This week I had the pleasure of the company of Jane Skilton MW (which stands for Master of Wine, she’s one of only 250 in the world).
Jane was in Queenstown to help me teach the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 3 course that we have hosted for the first time at Queenstown Resort College, having offered the Level 2 for the last couple of years.
It’s a complex exam that requires a broad range of knowledge and a honed palate. A small section of the course is dedicated to food and wine matching which Jane didn’t seem too excited about.
Her reason was that she felt that food and wine matching had become a little bit highbrow, maybe a tad poncey with large amount of ‘ooh look at me, I’ve matched some food and wine’ about it.
As someone who believes that matching food and wine is a complicated and challenging pursuit that requires lots of experience and plenty of dedication, I also agree that in the grand scheme of things, not many people really care.
The fine dining experience, where food and wine is dissected and examined as if the very meaning of life may be found within the tiny cubes of beetroot, the blood orange gel and the coconut foam, is not for everyone.
Personally, I love it and have spent many an hour and many a dollar on doing just that. But for everyone, it ain’t.
I spoke to my students about this today and tried the express the basic idea of food and wine matching. That it is not about guests scrutinising their dinner but about restaurants providing their customers with a seamless experience.
So when they are eating their food and drinking their wine, they are able to chat to their friends/family without even thinking about if food and wine matches or not. In fact, it’s better if they don’t think about it so that they can get on with their human relationships.
Hopefully when they have finished they will sit back, smile and say ‘that was lovely.’ That’s a great food and wine experience.
The following two weekends I will be showing my food and wine matching prowess with the QRC stand at Taste Queenstown, Earnslaw Park. I have partnered up with Valli Wines to present four simple dishes to match their four stunning wines.
Come and see me, try the matches and say ‘ooh, look at him, he’s matched some food and wine!’
Paul Tudgay is the Queenstown Resort College business hospitality manager and a wine appreciation lecturer
For more of Tudgay’s musings, go to www.winedown.co.nz