Growing up close to the Cape Winelands in South Africa, I have developed a love for wine. I decided to attend a wine tasting evening hosted by Margaret Silbermann from Connoisseur. Connoisseur host different classes, from shorter weekday classes with topics from Matching Food and Wine Tasting, Wines From Chile Tasting, Wine with Cheese, to longer Saturday Basic and Advance Wine Courses.
I attended the Wine and Spicy Foods course. In this experience I had the opportunity to taste 8 different wines with a variety of 7 different spicy foods.
The first discussion was about the four recognised stages of wine tasting:
- “in glass” the aroma of the wine
- “in mouth” sensations
- “finish” aftertaste
Secondly, we moved on to the 8 different wines up for tasting, with the different spicy foods. These were good quality wines and a good example of the chosen grape varieties:
- PINOT GRIGIO 2008 Fibiano Veneto Italy
- TORRONTES 2007 Santa Ana Mendoza Argentina
- RIESLING 2007 Siegel Mosel France
- SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 Nobilo Marlborough New Zealand
- SYRAH Rose 2007 Montiac Vin de Pays d’Oc France
- PINOTAGE 2007 Klippenkop Coastal Region South Africa
- CARMENERE 2006 Ravanal Colchagua Valley Chile
- ZINFANDEL 2006 Ravenswood Lodi CA USA
The first round of wine tasting was all the wines by it self (without any food). Following the four step wine tasting process, there is a clear difference between the wines. Such as, the appearance is not just red and white. The white wine vary from almost as light as water to more light green/yellow. Holding a glass of red wine against a white background, the differences in red is clearly visible and the age of the wine can also be judged. By smelling and tasting the wine, exciting and surprising flavours were discovered. From the Pinot Grigio with a taste of summer fruits, Riesling that smells dry but taste sweeter, Sauvignon Blanc‘s exotic fruits with slight bitterness on the palate to the more spicy Syrah, Pinotage with dark fruit aromas and a pepper taste on the palate, Carmenere‘s smokeyness on the nose but cinnamon and vanilla on the palate and Zinfandel‘s explosion of fruit.
After the first round, the rest was up to a journey of discovery. A round of tasting took place of each of the 8 wines with the following 7 spicy foods:
- Garlic & Coriander Nun
- Spring Roll
- Spicy Chicken
- German Pepper Sausage
- Mexican Salsa
Everyone has different personal tastes. In general there were the favourite specific wines that everyone agreed on to go well with spicy foods. The Pinot Grigio was fresh and fruity on its own, but could not keep up with any of the spicy flavours. Even the garlic and coriander was to overwhelming. The Riesling was the overall favourite to keep its flavour, by not getting to overwhelmed by the spicy taste of the food. I personally find the Riesling to sweet and prefer red wine in general. The natural vanilla and cinnamon flavours of the CARMENERE 2006 Ravanal Colchagua Valley Chile, without being sweet (for me) made it the best combination with all the spicy food.
For someone that have not discovered their favourite grape variety or never know which wine to choose in a restaurant or just for a nice night out, wine tasting evenings like this is highly recommended.