Matching food with viognier

With sashimi, the garnishes and condiments are critical to the result. (Photo: Unsplash)

What food goes with viognier?

This has been a conundrum since Aussie viogniers first began to emerge in the early noughties.

I’m a big fan of Japanese-style raw fish dishes. Sashimi and sushi made with raw fish are so simple yet so delicious, a flavour and textural experience. With sashimi, the garnishes and condiments are critical to the result.

Viognier can be very powerful, but today’s Virgilius is less demanding on the senses and more food-friendly than some of the earlier vintages.

At a Yalumba lunch at the Woodcut restaurant, at the base of the new Crown casino building in Barangaroo, Sydney, the focal point was the new vintage of The Caley Cabernet Shiraz, of which more anon, but a simple sashimi plate was served with The Virgilius Viognier 2018, which is the current release of the flagship Yalumba viognier.

As Yalumba’s senior brand manager Jess Hill-Smith said, this wine has become more restrained over the years and to my palate this is a plus: viognier can be very powerful, but today’s Virgilius is less demanding on the senses and more food-friendly than some of the earlier vintages. The more opulent and powerful, richer and more alcoholic the white wine, the less easy it is to match with food. And, frankly, the less you want to drink of it.

The restaurant served a sashimi dish with four fish: kingfish, snapper, tuna and ocean trout. The all-important garnishes were chopped onion, pear and tiny capers, and it was drizzled with chardonnay dressing. The wine worked beautifully.

Also served as entrées were burrata draped with slices of white peach with basil and verjus, and crab cakes with oyster mayonnaise. Two very good and very different dishes that also worked well with the Virgilius.

Jess has her own favourite to serve with this wine: Chinese dumplings, preferably pork, but various fillings can work well. It’s a dish that’s quick and easy to prepare if you use frozen pre-made dumplings. I love dumplings with a dip of Chinkiang black vinegar, but it’s best to go easy on the vinegar in the interest of food-wine harmony.

Yalumba has more history with viognier than any Australian winery. The 2004s are the first Virgilius and first Eden Valley Viognier vintages in our database, but Yalumba’s labels say its history with the grape goes back over 35 years to the 1980s.


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