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Red Wine and Food Pairing

Choosing wine to marry with your food dishes can sometimes be quite intimidating and so here we try to simplify the main grape varietals as a cheat-sheet for you to better understand the food-marrying process. Wine is of course the perfect partner to food. In any case, anyone who makes it complicated is just talking nonsense, let's keep it simple. We’re going from light to heavy wine styles in this list, so generally that would mean light to heavy foods for pairing.

Pinot Noir
Scents . strawberry, cherry, raspberry, spice
Flavours . earthy, forest floor, gamey, mushroom, cherry
"Most are reminiscent of a game bird, shot from the sky, landing in a heap of earthy redcurrant compost". Possibly the most interesting grape varietal around as the finished product should normally have reserved fruit characters with smokiness and an almost barnyard flavour that can put some people off. The Burgundy red varietal is very diverse, the French call Burgundy “sex in a glass” - you can chill it a little, and basically drink it with everything.

Malbec
Scents . mulberry, light spice, milk chocolate
Flavours . earthy, black forest fruit, plum
Malbec is the forgotten Bordeaux varietal and is used in the great blends but was nearly wiped out in the 1950s through frost. It was never widely re-planted however the Argentineans manage to produce this as a 100% varietal in great quality. Brilliant with meat and bearing in mind that tannins naturally breakdown proteins, then a great steak and a glass of malbec work very well together.

Merlot
Scents . coffee, mocha, herbs, red fruit
Flavours . plum, fruit cake, dark chocolate, mulberry
Soft, easy, runs over the palate easily, mostly used as a blender with Cabernet Sauvignon for its good middle-body (that Cabernet lacks), Merlot is a good and producedto be a crowd pleaser. Named after the word for blackbird in French from the colouration of the wine. Excellent with light meats and sauces.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Scents . capsicum, mint, tobacco leaf, leafy
Flavours . blackcurrant, mint, eucalypt, milk chocolate
The king of Bordeaux but in fact, due to phyloxera, the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines are in the vineyards of Coonawarra, South Australia. Often blended with Merlot as Cabernet lacks a middle pallet, this excellent dry wine is good with dry styles of meat, filet of ostrich, beef, Chateaubriand and other non-fatty cuts. Also excellent with dark chocolate desserts. Great ageing potential and as the wine loses its fruit characters and colour with age, it picks up lovely vegetal and herbaceous notes.

Shiraz (Syrah)

Scents . indian spices, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, eucalypt
Flavours . fruit cake, blackberrry, pepper, savoury meat, cedar
Powerful fruits over Indian spice, almost a sweet and savoury style. Shiraz originated in the Rhone Valley however the oldest (Syrah) vines in the are in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, which really annoys the French wine world. Shiraz is mostly aged in American oak, giving the strong fruit caharacters an almost sweet fruit finish, thus this varietal goes amazingly well with fatty meats like lamb, entrecote and when they are cooked with arabica spices or grilled, the match is almost made in heaven.

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