Of wine, food and lockdowns with Charlie Stein
Wine expert, Charlie Stein, son of acclaimed British chef and restaurateur Rick Stein admits he probably has one of the best jobs in the world - tasting and selecting the wines that will feature on the wine lists of his fathers’ eight England-based restaurants.
Charlie also gets to travel extensively, as the guest of winemakers the world over, keen to introduce him to their varietals.
So it didn't take much persuasion to get him to join his chef brother Jack on a trip to the Western Cape's Durbanville Wine Valley to shoot a 13-part series called Wine, Dine & Stein.
There the brothers visited 12 wine estates, each one very different to the next, despite their close proximity, to meet the winemakers and the chefs, taste their food and their wine and indulge in a few adventures and challenge each other in a friendly game of one-upmanship.
With Wine, Dine & Stein now on air in South Africa on People°s Weather (DStv Channel 180) daily at 6pm, we spoke to Charlie, who like the rest of us is currently grounded under lockdown at his home in London.
What was your most memorable experience you had when shooting Wine, Dine & Stein?
Oh, the paragliding at Meerendal. Jack and I aren’t the best when it comes to airborne craft and it was something I really wasn’t looking forward to. However, once you’re up there looking down towards Cape Town and Table Mountain it’s an unforgettable experience.
What wines really stood out for you?
The Sauvignons across the board were excellent. Durbanville is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc; the cooling effect on the grapes from being near the sea gives the finished wine such zing and freshness. I think it’s an area just waiting to be discovered by a global audience that perhaps is getting tired of the New Zealand style of Sauvignon.
Your favourite food & wine pairing of the series?
The Barbera and Carpaccio at Altydgedacht. Lovely juicy Barbara and perfectly succulent beef.
What was your favourite/least favourite activity while shooting on the farms?
Favourite was wakeboarding in the quarry at Hillcrest. Least favourite was undoubtedly the horse riding at Altydgedacht. My horse and I didn’t exactly form a strong bond and I’m not the most confidant rider. I’ll stick to bikes.
Can you name one thing that you took away with you from the Wine, Dine & Stein shoot?
Just how wonderful the farm owners were and their strong sense of community.
Desert island picks
Wine – SO difficult. Probably any wine made by Francois Raveneau
Food – roast beef
Music – Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Book – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
What has been your most memorable stand out food and wine pairing?
A bottle of Raveneau Chablis and some simple grilled sea bass in a truck-side restaurant near Chablis in France.
What three items are always in your fridge?
Kewpie mayonnaise, coffee and half bottle of Champagne ... just because.
How are you keeping yourself busy/sane during lockdown?
Cooking, fermenting, drinking the odd glass of wine and trying to learn French.
What is the first thing you will do post-lockdown?
Go straight to the pub with my friends. I miss the pub so very much.