Wining & Dining

Wining & Dining

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, February 20, 2020

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Valentine's Day has come and gone; however, the euphoria of the month of love continues. Some persons may have not had the opportunity to celebrate last Friday for reasons unknown, so we reckon that some 'forgive-me' moments will be required. Dining out is always a good way to kiss and make up. In addition, general food and wine-pairing knowledge is always good as we may need to entertain guests for work or dine over an interview setting. This week we shift your attention to food and wine.

Wine and Food In Context

The purpose of matching or pairing wine with food is to enhance the dining experience. Historically, for many cultures, it is customary to serve wines with foods. In some regions, wines are made to match the food of the region and both developed over time as consumers' tastes change. If we look back to the origins of wine making, the record books take us to around 5,000-6,000 BC in Persia (now known as Iran) where wine was being made using the fruit of the day. It was not until about 3,000 BC that the Egyptians and Phoenician societies pioneered the making of wine from grapes, served during the many celebratory banquets, and the world of wines has never been the same! Experimentation with grape varieties, regions and foods has become the modus operandi for one of our favourite pastimes.


Food and Wine-Pairing Basics

Food and wine pairing can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Wine is still either novel or a mystery to many. So, in our usual style, we will seek to simplify as best as possible some of the mystique behind food and wine without getting too technical. To ensure you have a great food and wine experience, there must be a balance between the components of a dish (to include sauces) and the characteristics of a wine.


Basic Tips for Food and Wine Pairings

• Light-bodied wine with lighter foods (these light-bodied wines are usually white wines; however, red wines like pinot noir are also very light and may be considered).

• Fuller-bodied wine with heavier, more flavourful foods (for example, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, zinfandel, malbec, and shiraz all go well with big, bold meats such as steaks).

• It is not what you are eating but how the food is prepared. Pay attention to the sauce! So, for example, you are having escoveitch fish – the sauce is made with vinegar which ranks high in acidic content. You therefore need to pair with an acidic wine, like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc, versus a fish done in coconut cream batter which needs to be paired with a creamy white wine like a chardonnay or riesling.

• Fatty foods tone down tannins in a red wine. That puckering and/or stained sensations are reduced when heavy red wines are consumed.

• Spicy foods make tannin and alcohol more predominant. For the adventurous among us, you could try this experiment and draw your own conclusion. However, from my own experience, if you have our Jamaican curried goat (with all the Scotch bonnet pepper we use to prepare it) with a red wine, get ready for a mouthful of flaming intensity!

• Heavy red wines like cabernet sauvignon reduces the appearance of saltiness in foods.

• Balance is everything and creates a great food and wine-pairing experience!

• Acidic wine + Acidic Food

• Sweet wine + Sweet Food (eg Dessert with a Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Ice wine, or Sauterne)

• Green wine + Green Food (eg Green salad with a Pinot Grigio)


Reading Your Wine Label

There is so much information to be obtained from the label of a wine. Just read it; your wine conversations will have you sounding like a pro!


1 Alcohol Content — Noted in percentage by volume, eg 11% alcohol by volume (ABV)

2 Vintage Year — The year the grapes were harvested. At least 95% of the grapes used had to come from year stated. Eg 2001

3 Brand Name — The name of the brand of wine and a good indicator of quality. Eg Monterra

4 Appellation — The area in which the grapes were grown. Eg Monterey County “California” = 100% of grapes from California; Monterey County = at least 75% of grapes from county; Dry Creek Valley = at least 85% of grapes from valley; San Bernabe Vineyard = at least 95% of grapes from vineyard

5 Grape Variety — If name on label, at least 75% of the wine must be made from that single grape varietal. Eg merlot


Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month (commencing March 2020) I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety of the month. I know that you have all tried moscato and are enjoying every sweet note; however, for the coming weeks, try to purchase a bottle of riesling from your local store and call a few friends. Share with me a description of the wine using the information about reading wine labels above and what you thought about that experience.


Grape Variety of the Month: Riesling



Readers' Feedback:

Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life. Seek them relentlessly. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.


Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer – The University of Technology, Jamaica

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