2014 Cellar Door Festival – Bigger and Better


Late last year I was asked to be a social media ambassador for the 2014 Cellar Door Festival. There have been a few events for the ambassadors, including a session at OzHarvest and a cheese and wine matching class (I missed that one as I was ham and wine matching in Spain at the time).

As the festival itself is almost upon us (it kicks off next Friday, 14 February) the final ambassador event was held last week at the Adelaide Convention Centre. We were treated to an ‘amazing race’ style evening – charging around the centre, learning more about both the festival and local produce. After we’d built up a head of steam, several of the ‘new producers’ who are being showcased by PIRSA were on hand to chat to us about their foods and participation in the festival.

My partner, Rubina, and I didn’t quite manage to win the race part of the evening (though if there had been a prize for making the most noise, taking it seriously and getting into the spirit of things in an over the top manner, we would DEFINITELY have won that!) we did come in a creditable third (out of five).

For me, probably the most interesting part of the race was trying the alpaca carpaccio. Alpaca is probably not a meat you’ll have come across before. While it’s been eaten in South America for centuries its appearance on Australian menus is still very novel. I had a lovely chat to Perry from Fleurieu Prime Alpaca, and I recommend checking out the meat at the festival. It’s extremely lean, tender and very gently flavoured. You might also find some alpaca on the menu at Pranzo in the CBD.

While the festival is, of course, about wine (and a bit of beer, too!), this year it has a much greater focus on food. Of the producers I met last week, many have a strong emphasis on native ingredients so festival goers will have the opportunity to try plenty of new foods – both at the Farmers’ Market and from individual producers.

This year, the festival’s masterclasses also have a strong food theme. On the opening evening (Friday 14 February) Marion Grasby will be hosting a Valentine’s Day Extravaganza (you can win tickets to this over at McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen – NOTE, you will need to purchase your own Cellar Door Festival tickets separately). Over the course of the weekend she is also hosting two further classes (Summer Entertaining and Asian Favourites) and there are seafood, cheese and, of course, wine focussed classes.

Classes do need to be booked in advance: full details are on the Cellar Door Festival website.

How to: Match Food and Wine

Wine and cheese tasting @ Strewn Winery

photo by Vincent Ma

Well, that’s a bold statement, isn’t it?! In one blog post I’m going to solve all your food and wine matching problems … I’m sure you all know that that’s not true!

A couple of weeks ago I chatted to Peter Godfrey about food and wine matching for Christmas. You can listen to the audio above, but I thought it would be useful to put together a few hints and tips here.

Straight up, I’d like to say that the most important thing is that you enjoy whatever it is you drink and eat. If that means drinking a sweet wine with a big juicy steak – then, while I’d suggest that for more most people there would be better matches, I think you should go with it.

If you’re a bit more flexible then here are some rough guidelines …

Match strong flavours in the food with a big, rich wine. When you think about your food, don’t think about one single ingredient – think about the whole plate and how it’s been cooked. For example, many people like the “rule” which suggests white wine with white meat and fish and red wine with red meat. But take chicken. A lightly poached chicken breast is a whole different ball game to one that has been rubbed with cajun spices and chargrilled or some joints that have been turned into coq au vin. This doesn’t mean you have to match a red wine with richer food: if you prefer white, look for a fuller bodied white, such as an oaked Chardonnay.

Avoid highly tannic wines (in particular Cabernet Sauvignon) with oily fish (salmon, tuna) as they can make the fish taste bitter. And avoid matching them with very spicy food: it will taste even spicier! If you want to go red, choose something ‘softer’, such as a Merlot. White – choose something with good acidity with the fish (Sauvignon Blanc, for example) and perhaps something with a touch of sweetness with the spicy food (an off dry Riesling or a Gewurztraminer).

Over on Facebook I asked for any food and wine matching conundrums. It’s always much easier to address a specific query than to come up with a general rule followed by all the exceptions!

The questions were:

What goes well with Pinot Noir other than duck?
– Pinot and duck is a classic pairing but Pinot Noir is actually a pretty versatile, food friendly wine. Australian (or, indeed, New World) Pinot is generally a lighter red wine, lower in tannins, and very fruit driven: think raspberries, strawberries and red cherries. You’re also likely to find some acidity there that you might not spot in a big, bold Barossa Shiraz. This means that Pinot will work well with lighter dishes. Because its flavours are quite delicate, you don’t want to match it to your heartiest stew but simply cooked veal, pork or even lamb should all work. Pork fillet stuffed with prunes is a great choice because you have the fruitiness from the prunes matched with the fruitiness in the wine. Coq au vin, which is traditionally cooked using a red wine, would also be a potential match. Because Pinot is typically lighter in tannin it will also work with richer fish: salmon, tuna and swordfish would all be candidates – again, particularly if you’re using a richer cooking technique or a red wine sauce.

– What’s a good dessert wine to go with Christmas pudding?
Christmas pudding is rich, sweet and laden with dried fruit so my choice would actually be to steer away from a dessert wine and choose a fortified Muscat or Topaque from Victoria’s Rutherglen region. These are rich, luscious wines that can stand up to a rich, sweet dessert – and they work brilliantly with chocolate desserts too! With desserts, the general rule is to choose a wine that’s sweeter than the dessert (otherwise the wine will taste dry, or at least drier) and this can be surprisingly tricky. Most dessert wines aren’t overwhelmingly sweet and yet many desserts are. In fact, some of the great food and wine matches are so called dessert wines with savoury dishes (for example, foie gras or even lobster). Sweet whites work brilliantly with sharp or salty cheeses: so save your sticky for the cheese course and opt for a homegrown fortified for the Christmas pud.

Indian food?
– The complexity of spices and the sheer heat of much Indian food does indeed cause something of a problem for food and wine matching. In this case, I personally tend to prefer beer. However, when matching wine with spicy food – steering clear of tannins is the most important rule. If you want to go red, choose a Merlot rather than a Cabernet. When it comes to a white, try choosing one with a hint of sweetness: think an off dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer, although these would typically work better with the fresh, light flavours of Thai or Vietnamese food. Given the full, bold flavours of Indian food, I’d head for Merlot myself. You need a wine with a ton of flavour and weight to stand up to the food. I guess the best guideline  here is that if you’re about to tuck into a vindaloo, leave your most valuable wine in the cellar and opt for something in the more affordable range!

Probably the best advice I can give you is to a cultivate a good relationship with your local wine merchant. He/she/the staff will know the stock and be able to give you sound advice and make good suggestions. This is invaluable.

Do you have a specific query of your own?  Leave a comment or put a post on our Facebook page!

Food Forward 2012



07 December 2011

Weber Shandwick has released its inaugural food trend report, Food Forward 2012.  The report looks at a number of food related trends.  It will be no surprise to anyone in Australia that the supermarkets’ milk wars came in as the number one food story for 2011.

Looking forward, the hot predictions for 2012 are:

  • Thermomix – the kitchen appliance that does everything.  Why do I still not have one?!
  • Pepe Saya Butter – one I hadn’t heard of, a cultured hand churned butter that, in South Australia is available at Say Cheese in the Central Market (for other states, check the website).
  • Central and South American flavours will be all the rage (think cumin and coriander), as will things Korean (soy bean, and my favourite chilli sauce, gochujang).
  • Bitter Greens – wasabi salad leaves and leaves from the Kale family, including Cavalo Nero.
  • Sous Vide (literally “under vacuum”) – where food is cooked in sealed (airtight) plastic bags in a water bath, generally at a low temperature.

While the Thermomix and sous vide might be out of reach of most domestic kitchens (or budgets) perhaps it’s almost time to splash out on some fancy butter …