Hang on – isn’t it ‘white wine with fish, red wine with meat’? Well, not if you don’t want to. Many people struggle to drink red wine – they dislike the tannins and find them too thick and heavy – and since at the end of the day, the best food and wine match is the one you enjoy, there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t be able to drink a white wine with a steak. The important thing is to try and get the weight of the food and wine in balance.
‘Weight’ doesn’t mean grammes and kilos!
When you’re talking food and wine matching, weight means mouth-feel. This loosely translates as a combination of rich flavours, alcohol, use of oak and fruit intensity – the wine just ‘feels’ bigger, fatter and heavier in your mouth. A word of explanation – intense flavours generally means better quality fruit which equals pricier wines. But heck, meat isn’t cheap and neither should your wine be. Here are five recent favourites I’ve enjoyed recently and which I reckon have enough oomph to cut it with a cutlet.
The Foundry Roussanne 2010 R115 from Wine Concepts
This is the own-label range by Meerlust winemaker, Chris Williams, who specialises in Rhone varietals when given half the chance. Roussanne is not as well-known a variety as Viognier, but shares a lot of the same characteristics – a peachy perfume and ripe viscosity which makes it one of the best food wines going. This example is the ‘Frenchiest’ wine (excellent to know that 3 years of studying English has been put to good use) I’ve come across in SA – restrained yet complex, stately but not ponderous – a complete meal in the mouth. I drank it with Stir-fried Beef and Broccoli with 5 spice and Hoisin sauce and I strongly advise you to do the same.
Buitenverwachting Maximus 2009 R150 from the farm
This is one of winemaker Brad Paton’s trio of specialities – it’s a white Bordeaux blend which has been barrel-fermented and matured for 20 months to produce a rich, limey, seamless and frankly, totally awesome wine. I first tasted this over a year ago and had to pick my tastebuds down from the ceiling as the acidity growled at me like a tiger and terrified me into putting the wine away until it sorted itself out. And boy, has it ever done that now! People often ask when they should drink a wine – if you have any of this stashed away, then the time is NOW! Hedonistic pleasure only heightened by drinking it with Seared Duck Breast with a spiced Naartjie sauce.
Haskell Anvil Chardonnay 2010 R290 from the farm
Rianie Strydom reminds me of Maggie Smith (who I would pay to hear read a telephone directory) – I would always fork out cash happily and willingly to drink anything Rianie makes, whatever the variety or price, because it is always, always worthwhile. This is her new release – a top-level Chardonnay (although to be honest, I have no problems recommending her Dombeya Chardonnay as well). It’s the epitome of balance, showing a little more oak now than I suspect it will in 6 months, plenty of citrussy fruit with some tart marmalade hints. I’d try this with Game Carpaccio – I think the spicy oak could handle the coriander and pepper without a problem.
Stellenrust 46 Barrel-Fermented Chenin Blanc 2010 R120 from the farm
There are so many ‘Stellen’ wineries that I have to confess I often find it easy to confuse them. But none of them do Chenin quite as well as Tertius Boshoff and partners, and anyway, after they sportingly brought me back some Coopers Ale from Australia a few months ago, they are forever etched on my mind! Nothing like a bit of bribery to get your wine reviewed, but there was absolutely no need to do that here, because the wine is simply luscious and lovely. Slightly off-dry, owing to a small dollop of botrytised fruit, yet lively, appley and rich. I can’t think of a better match for an Asian-style Slow-roasted Pork Belly.
Nederburg Ingenuity 2010 R160 from selected retailers
I’ve recommended this wine before recently but if it was up to me, I would probably just recommend it all the time, with everything. Crafted from 7 different grape varieties all melded into a multi-layered mouthful of citrus fruit, stone fruit and cream all offset by a tingling acidity which is well-integrated with the subtle, spicy oak. This is the wine to drink with everything , so yes, if you want to have a large hunk of cow on your plate and you don’t like red wine – then try this. I reckon it’s more than a match for most things you can throw at it and can turn any meal into a feast with ease.