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Unusual wine pairings that actually work

Wine and popcorn. Picture supplied

Wine and popcorn. Picture supplied

Published Aug 27, 2018


I've heard it said there are two type of wine drinkers - those who imbibe with food and those who don't.

If you’re one of the former, I am sure you’ll agree the art of food and wine pairing can be complex and subjective.

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Local chefs and winemakers have raised the bar by creating some unique pairings.

Wine and Koeksister

Whether it's Cape Malay style koe’sister with coconut or traditionally twisted and dipped in syrup, there is much to love about this sweet delicacy.

Leanne Sutherland of Stellenbosch Hills said both pair well with the Muscat de Hambourg.

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Sutherland says: "the vanilla notes in the crunchy koeksister combined with the wine make for an intense butterscotch-like mouthfeel. If you are not so fond of the sweetness, you can opt for the koe'sister instead. This doughnut has the perfect combination of spice and sweetness - emphasising the wine’s floral notes.”

Wine and koeksisters.

Wine and Popcorn

This innovative pairing was introduced at Flagstone wine.

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Joanne Stone, from 3 Verse communication, said: “we wanted to be more creative with pairing options and everyone was doing chocolate A colleague said it would be a fun idea to do a popcorn pairing and I thought about doing spices- it’s cheap, spot on and can’t go wrong with different flavours because you can do sweet or savoury with the flavour profile."

At Flagstone, the popcorn is paired with their red and white wines. 

“Pairing the Viognier with a Cape Malay spice popcorn brings out the fruitiness in the wine, it almost sweetens it,” Stone adds.

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Wine and Hummus

Chef Guy Bennett and the winemaking team at Grande Provence in Franschhoek came up with this unique concept to showcase their wine.

“Hummus has delicate flavours which complement wine perfectly. There are endless possibilities with the different types of hummus one can make. Variations that can be sweet, savoury, spiced, or smoked and you can change the base contents using different types of beans, peas, seeds and vegetables,” Bennett said.

Bennet said the variations do not compete with the wines, instead showcasing them. 

“It’s a light, tapas-style snack-like pairing that is perfect for whetting the appetite,” he adds.

Wine and hummus. Pictures: Supplied

Whisky and Chocolate

Whisky and chocolate is another unusual pairing that’s becoming increasingly popular.

Charl Theron, assistant food and beverage manager at the Table Bay Hotel said the combination produces a variety of “diverse and interesting flavour profiles”.

“We have done a traditional whisky pairing in the past with food such as savoury and sweet canapés, but seeing that whisky is an aperitif or after dinner drink, we decided to incorporate it with chocolate for the perfect indulgence,” Theron said.

Theron says it’s recommended to use dark chocolates when planning your own pairing.

The logic is that the underlying sweetness and the “nibble” of the alcohol in the whisky are offset extremely well by the more bitter and lingering flavours of dark chocolate and are some cases rich velvety milk chocolate.

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