Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Port and food pairing

When talking about pairing port with food, most of us associate it with the classic dessert matches such as chocolate, crème brûlée and cheese. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see port paired with a number of savoury dishes at the recent Vintage Port Academy events. We paired foie gras terrine on toasted brioche and parma ham with a 20 year old Tawny. The acidity of the Tawny cut through the richness of the foie gras—similar to the effect of pairing sauternes with foie gras—while the nuttiness of the wine complemented the smokiness of the ham. For Chinese cuisine, try a Tawny with Peking duck or hairy crab—you'll be surprised!

We also tried wagyu beef rump, venison patties and peanut crusted duck with mango with the fruitier Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and classic Vintage Port. The sweetness of the wine contrasted the savoury yet fragrant meat, yet the weight and flavour intensity of both food and wine were strong enough to stand up to each other, making for a very interesting pairing. This fully reflects the essence of the Flavour Colours wine and food pairing concept. I also tried pairing a Singe Quinta Vintage Port with my mum’s homemade lamb dumplings (without vinegar or chili sauce) and the result was excellent. The wine intensified the meat’s aroma without overpowering it and the food in turn toned down the sweetness and heaviness of the wine. This demonstrates how versatile port can be. I can see that port could go very well with some Chinese claypot dishes such as braised ox tail or lamb brisket.

Vintage ports are best consumed within a week or so of opening, and this deters some consumers from opening them at home. WIth all these interesting potential pairings with savoury dishes, we don’t need to worry about wasting half a bottle of port any more.

By the way, serve port in a wine glass rather than a small liqueur glass for a full appreciation of its complex aromas. After all, port is wine.

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