Often pairing of good wines with great food is left to the experts – in this case, Sean Granger GM of Granny Mouse.
If you are dining at Granny Mouse, you’ll enjoy choices from our 20-year-old cellar – a simple storage space dug deep below the hotel that, through the years, was redesigned and transformed into a fine dining experience that goes hand in hand with an array of the finest award-winning wines. The Cellar showcases a number of superb South African wines combined with our Vintage Collection and Speciality Spirits. On offer is anything from Sauvignon Blanc to a host of white blends from, Pinot Noir to Merlot, and superb dessert wines and exceptional French champagnes.
Once you get home, pairing wines with food may be a little more daunting. The problem is that so many new comers to the wonderful world of wine, tasting and pairing are often scared off by the sheer magnitude of the number of good wines not to mention the confusing lingo of the experts.
The trick, according to Granger, is not to be put off by the jargon but to simply let you taste buds dictate. Then start to experiment with the foods and wines that you love until you get those perfect combinations.
Here are some guidelines fresh from the Granny Mouse Cellar and culinary artistes:
• Beginners should start with the most basic rule of all – white meat pairs best with white wine and red meat pairs best with red wine.
• If you cook a meal using white wine, pair it with white wine. If you add some red wine to a dish, stick with it and serve red wine.
• If you’re preparing a lighter meat with a flavourful sauce, focus on pairing the wine with the sauce, not the meat.
• The general rule is that, when pairing food and wine, the two must either complement each other or create a contrast. The trick is to make sure that neither food nor wine detracts from the taste of the other.
• Read labels. When deciding which wine to serve with which course, figure out the characteristics of the wine and check how they will enhance the flavours of the food. When it comes to wine, you need to note crucial things like fruitiness, acidity, sweetness and tannins. With food, consider fattiness, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and spiciness.
• Look at the richness or texture of the meal you are planning, remembering that, if you are eating a rich, heavier dish, a full-bodied wine is appropriate.
• When it comes to fattier dishes – cuts of meat such as oxtails or with plenty of cream – you can balance the fat with a more acid wine or a red with strong tannins. The thinking behind this is that the fatty food will balance out the harsher acids or tannins and allow you to appreciate the subtler flavours in the wine.
• More acidic dishes are trickier and sometimes actually overpower a wine. Here, the best option is to go for a strong wine that is up to the contest with the added advantage of acidic dishes often highlighting the sweetness rather than the tannins in a bolder red.
• Sweet wines and salty foods go together well with saltiness highlighting sweetness but highlighting levels of bitterness so choose carefully.
• Don’t forget dessert wines – but also remember that pairing sweet with sweet is a little more difficult than one would think. The rule is that your dessert wine should be sweeter than your dish as there is a risk that levels of sweetness can cancel each other out. Go for wines with higher levels of alcohol as these seem to balance the sweetness of a pudding or sauce.
• We all love a good curry and adding wine can be tricky. Your best bet is to pair it with a low alcohol wine to offset the heat and spice. White wines are usually better but you can try lighter reds, too.
Some of the wines on the new Eaves menu that are paired with real care:
• Louisvale Rose – This vibrant pink rosé delivers aromas of freshly crushed strawberries and cherries on the nose. On the palate, the bubbles are fine and the foam persistent with flavours that are reminiscent of fresh, crisp red berries. This lively, fruity, fresh rosé can be enjoyed with friends on any occasion.
• Vellirea Jasmine – A floral, slightly spicy white wine which is fresh, light and slightly sweet but complex enough to drink with food (fusion and spicier dishes).
• Sophie Te’Blanche – Vibrant pure fruit of cut green apples, zesty limes, gooseberries and tropical notes with white flowers and subtle mineral undertones. Sophie is fresh, crisp, balanced, accessible, playful and delicious!
• De Toren Delicate – Redolent of roses and ripe for the picking strawberries, the refreshing De Toren Delicate is an elegant red blend that combines seductiveness with the undeniable drinkability of white. Medium bodied and immeasurably gentle, it offers up an abundance of juicy fruit and velvety, smooth tannins that lead to a sophisticated finish.
• Rustenburg Straw Wine – This wine is made using a centuries old process of drying grapes on straw in order to concentrate flavour. The raisining of the grapes on straw soaks up the moisture and concentrates the sugar and flavour in small, delicious parcels. This wine is deliciously sweet, yet still bright, fresh and complex with honeyed characters and hints of lemon.