Pair it to Perfection
by Priya Bala | Editor, PoshVine.com
“Leave aside the olives. The Viognier is perfect with the rest of the watermelon and feta salad,” exhorts chief wine-maker of Four Seasons, Abhay Kewadkar, who is giving me an impromptu masterclass in food and wine pairing over lunch at Fava, UB City. The olives, he explains, are tricky – their brininess always posing a challenge.
Coming from Kewadkar it is sound advice, not something he says to make the whole business of food and wine pairing seem mysterious and incomprehensible. For his is a straightforward, down-to-earth approach. “Yes, there are basic rules, but it’s very much a matter of personal taste,” says the expert.
Before the delicate Viognier he demonstrates how the Rose works with the smoky grilled mushrooms and the chicken skewers with Mediterranean spices. “The Rose has had remarkable success recently, its pairing with chicken tikka masala topping the pairing competition, `What Food, What Wine, in London recently. “The Rose is rather underrated,” says Kewadkar, implying that it’s often considered as a drink for women and wusses. “But I’d say it’s a lovely outdoor wine, ideal for picnics and barbecues. It’s perfect for pairing with mildly flavoured Indian dishes such as ajwaini fish tikka and tandoori chicken. The middle-of-the-path nature of Rose, makes it an excellent wine to drink with a thali with its many flavours,” he says.
Kewadkar is no believer in the story that Indian food is tough to pair with wines. “I can name dozens of perfect combinations,” he says, reeling off daab chingri and a Sauvignon Blanc, Malabar fish curry and Merlot, and Pearlspot Polichathu, in a banana leaf, with a Rose.
But our meal was Mediterranean and we moved onto a vegetarian moussaka with the supple Cabernet Sauvignon and the piece de resistance, the perfect harmony between the herb-crusted lamb chops and the Reserve Shiraz, which is a very special wine indeed.
It was a delicious and enlightening meal all at once. And hats off to the Four Seasons wine-maker for his no-frills approach to the art of pairing. He made it all simple: the acidity of the Rose is a perfect foil for the creaminess of, say, a chicken tikka masala; the delicacy of the Viognier cannot take spice, but will harmonize with lobster or shrimp; spice and tannins aren’t a great mix and so on. You drink, you eat, you learn. And as Kewadkar says, whatever makes you happy; for it’s all about pleasure, not about the rules.