Wine 101

By September 21, 2018Event Planning

With the launch of our new autumn winter menu, we thought what better way to celebrate than with a wine tasting matched to our newest dishes? Always a step ahead with the latest trends and in line with the latest information, we strive to develop our skill sets and expertise. Pairing wine with your chosen dishes is an effective and easy way to improve your event. It enhances the taste of the food and will make the event more refined.

That is why we invited our talented wine producers Jascot’s Wines and their ‘Wine Ed’ team to update our sommelier knowledge.

WHAT IS WINE?

Wine is made from two simple ingredients sugar (from grapes) and yeast. Combined and then fermented over time they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

It is the producer who decides upon the colour and type of wine. How much CO2 they decide to keep will affect if the wine is still or sparkling and the type of grape they use will determine its colour. White wine is made from white grapes without the skin, red wine is made with red grapes as well as rose, but the skins are only used for a short time.

Additionally, the variety or combination of grapes used will establish what recognisable name it will have. Household names like Malbec or Sauvignon blanc are in fact grape varieties which the producers decide to use.

If all wines start off in this exact same way, why not go for the cheapest option available? There are many factors which can determine the quality of wine and should be considered when choosing the perfect match for your event. The region, yield, cost of land, prestige of the company, method of production and the wine’s age will all come into play.

However, the two largest factors to consider when finding the perfect wine is the climate of where it’s produced and its style.

CLIMATE

The climate will affect the taste of the grape and, therefore, the wine. The hotter the climate the more the grape will ripen which increases the sugar and alcohol content.

When we describe different wines, it’s common to relate the flavours back to different fruits. These hints of flavourings come from the grape’s ripeness, not any added ingredients. Red wine is often associated with fruits such as strawberries when from a cooler climate or plums and blackcurrants when from somewhere hotter. The same can be said for white wine. Notes of citrus fruits are commonly found in cooler climate wines or hints of stone fruits such as melons when the grape has had more time to ripen in hotter places.

The climate does not just affect the taste of the wine but also its intensity.

In cooler climates there is less sunlight and heat, therefore, the grapes do not ripen as much. This creates a grape that has a higher acid content meaning fresher, more elegant flavours. The ‘Gavi Guido Matteo’ is a prime example of this. Produced in Piedmont, North West Italy, this cooler climate wine is fresh yet concentrated in flavour.

This can be paired with our celeriac veloute with truffle and burrata tortelloni. Grown in the same place as truffles, it matches the ingredients of the dish perfectly.

In contrast, warmer climates produce much bolder and richer wines due to the amount of sunlight and heat that the grapes receive.

By understanding where in the world the wine is produced, you can pre-empt its qualities to help find the correct wine for your event.

STYLE

As well as the colour and type of wine, the producers are also able to decide its style. There are two ways this can be achieved, and both are done during its maturing process.

Wine needs to be fermented in order to create alcohol, during which time it needs to be stored and matured. Either steel containers or oaked barrels are used for this process, and both produce a different type of wine.

If stored in steel containers, the wine does not change as much meaning flavours of the grape are more prominent. If oaked barrels are used, then the wine alters completely. Taking in the flavours from the wood, as well as being exposed to some air, oaked wine has flavours of vanilla and spice.

This is the case with the merlot ‘Chateau Talaise, Bordeaux’. Oaked during its maturing process, its smooth yet spicy undertones work well with our new Kent lamb with Epazote crumb and spiced date and honey parsnips.

WINE PAIRING

Pairing wine with your chosen dishes is the next stage in elevating your event. Some pairings are just a common fact, such as duck and Pinot Noir. The Cosmina Pinot Noir from Romania is a cost-effective pairing for our pan-seared duck breast with rosemary mash as it brings out the earthy flavours.

There is one simple rule when dealing with this; flavours should complement each other and not dominate. Think carefully about the ingredients in the dish and ensure that they are not overpowered.

Follow the simple rule of white wine for fish, white or light red wine for white meat and red wines for red meats.

Looking at how the food is cooked is another indicator of which wines would be more suitable. The more intense the cooking technique, the more fuller bodied the wine needs to be.

Food that is steamed, or even raw, works well with white wines. Our smoked salmon bombe with dill oil and compressed cucumber is an ideal match for the Goleta, Sauvignon Blanc. Known for its herbaceous flavours, Sauvignon Blanc compliments the greenery in the dish whilst the citrus tones cut through the oily salmon.

Moving up the scale, fried food can work with either white wine or a light red. The more intense cooking methods, such as roasting and steaming which take prolonged periods of time, work best with full-bodied red wines. Our slow roasted daube of beef with creamed potato is, therefore, best suited to Valcheta Malbec. Grown in Argentina, this hot climate wine is rich and bold in flavour.