“Wine is dauntingly unruly. So many places it comes from, so many grapes it’s made from, so many different people making wine as they interpret how it should be made. And then its taste changes every damn year.”
Terry Theise / Reading Between the Wines.
My love affair with food and wine pairing began about 12 years ago, but I was quite conservative; staying within the limits of what I knew: the Distell stable of brands and, occasionally, venturing to newer wines that were making a noise in the media. About 4 years ago, I began buying publications like WINE Magazine and reading the wine writers on the internet and so became more adventurous in my wine purchasing. Two people I follow religiously are Michael Olivier and Cathy Marston.
Michael is a much-respected and loved personality, with a formidable wit. He recently appeared on morning TV’s show Espresso, to give a demonstration on preparing a cranberry dressing for Christmas meats. As he softened butter in the pan, the show’s presenter asked if margarine could be used instead. Without missing a beat, and with gentle kindness, Michael retorted “No, no, no marge. The only Marge we ever have is the one on the Simpsons.”
I was thrilled to be greeted with a hug before he addressed us at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba on Sunday morning.
Michael assured us that we should not be daunted by the ‘daunting unruliness’ of wine and that all rules can be broken. It is OK to drink white wine with red meat and to put ice in red wine. He did mete out a caution that we do ourselves gravely short if we eschew sweet wines, something I have only discovered very recently and which stood me in good stead: I was able to identify the gewürztraminer during our session of blind tasting.
My choice of afternoon break-away workshops were:
Social media & building your brand; Andy Fenner
Beer; Denis da Silva
Food & Wine Pairing, Champagne Talk & Sabrage technique; Cathy Marston and Harry Haddon
I will cover the beer sometime soon; it was fascinating and the presenter was passionate about his subject. Sabrage is another topic I’ll address on its own, being a bit of an expert on this technique of late.
Cathy Marston’s workshop was the absolute highlight of my day. I’ve admired her for so long and it was a pleasure to spend time with her. The wine sponsors had been generous and our tasting (with food provided by Nina Timm from My Easy Cooking.) was a riotous experience.
After a prizegiving ceremony (I won a fabulous book, about which I’ll post in the near future) we faced sunset on the decks drinking more wine and Cathy debunked more snobbish wine myths. We discovered that it’s no great sin to enjoy wine from a Collins glass instead of the correct wine glass when there is an emergency.
(Can’t remember who took this pic; Kathy, Tandy or Sue: thanks!)
Cheers, Michael and Cathy, it was a treat.