our wine experience


The more you learn about wine, the more you will begin to appreciate the subtle variations that different varietals and wine styles offer. And the more you’ll be able to drink what you like, like what you drink. Let the journey begin.

PAIRING BASICS

ARE THERE ANY RULES?

I prefer basic guide instead of rules because wine is all about personal preference. The basic guide for pairing wine and food is that it provides you with a starting point. For some, the basics are simple: red wine with beef, white wine with chicken.

Wine’s primary purpose is to complement your food, to punctuate, and amplify it. Everyone understands that certain combinations taste great together—like peanut butter and chocolate—and others clash terribly, like drinking orange juice after you brush your teeth. So the only true rule of pairing is to find the wine that harmonizes with your food and takes it to new heights but above all, the guiding rule should, according to Robert Mondavi, always be to “Drink what you like, and like what you drink”

Break The Rules

Try not to think of wine selection as an exercise in etiquette. Instead of applying rules, consider the flavours in the meal at hand. For example, if you put barbecue sauce on your chicken, its flavours becomes as intense as any steak, and you might need something besides a light Sauvignon Blanc. If you put lemony béarnaise sauce on your beef, your ideal wine choice will vary from the usual hefty Cabernet you might select for beef. Red wine may pair nicely with fish if the dish has a really intense sauce, something with Greek olives and tomatoes and onions; a Pinot Noir, which is a very light-bodied, dry red wine, would provide a nice complement.

But as a general principle, if you’re not adding pungent sauces or other flavourings to the food, use Pairing Basics as a good, basic guide to trying some simple pairings.

Match Strength And Weight

As important as flavours is the idea of wine’s relative “weight”. Red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon make sense with steak because both the wine and the food have big, bold, complementary flavours. Drinking a light white wine such as, say, Pinot Grigio with a grilled rib-eye is perfectly legal – it will satisfy thirst much as a glass of lemonade would, and not necessarily clash with the meat’s flavours. But it also wouldn’t truly complement or “stand up” to the juicy, strong flavours of char-grilled beef and balance the fatty richness the way a big Cabernet does. The right wine combination makes the food itself taste better, and vice-versa, without overwhelming or disappearing next to it.

Similarly, white wines make more sense with delicately flavoured, subtler foods like chicken and fish. If you drank Cabernet with simple steamed salmon, you wouldn’t be able to taste the fish at all. You’re better off with a dry white, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Unless you then introduced a powerful sauce and needed to break the rules again. Just remember that at the end, the good thing about the rules is that they are just a guide and with each pallet being different, there is no right or wrong, just opinions and preferences.

Below I have compiled a basic list of wines varieties paired with different foods but again, it is just a guide. Use it and experiment to find your best combination. There is no right or wrong pairing, just your own preference

Steak & Barbeque.......... ………..Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Malbec, Bold Reds

Poultry......................................... Riesling, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlot, Rioja, Burgundy

Pork............................................. Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlot, Rioja, Riesling

Fish............................................. Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir (swordfish)

Shellfish...................................... Chablis, Riesling, Burgundy, Chardonnay

Tomato based Pasta (red).......... Chianti, Sangiovese, Italian wines, Merlot, Zinfandel (red)

Creamy Pasta (white sauce)....... Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Chianti

Spicy foods................................. Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Rose

STORE WINE CHILL OR NOT TO CHILL

LIKE ALL OTHER FOOD OR DRINK, THE TEMPERATURE AT WHICH YOU STORE AND ENJOY WINE CAN HAVE A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH IT.

Does Temperature Really AFFECT Taste?

Yes! And this is hardly unique. Milk is enjoyed both heated and cold, depending on preference, season and time of day. Coffee and tea are apt examples too. For both, temperature plays a big role in taste, refreshment, and food compatibility. Temperature also affects our ability to experience the unique tastes of wine. If a wine is too cold, flavours are not accessible; you simply sense the chill, the weight and a faint smell. Colas carry super-high flavour and sugar levels to compensate for this affect, and if out too long, they become a syrupy mess. A wine’s taste also suffers from too warm a temperature, turning it heavy or unbalanced, even causing a slight burn. In short, your experience of a particular wine can vary widely depending upon the temperature at which you serve it.

The Moral of The Storage Story Is

Wine, like most beverages, should be served at the temperature that best brings out its flavour and balance.

SERVING WINE: WHAT PROTOCOL

WHETHER YOU POUR WINE FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY OR TOTAL STRANGERS, THE KEY THING TO REMEMBER IS TO POUR FOR EVERYONE.

Sharing a glass of wine is a great way to relax and enjoy time with friends. Whether to complement a wonderful meal or to be savoured on its own, wine’s delectable complexities make the perfect addition to any occasion. Hope the below questions answers some of your questions.

How To Pour or not to pour?

The proper way is the simplest way: holding the bottle in one hand, extend your arm, extend your arm out in front of you (it should be at a 90° angle to the glass); then gently tilt. Now pour until the glass is roughly half-full (at about 3–4 oz, a standard 750ml bottle will yield 6–8 servings this size), taking care not to drip. Once finished, pull the bottle up and back while slightly twisting your wrist counter-clockwise; this will help prevent more pesky dripping as you move on to the next glass. The reason you pour a glass half full is because it allows room for swirling the glass, increasing the wines contact with air and thus releasing more aromas.

Who would you Serve First?

At a casual gathering with friends, any order will do. But if a romantic tête-à-tête, or a family or business event, erring on the side of convention will keep you in the clear: Beloved before significant other, boss before employee, guest before host, woman before man.

