Food & Wine Matching: When Most Expensive Isn’t Best


You just can’t beat the traditional wine and food matches.

Bouillabaisse is the famous fish soup of Provence and especially Marseilles. Recipes vary widely, but one thing they seem to share is that you need at least three types of fish, and saffron, and a side-dish of garlic mayonnaise called rouille. It’s the sort of dish that goes with just about any white wine, and its richness seems to call for chardonnay, white Burgundy or something similarly textural.

The dinner table at home had an exquisitely delicate, chalky-mineralled Chablis (2008 Domaine Billaud-Simon Montée de Tonnerre) (tasting), a terrific white Burgundy (’08 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Sous le Puits Jean-Claude Bachelet), which was rich, complex, generous and quite oaky, and a spectacular Champagne, Bollinger Grande Année 2000 (tasting), with its full-bodied, toasty layered savouriness. All delish, but the wine that went best was the humblest bottle on the table, a Yarra Valley rosé called Soumah Ai Fiori 2013 ($24) (tasting), from the Warramate Foothills. This baby is probably the only rosé in creation which has been fashioned from pinot noir and savagnin. It certainly tastes and smells of the pinot noir grape, one of my favourite rosé grapes.

My bouillabaisse consisted of snapper, leatherjacket, john dory, rock cod, blue swimmer crabs, king prawns, Balmain bugs and blue mussels. The moral of the story is that expensive and grand wines, no matter how good, aren’t always the best choices.

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