Wining & Dining - The perfect combination
THE flavour of a food almost always reveals the quality of a wine and exalts it. In turn, the quality of a wine complements the pleasure of a food and spiritualises it. This quotation by wine critic Luigi "Gino" Veronelli underlines the vision of every winemaker when they set out to nurture their wine from vineyard to cellar.
It illustrates the point that compatibility between food and wine is the very essence of wine enjoyment.
Invariably, the experience begins with a meal that one yearns for while trawling through the menu at a restaurant and then seeking out the wine that will match it. But many winemakers advise otherwise: they say choose your wine first, and then the meal to accompany it. Somewhere between the different approaches must lie a happy medium, and that is whatever ultimately tantalises the palate is all that counts.
As with humans, a blind date between food and wine always carries its own hazards. The match can either go awfully wrong or strike up an instant spark.
Of course, this inherent hazard was uppermost in the minds of Vanessa Marawa of Creation Winery and South Africa's top chef Coco Reinhard during their recent gastronomical collaboration at the Quatermain Hotel's Sel et Poivre Restaurant in Sandton.
Coco's reputation as one of Africa's foremost chefs is indisputable. His Afro-fusion dishes are a combination of continental and French styles.
Apart from overseeing the Sel et Poivre menu, Coco is also at Le Petit Sel Restaurant owner at the Falstaff Hotel.
For the pairing, Marawa brought along Creation Sauvignon Blanc 2012 as a welcome drink for the close on 20 guests attending the dinner.
Clearly the favourite among the guests was the Creation Viognier 2012 with its perfumed nose and apricot-like flavours. Their Sauvignon Blanc cries out for a match with seafood like prawns or sushi.
The Creation Winery is about an hour's drive to the east of Cape Town.
It nestles in a wine region (named Walker Bay in Hermanus) known for its exquisite Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Neighbours are the famous Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson labels. With its cool climate, it is also home to Sauvignon Blancs that have a concentration of fruit flavours.
The owners are Swiss winemaker Jean Claude Martin and his wife Carolyn, whose aim to produce wines of elegance is personified throughout their range, from their voluptuous Syrah-Grenache blend to their velvety Cabernet Sauvignon and plummy Pinot Noir.
Coco's dishes were in the form of mouth-watering canapes, including favourites like caramelised goat's-milk cheese and aubergine caviar. Rather than merely fill the tummy, they feed the soul too.
For anyone who likes their steaks the size of a heavyweight boxer's fist, Coco's dishes may not be to their liking.
His creations are a gourmet's delight with one objective: appreciating food and wine as an art of living the good life.