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Food

Food and Wine Matching 101

Create inspiring food and wine matches

Follow the helpful tips below to ensure that at your next dinner party you impress your guests with your pairing prowess.

Acid + acid

If your food is high in acid – think tomatoes or a squeeze of lemon – you’ll need a wine that’s high in acid too. Riesling is the most obvious white choice, while Italian style reds will balance tomatoes and cut through olive oil. 

Same + same

Brings together complementary flavours – light-bodied wine + light dish, full-bodied wine + heavy dish and so on. Also pair similar textures and flavours – earthy wine + earthy food, citrussy wine + fruity dish, etc. 

Opposite + opposite

Try a fresh, crisp Chardonnay with a creamy pasta dish, or consider a clean, dry Riesling with a spicy chilli-filled Asian dish. Or if you’re serving a dish with very simple flavours, a complex wine can enhance the experience.

Heat + sweet

For spicy dishes, red wines high in alcohol and tannins are a no-no as the alcohol intensifies the heat. Choose sweeter whites such as off-dry Gewürztraminers or Rieslings.  

Sweet + sweeter

If your dish is sweet, the wine should be sweeter. Think milk and dark chocolate desserts with Tawnies and Muscats, while white chocolate pairs with Prosecco and lemon flavours are perfect with Botrytis Riesling.

Tannins + fat

This pairing is all about balance. Fat serves to even out tannin intensity, resulting in a smoother, softer red. 

Infographic - Food and Wine Matching guide

Wine styles

Try these suggestions to match with your favourite wine styles.

Fuller bodied red wines

Wines: Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec, Durif

Food matches: Their robust structure makes these an ideal partner to hard cheeses and fattier cuts of meat.

Medium bodied red wines

Wines: Merlot & Blends, Tempranillo, Barbera, Sangiovese

Food matches: To match the moderate density tannins go for slow-cooked or rustic style dishes like pasta, Mediterranean fare, tapas.

Lighter bodied red wines

Wines: Pinot Noir, Grenache & blends, Nero d’Avola 

Food matches: With the finer styles, go for gamey, earthy foods like duck, while styles with higher acidity can take richer, spicier dishes.

Rosé

Wines: Dry, off-dry

Food matches: For drier styles, go for salads, charcuterie and antipasto. For off-dry styles, try spicy food or fruit-based dishes.

Fuller-bodied white wines

Wines: Chardonnay, Verdelho, Viognier

Food matches: A richer texture makes these fuller varieties a great match for poultry, pork, rich seafood, cream or cheese-based pastas.

Medium-bodied white wines

Wines: Arneis, Pinot G, Fiano, Vermentino, Marsanne

Food matches: Zesty acidity makes these styles perfect with lighter flavours like tapas,
pasta and salads.

Lighter-bodied and aromatic white wines

Wines: Sauvignon Blanc & blends, Semillon, Riesling, Gewürztraminer

Food matches: The high acidity inherent in these varieties makes them ideal for fried food, raw seafood, delicate Asian dishes, and simple Mediterranean food.

Champagne, Sparkling and Prosecco

Wines: Champagne, Sparkling & Prosecco

Food matches: With the richer styles, choose seafood and richer canapés, while lighter styles suit antipasto, fried foods and fresh fruit.

Dessert and Fortified wines

Wines: Botrytis, Tawny, Muscat/Topaque 

Food matches: Botrytis: Cream or fruit-based desserts, pâté. Tawny: Cheddar & blue cheese, dried & fresh fruit, nuts. Topaque: Caramel-based desserts. Muscat: Chocolate-based desserts, dates & dried figs, ice cream.