TASTING WINE

TASTING MAY NOT BE THE RIGHT WORD FOR SOMETHING THAT REALLY ENGAGES ALL THE SENSES BUT IT COVERS IT WELL

Sight

To experience a wine’s full breadth, you need to start by drinking in its appearance—its clarity and colour. Begin by examining your wine glass against a white or neutral backdrop, preferably in a room that is well lit. This will allow you to really “see” the wine. It should be clear, not hazy, and the colour should be rich and full.

White Wines - Some white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio may appear light green, straw yellow, or even gold. Red Wines - Red wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir can range from purple to ruby to dark rose but as reds age they lose some of their colour, taking on duller tones like amber, no matter their original shade. Rose Wines - Rose Wines are so-called because of their pinkish hue.

Smell

Our next stop on this tasting tour is our nose. The nasal passages connect it directly to your mouth—meaning that smells stimulate the palate just as tastes do.

Now, give your glass a gentle swirl. When the wine’s oxygen contact increases as it breathes—more aromas are released. Draw your nose in close, inhale deeply, and try to identify the first scent you detect, fresh Lemon, Grapefruit, Cigar smoke, Berries or Wood? Let your imagination run wild. Conjuring these associations is fun, and you’ll find you remember better which wines you enjoyed and why.

Taste

Finally, its time to really explore the wine with out taste buds. Take a small sip and hold it in your mouth. Different areas of the tongue detect salt, bitterness and sweetness, so you need to work your mouthful around until it’s fully coated, making note of the wine’s texture, body, and weight—its "mouth-feel” , not to be confused with a mouthful. A wine is considered "balanced" when its components (tannin levels, acidity, sweetness, and such) work in harmony. Tannins should have an agreeable astringency (experienced as that "pucker" sensation) and acidity should be pleasant, but not overwhelming.

Finally, assess the wine’s "finish"—the taste left in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. What’s it like? How long does it last? A sign of a good quality wine is ripe, balanced flavours and a lingering finish.

Essences

Essences are the subtle flavours and smells that are present in every wine. They shape a wine’s personality. fruity, nutty, spicy, or sweet, essence scents run the gamut from A to Z —especially since wine grapes boast many more aroma and flavour compounds than other fruits. In fact, a glass of wine might carry dozen’s of such essences.

What Does Your Nose Know?

Your nose is your most valuable tool for identifying wine essences because even the way a wine tastes to you is ruled by your sense of its smell. And since our senses vary so much, it would be wrong to describe wine as either being “right” or “wrong.” 

The Essence of Essences

Different essences are common to different types of wine. Those common to red wines include: blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, black currant, cherry, raisin, prune, fig, soy sauce, chocolate, molasses, vanilla, tobacco, cloves, mushroom, oak, cedar, cola, and allspice. Essences common to white wines include: grapefruit, lemon, apricot, peach, apple, melon, pineapple, banana, violet, orange blossom, straw, freshly cut grass, hazelnut, honey, butterscotch, butter, and vanilla.

TEMPERATURE AND TASTE

Wine Best Served Uncorked Tip

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Dry White & Rosé

7-13C degrees, Cold, but not too cold.

Above 16C degrees, whites come off flabby or watery and reek of alcohol. At 2C degrees and below, taste-buds become so numbed that the wine seems flavourless.

Most fridges will over-chill your wine, so let it sit out for 15 minutes before you serve.

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Dry Red

13-21C degrees, typical cellar temperature.

Red wine’s acidity, fruit, and tannins achieve balance when at the right temp. Too cold and its tannins turn it bitter and musty; too warm and it gets heavy, and tastes like alcohol.

Play around with these suggested temps to find the one you like best.

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Sweet Dessert

3-7C degrees, a little cooler than dry wines, especially if white.

Extra sugar and pronounced flavour means that these wines fare far better in the cold than their dry cousins. Like cola, they achieve a better balance in this chill.

Serve it directly from the fridge and it’ll be the perfect temp.

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Champagne & Sparkling

3-10C degrees, though some prefer to serve icy cold.

The bubbles keep the flavours naturally balanced in a way that still wines can’t match.

Compare chilled and icy to see which you like best.


THE GEOGRAPHY OF WINE

The idea of a geographic area of origin isn’t unique to wine grapes – other kinds of food can have appellations as well (i.e. Riverland oranges). But nowhere is identifying the origin of food taken as seriously as it is with wine grapes. Unique appellation names help people make informed decisions when buying wine. That’s why claiming an appellation carries legal definitions and protections. An appellation can be as large as hundreds of thousands of acres and contain many separate vineyards, or it can be as small as a single vineyard of only a few acres. But aside from just indicating where the grapes come from, designating an appellation can imply the kinds of grapes grown, the maximum grape yields, alcohol levels, and other factors that may influence the quality and taste of wines that list that appellation on their label. Rules about appellations vary by country, but winegrowers all over the world take great pride of ownership to protect the use of their appellations on wine labels.

Appellations can be found all over the world, and sometimes go by other names. In France, perhaps the most famous appellation is Champagne. Like Champagne, many wines in France and Italy have become synonymous with their appellation. Here in Australia, where most wines are identified first by varietal grape, we have official wine zones, regions and sub regions and an example of a region is an area you may have heard of – McLaren Vale in South Australia, which is where you’ll find Sylvan Springs Estate. The industry is however more and more moving towards using region and sub-region into its branding.