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Dare to be different

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Cru Magazine Jan 2014, All rights reserved

Dare to be different. 勇於嘗試

English text: Ian Symonds // Translation: Nevin Yip

It seems to be only moments ago in Hong Kong that wine classes with prescribed lists often found obtaining some of the wines an impossible task as some wines were simply not shipped into the territory. Now when invited to a dinner in which there is a serious attempt at food and wine pairing the challenge is “be different” ; followed immediately by “not Chardonnay, or Cabernet” and most lately in an invitation from a student group, horror upon horrors “no Bordeaux”!

最近我發現到,有時要找得到葡萄酒課要用上的葡萄酒,是一件絕對不容易的事,因為有部份根本没有在香港出售!當要參與晚飯時,那可真頭疼了,例如餐飲的配搭上不要Chardonnay、Cabernet,甚至最近一個學生邀請的晚宴上,更是不可以有波爾多酒!

 

What is Hong Kong coming to when the young wine drinking set say“no”to their parents and grandparents favourite red tipple.  Well, I think they are learning some key lessons and these are very adequately taught by almost every wine education entity around the world:

  • Ignore any of the old rules, white with fish, red with meat stuff;
  • Play to your crowds favourite wine styles;
  • Look at the whole dish for the strongest flavours;
  • Most wines do, in truth, go with most foods in some way;
  • If really in doubt look at what they eat and where the wine comes from.

現今較為年青的一代對上一輩一直所喜愛的葡萄酒,似乎都比較抗拒。歸根究底,我認為他們都從各式各樣的葡萄酒知識中學到幾個重點:

  • 摒棄舊有紅酒配紅肉、白酒配白肉的概念
  • 視乎飲用者的喜好而定
  • 根據味道最濃烈的菜式去配搭
  • 大多數葡萄酒跟菜式都有某程度上的配合
  • 若真有疑竇,便嘗試以菜式和葡萄酒的來源去配合

In my classes recently, and I write this just before the holiday, we have had a series of food and wine pairing sessions.  The simplest of which is to take six different wine styles – a sparkler, a simple neutral white, an oaked white, a simple fruity red with no tannin, a full bodied red with tannin and a sweet wine; and then buy some extremely simple foods – apple, lemon, salt, mature cheese, smoked salmon, chili crackers, madeleine sponge and try each with each of the wines.

Very quickly the worst and best pairings shine through, then dawns the realization that most were“okay”.  This is not the be all and end all of food and wine pairing by a very long way; but to quote one excellent teacher of this subject matter please now go and do what your parents told you exactly not to do – play with your food!  In doing this supposed mysteries long held under aprons by a hallowed few will be revealed and foods and wines will hum in harmony.

下筆前,我的葡萄酒課堂上剛好有一系列餐飲配搭的課題,為了去掀開酒食配搭的謎思,於是我們用了最基本六款的葡萄酒去做測試:氣泡酒、簡單中性的白酒、經過木桶處理的白酒、簡單果味而無單寧的紅葡萄酒、厚酒體且有單寧的紅葡萄酒以及甜酒。同時,我們用幾款非常簡單的食物去配搭,分別是蘋果、檸檬、鹽、成熟的芝士、煙三文魚、辣椒餅乾、法式海綿蛋糕。很快,測試的結果便出來了,最好和最壞的配合顯然易見,而其餘的結果一般都是可以接受的,這雖然不是絕對的結論,郤有參考的價值。

Some of my most enjoyable times have been when sat with two or three other interested parties and the chef or chefs who were going to produce a meal a few days later and make the first comparisons of food and the wines chosen.  A good chef will very quickly put his finger on the aspect of a dish that needs amendment to bring the wine and food into some harmony.  This may be a luxury but as we enter the season perhaps most associated with food and wine – from Thanksgiving to Chinese New Year – can I strongly urge everyone to try to be different and have the courage to make something else of your meals by breaking out the Georgian, Croatian, Ukrainian wines; breaking traditions with Hairy Crab and trying Amontillado Sherry; getting to grips with white wines and Cantonese foods rather than caving in to normality and cheaper red Bordeaux.

以前我曾與幾位同業和大廚一起去商討、造出一個美好的餐飲配搭,那是我們最好的時光之一。 優秀的廚師對於菜式的味道非常敏感,而且會很快速地作出調整,使到葡萄酒和菜式達到最理想的平衡及和諧感。在一些節日中,例如感恩節、農曆新年等,我建議各位可以多作大膽的新嘗試,好像以格魯吉亞、克羅地亞、烏克蘭的葡萄酒去配合菜式;用Amontillado 雪莉酒去襯托大閘蟹;以白葡萄酒而不再是廉價的波爾多紅葡萄酒去配合廣東菜等等。

One of my wealthier students has come close to crumbling apart in my classes at times as she has admitted that there are drinkable wines under a thousand a bottle and there are regions beyond the Grand Crus of Bordeaux and the sheltered Clos of Bourgogne that complement food.  So please be like her and try; the worst that can happen is you learn not to try that wine with the particular food again – hardly a disaster?  It will put that elegant Bordeaux with food that will make both sing rather than one suffering a flattening loss of flavour through poor preparation.  All wine writers bash on about this and yet foodie season after foodie season I hear complaints about pairing.  Get hold of any of the Apps that are out there, Google your food and your wine before you eat and get them working together; after all they were made for each other.

我班上的一位比較富有的學生,最終都不得不承認其實有許多一千元下的波爾多、勃艮第以外的葡萄酒, 都絕對可以用來襯托食物。大家其實都值得多作嘗試,最壞的情況也衹不過是知道甚麼酒跟甚麼食物不配合罷了。當你多作嘗試後, 便會發覺優秀的配搭是會如何美妙。經常有很多酒評家評論甚麼時候的食物要配合甚麼樣的葡萄酒,我郤不以為然。因為酒和食物根本就是為互相配合而存在,若你不清楚應該怎樣去搭配,可試找那些電話上的應用程式,又或者谷歌一下你的食物和酒,總會找得到的。