Gourmet Pairings

Is CB Making It Feel Like Every Hour Should Be Wine Hour?

Pair a glass with food and we’re gourmands, not alcoholics. Six wine experts tell us how to match our favourite home-cooked dishes like the cool kids (read: somms).

Is CB Making It Feel Like Every Hour Should Be Wine Hour?

Anchor image: Brooke Larke/Unsplash

01 | Popiah X Orange Wine

JT Ng complements savoury, veggie-laden popiah with a skin-contact chardonnay

The pairing: Popiah with Georges Descombes Chardonnay Maceration 2017

The expert: JT Ng, a former commodity trader and wine enthusiast who co-founded WEA Wines, a boutique distributorship that focuses on small family-owned estates. The go-to guy in Singapore for #bojo (Beaujolais, duh), he’s a self-professed Francophile, who enjoys both classic and natural wines of France.

What he says: “This unique wine is a chardonnay from France’s Beaujolais region made by Georges Descombes, one of the pioneers of minimal-intervention wines there. As the label suggests, this is an Orange wine where the skins of the grapes are macerated together with the juice during fermentation, hence giving a light orange tint to the wine. It is fresh, juicy and redolent of the taste of summer fruits such as peaches and grapefruits. Popiah is essentially a salad, so the fresh acidity coupled with citrus notes of Descombes’ chardonnay act as a dressing that complements the sweet sauce and savoury fillings. Even with a touch of chilli in the popiah, the wine will stand up to the heat thanks to its ripe fruitiness. This lighter-bodied wine is never cloying and is a perfect pairing with popiah as an afternoon snack!”

Try something else? This Circuit Breaker, his team is offering mixed-cases of wines from Burgundy, Loire Valley and Beaujolais — each pack lovingly curated to a theme.

02 | Pandan Chiffon Cake X Champagne (Demi-Sec)

For Sandy Tan, a semi-sweet glass of bubbly is the perfect match to pandan chiffon

The pairing: Pandan chiffon cake with Champagne Forget-Brimont Demi-Sec Premier Cru

The expert: Bottle hunter Sandy Tan. Founder of wine curation service La Vigne d’Or, she helps keep private clients, hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants in supply of rare unicorns. She’s lived in Burgundy, Montpellier and Bordeaux and is a member of the Jurade de Saint Emilion (the world’s oldest wine brotherhood).

What she says: “The pandan chiffon cake — named by CNN as Singapore’s national cake — evokes nostalgia among locals and anyone who has ever savoured its soft fluffy texture and lingering aromatics from freshly extracted pandan leaves. A most ideal pairing is a bottle of wine that is delicious on its own, but which also sings harmoniously with every morsel of cake, resulting in a moreish experience. The subtle sweetness of pandan chiffon is a refreshing and balanced match to the Forget-Brimont Demi-Sec Premier Cru champagne. Demi-sec means half-dry (or rather, semi-sweet), and when savoured with the cake, the sugars of both cut each other out in the most pleasurable way. Good bubbles and delicious cake never fail to enliven the soul and appetite.”

Try something else? Stay tuned for La Vigne d’Or’s themed virtual tasting sessions hosted by top sommeliers.

03 | Siew Yoke X Red Burgundy

A red burgundy cuts through the fat of crispy pork belly without overpowering it, says Mason Ng

The pairing: Siew yoke (Chinese crispy skin roasted pork) with Marc Soyard, Domaine de la Cras, Bourgogne Coteaux de Dijon “Cras” Monopole 2017

The expert: Mason Ng, Group Regional Co-Head Sommelier of Park90. He’s the reigning champion of both the Southeast Asian Sommelier Competition and Singapore National Sommelier Competition — and he’s only just hit his mid-20s.

What he says: “Marc Soyard’s wines always exhibit an immense amount of freshness, floral and vibrant fruit characters which are more on the wild side, with spices floating gently above the glass too. The fresh acidity of the Coteaux de Dijon “Cras” — a pinot noir — is able to cut through the fat of the crispy pork and the complex fruit and spice profile complements the pork’s exquisite flavours.”

