Search for that magical food-wine match

NEIL HODGSON
Last updated 13:52 23/05/2014

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I am often asked questions about wine.

I realise that not everyone is as crazy about wine as I am and it is always a pleasure for me to share a bit of knowledge, especially to enthuse people about the delights wine has to offer.

Here are my thoughts on some regularly asked questions, but first a couple of rules; there is no right and wrong about what wine you should enjoy, we all have different likes and dislikes so drink what you enjoy. And secondly, have an open mind and be prepared to try something new, don't just select the same wine from the shelf every time you buy a bottle.

Probably the most frequent question I am asked is what wine should I have with xyz food or "I only like red wine but I feel like I must drink white wine with some foods" (or vice versa).

What I think: If you like it, drink it; a heavy red wine will be far from a perfect match with a delicate fillet of white fish and a white wine would be much better but remember you don't have to drink the wine with the food. Enjoy the food for what it is and go back to your favourite red when you have finished eating.

Chances are you will have a bottle of red open and it will last a lot longer than the food on the plate so don't feel bad about it, just don't expect a nice wine and food pairing.

Having said that I also think if you want to make the most of every bottle of wine and enjoy it with food and friends then if you are prepared to try a wine that is a good match with the food you just might find another favourite wine style.

What wine should I cook with? We have a sign on the wall in our kitchen that says ‘I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food' so we always cook with wine.

We also regularly use wine in food we are cooking and there are some outstanding classic dishes that include wine.

Boeuf Bourguignon is a beef casserole with red wine.

Marinade the beef in red wine overnight before you make the casserole and the meat becomes meltingly tender and delicious.

Sauces are often made with red or white wines and we all know a good trifle has to have lashings of sherry.

You don't have to use a $50 wine in the cooking (drink that while cooking!) but don't go for the bargain basement $6 red either, there isn't much point in using a flavourless wine to cook with because it won't add anything to the food.

Select a wine that has plenty of flavour and I think if you aim for the $12-$18 range you will find something suitable for cooking with.

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Does decanting a wine really make a difference to the wine?

In short, absolutely, especially older red wines that have been locked in an airless environment for a few years, decanting the wine awakens the flavours and aromas. Often young wines benefit from decanting too. You don't need a fancy decanter, you can just pour the wine into a jug and then back in to the bottle to aerate it. I happen to love the look of a wine in a nice decanter so have a number of them.

I don't decant pinot noir though, this is one variety that in my opinion doesn't benefit from decanting, in fact it can have a negative effect because pinot noir likes to be treated delicately.

If you aren't sure what wine you should cook with or decant or to drink with a particular dish there are two things you need to do; firstly ask for some advice from your favourite wine seller and secondly, experiment, because you won't die if you get it wrong but you will have learnt something (not to do) and you just might find a magical match.

- The Nelson Mail

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