Posted on 28 January 2011 by davidbiggs
One of the questions that is often discussed in the wonderful world of wine, is what to serve with a curry dish.
Red meats are a cinch, and fish and poultry are quite easily matched, but curries can be tricky.
Some say wine doesn’t go with curry anyway, and you should rather stick to beer. Others suggest a blend of tropical fruit juices, well chilled.
I feel rather cheated if I have a meal without wine, so I keep trying to find the perfect match.
With the infinite variety of wines available to us, there must be at least one to be the perfect accompaniment to any curry.
I recently enjoyed a meal at a good Indian restaurant here in Fish Hoek, and brought two wines with me to match with the food. (They don’t have a licence, so they invite you to bring your own wine. I always like that. )
A Sauvignon Blanc was, for me, just a little austere with the lamb korma I ordered. We enjoyed it as an aperitif, rather than a food accompaniment.
The spicy Indian flavours seemed to overpower the subtleties of the Sauvignon Blanc.
I thought the Villiersdorp Dam Good Rosé was a far better match. It’s a natural sweet wine, so maybe it comes close to that fruit juice suggestion. It certainly went well with the korma.
It has a fresh, strawberry character, nicely balanced by a flick of acidity to prevent it being cloying.
On reflection, I’m going to try a bottle of Camberley’s sparkling Shiraz next time I have curry. I think it may be just the thing. It’s light and fresh and not quite as sweet as the Villiersdorp Rosé. Being a red wine it has rather more body that most whites, so it could handle the robust flavours of a curry.
That’s something to look forward to.
I’d be interested to hear from anybody who has found good wine accompaniments to curry dishes.
Posted on 20 January 2011 by davidbiggs
It’s a tense time of the year for most winemakers. The bunches of grapes are ripening on the vines, but anything can happen between now and harvest time, which begins in a couple of weeks (depending on the whims of the weather).
High winds can (and in some cases have already done) bash the grapes and damage them. Hot summer days often lead to fires with high winds to fan them and scorch the vines, as happened last year. Late summer rains or foggy weather can cause rot in the berries.
Cellars are being prepared, yeasts bought and pumps checked for the coming picking.
So everybody holds thumbs. Some winemakers take a rather nervous break at this time, and escape to do a spot of fishing and build up their energy for the hectic harvest ahead.
But so far it’s looking good. The recent couple of weeks of very hot weather will help to speed up the ripening and increase the sugar level in the grapes.
And if there is any additional help needed, many Stellenbosch winemakers will be attending the annual St Vincent’s Day Mass at St Nicolas Catholic Church on January 27.
St Vincent of Saragossa is the Patron Saint of winemakers ( and vinegar makers, too). This popular service is held to pray for a blessing on the harvest — and also to raise money for the Stellenbosch Hospice. Winemakers are traditionally very generous in their support of good causes.
The service begins at 11am. Details can be obtained from Dave Hughes on email@example.com or by calling him on 021 865 2175.
Posted on 13 January 2011 by davidbiggs
Matching wine to food – or vice versa – is always an interesting exercise. What kind of wine, for example, goes with Greek food?
An interesting little Greek eatery opened recently here in Fish Hoek’s Main Street, called Kostas Souvlaki.
I went there with a couple of friends and was pleasantly surprised. This is real Greek food, not a South African copy.
A mezze platter served four of us generously, although we licked the plate as clean as a whistle. Good, tasty stuff with plenty of different flavours to enjoy!
The eatery is unlicensed, so we brought our own wine – a red and a white to increase our chances of a good match.
The Sir Lambert’s Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Lambert’s Bay proved a great success, with its gentle fruitiness harmonising perfectly with the taramasalata and tsatsiki flavours. It’s a big, quite showy wine that can handle assertive flavours well.
Its two years of ageing have added complexity and it certainly isn’t tired. Anybody who believes white wine should be drunk during in its vintage year is simply wrong. A bit of bottle age really does add elegance.
We opened a bottle of Zonnebloem Pinotage 2007 and found it a perfect match for the Greek lamb. It’s a sophisticated berry-flavoured wine, delicate and well balanced. The tannins have softened to a good silkiness and it slipped down very easily.
Come to think of it, almost any good wine would go with a mezze platter, because of the wide range of flavours it presents.
I wonder whether a restina would have done as well.
New Mag on the Block
I’m always amazed at the number of lifestyle magazines we have here in South Africa, considering the size of our reading population.
Several of them are specifically wine-oriented.
So I was surprised to read that a brand new magazine is to be launched soon, with wine as its main reason for existing.
Called Winestyle, it is edited by Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright and the advance publicity describes it as an “oversize, glossy, coffee table styled publication” that will be published four times a year and cover subjects like wine, food, travel and lifestyle.
It sounds exciting and I wish Jenny and her team the very best of luck.
For those who haven’t met the editor, Jenny’s the author of the delightfully cheeky wine guide called Spit or Swallow, published by Double Storey.
Posted on 06 January 2011 by davidbiggs
I find it interesting to note how many of my friends now drink sparkling wine as a regular summer drink. Not long ago bubblies were reserved for special occasions – weddings and 21st birthdays.
There was a time when sherry was the accepted drink to start an evening. You greeted guests with a glass of sherry. Now it seems you greet them with a glass of bubbly. Sherry seems to be on the endangered list.
Part of the reason for this trend, I believe, is that our South African winemakers are producing such excellent MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) sparkling wines at very reasonable prices.
Many winemakers – like Philip Jonker of Weltevrede, Jeff Grier of Villiera and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck – have really gone into the bubbly thing and produce several different styles of MCC. Some are vintage wines, some are non-vintage, some are pink, all are deliciously crisp and cooling.
Most of the MCC bubblies we produce are made from the traditional Champagne varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but one of my current favourites, Old Vines Vintage Brut 2004, is made from Chenin Blanc grapes. Of course this comes a no surprise when you remember it was made by Irina van Holdt, the Cape’s most enthusiastic promoter of the Chenin Blanc grape.
I’ve always enjoyed Twee Jongegezellen’s Krone Borealis, too, for a really crisp and elegant drink that seems to team up well with almost any food. I like their rosé version too.
Of course, a sparkling wine doesn’t have to made by the traditional bottle-fermented method. We have some excellent bubblies produced by the simpler charmat method, in which the bubbles are created in pressurised tanks before bottling. Nederburg produces a good one, as do JC le Roux and Du Toitskloof.
And while you’re exploring the delightful world of Cape sparkling wines, taste Camberley’s unusual Sparkling Shiraz. There are not many sparkling red wines on the market, but this one is rapidly gaining fans. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s light and fruity, with savoury nuances and a nice dusty finish. I’d like to try it with a full-flavoured meat dish like roast pork, or maybe even springbok venison.
If our Cape temperatures stay up there in the 30s for much longer, I can see my consumption of chilled sparkling wines rising to record levels.