Saturday, October 15, 2011

Food and wine pairing session at Big Eater

It was a late afternoon food and wine pairing session among a few wine enthusiasts who found ourselves free during that time of the day :p

Since French wines of older vintages were the preferred sip for discovery among the few who gathered, most of the wines came from the cool crypt of AA French Wine located at 24 Jalan Pari Burong (a wine retail outlet which specializes in back vintages of French wines).

The place for dinner was at Big Eater, a restaurant conveniently located at the end of the row of shophouses in Jln Pari Burong itself. Apart from the good food served here, one other reason I prefer this eating house is its policy of waiving corkage for BYO wines.

The wines at the table were:
1. Champagne Gruet Brut Selection NV, France
2. 1986 Domaine P. Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton Perrieres Pernand Vergelesses, Burgundy
3. 1986 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy
4. 1996 Chateau Angelus, St Emilion, Bordeaux
5. (and we threw in a Napa white) 2005 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley.

The dishes for pairing were:
. stir-fried lala clams with dried shrimps and red chili bits
. crispy prawn rolls
. sauteed asparagus and scallop dish
. steamed cod fish
. steamed lobster
. hotplate deer meat.

stir-fried lala clams
crispy prawn rolls
 The non-vintage Gruet with its fine bubbles, crisp acidity and well structured body stood well when paired with most dishes at the table. Though the lala clams tasted ‘hot’ (due to the red chilli bits used in the dish), the Gruet champagne managed to lift and refresh one’s palate. The Gruet with its refreshing acidity likewise paired well with the fried crispy outer layer of the prawn rolls dish, and showed well with the steamed cod fish and lobster dishes.

steamed cod fish

steamed lobster
The Napa chardonnay displayed a medium plus body filled with fruits (pineapple, pear and citrus flavours showed) and a fair amount of oak to give the body structure and balance. It did not do too well when paired with the lala clams (the red chilli affected the chardonnay). However the chardonnay’s body weight and flavours paired well with the other dishes like the prawn rolls, sautéed asparagus and scallop, steamed cod fish and steamed lobster.

asparagus and scallop

hotplate deer meat
The 3 reds were paired with the hotplate deer dish. The 1986 Domaine P. Dubreuil-Fontaine was slightly past its plateau, subdued in body and flavours, and it did not hold up against the deer meat. (It tasted weak if one goes back to the wine after trying some deer meat).

The 1986 Joseph Drouhin revealed aromas and flavours of earth and spice, was slightly austere in palate, medium bodied, had refined tannins, good acidity and structure, and it paired well with the deer meat.

However if one tries the meat together with the hot, peppery sauce found in the hotplate, the flavours of this dish increases in strength, and renders a challenge to the Drouhin red. Here the 1996 Ch Angelus with its aromas of leather, earth and pepper, and flavours of earth, dried herbs, leather and a medium body backed by coarse tannins seem to make a 'robust' pairing.

Its interesting to see how a wine in palate gets affected when food is introduced. At times a wine can pair well with a dish, other times it gets humbled by the strong flavours and overwhelming body found in a dish.

At the end of the day, what’s important is to seek the match which your palate enjoys and go with it :)

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