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I had the pleasure of attending the first African food and wine pairing event last night. There, I met up with Victoria Mulu-Munyoki of Cellar 254, a wine consultant and sommelier based in Kenya. The aim of the event was to help locals learn how to pair wine not just with international foods but with our local favourites as well.
I love wine and I love food. So you can imagine my excitement at having the two together, just like in the movies!
Below are some tips to help you learn how to pair food and wine.
1. Start slow
One of Victoria’s top tips for beginners in this African food and wine pairing is to start with what you like in terms of food and wine and then pair them together.
Once you get the hang of pairing the two, start to experiment with other wines in the market, expanding your palate as you go along. In this way, you’ll be able to discover new wines that pair better with the dishes you eat.
3. Identify the key flavours
Wines are classified into three: bitter like some red wines, acidic like some white, rosé and sparkling wines, and sweet.
To add on that, wines can either be light or bold. Light wines have a more delicate flavour like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Bold wines have more tannin making them bitter like many red wines.
Food, on the other hand, can be fatty, salty, spicy and sweet.
4. Pair key flavours
Red wine goes well with bold flavours, white with lighter flavours and bitter wines with fats.
When pairing the two, remember that the flavours should complement or contrast each other rather than overpower one another. For instance, the wine should either be more acidic, sweeter, or just as flavourful as the food.
1. When opening a cork, avoid inserting the corkscrew too deep into the cork so that it comes in contact with the wine. This will change the flavour of the wine.
2. As the cork is about to come out, tilt the bottle away from you and unscrew it gently so that it doesn’t come out with a pop sound which, to wine connoisseurs, could indicate that the wine has a problem.
3. Always allow the wine to breathe before you drink it. Pour some into a glass and let it sit for a short while.
4. To know the age of red wine, check the colour. Older red wine turns terracotta brown while younger wine has a purplish tinge.
5. Remember that price doesn’t guarantee quality. Wines, such as those from New Zealand, are cheaper but very flavourful.
6. Acidic wine is more suitable as an aperitif.