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FOOD & DRINK

Five Unusual Wine Pairings That Will Take Your Favourite Fast Food to the Next Level

Pair your Golden Gaytime with a glass of Chardonnay and your ramen with Rosé.
By Samantha Payne
May 25, 2017
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By Samantha Payne
May 25, 2017
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Ever wanted something other than a beer to go with your burger on a Friday night? Or wondered which bev would pair well with the ramen you get delivered from UberEats? Well, the answer is wine. It doesn't just go well with steak or cheese — it goes down a treat with any number of foods. You just have to know which wine to choose.

It's all about balance. A successful pairing creates a symbiotic relationship between the dish and the wine, and neither element will overpower the other. This can be achieved by picking a flavour in both the wine and the dish that you wish to enhance — this will create a connection between the dish and what you're drinking. A basic example is smoke; when you pair barbecued or chargrilled beef with a red wine that has a smoky element to its bouquet, it's going to enhance that flavour in both things. It makes for a cohesive dining experience that begins with the first bite of food and continues with a sip of wine.

The other rule to remember is that acid and tannin (that's the 'puckering' feeling in the mouth when you drink a wine) break down protein in food — it's why your folks love a Barossa Shiraz or Coonawarra Cabernet when they're eating roast lamb on a Sunday. And don't forget to experiment with flavours and matches — it's how you'll get better at it. My only word of caution is to always take into consideration the weight of the wine that you plan to match with your dish, as a lighter, more aromatic wine can tend to get lost in a dish that is a heavier style of protein (and vice versa).

To get you started, we've done the hard work (that is, the eating and drinking) to come up with the best Aussie wine pairings for some unconventional dishes.

RAMEN AND ROSÉ

Now that we're heading into winter, there will be more soups and broths on the agenda — and the king of liquid-based meals is, of course, ramen. However, ramen comes in all different flavours and styles (miso vs. broth, pork vs. tofu, black garlic vs. chilli, or all of the above) making it hard to pinpoint which style of wine to pair with it. Which is why Rosé is your hero — it comes in all different flavours and styles and has just enough fruit character to counteract the varying degrees of chilli in ramen. Side note: don't be fooled by the colour of the wine, as not all deeper-coloured Rosés are automatically sweet. Some have bolder fruit flavours with a dry finish, and for those of you who load up their ramen with every type of chilli, a more fruit-driven rose may just be your saviour.

In one sentence: No matter your style of ramen, a fruity style of rose will create a nice counterbalance to any chilli or salt-driven flavours.

Good if you like: Bold flavours, strawberries, sitting in the warm autumn sun when there's just a slight chill in the air.

One to try: 2016 Vignerons Schmolzer and Brown 'Pret-a-Rosé' (Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Shiraz), Beechworth, Victoria.

FRIED CHICKEN AND PINOT NOIR

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when pairing wine is thinking that you have to match red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. Not true. If you work on the principle that you're matching flavour with flavour, the possibilities for food and wine matching become exponential. Fried chicken is a great dish to experiment with a lighter or aromatic style of red, like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. You just need something with enough tannin structure to break down some of the protein of the chicken, a touch of acid to freshen the palate and counteract the grease, and something with a bit of spice to complement or enhance the seasoning on the chicken.

In one sentence: A lighter red like a Pinot Noir will give a bit of freshness to the dense protein of fried chicken — and if the winemaker has used whole bunch to create a savoury element in the wine, this will pair nicely will the spices in the seasoning.

Good if you like: Cranberry sauce on your turkey at Christmas time or like experimenting with flavours in the kitchen.

One to try: 2016 Mallaluka Pinot Noir, Canberra District, NSW.

CHEESEBURGER AND SPARKLING

A vintage sparkling wine (particularly one from our spiritual home of sparkling, Tasmania) and a great burger is one of my all-time favourite food and wine pairings. The crunch of a toasted brioche bun with the smokiness of the grilled meat and a creamy bit of cheddar cheese is perfect paired with a sparkling wine — particularly one that has similar toasty flavours but the same backbone of acidity. This will refresh your palate after each greasy (but delicious) bite.

In one sentence: Bring an element of luxury to your next takeaway burger with a sparkling wine — the toasty notes in the sparkling will pair with the bun and the acid will cut through the greasiness of the burger.

Good if you like: Well, if you're human with tastebuds, you will love this pairing.

One to try: 2007 Arras Blanc de Blancs, Tasmania.

GOLDEN GAYTIME AND CHARDONNAY

Desserts are often the hardest thing to create a pairing for as sugar tends to coat and dominate the palate. Find something with acid (like a late harvest Riesling) or a more delicate style of dessert wine (like a fortified wine or Mistelle) that isn't going to be cloyingly sweet on the palate (just avoid anything that has Botrytis on the label at all costs). Try sweet dishes paired with a lighter, fresher style of wine with citrus flavours and white floral notes, like a Chardonnay, so that the palate is refreshed at the end of the dessert.

In one sentence: Sugar + sugar = avoid.

Good if you like: Caramel and honeycomb flavours — basically anyone with a sweet tooth.

One to try: Bremerton Mistelle fortified Chardonnay, Langhorne Creek, SA.

POKÉ BOWL AND RIESLING

Like Bert and Ernie and Vegemite and cheese, there are some pairings that are sacrosanct. Riesling and seafood is one such pairing that works every time — in particular with creamier or oilier fish like tuna, kingfish and salmon that you would find in a poké bowl. The floral layers of Riesling (in particular ginger blossom) would work harmoniously with this dish too, as they would pick up on the subtle ginger, miso or sesame characters you might have in your bowl.

In one sentence: A creamier or oily fish paired with a bright and acid-driven Riesling is a classic pairing.

Good if you like: Squirting lemon on your fish and chips before devouring it.

One to try: 2016 Ochota Barrels 'Kids of the Black Hole' Riesling, Adelaide Hills, SA.

Celebrate all types of Australian wine by getting involved with Aussie Wine Month over May — there will be events and tasting opportunities all over the country.

Images: Kimberley Low.

Published on May 25, 2017 by Samantha Payne

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