We’ve all been there. You’re out at dinner, perusing the wine list after ordering everything on the menu, from your seafood entrée to your pork main and cheese plate, and you legitimately have no idea which one to go with. Well, you do, but it’s a special occasion and Fruity lexia just isn’t going to cut it this time.
We spoke to Adam Leonardi, food and beverage manager and Atsuko Asano, assistant food and beverage manager at Q dining Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour (one of those rare hotel restaurants that’s actually really awesome) about how to pair wine with your food without failing miserably in front of company.
We’ll give you some super-specific pairings, as well as a few handy hints for each. Thank us later for taking your wine ordering game up at least four notches. Here we go!
Want the quick version? Check this out:
Seafood | Medium-bodied Grüner
The dish: Seared Moreton Bay bug, scallops, smoked tomato and shellfish essence
The wine: 2014 Weingut Bernhard Ott Fass 4, Grüner Veltliner, Wagram, Austria
When you’re chowing down on some delicious seafood, the only thing that makes it better is the perfect glass of wine. But where to begin? Atsuko tells us they love a Grüner with this kind of dish. A Gru-what? Here’s the deal: Grüner, an Austrian grape that is deliciously light and acidic, perfectly matches a fishy feast. “With shellfish and seafood, you always want some acidity and minerality.” Basically, it’s like squeezing fresh lemon or lime on the dish for a fresh, palate-cleansing taste, while the minerality (earthiness) of the wine works well with the minerality of the dish.
Poultry | Pinot Noir
The dish: Quail breast, blueberries, braised endive
The wine: 2013 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, United States
Here’s an interesting one. Bet you always thought it had to be red with red and white with white when it comes to meat and wine pairing. Not so much, it appears. Especially if you’re pairing with a game meat like the quail at Q dining, which is a little darker than your usual chicken breast. According to Adam, “Pinot noir has lovely cherry notes with hints of chocolate, and the berry notes are delicate enough to not disturb the flavour of the quail”. So there you go, don’t be afraid to rock a red with your poultry.
Pork | Gamay Noir
The dish: Pork cheek, sorrel, pickled mushrooms
The wine: 2013 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie, Gamay, Beaujolais, France
Pork, particularly the lighter-coloured pork cheek, is another one you might think wouldn’t work as well with red wine, but this light and fruity Gamay has minimal tannin (that dry mouthfeel) than other reds. This particular wine from Georges Dobeuf Fleurie has notes of cherry and plum, which cut through the rich fattiness of the pork in this dish and mingle well with the pickled shimeji mushrooms. “If you don’t love red wine this one might just be a game changer”, says Atsuko. “The acidity mixed with the fruitiness make it a gorgeous wine to drink in summer as well as winter”.
Chocolate | Mataro
The dish: Chocolate, passionfruit, macadamia milk
The wine: 2014 Travis Earth ‘For Mum & Pete’ Mataro, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Oh yes. Chocolate and wine, who knew two things could enrich our lives so much? Probably everyone, but let’s give this a go anyway. Adam knows this too, “The chocolate is obviously the main component of this dish, the dense dark chocolate terrine goes well with this straight Mataro by Travis Earth, which has some chocolate and raspberry notes”. If you don’t happen to have this particular dish in front of you and simply want to get your wine pairing on, Adam tells me “you can match chocolate with some GSM or even shiraz. The Barossa Valley produces some excellent shiraz that has that lovely chocolate flavour and doesn’t interfere with the flavours on your plate.” Sold!
Cheese | Iced Riesling
The dish: A cheese platter. An epic cheese platter
The wine: 2014 Frogmore Creek Iced Riesling, Coal River Valley, Tasmania
To be perfectly honest, any kind of wine can be enjoyed with cheese, because there literally is no better pairing in the world. But if you want to step up your game, Atsuko recommends trying your hand at a dessert wine. “This wine is made by freezing the grapes and extracting the juice of the frozen berries, the result of which is a high-sugar residue wine with refreshing acidity. The savoury cheese is lit up by the sweetness of the wine, and the acidity helps to cleanse the palate.” Don’t worry if you can’t find an iced Riesling, though, you can always try a botrytis wine, which is also sweet but less acidic, and a perfect match to creamy cheeses.
So there you have it, guys. A super simple guide to matching your food to your wine in a flash. Go on out and impress your mates. Or, head into Q dining and let the experts do it for you.
Image credit: Natalia Horinkova