Great wines beat ideal pairings

At the Wine Rack

Christopher Reckord

Thursday, January 23, 2014    

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Which would win? A textbook wine and food pairing with mediocre wines or an atypical pairing with amazing wines?

Jade Garden Experiment

Last week the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges visited Jade Garden Restaurant and enjoyed the most delicious fare. I worked with Wray & Nephew brand managers and selected six wines from their portfolio to have some fun with. Three were the ideal textbook pairings for the menu and the other three, while great wines, were included to provoke discussion.

Ideal Pairings for Chinese Food

When selecting wines to enjoy with Chinese food, try to keep it as simple as possible. Avoid red wines that are high in alcohol and tannins like most Cabernet Sauvignons, full-bodied Australian-style Shiraz and full-bodied Malbecs. Look for white wines like off-dry Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. If you prefer red wines do try fruit-forward, low-tannin, light to medium-bodied wines like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. The three "ideal" wines we selected were an off-dry(slightly sweet) sparkling wine, a light, fresh, off-dry white wine and a light-bodied fruit-forward red wine.

Off-dry Sparkling - Cadoro Sparkling Moscato is straw yellow in colour with a fine and very persistent perlage. Its intense yet delicate bouquet of fruit, flowers and a haunting musky fragrance is so typical of Moscato. This wine was light, fresh, fruity and pleasantly sweet.

White wine - Mirassou California Riesling is soft and approachable with fruit-forward aromas and flavours of peach, apple, and citrus notes. As a result of the naturally firm acid levels, this wine is crisp and delicately structured and pairs beautifully with richly sauced poultry or seafood. Because of its inherent sweetness, it also pairs beautifully with desserts that have both rich and fruity elements.

Red Wine - Red Tree Pinot Noir - The Red Tree Pinot Noir displays aromas of fresh fruit and strawberries, with a hint of oak in the background. This lighter-bodied wine provides cherry flavours and red fruit on the palate, finishing with soft tannins.

Not so ideal pairings

The other three wines were really great wines on their own, but might not have been the best to pair with some of the Chinese dishes. These wines were:

Sparkling - Cinzano Prosecco D.O.C. - An aromatic, dry sparkling wine made from white Muscat grapes specially selected from the best vineyards of the Colline Trevigiane in Northern Italy.

White - Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - Zesty lime and grapefruit aromas are the first to emerge from the nose of this 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, followed by nectarine and lemongrass tones. The palate is fresh and focused with ripe citrus, stonefruit, fennel and mineral notes lingering on the persistent finish.

Red - Masi Costasera Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico. Proud, majestic, complex and exuberant: this is Masi's gentle giant. A benchmark for the Amarone category which, together with Barolo and Brunello, makes up the aristocracy of the Italian wine world. The product of Masi's unrivalled expertise in the appassimento technique, whereby traditional grapes from the Valpolicella Classico area - Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara - are laid out on bamboo racks to concentrate their aromas during the winter months.

Great wines trump ideal pairings

The dishes were served, wines were poured. To my surprise, even after the ideal pairings were identified, some agreed whole-heartedly that although the ideal "pairings" were much better, they preferred the other wines so much that they would forego the "perfect pairing" and drink what they liked! As it turns out, this is the general advice given all over the world when the question of wine and food is raised.

Christopher Reckord - Businessman, Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to Follow us on twitter: @Reckord





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