Everyday wines with everyday foods
Jason Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Far too often I get asked what kinds of wines do you have with our everyday Jamaican cuisine? So doing a little experimentation, I have come up with a few recommendations to help make things a bit easier.
A favourite of mine, oxtail, if cooked properly, should fall off the bone and be extremely tender and full of flavour. My obvious selection is going to be something red. Merlots can be great dance partners with oxtail - particularly a Merlot that has some 'oomph' to it. The Red Diamond Merlot is one such option which is fruit-flavoured with great layers of complexity. Malbec, which is a personal favorite of mine, is also great because of its intensity and if you added a little Scotch bonnet pepper to heat things up, malbecs can take the heat. A personal favourite of mine, which is not inordinately expensive, is the Alamos Malbec. It tends to be available in most if not all supermarkets and although price may vary, its somewhere in the $1,500 bracket, so it's not too painful on the pocket.
Curry Goat or Curry Chicken
Home style curried goat is always a popular choice but, like oxtail, takes time to cook properly, unlike curry chicken that you can pick up a pre-seasoned pack and be plated in under 30 minutes.
The pre-seasoned curry chicken tends not to be overly powerful in flavour, and a Chardonnay can be a great choice, although I like to kick it up a notch and add some turmeric (one of the main ingredient in curry) to give it some kick.
In the interest of finding a great value option, the Beringer and Little Penguin Chardonnays become easy options, again in the sub-$1500 price range. Like all things, the more intricate your palate is and more complex the flavours of the dish, the more intricate the wine can be. But sometimes, simplicity is key. If you don't mind the extra spend, the Torres Vina Esmeralda is simply superb and adds to the overall taste of the meal.
Ackee and Salt fish
I find my grandma's ackee and salt fish something that you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nothing fancy, but somehow she manages to keep the ackee whole and not get it mashed out. No powdered seasoning other than black pepper. Fresh onions, tomatoes and green peppers - again, nothing complicated. For breakfast, mimosas are the order of the day with me. Half-and-half orange juice and sparkling wine, I like to look for sparkling labelled Extra Brut - meaning extra dry -
If you are thinking more dinner-time consumption, a Chardonnay like the ones mentioned above will work just fine.
Wine isn't intended to be stuffy, but simple, easy and enjoyable. Make any meal, regardless of how simple it may seem, and add a little wine and enjoy. After all, what's the point in working hard to not enjoy life's simple pleasures? Give it a try and feel free to share your own pairing experiences.
I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at email@example.com.