Wine with Australian fusion cuisine
Asian and Oriental influences are prominent in Australian cuisine. Many dishes employ the fragrant herbs and spices of Thai cooking for example, along with fresh, simply grilled fish or seafood. For these a sparkling wine would be perfect:
Jacob's Creek Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir (£6.99 Victoria Wine and widely available elsewhere) is as cheap as quality fizz gets. It has a delicious aroma of hazelnuts and freshly baked apple pie and there's just a hint of sweetness on the palate before a long, dry finish. It has the savoury quality necessary to make it perfect with food.
For dishes featuring the palate-tingling flavours of fresh ginger or galangal, I suggest Sainsbury's Classic Selection Australian Chardonnay 1997 (£6.49). This would make a stunning match: the wine itself has a vivid aroma of ginger and there are also honeysuckle and tropical fruit notes. On the palate it is rich and powerful, with delicious pear and mango flavours.
Thomas Mitchell Marsanne (£5.75/£5.99, Oddbins/Victoria Wine) is another wine that would match a variety of
seafood dishes. Marsanne makes a peachy, rich, yet clean style of wine and this example also displays flavours of honey and
Reds this month all come from Oddbins, one of the pioneers in bringing Australian wine to the British high street.
Wilted greens (like spinach) are a popular ingredient of fusion cuisine and can present a tricky wine-matching challenge. Spinach in particular can taste rather metallic, so an unoaked white or soft, low-tannin red is needed to avoid a clash. Mount Hurtle Grenache Rosé 1997 (£4.99) is my recommendation. With soft strawberry fruit on the nose and warm red-fruit on the palate it also manages to be clean, with the fresh appeal of a dry white wine (serve this one lightly chilled).
Let's finish with two big reds to help polish off that other Australian staple, barbecued food. With those char-grilled flavours I like a red that is juicy and fruity, but also has some meatiness and depth:
Normans "Jesse's Blend" 1997 (£3.99) has a nose of dark, briary fruit with hints of the barnyard. On the palate it is
smooth and flavoursome, with juicy berry fruit and a nice spicy finish.
But my wine of the month has got to be:
d'Arenberg "The Footbolt" Shiraz 1996 (£6.99). Made from old vines (some a century old) and given a very gentle treatment in the winery, this wine has a concentrated fruit-pastille nose with hints of black pepper, mint and vanilla. Dense and powerful on the palate, it is like the essence of sweet blackcurrant jam. There are complex flavours of grilled-meat and liquorice too. A cracking buy.