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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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Wine
Pursuit of Perfection - Australian Pinot Noir
Words by Dave Mavor on 2 May 2017
Australia's established Pinot Noir regions are continuing to develop and evolve remarkable examples of this varietal. But for the big future of Aussie Pinot, we may need to look west. I'll admit it - not everyone is a fan of  Pinot Noir . But that fact, in itself, is what makes Pinot so enigmatic - aficionados swoon, swillers scoff. And this suits Pinot (and its lovers) just fine because in this land of the tall poppy, it is not always favourable to be too popular. That said, Pinot is one of the most revered and collected wine styles in the world, with the top examples from its homeland in Burgundy selling for outrageous sums of money. It is generally quite delicate (some say light-bodied), and it takes a certain development of one's palate to truly appreciate its delightful nuances, perfumed aromas, textural elements and supple tannin profile. It appears that if you enjoy wine for long enough, eventually your palate will look for and appreciate the more subtle and complex style that quality Pinot can provide. A good point that illustrates this comes from winemaker Stephen George, who developed the revered Ashton Hills brand. "A lot of older gentlemen come into the cellar door and say they love Shiraz, but it doesn't love them anymore," he says. "So we are getting some of my generation moving over to Pinot Noir, and the young kids of today are also really embracing it." THE ALLURE OF PINOT (FOR THE WINEMAKER) Winemakers love a challenge, and there is no doubt that Pinot is a challenging grape to grow, and even more challenging to make. The Burgundians have certainly nailed it, but they have been practicing for thousands of years, and this is part of the key. The cool climate of Burgundy has proven to be a major factor, as is the geology of the soils there, but they have also shown the variety to be very site-specific - vines grown in adjacent vineyards, and even within vineyards, can produce very different results. Vine age too, is critical. True of most varieties, but especially Pinot Noir, the best fruit tends to come from mature vineyards, considered to be around 15 years old or more. Yields too, need to be kept low to get the best out of this grape, as it needs all the flavour concentration it can get to show its best. Australian winemakers have taken these lessons to heart - gradually developing ever cooler areas to grow Pinot, working out the best soil types, and carefully exploring the ideal sites within each vineyard to grow this fickle variety. They're also working out the best clones and the most appropriate vine spacing, and then managing the vine canopy to allow just the right amount of dappled sunlight to reach the ripening bunches. Our vines are getting older, reaching that critical phase of maturity, and yields are managed carefully to coax the maximum from each berry. Once in the winery, the grapes need careful handling due to their thin skins and low phenolic content, so physical pump-overs are kept to a minimum. These days more and more winemakers are including a percentage of stems in the ferment to enhance the aromatic and textural qualities of the finished wine, and oak usage is more skilfully matched to the style being produced. THE STATE OF PLAY OF PINOT Australian viticulturists and winemakers are getting better at producing top quality Pinot with every passing year. And that quality is truly on show in our most recent State of Play tasting. It's been five years since we last had an in-depth look at Pinot Noir in this country. And what a change we've seen in that time! The overall quality of Australian Pinot is certainly on the rise. But what is perhaps the biggest development in the last five years has been the emergence of a potential Pinot giant  in the west . As you will see in our reviews across the following pages, the established Pinot producing regions such as the  Yarra Valley ,  Tasmania  and  Adelaide Hills  are still well represented in our Top 20, but they are joined by newcomers, the cool-climate  Tumbarumba  region of NSW, and an impressively strong showing from the  Great Southern  and  Pemberton  areas of Western Australia. In fact, five wines in the Top 20 are from WA - an amazing statistic given that there were none five years ago. THE EMERGING PINOT GIANT - WA We have seen a marked increase in the number and quality of Pinots coming from the West in recent years, particularly from the vast  Great Southern  area encompassing the five distinct sub-regions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongorup, as well as a secluded pocket of the South West around Pemberton and Manjimup. So what has led to the emergence of WA as a Pinot powerhouse? According to second generation winemaker Rob Wignall, whose father Bill pioneered