Living the food-and-wine life, beautifully
Deliciousness comes in ‘small sips and bites’
Thursday, 25 March 2021 Whether you favour the full-bodied, upfront fruity notes of a cabernet sauvignon or the floral aromas backed by firm, natural acidity in a chenin blanc, a glass of vino is, for many, an important part of the taste and flavour experience when dining out.
Selecting from the wine list can however be a challenge, particularly with the outstanding range of South African wines available in restaurants today. Konstantinos ‘Kosta’ Haitas, son of the founders of Mezepoli Restaurants, points out that SA wines pair beautifully with Mediterranean food, as the majority of the country’s wines are produced in the Cape, a climate very similar to that of the Mediterranean.
The restaurant group’s operations manager, Mun Manal, notes that while there are some general rules to food and wine pairing, rules are also made to be broken, often with surprisingly delicious results. “For example, our simple seared salmon that you might normally pair with a white can go beautifully alongside a slightly chilled pinot noir, which has just enough acidity to work with the richness of the fish without being so full bodied that it overwhelms the flavour.
“Likewise, a red meat cut such as our juicy beef fillet, grilled to perfection over an open flame and served sliced, is well complemented by a wooded chardonnay which, with it’s medium- to full-body, has a similar effect as when paired with a bold red,” Manal asserts.
While food and wine pairing can be a fine art, Manal and Haitas are of the view that when out to enjoy a simple, well prepared meal in the Mediterranean tradition, it is hard to go terribly wrong with a wine choice.
“Mediterranean food culture has for centuries celebrated the importance of real food, prepared simply with passion alongside what is essentially the fermented juice of grapes, grown on the vine out in the elements. The inclusion of wine on the dining table is one of the most ancient daily dining rituals and it does not need to be complicated or intimidating,” concludes Haitas.
For those who do particularly enjoy classic pairings, Mezepoli Restaurants suggests the following three tips to help make wine list decisions easier next time you are out:
Choose a dry rosé for a variety of small dishes, such as meze or tapas for versatility across meat, fish and cheese.
Bubbles and salt are friends – cap classique, champagne and prosecco are particularly refreshing with oysters, beautifully cured meats and hard cheeses.
Pair like with like: food and wine should complement rather than fight one another so put acid with acid (for example, vinaigrettes and citrus-based sauces with Sauvignon Blanc); sweet with sweet (such as buttery prawns with Chardonnay); smoky with smoky (typically, grilled meats with Pinotage); and spicy with spicy (for example, spicy meats with Shiraz).