When it comes to food and wine matching, my less-than-lithe figure can testify to years of experience, happily most of it good. Like the incredible, tongue-melting experience that was the John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2006 and seared scallops straight from the Sounds; or the wordless wonder that is a disc of foie gras atop a pillowy piece of rare eye fillet washed down with a goblet of Gimblett Gravels merlot. The juicy, fatty crunch of salty pork crackling as it dissolves in a mouthful of apricot-scented, succulent Gisborne viognier, or the samurai-sword sharpness of a citrus-stuffed sauvignon blanc as it slices through your Friday night fish and chips.
However I’ve experienced some absolute clangers in my time and I feel it’s my duty to spell them out on this page so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. First, do not under any circumstance uncork a honking great grenache, a brand new shiraz or a crabby old cabernet to serve with your three-chillies-on-the-menu-curry because the tannins in the wine when combined with those supersonic spices will rip your tastebuds off their stalks and you won’t be able to taste anything for days.
Also if you want to win friends and influence people I wouldn’t serve onion rings, onion bhaji’s or cheese and onion sandwiches before opening a bottle of prized pinot noir – the inside of your mouth will taste like plasticine for hours. And never, ever, ever drop an ice cube into a glass of dessert wine before drinking it. “But ice cubes aren’t food?” I hear you say – well I’ve got five words for you. New. Zealand’s. Next. Top. Model.
A great food and wine match is something to be celebrated, which is exactly what the good people at Marlborough’s Framingham winery did recently when their Framingham Classic Riesling 2009 was judged the perfect partner with the classic Indian dish, chicken tikka masala. Just announced in England, the inaugural British ‘What Food, What Wine’ competition called for wineries around the world to enter their wines to be paired with a selection of ten classic British dishes. The Marlborough Express reported that two other Marlborough wineries also won trophies in the competition.
The Crossings Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 was the judges’ pick for the ‘Best match with Fish and Chips’ while the Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 was awarded the ‘Best match for a Mushroom Risotto’.
Astronauts get reddy…
An article published recently on MSNBC.com announced new research has indicated that resveratrol, an ingredient found in red wine has been shown to protect against bone density loss and insulin resistance that can afflict astronauts as one of the side effects of flying in space.
The study found that red wine could help prevent the ill effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body. Researchers involved in the study published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology say their findings could apply not just to astronauts but to sedentary people on the ground. I’m a sedentary person on the ground! And people like me can experience some of these same problems simply from not moving around enough.
“There is overwhelming data showing that the human body needs physical activity, but for some of us, getting that activity isn’t easy,” Dr. Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the journal, said in a statement.
“A low gravity environment makes it nearly impossible for astronauts. For the earthbound, barriers to physical activity are equally challenging, whether they be disease, injury, or a desk job. Resveratrol may not be a substitute for exercise, but it could slow deterioration until someone can get moving again.”
This news all comes a little too late for NASA as they have four astronauts flying on the last space shuttle mission ever, and even if they did decide to head up to space again according to the rules astronauts are forbidden to drink alcohol during spaceflights or within 12 hours of launch time.
While NASA has found that while strenuous exercise on special machines in space has helped mitigate the worst effects of weightlessness so far, missions to more distant bodies (which sounds amazing) would require humans to be in space for longer periods of time. This of course would mean NASA would have to think about health deterioration issues that could occur during the long-term spaceflight needed for planetary exploration (which also sounds really amazing). Surely they can slip a case or five of Central Otago pinot noir into the pantry on the shuttle? A glass each night as the astronauts eat their vacuum-packed space dinner could keep them healthy, enthusiastic and very happy indeed. At the very least it’s hardly likely they’ll be stopped and breathalysed…
Wines of the Week
Produced by carbon zero-certified Yealand’s Estate, it’s a bonus this sauvignon comes in a lightweight plastic bottle because I suspect I’ll be throwing a few into my recycling bin especially come summer. Tomato stalk, fresh herbs, luscious lawn-clippings on the nose combine with ripe passionfruit, citrus and eye-watering acidity on the palate. Good value indeed – and if you’re a Kaikoura crayfish I’d be very afraid. Buy online at www.yealands.com
Yes it’s pricey but it’s oh so nicey! Mandarin and tangelo notes with classic apricot kernel and cheek-tingling texture and orange oil unctuosity. Delicious stuff from one of this country’s viognier pioneers, plus it’s organic and biodynamically produced so no doubt you’ll have warm, eco-fuzzy feelings with every sip. Visit www.millton.co.nz
Tui Blond Continental Lager 330ml $18 per 12pk.
Clearly winning ‘Best New Zealand Premium Lager’ at the 2010 BrewNZ Awards then Gold at the Monde Selection awards in Belgium this year wasn’t enough because the Tui folk felt it needed some appearance medicine. Initially sceptical of the new ‘vortex’ longneck, I had to admit that after a couple of glugs the beer didn’t have that thin metallic taste that the original version had. In fact the Vortex version is lifted, aromatic and bitter with crisp, clean length of flavour. Not bad at all.
A lip-smackingly lovely sauvignon which oozes fresh passionfruit, lemon verbena, passionfruit, grass clippings and fresh basil aromas and tangy, tropical, old-school ‘Jungle Juice’ flavours which make it a fantastic match with steamed mussels slathered in garlic and parsley cream. For more info visit www.nautilusestate.com