wine but not vice versa. Apparently also good with asparagus, though Nina mentioned that Sauvignon Blanc is also good with asparagus. On the nose, tropical fruits, rose, Turkish Delight. Off dry. (Solent Cellar £13.99).
Domaine Klur, ‘Katz’, Alsace Pinot Gris (13%) with chicken liver parfait on brioche with pear and shallot confit. Nina asked us not to taste the confit to start with, just the wine and the parfait, as the acidity of the wine cuts across the fattiness of the parfait. The wine is medium, with a modest and slightly smoky nose (typical of Pinot Gris we were told), and honey/candy on the palette. Then the sweetness of the confit makes the wine taste less acidic, and the match is less good, so clear that you need to think about all of the elements of the ‘plate’ and not just the main element of it. (Solent Cellar £18.50)
Jean Marc Burgaud, Morgon Grand Cras, 2016 (13%) with duck rillets. The wine a rich colour – Morgon being the ‘biggest’ of the Beaujolais wines. The nose is of cherries and summer fruits, which carries through into the taste, but with low tannins but high acidity. The acidity again countered the fattiness of the duck rillets, and the slight sweetness of duck needs a wine with some fruit, like Gamay. (Wine Society £13.95).
Fattoria Rignana Chianti Classico 2015 (14%) with pork and red wine sausage on green lentils. The wine is ‘savoury on the nose – we learnt a new word to describe this – ‘umami’ and has high acidity with low to medium soft tannins. The sausage, being salty, would not go with a highly tannic wine. The wine (Sangiovese) has fresh red fruit with a touch of smoke. We learned that around 80% of vineyards in the chianti area were replanted as part of the ‘2000 Project’ to use the better clones of Sangiovese (there had previously been many, some not very good). This wine is from one of the best areas in the Chianti area. (Solent Cellar £18.99)
Mendel Mendoza Malbec 2015, 14.5% with skewered spicy meatball. The wine is cool climate Malbec – one of the higher areas. A good dark purply colour, a sweetish fruity nose, low tannins and touch of caramel, vanilla and orange spice on the palate but still fresh and fruity. Spicy food tends to have a reasonable level of salt, so needs a wine with low tannins (Wine Society £16.00).
Chateau Patache d’Aux, Cru Bourgeois, Medoc 2010, 13.5% with rare roast beef on Yorkshire pudding with watercress crème fraiche sauce. A classic pairing of roast beef with claret, which is high in acid and has ripe tannins. The act of chewing the meat then tasting a wine high in tannins allows the one to cancel the other, which was very noticeable. Beautiful wine! Solent Cellar £55 magnum).
Chateau d’Avrille, Coteaux de L’aubance, Loire. Chenin Blanc 1989, 14.5% with mini lemon tart with fresh raspberry. Candy-fruit on the nose, bruised apples (a sign of age). Sweet but not cloying, high acidity, so goes with fruit-based desserts. (Solent Cellar £22.00)
The evening was a great success! Wonderful wines and food and a lot of happy people! Thanks to Nina and Maggie for putting on such a great event.
Notes by Sally Harris