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Complex food-and-wine pairings

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Complex food-and-wine pairings

Complex food-and-wine pairings

Whether home-cooked or ordered from the finest menu, finding wine pairings for flavours such as salty food, fish, eggs, venison and chocolate can be overwhelming and confusing. Read on for our simple guide to getting it right.

By Fresh Living

The pairing of food and wine should bring out the best flavours in both the dish and the drink. Get this right and the results are fabulous.

Though salt can completely dominate a wine, when the right balance is achieved, a salt-based dish can do wonders for the vino, and vice versa. Chef Craig Cormack, co-owner of The Goose Roasters, has been known to create mouth-watering dishes with big flavours. He’s paired trout cured in Khoisan salt and sugar with Sauvignon Blanc; pork fillets cured in Upington salt with Cabernet Sauvignon; slow-cooked, salt-cured beef with Shiraz; and salted chocolate tart with homegrown Pinotage to achieve a well-balanced menu.

When it comes to fish, we’re all quick to reach for our favourite Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, but you can definitely be more adventurous than that! Fresh tuna goes stunningly with a medium-bodied Merlot and Pinot Noir. Try hake with a Chenin Blanc and grilled yellowtail with Pinot Grigio. Surprisingly, mackerel goes nicely with Guinness (trust us on this one). Bubbles work great with salmon, but try a fine Pinot Noir too – you won’t be sorry.

When it comes to complex food-and-wine pairings, eggs and wine take the cake! What on earth do you serve with egg-based dishes, which are so notoriously difficult to pair with wines? Brunch-time classic eggs Benedict pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc. For simple scrambled eggs with bacon and mushrooms, try a not too heavily wooded Chardonnay, or stick to bubbly served with cauliflower wraps and soft-boiled eggs. Brandy also pairs well with eggs, so go for spiced egg-based desserts like milk tart and pastel de nata.

For vegetable mains and sides, you don’t want anything too bold. Beetroot, with its strong taste and acidity, when pickled, is best paired with the earthy flavours of Pinot Noir and other medium-bodied reds. A roast-vegetable salad with a vinegar-based vinaigrette will pair perfectly with a Chenin Blanc. Alternatively, serve a Sauvignon Blanc with chargrilled vegetables with a creamy hummus dressing.

For the meat-eaters, it’s well known that gamey Springbok goes well with full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. For more exotic meats like gemsbok, try Merlot – use it in the marinade too to bring out the best flavours in the meat and wine! How about an ostrich and blue-cheese burger? That’s if your palate can handle such an eccentric combination. Blue cheese has such a strong flavour that you might want to find an equally robust, preferably fortified, wine to pair it with – a Cape Tawny Port should do the trick.

Because chocolate tends to coat the insides of your mouth, it can kill the flavours of most wines, though a sweet vino like medium- or full-cream sherry will usually take up the challenge. If you don’t have sherry available, simply pour a glass of Shiraz, sit back and enjoy.