Real Wine Lovers Eat it All

If there is one person that cannot afford to be picky eater, it is someone purporting to be a wine lover. A real wine lover that is, someone appreciating the depths and nuances of this noble product of the vine, nature’s finest gift to all mankind.

Yes, one does tend to jump to these kind of conclusions after a bottle of Meursault and a dish of stewed sheep’s stomach. Looking at my fellow diners on that particular evening – all members of the Duiwenhok Wine Society – I could not believe that anyone can claim to really love and understand Chardonnay while at the same time turning a nose at a dish of tripe. The unctuousness of the tripe is made for the brisk, complex brightness of a good Chardonnay. How can you say you like and appreciate the one while the other revolts you?

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It is like calling yourself a swimsuit-designer and being allergic to the sight of bare flesh.

As an organiser of many of our wine club dinners and other private tastings I am always intrigued to see the “dietary requirements” listed by some fellow wine aficionados.

The other week myself and writer/ connoisseur Lafras Huguenet led a 10 year vertical of Calon Ségur, a stunning Third Growth from St Estéphe. The vertical tasting was followed by dinner including other Calons and Left Bank Bordeaux. Yet one third of the party were vegetarians or something called a pesceterians. Only fish and seafood, that is.

This was a waste of good wine. How on God’s earth can one appreciate the essential power and muscular grace of a Calon Ségur’s Cabernet Sauvignon backbone while nibbling on a piece of sea-bass cheek or a delicately poached leek? A Cabernet Sauvignon-led wine of this structure has to be appreciated with a bloody chunk of beef, a golden breast of duck or a slice of lamb barely off its mommy’s woollen teat.

It is just not possible to understand the aforementioned wine without this sort of food to accompany it.

Same goes for the foie gras Nazis, a species increasing at an alarming rate. Well, not all that alarming – more for us.

In any event, a Sauternes or one of the great nectar-sweet Noble Late wines we make in South Africa deserves to be sipped through silky layers of fatty goose or duck liver lovingly plucked from the cavity of well-fed bird. If you have dined and sipped this heavenly combination, the wine and the pleasure it was made for will remain a mystery.

Foie gras and Sauternes. Like Jagger and Richards - match made in heaven.
Foie gras and Sauternes. Like Jagger and Richards – match made in heaven.

I am not expecting any of my Muslim brothers to suffer the risk of beheading, banishment to Midrand or a forced reading of the recent works of Salman Rushdie. But a wine from the Northern Rhône sincerely asks to be consumed with a pork trotter, poached in stock and herbs before being deftly buttered, crumbed and grilled.

Then we get the Banting-LCHF-Tim Noakes bunch of constipated halitosis sufferers creeping into the wine fraternity, they who approach any foodstuff containing a carbohydrate with the same look of terror and hate a Constantia housewife reserves for someone wearing a pair of Crocs.

Many of the Banting crowd love wine, they say. Yet these folk will not dare admit that an easy-drinking Merlot or a fruity Italian Nero D’Avalo cannot and will not be enjoyed if it is consumed without a pasta vongole or a light, blistery pizza.

And so the list continues. But as noble a product as it is, wine in all its diversity requires a bit of culinary promiscuity. To drink and appreciate it all, you must dare to eat it all.

 

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