Being wined and dined in style is one of life’s greatest pleasures – all the more so when the two blend together in exquisite harmony. Below we’ve canvassed chefs and sommeliers from some of the world’s leading restaurants and wine regions to discover what flavour pairings are lighting up their palates right now. Get set to whet your appetite with wanderlust, wine and wondrous food ideas.
Basque burnt cheesecake with Barón De Ley Varietales Graciano 2018
Created by Rioja makers Barón De Ley in partnership with Omar Allibhoy, aka The Spanish Chef
Graciano is a native and minority grape in Rioja, Spain. It has character and structure while maintaining an incredible freshness, finesse, clean aromas and a dense and velvety palate. The complexity of the grape means it can pair with some pretty interesting and less obvious dishes, like a Basque burnt cheesecake, which is crustless on the outside and mousse-like on the inside. The vanilla flavour from the caramelised top allows the wine’s fruit to pop, while the intense texture blends into this full-bodied wine.
Scottish lobster corn and verbena with 2018 Domaine Jean & Gilles Lafouge Meursault
Created by Jonathan Kleeman, head sommelier at two Michelin stars Restaurant Story in London
This pairing is a great balancing act. You have the clean, fresh tones of the lobster – which has a light and elegant flavour – complemented by the minerality of the 2018 Domaine Jean & Gilles Lafouge Meursault, from the famous Burgundy region of France. On top of that, you’ll taste the hint of citrus and creamy consistency from the lemon verbena sauce.
Sautéed Koh Kong scallops with L'Avenir Provenance Chenin Blanc 2021
My menu is inspired by recipes passed down by my grandmother; I love to serve traditional Khmer cuisine with a modern, adventurous twist. Sea scallops sautéed with string beans, finger chilli, pork and holy basil is one such dish, carefully blended with flavours from the medium-bodied L’Avenir Provenance Chenin Blanc 2021 (a variety that comes from the Stellenbosch wine region, in South Africa’s Western Cape). The combination of the light oak and notes of melon and pineapple, along with the scallops, are a match made in heaven.
West Coast wild halibut with Domaine Trapet A Minima Blanc 2020
Created by sommelier patron David Lapsley and head chef John McNulty from the Michelin Guide-listed Etive Restaurant in Oban, Scotland
The Minima Blanc is a superb blending of six grape varieties from different terroirs: Pinot Auxerrois, Sylvaner, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Riesling. The aromas of citrus, lemon and lime, with back notes of white pepper, work great with the lean, wild halibut. In fact, the wine begins to perform with each taste of the dish. But, the real power in the pairing here is the sauce – a delightfully powerful yet delicate smoked haddock, blended with a creamy fish stock sauce, garden peas, leek and corn.
Barbequed pineapple with Domaine de Souch Jurançon Moelleux 2017
Created by Maria Boumpa, head sommelier at the Michelin-starred Da Terra restaurant in London’s Bethnal Green
This is a dessert wine from the Jurançon region in the south of France. The wine is made from 50% Petit Manseng and 50% Gros Manseng, both indigenous varieties. It features very ripe and healthy grapes, always harvested in late November. As a result, the wine retains the acidity deriving from the grapes, along with the primary flavours, giving a very refreshing style of dessert wine: there’s also tropical notes of mango, passionfruit and ripe pineapple. It goes beautifully with a typically Brazilian dessert of barbecued pineapple, coconut, fermented pineapple juice and verbena.
Duck Rillette with Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 and 2018 vintages
Created by Jonathan Musto, chef de cuisine at the Jordan Winery in Sonoma, California
Complex with hints of stone fruit and earthy tones of roasted nuts, the Cabernet Sauvignon’s acidity cuts through the fattiness of the duck, allowing the tarragon in the dish to shine. Sourced locally from Liberty Farms, the duck has a nuanced flavour that complements the red and black fruit of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
We braise the duck in the wine to further accentuate the pairing. And, we complete the dish with pickled cherries and cucumbers – which extends the wine’s long finish.
Negombo mud crab curry with Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2020
An age-old recipe passed down over the generations, our Negombo mud crab curry is a favourite with guests. It pairs beautifully with Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, a light-bodied, dry white wine from France’s Loire Valley. The sweetness of the crab complements the dryness of the wine well, while the spices pair with its fruity and floral flavours.
Cheese and charcuterie board with 2018 Domaine Bott First Flight Viognier
Created by Erika Parjus, sommelier at Bottles Wine Garden in Washington, D.C
Julie and Graeme Bott, winemakers from France’s Northern Rhône, have crafted a wine that provides more stone fruit and apple aromas than most Viognier grapes. The First Flight variety serves as the missing piece to all cheese and charcuterie boards. Notes of green apple skin, almondine, nectarine pith, and honeyed pear are all present for you to enjoy. The waxy texture of the wine makes it a sublime addition to nutty cheeses such as Manchego, and softer cheeses, like Drunken Goat Cheese.
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Images: ©Barón De Ley, Restaurant Story, Shinta Mani, Etive, ©Ariana Ruth/Da Terra, Jordan Winery, Jetwing Lagoon, Bottles Wine Garden, Unsplash & Adobe Stock