How to Impress with Wine
Matt Brooke, Isis, Queensland, has been named as a finalist in Australia's Wine List of the Year Awards. The renowned national awards by leading magazine, Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE and Fine Wine Partners, recognise and celebrate the most exciting wine lists in the country.
What is the best way to impress your guests whilst serving wine?Matt Brooke:
For me if I am entertaining a larger group I narrow my choices down to what the group will feel like drinking, not restraining my guests with something they're not set on. If you have a smaller group of guests and you have no ideas pick a 'story wine'. A wine that you know, that has a story that you know. For me wine is all about stories, I think. You can take away fun from wine, it is entertaining.
How do you know which bottle will best complement the meal? Matt Brooke:
Guess! The best thing to do is not be afraid to ask for help. Match the wine to the food, think about the dish as a whole and then begin to match wines; don't miss the sauce. Think about the weight of the mean, how it's cooked and then match it to a suitable weighted wine. Let's say if I was cooking a little crab cannelloni with fresh tomato and capsicum, I would pair it with a light wine, which was fresh and racy, it just matches. A deep cooked beef meal would be at the upper end of the wine, I would be leaning towards a rich Shiraz.
What determines the price? Matt Brooke:
I think again its aiming for a wine from a region that does a particular variety the best, with a story. Stick to what you're comfortable with: Shiraz from /Barossa and /Semillon from the Hunter Valley, and Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsular. Also ensure that it is a price you are comfortable with. I know that when I am dinning with wine people the price will be split between all, so we can be adventurous. If your dinner party is uninterested, choose a wine that is in your price range as you may end up paying for it.
If someone gives you a great bottle of Champagne at a special party, should you open it and share with all the other guests, or is it okay to stash it away to enjoy later?Matt Brooke:
That is an interesting question. I guess when you are at dinner and am given or giving you have to ensure neither is disappointed. Make it clear, say "Lets share this as I have brought it from my cellar," but keep in mind that if it is a large group the more it has to be shared around. If you wish to present it as a gift, wrap it, and when handing it over ensure you state that it is a gift and that it is for them to use on a great occasion.
Is there glory in serving wine from a cask? Matt Brooke:
The cask is the great Australian adventure, I guess the Europeans haven't gone down that path; we have invented a great classification of wine, a table wine. In France it is the lower of the entry level wine, it is the simplest of the wine from a variety of regions in the cask, the best thing is that they never oxidize. The importance of wine at a restaurant is the romance, you'll never have wine from a cask at a restaurant, and there is no romance or importance in that. Cask wine has its benefits for at home; it's great for a longer period of time.
Why are people against the ideas of casks? Matt Brooke:
I think, I don't really know. I think it's in the whole romance of the bottle; watching the waiter opening it, presenting it and you seeing the label, that is a special something, especially money wise. It isn't special when the wine is poured behind the bar, no special occasion in that. Wine is meant to be an experience with the food.
And when should you and shouldn't you cask it? Matt Brooke:
I think cask wine is okay for BBQ's and around the home with everyday drinking. It is a home wine, the volume stays fresh and you can share it around. It's a wine for when you are not aiming at impressing, just drinking.
What should you look for when you are offered the wine to taste at a restaurant? Matt Brooke:
This is a great point. When you are choosing with help or not the waiter should present the wine, up-opened as you ordered. You then can see the producer, variety and it's vintage. The taste opportunity is so you can see that the wine is sound and has no faults. Taste of the wine is important but so is the cork, check that the cork doesn't smell like moldy cardboard. It is ultimately buyer beware though.
The judging criteria for Australia's Wine List of the Year consists of five parts: content, balance, pricing, suitability and presentation, with the quality of wines on the list being key to success. Purchase a bottle of wine online NOW