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Life
The good oil on olive oil
With its superior health benefits and versatility, not to mention its swag of local and international awards, Australian extra virgin olive oil is among the world’s finest. I recall a time when I was interviewing Italian-born chef Stefano Manfredi and he explained that when he and his family arrived in Australia in the 1960s his mum would have to go to the chemist shop to buy olive oil. In a specimen bottle, no less. It just shows how far we’ve come in our knowledge and appreciation of food and ingredients. These days, we’ve become the second biggest consumer of olive oil per capita in the world outside of the Mediterranean. Clearly, we love the stuff! What’s more, we now produce top quality olive oil and heaps of it. Yep, even better than that produced by Spain, Italy and Greece, the traditional home of olive oil.   We’ve officially been producing olive oil since about 1870, but it is only in the past 30 years or so that we’ve gotten serious about it. We now have over 900 producers who manage to squeeze out over 20 million litres of olive oil. And not just any olive oil, but top grade extra virgin olive oil. What’s the difference?  These days, your average supermarket shelf is brimming with different types of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin, light, pure, etc.  So which one is best?  At the top of the olive oil hierarchy is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Fresh and healthy, it is squeezed straight from the olive. Unlike in the production of other oils where chemical and heat extraction is used, EVOO does not undergo any refinement or extraction processes using chemicals or heat. This means that of all the mainstream cooking oils, EVOO has the highest level of monounsaturated fats and retains more antioxidants than any other oil.  Health benefits “Published research shows that no other food comes close to extra virgin olive oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.” This is a quote from Mary Flynn, Senior Research Dietitian and Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University in the USA. Her research has uncovered the fact that EVOO is associated with a range of health benefits related to heart health and weight control, and it has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties.  The reason your heart will thank you for consuming EVOO is down to those all-important antioxidants. They help increase good cholesterol and decrease bad, reduce the risk of developing blocked arteries and reduce blood pressure. We’ve all heard that a Mediterranean diet with its abundance of nuts, fruits, legumes, wholegrains and fish is one of the healthiest choices you can make. But its benefits also lie in the fact that EVOO is the main source of fat in this lifestyle. And people who enjoy a Mediterranean diet have been shown to have a lower body weight, which they can maintain for longer. EVOO also helps you to feel fuller for longer, another factor in helping to keep your weight stable. Those incredible antioxidants also come into play when it comes to slowing down the ageing process. Antioxidants such as vitamin E help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, which contributes to making the internal ageing process slower.  And with inflammation now being implicated in a range of diseases, the good news for EVOO consumers is it contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal. Fresh is best To get the most out of your EVOO, you want it to be as fresh as possible. Obviously, Australian oils are able to get to market here more quickly than imported oils. What’s more, the standards for Australian EVOO are extremely strict and as many as nine out of 10 imported olive oils fail to make the grade. So now you’ve narrowed your choice down to Australian EVOO, you want a company that uses the finest olives, picked and pressed at the perfect time. You also want to go for oils that are cold pressed within 4–6 hours of harvesting the olives. The harvest date is also important for gauging longevity, as you should use your oil within 12–14 months of harvesting and within 4–6 weeks of opening. But how do you know which brands are the best quality? Look for the Premium Certified Australian EVOO Logo. Buying Australian doesn’t mean missing out on range, as local producers are having great success with a huge choice of olive varieties. You’ll even see a lot of Australian EVOO named after the variety they’re made from. Take for instance Cobram Estate’s Ultra Premium Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made from and named after the Spanish Hojiblanca variety and winner of the 2017 Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales President’s Medal.   The great cooking myths There’s been a persistent myth in the cooking world that heating olive oil releases harmful toxins. On the contrary,EVOO is very stable to cook with and it’s all down to those antioxidants again. The point to consider is smoke point, and given EVOO has a smoke point between 200 and 215ºC, which is above that of standard home cooking temperatures for hot and cold cooking, it’s a safe, healthy choice.  Also, don’t believe the myth that can’t use EVOO in certain pots and pans. You can use it in any pot or pan you choose, as well as on the hotplate.  So next time you’re standing in front of the oils in the supermarket, there’s only one choice – premium quality, certified Australian extra virgin olive oil.
Wine
Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
Natural wine is the hottest thing in the world of wine right now, the boozy buzzword from Brooklyn to Bondi and all licensed points in between. The term ‘natural’ wine is problematic, more on that later, but in essence we’re talking about a winemaking movement that seeks to produce wines with the bare minimum of human intervention. That means no additions, no adjustments, no filtration or fining. Basically we’re talking about removing human intervention in the winemaking process from everything that happens between the picking of the fruit from the vine and crushing it to get the juice through to getting the resultant wine into the bottle. The juice begins to ferment not through the addition of commercially packaged yeast, but rather through the naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the vineyard and winery. The various options winemakers have to fill the gaps that the vagaries of vintage can create are also shunned, which means no added acid, enzyme, nutrient or tannin. Manic organics Any discussion of ‘natural’ wine will invariably touch on organic and bio-dynamic practices and while they’re intertwined, they’re not indivisibly so. When we talk about organic or bio-dynamic wines, we’re referring primarily to the farming practices in the vineyard, while most of the requirements for classifying a wine as ‘natural’ occur, or more accurately, don’t occur, within the winery. So any ‘natural’ wine worthy of the name will come from organic or bio-dynamic vineyards, but there will be wines produced from similarly certified vineyards that can’t be considered ‘natural’ because the winemakers responsible for them choose to be a little more ‘hands on’ when it comes to helping them along the journey from grape to glass. That’s just part of the difficulty with such absolutist terminology. Also tied up in this milieu are the wines that proclaim themselves ‘Orange’, not because they come from the central New South Wales wine region, but rather because they range in colour from the bruised umber of a hobo’s urine to a turbid tangerine akin to flat Fanta. Thrill or spill In essence, Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds, meaning the juice is kept in contact with skins, often in oxidative environments, to allow the extraction of tannin, phenolic compounds and colour. This can make for some intriguing wines, but anyone expecting them to behave like conventional white wines might be seriously weirded out by the step up in texture and weight. Advocates for natural wine will say that the removal of winemaking fingerprints from these wines allows for the purest expression of terroir, a wine’s ability to express the true nature of the place from which it comes. In theory, this should be right, but experience tells me that’s not always the case. I’ve had natural wines that have thrilled me utterly and I’ve had natural wines that have made me wonder if I should rip my tongue from my mouth and wipe my arse with it rather than subject it to another drop. That’s part of the pleasure, and part of the problem, too. A natural division There is a political statement inherent in the whole ‘natural’ wine movement that makes me a little uncomfortable, an unfair juxtaposition that banishes all other wines that don’t fit the criteria into a bin implied to be ‘unnatural.’ I prefer the term ‘ low-fi’ that some of the best exponents use. It also has to be accepted that a more open-minded attitude to winemaking faults is required to enjoy a lot of these wines and I’m cool with that. There is beauty in the flawed as well as the perfect. But there is a worrying trend amongst the loudest advocates of natural wine to treat any criticism as simply the old-fashioned windbaggery of an old guard who just don’t get it and I think that’s wrong. A natural wine isn’t good just because it’s been made in line with the philosophies and methods that define the movement. A natural wine is good, just as any wine is, when it’s simply a delicious liquid you want to put in your mouth. The world of natural wine is one well worth exploring and some real thrills await those who seek them. Just remember, the best guide is always your own palate and a wine with nothing but a philosophy to commend it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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