Sommelier Series | Top wine pairing tips

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

In the next instalment of our Sommelier Series, we asked the legendary "Wine Man" and self-confessed professional drinker, Peter Bourne, for his top wine pairing tips.

Peter has been involved in the Australian wine industry for more than 40 years, originally as a fine wine merchant and more recently as a writer, educator and host of wine appreciation courses and tasting masterclasses.

Interview with Peter Bourne
Top wine pairing

"When you start to think about the weather or the time of year, you naturally think about warming, comfort food, and you want equally warming wines to match that. This is the time of year when you would dive into a fuller-bodied shiraz or cabernet sauvignon because they go with the richer, meat-based foods we are eating.

"Whether it is a roast or even a risotto you're making for dinner, both go well with a medium-weight red. My biggest advice for food and wine matching is that it is not about the colour, but it is definitely about the weight. So, if you have full-flavoured food, you want a full-flavoured wine to go with it.

"Conversely, in the summer you are having lighter, fresher foods like seafood and salads, so you are going to pick reds and whites that have a lithe frame.

"We are lucky to have a lot more choice of reds these days. At the start of my career, reds were all full-bodied and heavy - even rosé was quite lolly tasting. Some of the new wave grenaches that have been made in the nouveau style - the wine is sold the same year it is harvested - are simply delicious. Beaujolais nouveau offer some fantastic opportunities.

"There are also some excellent lighter reds coming from Italy and Spain. We didn't plant those grape varieties until more recently - only 20 -30 years ago - so they are still young wines. It's exciting to see how much our portfolio of grapes in this country is changing and adapting to work with the diverse foods that we eat.

"With a steak, or anything protein and fat-based (fat is flavour, protein is the meatiness), you want to head towards a wine that is loaded with that. The fuller shiraz or the cabernet sauvignon both have lots of fruit intensity, but more importantly tannin, from the skin and from the oak. The tannin really soaks up the protein from the meat. So, if you have a high tannin wine, you would want to be eating a hit of protein to bring out the flavours.

"For vegetarians, that will come from lentils and similar types of ingredients, which might also have a richer sauce to go with it. They really do work together.

"When you have a heavy red, and that tannin hits your mouth, you will get a dry mouth. But when you put your food into your mouth and you chew, suddenly all that tannin is stripped away - your mouth feels refreshed.

"If you are not a red wine drinker, you need to go for oak-influenced whites wine, like a Chardonnay, which has that extra richness to it. It needs to be drunk together with foods that are rich in protein - you don’t want open a bold chardonnay with oysters or prawns but it is perfect with a chicken dish."

Hope you enjoy these tips and keep them in mind next time you are looking for some wine to pair with your favourite dish 🍷

To learn more about Peter, visit his website here.

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