Word has it that at least eight out of 10 Southeast Asia wine drinkers don’t believe in drinking wine when paired with Asian food, despite the growing number of wine drinkers in the region. So, leading Australian wine brand Wolf Blass has decided to take up this challenge with its regional campaign titled ‘Find Your Flavour’, in partnership with Michelin Guide, in an attempt to change attitudes towards matching local food with wine.
Together with chefs from four Michelin-starred restaurants across Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan, they have crafted recipes with local sauces profiled for the Wolf Blass Gold Label wines: Gold Label Shiraz, Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon and Gold Label Chardonnay.
The chefs engaged for this campaign are Executive Chef Manjunath Mural from Song of India in Singapore, Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn from Le Du in Thailand, Chef Lam Ming Kin from Longtail in Taiwan, and Chef He Hong Ping from Da San Yuan in Taiwan.
During the wine pairing session with members of the media recently, we got to sample these four sauces – Taiwanese basil vinaigrette, chu hou, masala and chu chee curry, as we ventured for a guess which of the Wolf Blass Gold Label wines best suit which sauce.
While there is no one right answer, for each individual has slightly different preferences to the other, we can agree that: the Taiwanese basil vinaigrette pairs better with the Gold Label Chardonnay due to its oaky notes, while the Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon brings out the mint taste that encapsulates the sauce.
However, when it comes to the chu hou sauce, the same wine smoothens the spicy sauce upon the palate, augmenting the fruitiness of the wine at the fore. For the masala sauce that’s heavier in taste, the Gold Label Shiraz does the trick by lightening the food and the wine simultaneously, the spiciness of the Shiraz blending with the peppery masala flavour for a freshened aroma.
Lastly, for the chu chee curry concocted from ingredients like tamarind and coconut, the Shiraz highlights its fruity character by bringing down a notch the fiery notes of the sauce, giving way for the other flavours of the sauce to come forth. Whereas the Chardonnay would please individuals that prefer the heat that comes with the curry, for it softens the edges and amplifies the spiciness.
After gaining much insight from the wine-tasting session, we continued our journey in finding our flavour, when we sat down to a six-course meal prepared by Chef Gary Anwar of Ember Modern Bistro, each course paired with wines from the Wolf Blass Gold Label series and the Grey Label series.
For the Hamachi ponzu steeped in pickled apple and ulam raja, its perfect pair is the 2017 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay with its smoky and fruity notes of green apple and citrus; whereas the Steamed baked local fish cooked with mushrooms and smoked fish sauce works better with the 2016 Gold Label Shiraz.
The evening proceeded onto courses that are heavier on the palate: the Dry aged duck with sweet sauce tare, pucuk paku and sesame complements the 2017 Wolf Blass Gold Label Cabernet Savignon, resulting in a fruity and herbaceous taste of mint and eucalyptus on the tongue.
For the Striploin with potato puree, sansho butter and four angle beans, on the other hand, Wolf Blass brought out the big gun – the spice-driven 2016 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz, ending our dinner on a sweet liquorice and spicy anise seed note.
Ember Modern Bistro will be hosting the six-course wine pairing dinner with Wolf Blass for the public on March 8, Sunday, priced at RM250+ per person. Reservations can be made online here