Kings may be blest
These poetic words were written a long time ago by Robbie Burns, the famous Scottish poet. Throughout the ages wine has been imbibed in Church ceremonies and it has always been present at the banquets of the greatest kings and emperors. But with the change of time, wine is no longer the privilege of kings but it is used on a daily basis by millions. One would not dream of going to a fine dining experience without ordering a bottle of wine or two. Not only is this relaxing but it is also part of a sensualist ritual. A dinner will inevitably be more enjoyable if balanced with a celebrated Pintotage or Sauvignon Blanc as the case may be. The waiter arrives with the wine menu which is huge in proportion and bingo – the prices hit you between the eyes! You want to impress your partner and the list is prodigious. Your confusion rises. What must you choose to go with the fish and is it ok to select Cabernet Sauvignon with your Chateaubriand.
What goes with the dessert? How does it all work? Don’t be swayed by the prices of the wines as this will put you off. Fundamentally, choosing wine is an imprecise art and the very best wine masters will argue over choices made. Everyone has different senses and there will always be a certain amount of disagreement. But remember that you should drink wine as “you” like it. On the other hand, the noticeable feature of each wine should prescribe which food it should match with. Let’s say, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon and can slot in with dishes that go with spicy sauces e.g. beef, lamb. These wines also have a strong tannic, combined with a full body so they will go with cheeses that have strong piquancy. They are able to counteract the fattiness of these foods.
What of white wines? Normally white wines are tangy , fruity, tart and acidic. You must also take its sweetness, bouquet and overall sense of balance into account. They can be matched with seafoods such as oysters and sole. Some go with cheeses and poultry e.g. Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The overall rule is that wines that merge well with fish and other white meat contain high acidic flavour. The snappy, crisp suggestion of acid heightens the flavour of fish.
An Italian restaurant? Wines that compliment pasta dishes are Merlot, Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio. So your choice is easy! Wonderful flavour enhancing Muscat, Rieslings or Port are best paired with desserts. Most curried and highly spiced oriental foods go with a Riesling. Shiraz compliments Mexican food. Shiraz or Syrah as it is also identified, also enhances meat dishes such as chicken, ribs, as well as pork, beef and duck. If fast food dishes such as burgers will go with Merlot. German foods such as ham and sausages will blend well with a zesty wine called Gewurztraminer. This is also safest for Asian foods. Most grilled dishes like fish and vegetables as well as mysterious spicy foods go with Rose. If smoked salmon is dished up on the table, it's wise to get pleasure from sparkling wines.
Wine speak You must be familiar with the jargons brut, demi sec, sec or off-dry. These names refer to the sweetness of the wine. On a scale, demi sec wines are sweet and brut wines are not sweet at all. Look at the label that's written under the brand of the wine. Don’t be scared to ask the sommelier if you have no clue at all as you cast your eye over the wine list. He is employed because he has huge knowledge and experience when it comes to wine tasting, preparation and serving.
What is the rationale behind choosing a good wine? Basically a wine's purpose is not to annihilate the taste of the dish served with it, but to round out its strong points and suggestions of flavour. Many wines take time to reach their peak and in this maturation procedure the wine’s taste changes. It will grow more powerful or smooth out. Be mindful of this aging process of each wine. Some wines grip the characteristics of their storage barrels such as oak e.g. many Chardonnays are over wooded. Other wines can have complex taste through their colour and smell. Smell the wine for a good nose. If you are keen on the nose, it is very probable that you will also be mad about its taste.
A pragmatic way of becoming an expert on wines
1. Investigate different wines. Experimenting helps you open up your wine terminology and enlarge your wine comprehension. It will give your taste buds an opportunity to delve into the art of wine know-how.
2. Make certain that you take footnotes of each wine's individuality. A single wine tasting session does not make a wine taste regular. As you magnify your tasting skills, you forget a particular wine's attributes as well.
3. Keeping an olfactory commentary of any wine is compulsory for anyone wishing to explore its complexity.
4. Trust your nose and taste. Experiment with new wines and learn all the time. Discuss your newfound knowledge with experts at the restaurant and wine emporium. Try different wines with different meals.