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The Five Basic Tastes
Do opposites attract, or does like love like? In the culinary dating world, wine and food court each other, and like the real dating world, the answer to that question depends on personal preference. While classic rules such as serving white wine with light fish may be true, understanding how these rules are based on the wine and food flavors will allow you to mix and match more.
The five basic tastes are sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (savory). To create a tantalizing tension between the flavors of your meal, try pairing wines that complement the food’s properties for a more well-rounded flavor palate. The classic Cabernet Sauvignon and steak pair well because the tannins (the property of the wine that makes it drier) and the fattiness of the meat balance each other out. To cut the saltiness in foods, select an acidic, un-oaked wine, or even a slightly sweet champagne. If you have a strong, spicy dish, a strong, spicy red wine could overpower the taste buds, so try a fruity wine such as Gewürztraminer or Riesling instead.
However, if you want to expand one note of a dish into a strong chord, try pairing like with like. A peppery Zinfandel matches nicely with grilled steak in pepper sauce. Moscato’s sweetness goes well with dessert-but make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert. If not, the wine will end up tasting tart and unpleasing. Because of this, pairing red wine with chocolate is harder than you think, so one tip is to try pairing wine with chocolate that has a higher cacao percentage since it is less sweet than milk chocolate.
Sommelier pouring wine into decanter
The Master Sommelier
Since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam was held in 1969, there have been only 233 Master Sommeliers in the world. Their skill goes beyond wine tasting and wine pairing; they must also be superior in areas such as service, salesmanship, menu creation and wine theory.
Jacob Creek
Vinegar Braised Pork Belly and Eggs Dish
Serves 4
8 ½ cups water
2.2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 whole garlic bulb
8 star anise
1 teaspoon chili flakes
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soy caramel
3.4 ounces light soy sauce
⅔ cup sugar
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (extra for the egg lovers)
  1. Pour the water into a large non-stainless steel pot (such as a large Chinese claypot or enameled cast-iron casserole dish), and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add pork belly to the boiling water, then add ginger, whole garlic bulb, star anise and bring back to the boil again. Scoop out all the impurities floating on the surface.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, then add chili flakes, white vinegar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the hard-boiled eggs to the pot. Cover with lid and braise the pork for at least 2 hours, or until the pork is meltingly tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. When the sauce starts to thicken, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. If it is too sour or too salty, add a little more sugar. If it is too sweet, add more light soy sauce. DO NOT add more water unless it dries out too quickly. Serve hot with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.
Jacob’s Creek selected its Reserve Barossa Shiraz to accompany the meal: “This full-bodied wine has a big spicy black fruits taste and subtle oak flavor.”
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