Matching Tassie’s best tipples to food

 

There’s never been a better time to drink in Tasmania, with a diverse range of our southern vineyards picking up a swag of State, national and international awards.

Such diversity provides a great opportunity for wine lovers to stray off their beaten path to try new flavours – but if you’re used to staying with the same brands and types it can be daunting to try something different.

Fred Peacock is the founder of, and viticulturalist at, Bream Creek Vineyard, which supplies several of the Maria Island Walk’s wines. We talked to Fred to get some tips for how to make the best choice when pairing wine with food.

 

 

What makes Tasmanian wines so special?

 

Because they’re made in a cooler climate, Tassie wines have a high natural acidity in the grapes, which means they taste quite fresh. That vibrancy helps cut through richer foods quite easily, so you can pair, say a riesling with something quite rich – the cleansing acidity helps to refresh the palate each time.

According to Fred, a Tasmanian wine-industry pioneer, fifteen years ago Australia was best known for its big heavy reds – high alcohol, rich, almost “porty” styles. But in the last few years the industry has changed – and many growers have moved away from that into picking the grapes younger, which makes the wine fresher.

 

 

Power and the glory

 

As a general rule of thumb, think of the punch that the food flavour packs, and then match that intensity with your wine. Pair powerful foods like beef and strong cheese with full-bodied drops – “hard cheeses and particularly blue cheese with a bit of funk and age need the tannins from a cabernet to cut through the richness,” says Fred. Otherwise opt for a sweeter riesling or schönburger to contrast with the saltiness.

Lighter foods, on the other hand, need a more delicate wine – “something that’s dancing on its tiptoes, not plodding along.”

Match soft cheese with a richer pinot gris, to go with the delicacy of the flavour. For pasta dishes, consider the sauce: chardonnay matches well with creamy meals, while pinot grigio pairs perfectly with any style of seafood.

 

She’ll be white.

 

Tasmania has a wide variety of both reds and whites, but if you’re unsure, go pale. You can match a wider range of foods to white – from aperitif quaffing all the way through to a bigger chardonnay with pork or chicken, for example. Says Fred: “White retains its natural freshness from that acidity in the grapes, and offsets even quite rich food.”

 

When in doubt, drink pinot

 

Pinot noir is a versatile red wine – it works well with duck and lighter meats. If you want to be controversial, it even works with salmon in the lighter style pinots.

“When you have a really big heavy wine, [drink] one glass and you’re just about done,” says Fred. “A younger wine and you can go a second glass. A good pinot is very versatile, and food matching’s a much bigger thing in recent years, with tasting menus and regular opportunities at many wine shops to try before you buy. Take advantage, and take notes.”

 

 

When all else fails …

 

Don’t panic. For every rule there’s an exception – a flinty pinot that matches lamb’s pastural richness, or an unoaked chardonnay that brings the delicate flavours of sashimi to the fore. Really, there’s no wrong way to enjoy your favourite drop. “At the end of the day, if you like what you’re drinking, drink what you like,” advises Fred. “There’s not much point matching it with food if you’re not enjoying the wine’s flavour.”

On the Maria Island Walk, guests have the chance to sample a selection of award-winning Tasmanian wines that have been thoughtfully paired with their food.

They sip their way from Gala Estate and Milton near the iconic Freycinet Peninsula, through the hills behind stunning Marion Bay, where the Bream Creek and Cape Bernier labels are found, and to 42° South, from the Frogmore Creek winery in the Coal River Valley, just outside Hobart.

And what should you sip with your after-meal chocolate? A warm Pinot Noir does the perfect job.

 

 

Get someone else to choose…

 

A fully catered Tasmanian holiday – such as the Maria Island Walk’s four-day walk – is the perfect way to experiment. When Maria Island Walks founder Ian Johnstone came to decide on drinks for his guests, he chose to focus on the best wines from vineyards in the same region as Maria Island – south-east Tasmania.

Built on a foundation of beautiful fresh Tasmanian produce, the Maria Island Walk’s menu has been carefully curated and matched with fine wines.