Pairing food and wine

There are those among us who would have you treat your meals with a Spartan, militant set of criteria when it comes to food and wine. There are those who would, for their own nefarious puposes, cling to their outdated theories of eugenics and cry foul whenever they see any kind of foody miscegenation:
"How appalling", they attest, "to see the innocent white flesh of the fish befouled with the dark blood of the shiraz".

It is upon us to lead the way out of these crude limitations and base assumptions. Join me, friends, and we will have justice (and food) for all.

The statement 'red wine goes with red meat' is about on par with 'Kenyans are good marathon runners'. It certainly is true some of the time, but to extrapolate those truths out to cover a whole population is far too simplistic. The red wine=red meat and white wine=white meat rule is nice and straight forward, but it can be a very rewarding rule to break.

It's the intensity of a wine, not its colour, that will affect how well it matches a certain dish. You've got to get that right first. Roast beef with rich gravy is a considerably heavier meal than salmon with lime and dill, and a well-matched wine will reflect that. What gives us so much room to play around is that not every red is a big, hearty wine, and not every white is a delicate little snowflake that will be crushed by anything with a bit of bite to it. A gentle, nuanced Coonawarra shiraz is worlds apart from its loud, punchy brethren in the Barossa. Similarly, a good Clare or Eden Valley riesling can hold its own without a worry, whereas those born in the Adelaide Hills will require a little more molly-coddling.

So when it comes to matching them with food, a Coonawarra shiraz viognier (viognier is a white wine that, when blended with shiraz in small quantities (~5%) , imparts a lovely smoothness to the finish) could be a fine accompaniment to a mild curry or barbequed prawns which would, according to convention, be best matched with a white wine. And this is handy, because the white wine you saved here was actually an Adelaide Hills chardonnay or a Hunter Valley semillon that has enough of a backbone to support the more intense flavours of the pork and fennel sausages you're serving afterwards.

The next step, once a suitably delicate or powerful wine has been chosen, is to think about the particular flavours of the wine. Some whites will have distinctly citrus components, others will have an abundance of fruity flavours. I'll leave it up to you to decide which one would be brilliant with key lime pie, and which one would go well with a fruit salad.

Of course, this kind of matching requires you to have actually tasted the wine first, which is a real shame. Still, as the devoted culinary adventurers that we are, we must accept this added burden and commit to drinking delicious wine so that we may be better able to match it with food. It's a big ask, but I think we're up to it.

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