Food and wine pairing

We’re often asked what kind of dishes to served with the wines we produce. As we receive quite a few visitors for lunch during the year, it’s a question we frequently ask ourselves as well.

To start with, the whole “science” behind food and wine pairing got a stir from research done in Japan, where it was found out that levels of iron in wine basically determine how well it pairs with fish. Wines with high levels of iron cause and unpleasant fishy taste in the mouth. Historically, red wine contained more iron than white wine, so that could be a valid reason for the recommendation of red wine with meat, white wine with fish. I get the same unpleasant sensation from eating apples after fish, and the browning of a cut apple apparently has something to do with high iron content as well.
This goes just to show how uncertain some of the established wisdom in food and wine pairing can be.

At the winery we normally try to serve food that’s in season, and if that happens to be asparagus, as is the case right now in spring, then so be it. Asparagus is difficult to pair with wine, but an absolute joy when fresh!
Otherwise, we favour lighter food, such as ravioli filled with corn (maize) with a tomato and basil sauce. Again, the tomato can clash with some of the wines, but normally they have enough acidity to cope well.
A wine with low acidity is the GSM (Grenache – Syrah – Mourvèdre), which is full bodied but not very tannic either. Lighter food but strongly flavoured, like mediterranean food such as fish or vegetables with garlic, anchovies, fresh herbs and so on, seem the best match.

During a recent trip to the United States, Ryan DiFranco of Difrancos.com in Denver, CO, paired our wines extremely well, the most surprising combination a lemon cheese cake with white chocolate with the Syrah Edición Limitada 2008. After Five years, the wine had become soft and rounded enough to pair well with the sweet flavours, and the lemon gave the whole experience a very fresh lift.

Another restaurant, near Grand Rapids, West Michigan, (unfortunately I forgot the name) prepared the best surf-and-turf I have ever eaten to pair with the Aluvión 2008 and 2002. In this case, the dish suddenly made sense, the earthiness of the shrimp complementing the meat and wine in the best way you can possibly imagine!