A Word to the Wine

A Word to the Wine

By Sommelier Sam

Food and wine, natural bedfellows of course, but pairing them can be a tricky business. There is the somewhat unreliable rule of white with fish, red with meat but what about Asian dishes? And vegetarian food? Once upon a time food and wine were grown and consumed in the same place so matching them was a simple affair: the local wines were a natural complement to the local foods. Of course there is wine made here in Bali but wine is not a traditional pairing with Balinese food in the same way that it is in France or Italy.

Nowadays we are sophisticated foodies with complex taste buds constantly seeking new flavour sensations. We eat food fused from the four corners of the world and we have hundreds of wine choices to pair with these global meals. Even in Bali, which is still off the beaten track in wine terms, you can find Rieslings from Australia and Viogniers from Chile.

So, how do we know what goes with what? Stick to these few golden rules and you can’t go too far wrong.


Try to match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine so rich, heavyweight foods, like red meat stews need full-bodied wines, like Shiraz.

Flavour Intensity

Match full flavours together, like Sauvignon Blanc and goat’s cheese, mild flavours like Muscadet and shellfish. Most Asian foods are strongly flavoured and so need a wine with a bit of oomph.


High acid wines complement fatty foods in the same way that lemon cuts through the greasiness of smoked salmon. In Italy where olive oil is a key ingredient you will find the majority of Italian red wines have marked acidity. White wines from New Zealand, Northern France and other cool climates are usually pretty acidic.


Salty foods are enhanced and balanced by a hint of sweetness. A Parma ham and melon style pairing can be achieved with wine. Try Sauternes, a lusciously sweet wine from the Bordeaux region, famous match with a salty, Roquefort cheese.


Tannins are the compounds in wine that give that dry-mouth sensation, coating your teeth much in the same way as black tea. Tannins give the (usually red) wine its texture. Textured wines need textured foods. Try matching up Malbec and a juicy steak, or Cabernet Sauvignon with pepper-crusted tuna steak.


If serving a sweet wine it should always be sweeter than the food it accompanies. Delicate sweet wines, like Muscat de Beaumes de Venise go well with light fruity desserts. A sweeter, thicker wine like a Rutherglen Muscat goes better with cheesecake or something chocolatey.


Sommelier Sam’s Wine Tipwine spinifex-lola

What : Spinifex Lola 2011 (dry, white), 11.5% abv

Where : Winehouse, Jl Raya Kerobokan, 593,000 rp/bottle

Who : Spinifex Winery, Barossa South Australia

When : Drink now – end 2014

Why : An intriguing  combination of grape varieties traditionally found in the South of France (Ugni Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Semillon) made in the Barossa Valley better known for its powerhouse Shiraz.  This is a neatly crafted wine that combines plenty of flavour (lemons and nashi pears) with delicacy and a lightness of touch and just 11.5% alcohol.

How : A refreshing aperitif on its own or an excellent match for grilled fish,  substantial salads (e.g. Caesar or Niçoise), creamy pasta (e.g.  Alfredo or Carbonara) or soft cheese.

Sommelier Sam lives in Sanur with her family and enjoys sharing her love of wine with the good people of Bali. You  can connect with her at: www.facebook.com/SommelierSam



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