Depending on one’s knowledge of wine, pairing South-east Asia’s bold-flavoured cuisine with wine is like strapping two new horses to a carriage. In the hands of an adept, the ride will be pleasurable. In a novice, well… maybe don’t attempt to couple them at all. Buah keluak tastes just fine on its own, thank you very much.
In this light, this month’s Wine Fiesta 2015 can be said to be a “master class” in selecting the horses. The field will host over 350 labels to sample and 82 winemakers from all over the world. This being the nation’s jubilee year, the focus of the food will be Singapore-style fare, created by renowned home-grown chefs Malcolm Lee (Candlenut), Bjorn Shen (Artichoke, Bird Bird and NehNeh Pop), Matthew Mok (The Rabbit Stash, Nectar) and Cheryl Koh (Tarte by Cheryl Koh).
(RELATED: Gourmet & Travel looks at 9 chefs to keep an eye on come 2016.)
An item to look out for is Shen’s Khao Soi Hotdog, which, stuffed with chicken sausage, red curry mayo, pickled mustard greens, crispy noodle bits and coriander, presents the delicious yet intimidating flavours of Thailand. Yet, it can be beautifully complemented with a rose from Provence.
Says sommelier Moritz Deyle from The Straits Wine Company, the organiser of the event: “To make this rich dish lighter, I chose a wine with more acidity to cut through the fat, but with enough body to stand next to the dish. The Aix Rose 2014 has both. It has a good body of strawberry, a hint of tannin and refreshing acidity. In general, rose is a good wine for some spicier Asian flavours.”
For Mok’s beef cheek rendang burger with achar and cheddar cheese, Deyle selects a Spanish label. “Beef rendang is a full-bodied dish that needs a wine that can stand next to its power. So I paired it with the Vina Pedrosa. It’s made of 100 per cent Tempranillo – you can find in the wine dark berries, plum, tobacco, chocolate and some spices. It is very complex, powerful yet elegant.”
The festival, now in its eighth year, will kick off on Oct 23 with a Winemakers’ Table dinner where guests can taste 75 renowned wines and the cuisines of the four chefs.
Until Oct 25, Clifford Square, beside the Fullerton Bay Hotel. Tickets through Sistic or from The Straits Wine Company store. Details at www.winefiesta.com.sg