WORDS BY KEN GARGETT
If wine itself is subjective, then matching food and wine is even more so. My view has long been that if you like the wine and you like the food then there is a fair chance, you’ll have a good overall experience. I also think that this is the one subject on the planet, not just the wine world, about which more rubbish is written than any other (well, in a close contest with the Kardashians – and I have just discovered something incredibly distressing: my spellcheck knew how to spell ‘Kardashian’. Why? How?).
People get so wound up about matching food and wine that at times it seems to overtake actually enjoying the stuff. ‘You can’t do this’. ‘That is a crime’. ‘This will ruin your life’. ‘This will put the Feng Shui out of kilter’. Get over it.
All that said, there are occasions when the right match can lift both wine and food to new heights. And more occasions when the wrong combo can destroy both. Some ‘rules’ are there for a reason. If you have a dessert that is sweeter than your dessert wine then you are wasting your time. Well, you are killing the wine. We’ll get to more over time.
But, back at the ranch, matching foods with rosé. The worst trap one falls into is seeing the bright vibrant colours and thinking festive desserts and sweet cakes. It happens so often, especially with sparkling rosé. Unless you have a discernibly sweet rosé, avoid desserts. Sparkling rosé can be a wonderful match with game, duck, pigeon, lamb and so much more.
So here are five cracking rosés with some suggestions. But remember the most important rules: Don’t drink something you don’t like just because someone says you should; and don’t be afraid to experiment on your own.
A rosé from the Sancerre region is always going to be of interest. Pretty in pink, this is made from pinot noir. It is fresh and tight, slightly leafy. It broadens out with dry herbs on the palate. Good length and intensity. A little hard to get excited at the value aspect but fun to drink. A fresh salad would be ideal. 88 points.
HQ might be the Mornington Peninsula, but Sam Coverdale is not one to limit himself. This rosé is a mix of fruit from Canberra and Heathcote. It is a blend of sangiovese and pinot noir, with the aim to make that refreshing classic French style. Pale pink with a delightful mix of dry leaves, herbals and rose petals. This would be perfect with a simple plate of pates and terrines. 89 points.
A big company rosé from a fruit salad bowl of varieties sourced from ‘South Eastern Australia’ is almost guaranteed to bring forth the image of the evil empire, but too many so-called winelovers forget that these big companies tend to get big for a reason. They make wine people like. This is a pale pink. Fresh with a clean finish. It is a straightforward and easy drinking style. Their suggestion is pork or pavlova. I’d be much more inclined for a summer pasta dish or simple (non-vinegary) salad. 88.
Now we have one of those delightful Provence style rosés that we all love to enjoy if we can get ourselves over to the Mediterranean. This is summer in a bottle. A pale pink with florals, hints of cherries and gentle spices. There is a degree of elegance, nice length and a terrific, clean, dry finish. Picture yourself at a small café not far from water’s edge. Checked tablecloths, crowded bars, warm sunshine, simple wineglasses splashed full of the good stuff. My first thought would be to order the Bouillabaisse and a glass of this to enjoy with it. 91 points.
There is not a lot of pinot meunier grown in Australia – our sparkling industry does not need it in the same way that the champenois do. We are better off seeking quality chardonnay and pinot noir. So a wine like this is a rare thing indeed, and one if great interest. Chandon has named this ‘Cygnet’, to reflect the change it makes over its development. Ugly duckling and all… From high altitude Whitlands fruit (small contributions from the Strathbogie Ranges and Coldstream in the Yarra), this is a delightful pink colour. There is a dry confectionary note with some red currant/cherry/strawberry notes. Good length, clean finish, after a lovely slightly creamy texture. Thoroughly enjoyable sparkler which would be ideal for rare roast lamb or a richer seafood dish. 91 points.