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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, 16 July 2010 09:57

Blog: Pairing Wine with World Cup

Pairing  wine with food may be an absolute for some but it also depends upon the time and mood at the table and the basic common sense for selecting the wines suffices, if  you consider my  experience at the World Cup final where we paired four wines from the neighbouring Quintay Winery with food at an Italian Restaurant in Casablanca, Chile while watching the World Cup Final on Sunday.

Chef David Botha

As our group of 20 (G20) sat down at two tables of Casa Botha, an Italian Restaurant owned by a South African Chef David Botha and his wife in Casablanca, about 70 kms west of Santiago, my Indonesian friend Alex Effendi took out two bottles of Aji, the Chilean hot sauce he had bought in the supermarket the previous night. The delicious but bland food of Chile had been a hot topic of discussion and he had decided to do something about it.

Before he could unseal the bottles, Chef David walked towards us and told him he needn’t open his bottle as he had already kept the sharp and pungent piri-piri home-made hot sauce on the table. Washing down 2 mini-platefuls of the piquant sauce with his fresh home- baked bread convinced us that he was right-and that matching wine with chili hot food might take a back seat. The hot pursuit of the Cup by both Spain and Netherland demanded hot sauce and spicy wine.

The Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from the one-year old Quintay Winery might not have handled the piri-piri but it was surely a treat for the palate. Casablanca Valley protagonists claim it to be too big for just a single appellation for excellent Sauvignon Blancs and the wine justified the claim as we found out later while tasting at the winery.

It was tropical flavoured, asparagus and pepper stuffed wine with a lot of fruit on the palate and so crisp and juicy that makes one salivate just thinking about it even now. Similarly the Chardonnay 2010 with just a touch of oak was a great possibility with the snacks that included duck, South African style fish, asparagus and a few other antipasti including some sauces rolled out by the deft Chef as a common dish

Lasagna, gnocchi and other pasta that followed was accompanied by the delicious Quintay Shiraz and Pinot Noir and served when the match had reached extra time. People at our table were enjoying different combinations of four varietals with the same dishes while discussing the imminent penalty kick off as the decider.

Tasting at Quintay Winery, Casablanca

As the history witnessed, Spain cut short our wine drinking bout by suddenly scoring the goal in the dying moments of the extra time defeating Netherland but there were no losers in the wine but all four varietals were winners. Because of the mood at the table, the Shiraz was great with the South African fish and even the whites handled the meat lasagna quite well-because all the variants had the basic compatibility quotient with this food. The bonhomie at the table- with the excellent preparation by Chef Botha proved the Q.E.D seal to our hypothesis that wine can be paired with any food within certain parameters, and mood at the time of drink makes a big difference. And the universal  rider of them all -good wine tastes best when someone else is paying for was at work with everyone agreeing that the wines tasted great-even the dejected Netherlands supporters conceded.

One corollary –unrelated with the world cup and wine paring was that Casablanca Valley in Chile has a strong case for justifying terroir and climate dependence. As the winemaker took us through the winery, we tasted several samples from the stainless tanks, including five samples of Sauvignon Blanc with the same clone no. 242 but from different vineyards within the valley-including tropical, citrus, herbaceous and sweaty character with asparagus and green pepper notes.

Each sample had different, recognizable characteristics. He blends the wine at the end of fermentation in different proportion, pretty much like Chef Botha at the restaurant..

Retailing at $11-$21 a bottle in the USA, the wines from Quintay were all delicious-with the whites being superlative in performance and commanded good respect and paired rather well with food-I would have to come back again to Chile to try out the combination when the world cup is not being played- I have four years to repeat the experiment.

Subhash Arora


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