If you drink wines one at a time, it’s hard to get a sense of how they’re different, and what’s actually going on. This is what makes a wine tasting so fun. By stopping to really think about the wine, you start to notice the details beyond, ‘I like this’ and ‘I don’t’.
Of course, the most fun experience of all is a wine pairing. Where you get to think about wine and food, and how they go together. So that’s what we decided to do. We ordered four wines recommended by Wine World and paired them with a range of things to see how it went.
First, ordering the wine. We just visited wineworld.lk, selected four bottles and checked out. The wines were delivered right the next day. Wait it gets better! They've just started same-day delivery within Colombo, all you have to do is place your order before 6:00 PM and your favourite drink will be on its way.
Now we’ll go through each wine and what we paired it with.
Bouchard Aine & Fils Beaujolais (Red)
The first wine we tried was a Beaujolais which I would recommend pairing with anything, or nothing. It’s a delicious, clear red. Starts very mild and then peaks into a slight, dry sharpness after a second on the tongue. We had it with a platter of fruit and some local cheese and cured meats, but I would honestly just drink this wine by itself. It’s a simple and tasty red.
A Beaujolais is a great wine to pair with classic French cheeses like brie or camembert. Those are soft, smooth cheeses and that plus a smooth wine makes for a delightful experience. But again, this wine is just great on its own. Pairs well with air.
Hardy’s Cabernet Merlot (Red)
This quickly became my new favorite after the Beaujolais. Unlike that milder wine, the Cabernet Merlot was all brightness and fruit. It was a punchier wine, bright is the word I kept thinking as we were sampling it.
We paired it with the honey glazed pork ribs from The Porky-Nator. These are slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and falling off the bone good. What the Cabernet Merlot did with this dark, meaty dish was give it another layer of color. While the meat was all savory, this was fruit. It goes together remarkably, and I can understand why red wine is paired with red meat.
That said, like the other red, this is a wine I would happily drink on its own.
The next wines we tried were whites.
Beachhouse Sauvignon Blanc (White)
The Beachhouse is unabashedly a wine for relaxing, as the name suggests. It’s actually a more aggressive Sauvignon Blanc, sharp and clearly tasting of – and I know this doesn’t come up in tasting notes a lot – grape. There’s even a slight bitterness which I think makes this good for pairing with sweet fruit, like watermelon.
We tried it with watermelon, which I stole from my child, but also with a more traditional platter from Park Street Gourmet. This included salami, chorizo, cured beef, blue cheese, grilled tomatoes and chilli preserve (from Cafe Kumbuk). These are spicier, more acidic flavors than you’d usually pair with white wine. What’s recommended is fish or vegetables, but the other factor in Sri Lanka is that I like spicier flavors, and it’s hot.
Hence a cool white wine, while it may complement milder flavors in milder climates, is actually a refreshing counterpoint to sharper flavors here. Of this mix, the best combination was the fattier salami and the soft but sharp blue cheese. One note about the Beachhouse, however, is that it has a lot of fruity flavor on its own, so this one actually may be better for milder pairings.
Tocoronal Sauvignon Blanc (White)
The Tocoronal is another Sauvignon Blanc and this one really does pair perfectly with spices. This wine is clear and crisp; gentler, less bitter, sweeter than the Beachhouse. It’s a smooth and refreshing white wine, uncomplicated and pleasant to drink. As such it pairs well with anything. They recommend fish and veg, but I personally like to pair white wine with spicy food.
We tried the kochchi pork from The Porky-Nator, which is delicious, fatty and – after a few bits – insanely spicy. After a few bites of this, a sip of Tocoronal is a delicious relief. Served cold, it salves the tongue and the alcohol actually dissolves the capsaicin (the spicy part) better than water does. Then the sweetness of the wine kicks in, and it’s a sweet relief. This isn’t a complex pairing, it’s more of mouth on fire vs. mouth less on fire, but it feels good.
So how was our experience? Absolutely satisfying that we actually fell asleep and missed the most thrilling Cricket World Cup final overs, ever. So be careful with that. Overall, however, this is an experience I’d recommend to anyone. If you get a few friends and a few wines, consciously think about what you’re eating and drinking it’s a whole new experience.
Rather than just eating, drinking and forgetting, you learn and remember. Before I started I was worried that I’m not a wine expert at all and asked knowledgeable friends for advice, but the main bit of advice is to just enjoy yourself. Like any hobby, there’s much deeper you can go, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from dipping a toe in. So order a few bottles from Wine World, assemble a platter and see where it takes you.