The wine park

Wine and Food Pairing - Fun or Fuss!

May 20, 2013 12:48:29 PM

Recently a few friends had taken an over night trip to visit a new and upcoming winery at Nashik. During dinner at the winery we all bought a bottle each to enjoy. The first one to open was a Chardonnay from South Africa called Dewetshof, Chalk Hill from 2009 vintage. It was a stunner. We all could not believe the quality of this south african wine - fantastic integration of oak and fruit with a superb balance and a really long finish. It was in all context yummy. After savoring the last drop, it was time for the next bottle - A Meursault!

 

Meursault is a region in Burgundy, France where chardonnay have originated and attained greatness. Meursault are fantastic chardonnay - complex, long lived, generally expensive and sought after. We were all excited to try this chardonnay from the 2005 vintage (a good 6 years in a bottle), however everyone on the table was disappointed after the first sip. It stood no where compared to the chardonnay from South Africa - which further raised our respect for the first wine. After much debating on the 2 chardonnays - one of the guys mentioned - "I think the meursault is a food wine and it will taste much better with food" The flood gates opened and the debate on the topic took on a new level!

 

My opinion on this subject is simple (controversial to many!) - if the wine does not taste well by itself then its not a good wine for you - why bother covering its deficiencies with food. The statement can make many sommeliers dismay. Sommeliers key responsibilities in the top restaurants around the globe is to pair food with wine. They can suggest which exact wine will complement with your sambhar to your gulab jamuns - which is fantastic - however is Indian wine drinker ready for this! Not really!!

 

I strongly believe that for a new wine drinking country like India - the concept of food and wine should be kept at a distance for now. It will just confuse the hell out of everybody - knowing wine is challenging enough, bringing food into the equation will be nightmarish!

 

Indian food is amazing enough that you don't need wine to enhance the flavors and diverse enough to confuse the best of the sommeliers on which wine will complement it. Moreover Indian consumer drinks their beverages either before or after the meal - hence making it even more important to have a drink which you enjoy by itself. Who cares how does a 18 year old Glenlevit tastes with your food - its bloody good period.

 

To reinforce the above - over one of the dinners at a restaurant, me and a sommelier had opened a nice bottle of Plump Jack Merlot from Napa Valley. The wine was phenomenal. We order a tandoori chicken to complement the wine - yes I am guilty of it too! We were really enjoying the wine till the chicken came to our table - it was so amazingly delicious and flavorful that we literally forgot about the wine till the meal got over. The pairing went for a toss! It made me realize that when both food and wine are so good then why combine - have each one in its totality and you can have double the fun!!

 

At the end of it all that what you are really eating and drinking for!!

 

Cheers,
Vishal