Food and wine matching with Lyndey Milan

By
Lyndey Milan
Added
20 January, 2016

As Louis Pasteur said, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine". But have you ever drunk a favourite wine with food you love and found that somehow neither measured up? Don’t blame the wine – or the food.



Even superb food and a superb wine may not add up to a great experience if they compete with one another rather than finding harmony.

"White wine with white meat, red wine with red" has gone the way of meat and three veg due to the array of flavours in the modern Australian palate and increasing number of varietals available to us. The matching of food and wine is subjective, but there are still some rules to observe; when you get it right the flavours of both food and wine are excitingly enhanced. I've had too many experiences where great food and wine don't add up to a great experience because they are awkwardly matched. We aim for a marriage made in heaven, not a blind date!

Food and wine should complement each other, with just enough difference to shift attention from one to the other. This keeps things interesting for the palate. Just as it can be boring if only one person talks at a dinner party, so too it can be dull if either the food or the wine dominates.

There is one overriding principle to apply: match the weight, intensity, flavour or texture of the wine with that of the food. Delicate food requires delicately flavoured wine, and rich, robust food requires bigger, heavier wines. Think about the overall flavour of the finished dish, as you may have changed the character of the food in the way that you’ve cooked it or the sauce that you’ve used. This is why simplistic food/wine matches on wine labels or by liquor stores make me mad. How can a wine “go with chicken”? What sort of chicken? Poached, roasted or barbecued? In a sauce like coq au vin or a Thai green curry? Each will require a different wine.

What a joy it is when the food on the plate and wine in the glass are perfectly paired. However, let's not get uptight about it. Experiment, experiment, experiment until you find your own sublime combinations. Often it’s easier to adjust the food to the wine – adding a touch of sugar to the dish or a dash of wine to the sauce – than it is to match the wine to the food. Remember, too, that award-winning wines are chosen in isolation and do not necessarily combine well with food.

To get you started, I've shared some of my favourite recipe and wine matches below. 


Mustard pikelets with minted lamb, matched with the soft, gentle flavours of merlot.


Brown sugar meringues with passionfruit curd, with a dessert wine like botrytis semillon, which will match the sweet lemony flavours.

Barbecued beef sirloin with native flavours, perfectly paired with a shiraz or grenache.


Yabbies with lemon myrtle butter and warrigal greens. The lemon flavours in this dish are well suited to a semillon, and the butter dictates an older one with toasty aged flavours.


Barramundi larb with native Australian flavours. The herbaceous, lemon flavours here will be well suited to a riesling or semillon.

Seared kangaroo loin with licorice sauce and parsnip colcannon. Kangaroo is gamey meat and the licorice sauce is a little aniseed-y, so go for a shiraz or grenache.


Linguine with seafood and garlic crumbs. This dish celebrates fresh seafood and the wine needs to enhance that, so go for the delicate flavours of a semillon – one with a little age will develop toasty flavours and work well with the crumb.


Deconstructed peach melba. This is not overly sweet, so try a late-picked riesling.


    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again