Wine and food are two of life’s great culinary pleasures and like a good marriage they were meant for each other. Finding that perfect match can be a delicious endeavour where each enhances and strengthens the experience of the whole. Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile food-friendly wine that can complement everything from fish to air-dried ham, but just as with any other grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc varies markedly from region to region and one part of the world to the next.
MINERALLY SAUVIGNON BLANCS
Minerally Sauvignon Blancs work best paired with simple, barely seasoned ingredients such as raw and lightly cooked shellfish like oysters and shell-on prawns, fresh crab and simply grilled fish such as sea bass, especially with olive oil. They also work well with dishes that contain raw or barely cooked tomato such as gazpacho, tomato consommé or tomato vinaigrettes and young goats’ cheeses – or salads that contain goats cheese. Also good with Japanese dishes such as sushi and sashimi, seafood-based steamed and fried dim sum and smoked salmon, particularly if the smoke is delicate.
This style calls for simply grilled fish, especially oily fish such as sardines and mackerel. They also go well with fried fish like goujons, whitebait and fish and chips and with simply grilled chicken or lamb (without a powerful marinade). In terms of ethnic cuisines they work well with Greek and Mexican food and other fresh-tasting dishes with avocados, tomatoes, green onions, olives and sharp cheeses like feta. They pair well with big garlicky prawns and chargrilled squid and also cheeses flavoured with garlic and herbs such as Boursin. This is the best type to drink with globe artichokes.
AROMATIC/GRASSY/’HERBACEOUS’ SAUVIGNON BLANCS AND SAUVIGNON BLENDS
Salads especially if they contain seafood and/or ‘grassy’ ingredients such as asparagus, pea-shoots, green peppers and herbs. Also pairs well with food with more pronounced flavours e.g. seafood with south-east Asian flavours such as lime, chilli and coriander or Thai fish cakes. Try them with pea soups and dishes accompanied by pea purées too.
OAKED SAUVIGNON/SÉMILLON BLENDS SUCH AS OAKED AND FUMÉ BLANC STYLES
Drink these where you might reach for a Chardonnay or straight Sémillon – with white meats such as chicken or veal especially if accompanied by a creamy sauce or with spring vegetables such as asparagus and peas. Pasta dishes with spring vegetables and buttery or creamy sauces too. They also suit simply grilled or pan-fried salmon, scallops and grilled fish like hake with salsa verde and lightly smoked fish such as smoked eel and trout.