Starting yesterday, Delicata has taken over the ‘wine slot’ on the popular TV cooking programme aired on Super One, Aroma Kitchen. The programme which enters its fifth year of production is hosted by resident chef’s Manuel Xuereb, Peter Dacoutros and Aaron Degabriele and is shown live on Thursdays at 17.40 hrs and repeated every Sunday morning at 09.30hrs. On it I will endeavour to pair up some of the numerous dishes they cook each week with an appropriate Maltese or Gozitan wine and explain the reasoning behind our choice.
To kick off the series on the opening show (the first of thirty nine) we explained the benefits of pairing up a compatible wine with a given dish. Many people have a ‘one wine fits all’ approach when it comes to serving a wine with the dishes they have often slogged over for hours. No one would think of pouring the same ‘one sauce’ over their starters, main course and dessert, and that is what wine should be perceived as, an additional sauce to be swallowed with your food. But many people simply serve the same wine throughout their whole dinner. So in the same way that you would choose a compatible sauce to accompany each dish, you should try and choose a compatible wine to do the same i.e. serve a wine whose flavour and style matches the flavour and style of the food it’s to be drunk with. You wouldn’t dream of putting custard on your roast beef or gravy on your apple pie, although the other way round they make perfect accompaniments, so why take a different approach with your wine choice?
Few food and wine combinations are totally disastrous together, as many wines are very acceptable with a number of ingredients, so there’s very little to really worry about.
But by giving your wine choice a little thought, you will more often than not enhance the quality of your overall meal considerably and improve the dining experience for your guests to boot. There are many classic food combinations like pork and apple sauce, gravadlax with dill and mustard or strawberry’s and fresh cream. Similarly there are perfect combinations of wine and food, such as Gellewza Frizzante and fresh strawberries, Medina Vermentino Zibibbo and tuna carpaccio and Gran Cavalier Syrah and roast lamb.
So, on the closing segment of each show, I will choose a dish from each chef and then select a few wines to taste with it, to come up with that dishes ‘perfect wine partner’.
To achieve this, a rack of wines will be available in the studio with a variety of wine styles in it. Fondly referred to as our ‘Thirst Aid Kit’ this is one item I believe should be in every discerning gastronome’s home.
When it comes to cooking, every good chef will testify there are certain ingredients that are essential in the kitchen place, if one is to ‘knock up’ a quality meal at the drop of a hat. Simple things like freshly ground pepper, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs etc, are all items that need to always be there. These essential ingredients will almost certainly cater for the preparation of a wide variety of food dishes, be it seafood, pasta, meat, poultry, game or desserts. Your ‘tool kit’ of food items should undoubtedly be able to cope with a wide range of flavours, such as sweet, spicy, mild or hot, all depending on your ‘mood of the moment’. They will help you turn your slab of meat of slice of fish into a little of what you fancy, at that point in time.
Similarly a home wine rack should always hold a selection of wines that are always on standby to match the food you have often so spontaneously prepared. Whether you have a 500 bottle temperature controlled cellar or a two dozen bottle wine rack in the kitchen, your essential wine ‘Thirst Aid Kit’ should hold a variety of wine styles that will accompany whatever flavors’ your food has to offer.
When it comes to white wines, at the very least they should include; light dry un-oaked whites, lightly oaked dry whites, full flavoured dry whites, heavily oak aged full whites, medium dry whites, sweet whites and perhaps something sparkling. For the rose wines a dry, a medium and again something sparkling; but try and ensure that all your rose wines are as young and fresh as possible. For your red wine selection you will need to have some light bodied, medium bodied and full bodied reds. Ideally some should be young and some should be older and more mature. There should also be a mixture of un-oaked reds and reds that have spent some considerable time in oak barrels. Invariably your selection should also include a number of different grape varieties, each one having unique characteristics of its own.
In the Aroma Kitchen 24 bottle Thirst Aid Kit we will stock up with the following selection of wines; Medina Chardonnay, Girgentina Chardonnay, Vermentino Zibibbo, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose Grenache, Syrah Carignan Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc; Victoria Heights Chardonnay and Merlot; Pjazza Regina white, red and rose; Casella Moscato; Gellewza and Girgentina Frizzante; Grand vin de Hauteville Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz Cabernet, Moscato Liqueur wine and finally Gran Cavalier barrel matured Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.