Pinot production in Albany, there have been a number of small improvements that make up the overall picture. He believes that climate change has been a significant and positive factor, moving the region's climate into more of a semi-Mediterranean situation with mild summer days and a reduction in rainfall throughout the growing season, leading to improvements in disease control and better canopy management. In addition, Rob feels that better oak selection and winemaking practices such as 'cold soaking' of the must prior to fermentation have led to improvements in the finished product. He is also a strong advocate for screw caps, believing that the delicate fruit characters of Pinot really shine under this closure, and that they also enhance the age-ability of the wines. Luke Eckersley, from regional icon Plantagenet Wines in Mt Barker, points to the variations in micro-climates and soil types across the Great Southern region as a factor. "Pinot Noir styles are varied with complex savoury styles from Denmark; elegant perfumed styles from Porongurup; rich fruit driven styles from Mount Barker; big robust styles from Albany; lighter primary fruit styles from Frankland River," he says. Michael Ng, winemaker from Rockcliffe in Denmark, adds that the cool climate with coastal influences allows full flavour development in the fruit, while still allowing for wines of finesse and savoury complexity. And a bit further west, Coby Ladwig of Rosenthal Wines points to the steep hills and valleys of the Pemberton region creating many unique micro-climates that enable varied grape growing conditions, "allowing us to create extremely complex and elegantly styled wines from one region", he says. While neighbouring Manjimup, with an altitude of 300m and therefore the coolest region in Western Australia, has cold nights and warm days ideal for flavour enhancement. PERFECTING THE FUTURE In summary, Pinot Noir in Australia is in a healthy position, with the established regions in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia producing more consistent and ever improving results. Equally exciting are the emerging Pinot Noir regions such as those in WA, as well as Tumbarumba and Orange, that show that the future for Pinot in Australia is bright. So, if you find your Shiraz doesn't love you as much anymore, perhaps look to Pinot, and when doing so, glance west. THE WINE SELECTORS TASTING PANEL The wines in this State of Play were tasted over a dedicated period by the  Wine Selectors Tasting Panel , which is made up of perceptive personalities and palates of winemakers, international wine show judges and wine educators. With an amazing 140 years collective experience, they love wine and they know their stuff.
Wine
10 strange but true wine descriptors
What do cat’s pee, sea spray and horse hair have in common? They might sound like ingredients in a witchy potion, but they’re actually all aromas you could find wafting from your wine glass. Sounds strange, but it’s true and there’s more. Check out the top ten: Cat’s pee: Sauvignon Blanc lovers might be familiar with this one. It’s particularly apparent in cool climate examples and it’s not a negative description, so don’t let it put you off your next glass of Savvy. Kerosene: This can be found in aged Rieslings and comes from the compound 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihyronaphthalene (TDN). Whether it’s a desirable trait or not comes down to personal taste. Wet stone: Take a whiff of Semillon, Riesling or Chardonnay and you might pick up this character. It describes minerality and is a savoury term, so it means you’re sniffing a great food matching wine. Sea spray: If your Chardonnay is transporting your senses to the beach, you’ve scored yourself a complex, well-made expression of the variety. Baked bread: There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread, even if it is coming from your glass of Sparkling wine. It’s a sign of secondary fermentation so it’s desirable in Sparkling and Chardonnay, but watch out if you smell it in other wines because it could be a fault. Struck match: While sulphur dioxide is a common wine additive, if you can smell struck match, the sulphur dioxide has been poorly handled. This fault can also be described as burnt rubber or mothballs. Sweaty saddle: Brettanomyces, or Brett, is a type of yeast that can, when used at low levels, can add positive attributes to a wine. However, the perception of excessive levels is a fault. Horse hair: Continuing the horsy theme, this is another description of Brett. Tractor shed: More precisely, the oil on the dirt that’s leaked from a tractor – another Brett descriptor. Mousy: Another term to describe a fault, this time from bacteria, mousy is interesting because it’s an aroma that only certain people can pick up. So if you can pick up a scent of rodent, you’re one of the chosen few!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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