Wine

Food & Wine Pairing Ideas

At Augusta’s African Kitchen we try hard to get the most interesting wines, often a single bottle, for our guests to try. When it comes to our own blended red La Belle Dame sans Chapeau, we deliberately worked with Andy Barnes from Mischa Estate on a red which is all berry and rich, while also having the ability to merge well with rich flavours and our kitchens’ liberal use of spices. In then end we settled on a blend of Melot (in American Oak- suck on that wine snobs!!) and Petit Verdot. The result was a wine which pairs naturally with curry, chicken, cheese and most things actually. It is also quite nice when served just a little on the chilled side in summer.

For years, wine pairing was rarely a topic for conversation at work or between friends. These days, however, with the help of TV chefs everywhere, good food and wines are discussed and evaluated by nearly anyone. Combine this with the blinding speed of the internet, and you have a huge crop of amateur wine connoisseurs that have access to information we could only dream about not so many years ago.

The old rules for matching food and wine (white with seafood and poultry, red with red meats) no longer apply. But that doesn’t mean anything goes. Here are some valuable tips.

  1. Match the texture of the food with the texture of the wine.  A light wine, whether white or red, will be overpowered by a rich dish like steak. A rich wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, will balance it perfectly. It is about matching the ‘weight’ of the food with the ‘weight’ of the wine.
  2. Match aromas and flavors.  If you have a highly spiced dish, you need a wine that’s not going to get trampled by strong elements in the food. Riesling is a complex, spicy wine, so it works well with cuisines such as Chinese and Thai. An earthy pinot noir with cherry notes pairs beautifully with a duck dish containing mushrooms and dried cherries.
  3. Use acidity in the wine to balance the dish. With a high-acid dish like, a salad with vinaigrette or something tomato based, you might want to complement that acidity with a high-acid wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc. In the same way that a spritz of lemon balances and brightens fried seafood, so too does a Sauvignon Blanc.
  4. Pair with the sauce, not the meat. Chicken in cream sauce demands the same wine as pork in cream sauce.
  5. Follow your personal preferences. For most rules there’s always an exception, so experiment with different food and wine combinations to see what your particular taste buds respond to.