Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Happy Independence Day

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2015 | 8:00 AMJason Clarke

Today, we mark yet another year as a free nation. During our individual lives, we have our good moments and our not-so-great ones, but our birthdays we still treat as sacred and special.

To celebrate our Independence, check out a few pairing options for some of our favourite eats.

Our national dish, ackee and salt fish, is a popular breakfast option for many households.

For breakfast, mimosas are the order of the day - half and half orange juice and sparkling wine. I like to look for sparkling labelled extra brut, which means extra dry, which works supremely well in making a great mimosa, especially since I am not a huge fan of sweet.

For those who can afford it, champagne is always best - cold, crisp and just right. I am a bit more budget conscious and prefer to go the route of a Prossecco. Mionetto Prosseco is simply perfect. Aromas of golden apples and pears complement the orange juice to make the perfect breakfast cocktail.

Mackerel Rundown is another favourite Jamaican breakfast, especially when it is heavy on the coconut milk. The 'butteryness' of a good Chardonnay will complement this perfectly, or a white blend with a heavy proportion of Chardonnay. Chardonnays are full-bodied white wines that do really well with fish and fats, and particularly oaked ones certainly add a great degree of flavour to your experience.

OXTAILPAIRING

Oxtail, if cooked properly, should fall off the bone, 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 a fruit forward option with great layers of complexity that works well with oxtail. Malbecs, which are a personal favourite of mine, is also a great partner because of its intensity, even if a slice or two of Scotch bonnet pepper is added to heat things up. Alamos Malbec is a great value-based option. Intense berry-like fruit aromas make for a yummy combination.

Grilled meats are always a great and easy way to celebrate. The Hamilton Smokehouse line of products are well seasoned and extremely tasty. I never really thought of them much until my Miss Jamaica World tasting with Chef Brian Lumley. That was when I realised its versatility. Whether at home, in the hills, or on the beach, a Merlot will do the job-pairing effortlessly. I particularly like the Robert Mondavi Merlot, which satisfies everything. Here is a little secret for you. For things like sausage, before you put them on the grill to get those marks, partially boil them first and then put them on; it will ensure that it is cooked properly.

Wine isn't intended to be stuffy, but simple, easy and enjoyable. As you celebrate Independence Day, enjoy life's simple pleasures and the moment.

n I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@gmail.com.