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If the wine fits drink it

Food and wine matching is like going to a desperate and dateless ball, you never know what you will end up with unless you are prepared to give it a bit of experiment.

Now we don’t need to be pretentious when matching food and wine – we all know that at 2am pizza goes with anything from champagne to a tinnie of VB.

However, there is a time when we all find ourselves in a situation when we need to follow some general rules.

As every back label will tell you, white wines match with chicken and fish, red wine matches up with red meats and, it won’t be long before some adventurous marketer announces that “this wine” is tremendous with a Big Mac and large fries.

The rules for matching food and wine are first-and-for-most not rules but merely a guideline and you should be willing to follow your own specific requirements.

There is a fun side to food and wine matching and you should not restrict your choices. One of my very favorite food and wine matches is a delicate Italian Moscato and fresh, fruit salad with my Sunday morning paper read.

Another favourite – and tests the rules among my friends – is to serve a dessert wine, something like De Bortoli Noble One and a spicy salsa as my guests arrive. It is hard sometimes to encourage some of the blokes to part with their Crown lager but most will dip and sip away quite gladly.

Roast lamb with a Sangiovese is another favourite and is outside the square I would normally live in. While there are no rules there are some guidelines to help in maximising the enjoyment you can get from the various spices, meats and seafood that you have available to cook with.

Delicate flavours of the dish you are cooking should not overpower the wine.

Nor should the wine overpower the food. Brown Brothers have been almost unique in their appetite for food and wine matching and have, over the past 14 years, developed a great weekend of overindulgence that matches local food to the wines within their family portfolio. This has now evolved spreading the word to our sunny shores and next weekend Brown Brothers are putting on their third sellout Wine and Food Festival.

The festival takes the concept of matching to a level that is informative and really interesting, yet it is done so in a way that is contemporary informal and in a lively atmosphere – and one of the most enjoyable on the calendar. The Brown Brothers team have invited some of Perth’s leading chefs, headed up with Bert Lozey of Bertinis directing traffic as the chefs put together a menu which has been specifically designed around the wines that will be poured over the day.

Life was tough for me one afternoon going back a week or so ago. I was lucky enough to sit down with the chefs and slowly and deliciously managed to work my way though all of the recommended matches.

I did have a few highlights that for me were absolutely humdingers.

The Creole Lamb Osso Bucco with white jalapeno gnocci coupled with the 1999 Brown Brothers Everton was my favorite match. The spicy nature of the jalapeno, while not being fiery, certainly made you sit up and take notice.

Fragrant chicken with coconut and cashew curry with sticky star anise rice and chilli relish was matched with the 2000 Brown Brothers Chenin Blanc. This dish is almost a perfect partner to the wine (you can never be prefect). It doesn’t go too far outside the boundaries, however it is rich with rewards.

You will always find someone out and about hunting down the delights of blue crabs, when in season of course, and the chefs have put together this not to be missed delight for those who have tickets. Otherwise I would call MGM Distributors and track down the recipe for this.

Blue Swimmer Crab and Brie tartlet with celeriac salad and watercress crème’ fraiche, with 2000 Brown Brothers Riesling.

I have just mentioned a few of the dishes that have been put together for the Brown Brothers Festival, which promises to be another great day out. The event was quickly sold out, but if you are interested to get involved next year you had best contact Brown Brothers, whose email address is bbmv@brown-brothers.com.au and ask them to add you to their mailing list for the event.

When you look at food and wine matching at home or when you are out to dinner, the most important thing to aim for is enjoyment. Don’t get too worried that the boss won’t approve of your selection. And remember that pizza and champagne go together just as well as pizza and a tinnie of VB.

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