Food and wine form as much a natural partnership in the kitchen as they do on the table. The rule is a wine that is not good enough for drinking will never be good enough for cooking.

When pairing food and wine at the table it is essential to use a wine that is similar in taste, flavour, texture and character as the wine in the dish. These features will after all influence the style of the dish and therefore the pairing experience at the table. There are classic recipes or regional dishes requiring specific wines or wines of a certain style to create a particular effect.

At Creation about 70 percent of our dishes have wine as a component, whether as a flavouring agent in marinades, a pickling agent, for poaching or braising or in the sauce or jus. In desserts wine enhances shimmering jellies, refreshing ices/sorbets and creamy egg custards. We also use it in bread and to create wine salt.

Our dishes with wine as an ingredient

A dash of Creation Viognier is added to our pickled fish – a traditional Cape Malay dish – which is then paired with the Viognier. We also use our Viognier in apricot jelly. The Creation Pinot Noir is used in our Pinot Noir bread. And speaking of Pinot bread: our chef recently created a gorgeous quince, pistachio and saffron bread and butter pudding which is served with honey and basil whipped cream. There are simply hundreds and maybe thousands of examples. Here are just a few:

Infusing meats. Wine combined with aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices produce a fragrant marinade in which meat can be steeped before cooking. It is a flavouring agent and can be turned into a rich sauce. The tannins in wine also break down fibres in the meat to make it more tender and digestible.

Sauces and glazes. When sautéing or roasting meat, wine can be added to the caramelised deposits left in the pan to make a delicious sauce. This can be done with red wine or white wine depending on the colour and flavour profile required and the pairing of the wine at the table.

Poaching. Wine is a great asset in fish cookery since it provides both the cooking medium and the sauce for the finished dish. Wine is used in a fumet and then the fish is separated from the wine and deglazed into a sauce.

Mussels cooked in white wine. This famous regional dish is perfect for South African West Coast black mussels. The Creation Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is ideal for pairing and cooking. Use a small amount of wine, add herbs and aromatic vegetables and let the mussels steam in this. Then you make a sauce from the stock adding butter, eggs yolks and cream. This makes the liquid a little less salty and adds a creamy texture.

Wine and dessert. Wine enhances the flavours of certain fruits.  Use in sorbets, for instance sparkling wine to add sparkle to the sorbet. Or in crystalline syrup: when sugar dissolves in the wine the liquid becomes a gleaming, shiny syrup. The wine’s acidity preserves the texture of the fruit, keeping it intact and stopping it from falling apart during cooking. Wine also enhances custard cream – zabaglione is a good example. Wine changes the colour of dishes depending on its colour. The use of wine in all these dishes greatly enhances the flavour and texture.

What you should know about cooking with wine

Some of these tips from Carolyn Martin were also used in Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s blog titled What you should know about cooking with wine. Jan Hendrik is the owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Jan in Nice. Click here to read the blog.

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