Food and wine pairing is a tricky subject.
While there are no “rights” or “wrongs” when it comes to flavour pairing, and it pretty much all comes down to subjective prefernce, if you’ve been in the wine game long enough it’s pretty certain you’ve had a few “wow” moments when it comes to food and wine pairing.
For me, the first time this happened was at an event I worked at Le Manoir Aux Quatres Saisons (tough life I know…). A glycerol, sweet-oak, high octane chardonnay that was a bit clunky and heavy on its own, came to life when paired with Fois Gras. It looked like a completely different wine.
The first “wow” food and wine moment I had while working at Nautilus was in a Melbourne restaurant called the Seamstress, where the chef paired an eggplant (aubergine) dish, roasted in soy and star anise spice flavours with Nautilus Pinot Noir. It was so different to the usual recommendations of venison/lamb/duck and yet it worked so well. At the same dinner, we tasted Nautilus Pinot Gris alongside a tempura batter soft-shell crab dish, again with slightly Asian inspired flavours. It blew my mind.
But one of the trickiest matches of all, is often with sparkling wines. You have so much going on in these wines – this citrus, apple and strawberry fruit of course, but also high acidity, complex savoury nutty flavours from aging on yeast lees, and of course the creamy explosive texture sensation of the bubbles themselves. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Champagne and sparkling wines above all else, but they can be the toughest to match to food.
Rising to the challenge is Laura Vincent. I first came across her writing and recipes online and quickly bought her cookbook – Hungry and Frozen. I have made quite a few of the recipes and they are always fairly simple to achieve and yet a little quirky, with slightly unusual twists on more classic recipes. Unusual flavour combos are a forte of Laura’s and they always seem to work well. So I asked if she might be interested in helping us out.
Here’s her suggestions for some food matches to our two sparkling wines. To pair with the Vintage Rose 2011, Laura made lemonade pancakes with strawberry sauce, envisioning a glamourous rose brunch type occasion (you can see why we get on so well!). With Nautilus Brut NV she suggests the more savoury flavours of pappardelle with chilli butter, chorizo and feta. A stronger dish for a more masculine style of wine.
Check out the full recipes and try them for yourself at Laura’s website!