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Ben Moechtar, The Grape Crusader from our ILVENISTA campaign and a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, offers a masterful take on wine and food pairing, from sweet to spicy to… artichokes: the sommelier’s nightmare!

Yes, there is a science to pairing, but it won’t work without a little bravery. Let’s begin with the basics, though. Light dishes with light wines; heavy dishes with more robust of full-bodied wines. It doesn’t matter if they are white or red wines: match the weight and aromatic intensity of the wine to the dish.

Ben Moechtar, ready to pair.

Ben Moechtar, ready to pair.

Sweetness in food should be balanced by sweetness in wine. This is especially true with desserts. If one is sweeter than the other it will dominate. Both should be balanced and harmonise. The experience of eating and drinking should be improved or elevated.

Spices and chilli need a foil. The wine must provide this but be fresh enough to cleanse the palate. The freshness of a wine is provided by the wine’s acidity. High acid wines like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon can cleanse the palate, especially if the dish is a little oily. They also match raw elements in a dish.

Reds can be dry and tannic, or soft and juicy/fruity. Fruity/juicy wines possess a higher spice tolerance.

Pro tip: pair sweet with sweet.

Pro tip: pair sweet with sweet.

Ready for a quick chemistry lesson? Tannic reds are better with richer meats cooked medium rare: it’s about binding ‘free’ proteins. For another example, try artichoke, which contains cynarin. It makes water taste sweet, but doesn’t match well with wine… it creates a weird, metallic taste. Artichokes are a sommelier’s food-matching nightmare!

Pairing wine with food relies on people opening their hearts, minds, and palates to new experiences. Keep that in mind, and happy pairing!

 

Find out more about ILVE’s wine cellars here: https://ilve.com.au/products/wine-cellars/