Food and wine pairing has become the latest trend as far as fine dining is concerned. What can be better than the selection of the perfect wine to go with a gourmet meal that has been prepared to transcend expectations?
The Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton has discovered the winning formula for this gastronomic version of heaven. While most food and wine pairing starts with the dish and then moves onto the wine, the Michelangelo’s Piccolo Mondo restaurant decided to turn the concept on its head entirely by starting, instead, with the wine.
Our food and wine pairing menu grew out of the gourmet dinners that we have at the restaurant. We taste the wines three times before serving them, so we have a really good idea of what wine might pair well with which dish. There is an intricate art to food and wine pairing. Special care has to be taken to balance all the flavours involved, including what sauces and spices are used, what vegetables are served with the main course and how some desserts complement some wines more than others.
Heinrich Oberholzer | Food and Beverage Manager at the Michelangelo
“What is important in food and wine pairing is what we call the ‘palate’,” Oberholzer says. “For me, it’s the flavour that lingers as an after taste. What we want to do is create a kind of flavour harmony so that the after taste contains elements of both the dish and the wine.”
The sophisticated process. Cabernet sauvignon, for example, pairs excellently with beef, Shiraz brings out the essence of spicy foods and warm puddings, especially those with “Christmas flavours”. Chardonnay heightens the flavours of creamy sauces while Pinotage creates a divine marriage with chocolate and cherries.
The wine pairing menu is quite simple with a selection of meat, fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes, which change every four weeks. Everything is laid out beautifully so that every flavour in the meal is listed – for example: smoked chicken, textures of corn, marinated mushroom, parmesan cream, vanilla and macadamia nut dressing, and of course the wine, Ashbourne Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay– so that dedicated gastronomes are able to immerse themselves in each tantalising zing of flavour.
“We want our diners to have an experience,” Oberholzer says. “We want to take them back to the true fine dining experience where every taste, texture, flavour and pairing involved in their meal is sublime. It’s not just about putting a good plate of food in front of a person. It’s about creating the right atmosphere, providing the best service, and good food, of course.”
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