One of the things I shall miss about the printed edition of Wine magazine is the advice on how to combine food and wine successfully from Katinka van Niekerk, author of The Food & Wine Pairing Guide (Struik Lifestyle: 2009) which used to appear alongside the tasting reports. Real insights on a subject that it is inordinately tricky to get completely right.
“When wooded, Chenin pairs well with the light spicing of prawn biryani, chicken or seafood curries, fish in light creamy sauces and stuffed baby marrows,” Van Niekerk wrote in the February issue of Wine. Stuffed baby marrows aren’t something we are too likely to try at Chez Eedes but we are partial to a curry, and recently we sat down to Angel fish in an Indian-style mustard sauce.
What to drink with this? I opted for a bottle of Graham Beck The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009, a wine which I had previously found rich and full and thought would work well with the mild fish curry. Surprisingly, however, it proved to be a somewhat unhappy food and wine match: the wine had plenty of peach and tropical fruit flavour but ultimately lacked both palate weight and verve next to the curry ‚ I subsequently learnt that only a small portion of this Chenin (15%) was fermented in oak, so perhaps I should have sought an alternative with more oak influence.
Not to be thwarted, we opted for a bottle of Avondale Snow White 2008, a wine from 100% Viognier and named after the Kapokbos, an aromatic wild rosemary bush used as cover crop in the vineyards (now discontinued). This wine was matured in French oak for 10 months, and while remarkably similar in flavour profile to the Chenin, it had more substance and zing making it a better food partner.