What’s your favourite wine? I know that in my circle at least, a big case can be made for Argentinean Malbec.
“Malbec is like pizza and sex. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, for some people it will still be ok.” – Alessandro Marchesan, group sommelier and wine buyer for Roka and Zuma
But Malbec is not the only treasure to come to us from the South American continent. Wines of the region are diverse and exquisite. South American cuisine has also recently seen a surge in both London restaurants, and street food markets. Looking for an authentic and delicious foodie experience? Head to Zoilo, the popular Argentinean restaurant by Chef Diego Jacquet. Zoilo prides itself on offering an all Argentinean wine list to compliment their dishes. We caught up with bar manager Davide Pastro to talk about how these wines are paired with the diverse South American menu.
How do you pair wines with such a varied range of dishes ?
DP: When it comes to wine pairing, we always try to enhance the flavours of our dishes by finding a match with a wine that will support the whole plate. For example, with our crab on toast with humita and pickled turnips, we serve an Argentinean Chardonnay. It’s a rich, but not oaked white wine, which can withstand the sweetness of the crab but at the same time won’t over power its delicate texture. When we serve our rich Asado flank steak, we always match it with a tannic Malbec, to cut through the richness of the meat.
What is your favourite combination on the menu?
My favourite combination is the Argentinean rib-eye with a glass of Petit Verdot, which is the most complex red wine we have on our list. In France, Petit Verdot is used up to 10% maximum to give strength to red wines. In Argentina they have managed to create a 100% Petit Verdot wine, which would be too strong to drink on its own, but goes beautifully with Argentinean beef.
Your impressive wine list is entirely Argentinean, what makes Argentinean wine special? Do you have a favourite?
Argentinean wine is unique for its richness. This sets it apart from French or Italian wines. Given the large amount of time that the grapes spend under the sun, Argentinean grapes have a massive advantage in terms of the concentration of flavours within their skins. Also, thanks to innovative irrigation techniques, the wine makers can “feed” the plants just the right amount of water, so that the plant works at his best.
My favourite wine is our Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a very good full-bodied red wine. Unlike a classic Cabernet, it is softer and not aggressive at all in terms of tannins. This makes it a great wine to match with our food, especially our red meats. But it can also be enjoyed on his own.
From your experience, what tips can you give to novices pairing wine and dishes?
What I would say to novices about pairing wine and dishes, is that you should always give the food the priority, because it will always be the star of the show. One very simple trick that one could use is simply to match rich food with rich wines, or light food with light wines. When it comes to fish, most of the time a white wine will be a fine match, given the natural sweetness of the fish and the natural acidity of a white wine. For red meat, one could go for a rich and tannic red wine, where the tannins of the wine will cut through the fat of the meat. As long that there is a balance between the food and the wine, the combinations will be always right.