A Vine time, with Samantha Venter
AS trends go, food and wine pairing isn’t new, but finding that elusive perfect match is still a befuddling challenge for many.
Wine labels don’t always help either. “Good with chicken”, sure, but are we talking bland creamy a’la king, hearty red wine and smoky bacon of coq au vin, or a tangy Mediterranean tomato-olive-garlic dish?
Along come a chef, winemaker and savvy business man, who want to have some fun making foodie wines, and the Marvelous! range is born.
The winemaker is Mulderbosch’s Adam Mason, the much-awarded Peter Tempelhoff is the chef, and investor Charles Banks the entrepreneur.
“These are great quality blends with a playful spirit intended to pair beautifully with home-cooked meals,” they say.
The slick primary-coloured packaging and comic book names – KABOOM!, SHAZAM! and Ka-POW! – may well encourage you to play with your food.
The labels are a bit thin on food suggestions, but they do point you to the website – www.marvelouswines.com – where the pairing ideas are a little hard to find, but worth the effort. You need to click on each bottle, then scroll down and open a PDF.
Rather than prescribing a specific dish, they actually explain why certain flavours work well with that wine. Similarly, the notes on the wines’ Facebook page have excellent do’s and don’ts from chef Tempelhoff, written for these wines but applicable to wine in general too.
So, what about the wines? Ka-POW is a Chenin-Chardonnay-Viognier, offering well-balanced mineral and floral flavours, with just enough acidity to bring crispness alongside the subtle creaminess and a lick of butter.
Keep it simple with lemon-garlicky roast chicken or go with fresh, fragrant herbs like coriander, citrus flavours and smoked salmon. The dish will need some acidity to complement that in the wine. Says Tempelhoff, smokey dishes are a good call as they develop aromatic compounds, similar to those found in charred wood barrels.
Rich juicy fruit combines with smokiness and white pepper in SHAZAM – a blend of mostly Shiraz with dollops of Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier adding complexity. It’s a lovely smooth, rounded glass of red, and the chef recommends a springbok shoulder with rich, peppery sauce or Karoo lamb with its fynbos flavours complementing the herby notes of the wine.
Shiraz, he says, needs gamey meat dishes and rich velvety sauces with a dash of pepper. Lightly seasoned dishes are a no-no – it needs something brazen!
The star turn is the big Bordeaux-blend KABOOM, with a woody nose, bursting with juicy black fruit and a pleasantly persistent ending. It definitely benefits from being allowed to breathe for a while before serving. Tempelhoff explains that a slow-cooked beef dish – think rich sauces and earthiness – is a great choice, as the meat proteins will soften the wine tannins. Avoid very sugary or acidic foods, or the ammonia characteristic of cheeses with mould, as that will kill the wine.
Marvelous! is fairly new locally – look out for it at selected bottle stores (Preston’s Main Rd Walmer has stock) at roughly R80 or a shade under, and in restaurants.