In my 43 years of being a sommelier, the most frequently asked question I hear from my colleagues is, “What wine should go with this dish?” Indeed, what is the right accompaniment for foie gras, lobster, oyster, wagyu beef, rack of lamb and so on?
I must admit that today, wine pairing is more complicated than it was 30 or 40 years ago, when Monsieur Bocuse and even Escoffier were the talk of the chefs. Whereas today, Senior Ferran Adrià of the closed El Bulli and many other followers with their molecular gastronomy kitchens make life a little bit more difficult! All is then complicated further with the introduction of fusion foods, the mix of Asian and European flavours. Despite these new challenges, a fine wine pairing is still possible. Here are some examples of my pairings at Kayuputi Restaurant at St Regis Resort Bali:-
Ultra rare of Hiramasa king fish with fresh shaved seasonal tropical fruits and roots vegetable, Balinese aromatic fish essence, sweet sour tamarind sorbet (Fusion of Asia and Bali).
My wine suggestion would be: Pinot Gris, Kooyong Beurrot, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. The wine is fruity dry and matches with the sorbet and tropical fruits, which for me is the core flavour of the dish.
Blue swimmer crabmeat salad, composition of hydroponic tomato avruga pearls, vanilla infused tomato nectar, basil oil (Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil).
My wine suggestion would be: Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc & Gros Manseng, Classic, Domaine Du Tariquet, Saint Amand, Cotes Du Gascogne, France. A dry wine with a concert of tastes on the palate which will give the crab meat salad a burst of freshness which will add to the dominant ingredient, the tomato.
For a consumer this language of newly cultivated kitchen dishes is maybe a bit confusing but we as sommeliers have to deal with it and find solutions for that perfect wine accompaniment. Here are some other examples from 35 years ago at Weinhaus Anker Germany:-
Dumplings of white perch and stripes of Salmon on leaf spinach.
My wine suggestion would be: Riesling, Dorsheimer Goldloch, Grosses Gewaechs, Schlossgut Diel, Nahe, Germany. This wine is dry but has this kind of fruit body that tastes great when it is attached to the dish in the mouth. The main ingredient is the dumpling of perch which is soft and has a taste of sweet mineral water.
Wild pork filet steak in Morrel sauce, Broccoli and homemade spaetzli (a specialty from the nearby forest)/
My wine suggestion would be: Malbec & Cabernet Sauvignon, Amancaya, Domaine Bodegas Caro, Lafite & Catena, Mendoza Valley, Argentina. The whole dish is asking, in my opinion, for a fruity driven wine from the new world. The Malbec is the best choice for this.
As you can see, the guests eating at Weinhas Anker Germany can easily understand what will come on his plate out of the kitchen, so finding a wine pairing is much easier. These are but a few examples of some wine pairings and what aspects to look out for when choosing a wine to pair with a dish.
Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 43 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “Wine and Dine at St. Regis Bali Resort” in the near future.