#KitchenConfidential: The Perfect Pair

When it comes to pairing food and wine, one of the main rules that seems logical to Chef Ray Cournede is matching wines to dishes that originate from the same region.

Just like everything in life, wine is a matter of personal preference. You either like a wine or you don’t. I believe it can be just as important to pair the right wine with the right person, not just the right food.
When it comes to wine, Kenya has had such a long and arduous journey to get to where we are today. Thankfully, the dark days of Gato Negro, Versus and Frontera being our only options are far behind us. We are now a nation of wine lovers, and this is particularly evident in the number of specialty wine bars and retailers popping up all over our capital.

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Because of all this innovation and modernity, however, we are faced with an even bigger challenge to try sift through the mass of information, opinions, suggestions and wines. Just Google the subject and you find a million ‘experts’ telling you what to drink, when to drink it, how to drink it and what to drink it with. It has become a truly confusing subject and the basics are getting lost in all this noise. Just like everything in life, wine is a matter of personal preference. You either like a wine or you don’t. I believe it can be just as important to pair the right wine with the right person, not just the right food.

When it comes to pairing, one of the main rules that seems logical to me as a chef is matching wines to produce or dishes that originate from the same region. Hundreds of years of cuisine and wines evolving side by side cannot be wrong together. There is a natural and organic relationship between traditional food and wine that undoubtedly compliments each other, hence regional matches provide a fundamental base for us to understand more about what’s going on structurally with pairings. Imagine Tuscan wine and Tuscan food or a rich, velvety Burgundy with that Coq au Vin. When working on our upcoming Sicilian week (31st May to 5th of June) here in the Talisman kitchen, we started by creating the menu. Once we had all the recipes, we then started to pair them with some of the amazing wines from the guys at Out of Sicily.

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I like to do the pairing myself. The process behind it is simple. It is exactly the same as when I am creating a new dish. The balance of flavours and their compatibility is key, and this is something any good chef knows how to do. As a basic rule, delicate flavours go with delicate wines, and strong flavors with strong wines. You don’t want to overpower your fish carpaccio, just as you need a wine that will stand up to your slow roasted lamb shank. Artichokes and asparagus contain chemicals that change the taste of wine on the palate. The same goes for fish and seafood, which contain iodine that reacts with the tannins in red wine. The reason reds generally will go well with meat is because those same tannins will cut through the intensity of the fat in red meat and rejuvenate the palate.
Now, if all of this still makes you break out into a panic induced sweat, here are four wines that go with almost everything. For white wines try a Pinot Grigio or a Chenin Blanc, for red go for a Pinot Noir or a Barbera.




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