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Meat and Wine 101

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Pairing meat and wine seems like an arcane and complicated thing, so much so that some people find it discouraging. Take a note or two from Ponti Young, certified wine advisor at IMust and chief wine officer of BACCO!

There comes a time when a wine lover has the inevitable moment of self-doubt; “Did I choose the right wine? Does this meat pair well with this wine?” But at the same time, wine pairing is as teachable as cooking – all you need is a good guide.

Ponti’s approach to meat and wine pairing is flexible. His advice should put the most novice wine drinker among us at ease: There are no firm rules in wine pairing. Find something that you like to eat and find something that you like to drink. Don’t let others tell you otherwise. For Ponti, the  most important part in matching meat and wine is to find what will compliment both of them.

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“In my opinion, it shouldn’t be rocket science. It is not a precise science and it’s always nice to have the ability to experiment, to try new wine or a different style of wine, or a different way of cooking. Again, if you look at wine and food, it is something very primal, something very basic in a way but it is always developing,” explained Ponti.

However, in pairing wine and food, there are some basic steps that you can learn. For example, rich wine goes well with rich food and light wine goes well with lighter food. Look for wine that has a sweet flavor for spicy food. For something slightly oily and fatty, look for wine that has acidity. Another important note from Ponti is deciding on the technique of cooking and proceeding to the sauce being used.

“What will differentiate the flavor of the meat is the seasoning and the way you cook it. That’s the thing you should pay attention to when you think about meat and wine pairing. If you, let’s say, slow cook, braise or grill your meat, you will get a totally different flavor. So I would pay much attention to the method of cooking and the sauce.”

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Meat: Beef/Lamb

Cooking Method:
Grilling, pan searing.

Cuts:
Tenderloin, sirloin, rib eye, T-bone.

Wine type:
Medium to full bodied reds with nice firm tannins to cut through the protein should do the trick. Look or wines from regions such as Barolo (Italy), Bordeaux      (France), Rhone Valley (France), Victoria (Australia), Alto Colchagua (Chile), Napa Valley (U.S.).

Ponti’s Favorites:
Luciano Sandrone “Le Vigne” Barolo, Chateau Pichon Lalande, Chateau de Beaucastel CDP, Yarra Yering “Dry Red No 1”, Vina Koyle “Royale” Cabernet Sauvignon, Ridge “Montebello” Cabernet.


Meat: Beef/Lamb

Cooking Method:
Braised, stewed, slow roasted.

Cuts:
Chuck, butt, topside.

Wine type:
Medium bodied reds suit stews nicely as they have a lively mouthfeel and nice acidity to wash off some of the richness. Just remember to match the weight, so the lighter the stew, the lighter the wine. Check out wines from Tuscany (Italy), Rhone Valley (France), Stellenbosch (South Africa), Casablanca Valley (Chile), Martinborough (New Zealand).

Ponti’s Favorites:
Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montalpuciano Riserva, E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge, Muratie Merlot, Matetic Syrah, Craggy Range “Te Muna” Pinot Noir.


Meat: Beef/Pork/Lamb

Cooking Method:
Barbecuing.

Cuts:
Ribs.

Wine type:
Full-blown bodied reds with ripe fruit characters and juicy mouthfeel to match the dense, smokey BBQ flavours. Something from the Barossa Valley (Australia), Colchagua Valley (Chile), Puglia (Italy), Veneto (Italy), Mendoza (Argentina), Priorat (Spain).

Ponti’s Favorites:
Trobreck Shiraz, Montes “Purple Angel” Carmenere, Sessantanni Primitivo di Manduria, Masi Amarone, Benmarco Malbec, Epicure “Huellas.”


Meat: Veal/Pork

Cooking Method:
Grilling, pan searing.

Wine type:
Light to medium bodied reds and roses will compliment the lean flavors of veal, just pay attention to the sauce you use when picking the wine. Consider crisp whites if you’re whipping up the classic Viennese Weiner schnitzel. Seek wines from regions from Veneto (Italy), Beaujolais (France), Tavel (France), Nahe (Germany), Wagram River (Austria).

Ponti’s Favorites:
Tommasi Valpolicella, Villa Ponciago “Beaujolais Village”, Famille Per-rin “Tavel Rose”, Schlossgut Diel Riesling “Kabinett”, Leth Gruner Veltliner.


Burgundy vs Bordeaux

Burgundy and Bordeaux are both regions in France, and these terms also refer to wines made in those regions.

Bordeaux is best known for its reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based wines, blended with support from Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. White Bordeaux, or Bordeaux blanc, is primarily a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Bordeux is usually more powerful, has more tannin, more leaning toward chocolate and dark berry. The wine usually can age for between 10, 15, 20 and 50 years.

Burgundy is known equally for its white and red wines. The main grape varieties are Chardonnay (white Burgundy) and Pinot Noir (red Burgundy). Burgundy is more on the livelier side as pinot noir is a lighter grape, with lighter skin and less tannins, more acidity and a lot more difficult to cultivate.

For the glasses:

The Bordeux glass is a lot more tapered on top and it’s quite tall, while Burgundy has a much larger bowl with a rounder bottom and bigger opening. The Bordeaux-specific glass provides ample surface area for the full-bodied reds to be swirled for aeration and enhancing the experience of the complex aromatics. While for Burgundy, it is more directional and it doesn’t need a lot of space for aeration.

As for bottles:

The Bordeaux bottle has a shoulder, while the Burgundy bottle is slimmer and has less angle to its shoulder. It’s mainly because Bordeux is made to age while the Burgundy has a lot more color and over time, the color will break apart. The point of the shoulder is to hold it, so you don’t pour everything into the glass.



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