Try something else? Park90 is hosting masterclasses on Zoom every Friday at 6pm. To be notified of future sessions, register here. A recent session had riesling stars Eddy Leiber-Faller from Domaine Weinbach and Philipp Wittmann from Weingut Wittmann joining in from Alsace and Germany, respectively. You can also sit in on e-learning sessions for sommeliers by sommeliers — register here.

04 | Indomie Mi Goreng X Pét-nat

Next time you have Indomie, take RVLT co-founders Alvin Gho (left) and Ian Lim’s advice to open a juicy pét-nat

The pairing: Indomie Mi Goreng with sunny-side-up and fried shallots, with Kindeli Primavera Pét-nat 2019

The experts: Ian Lim and Alvin Gho, co-founders of wine bar RVLT. Gho holds the Advanced Sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and represents Singapore at somm competitions as often as athletes compete at regional meets. Also certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Lim is the resident DJ of RVLT’s addictive playlist.

What they say: “Hailing from Nelson, New Zealand, and organically farmed, the Kindeli Primavera is a pétillant-naturel [a lightly sparkling wine made in a method so ancient the French call it ‘methode ancestrale’] that’s a co-ferment of syrah, pinot noir and riesling. Think of it as a not-sweet sparkling Ribena. 2019 is a darker and juicer expression than its previous vintages, which balances the spiciness of the chilli powder, the aromatic sweetness of kecap manis and the savoury noodles of the umami-laden Indomie. Primavera is super thirst-quenching which makes you go “Ahh” — perfect for the tasty MSG-loaded noodles.” 

Try something else? With brick-and-mortar bars closed during Circuit Breaker, the guys are focusing on delivering wines through their wine import arm RAW Wine Singapore. Tell them the colours you want (white/orange/pink/red) and the flavours you are looking for, and they’ll pack you a mixed case.

05 | Ikura Don X Chablis

For a taste reminiscent of the ocean, Marcus Lai paired a mineral-driven white chardonnay with ikura don

The pairing: Ikura Don with onsen egg and sprinkled with bonito flakes and sesame seeds, with Domaine Pinson Chablis La Forêt Premier Cru 2018

The expert: Marcus Lai, a wine judge for Decanter Asia who is currently studying the Master of Wine programme. Formerly from the healthcare industry, he won a black glass tasting event that set him off on a vinous path and inspired a career switch. He runs fine wine importer and distributor Asia Wine Cellar (AWC).

What he says: “Instead of chocolate goodies, I made ikura don with onsen egg to celebrate Easter this year. The salmon roe imparts a savoury saline taste of the ocean, while the sous vide onsen egg adds a yolky goodness. The Premier Cru vineyards of La Forêt, situated on the left bank of the Serein River in Burgundy, perhaps produces one of the most mineral and saline driven styles of Chablis [100 percent chardonnay]. Domaine Pinson’s Chablis La Forêt Premier Cru 2018 is extremely fresh and vibrant, which cuts through the savoury richness of the dish. While they might be polar opposites texturally — creamy rich (dish) and zippy and vibrant (wine) — the pair have similar flavour characteristics, with the wine displaying savoury, saline, sea breeze (oyster shell) notes that pairs well with the Ikura Don to encapsulate the umami taste of the ocean.”

Have a go at something else? AWC is holding an online CB Charity Wine Auction that takes place third week May. The raised funds will be used to purchase meals from F&B outlets hard hit by the pandemic, which will be distributed to beneficiaries of Touch Community Services. Wine donations for the auction are welcomed. Contact Marcus Lai: marcus@asiawinecellar.com.

06 | Fish & Prawn Dum Biryani X Sake

Sake shouldn’t be confined to Japanese cuisine, says Joshua Kalinan, who often breaks out a bottle with Indian food

The pairing: Three-layer fish and prawn dum biryani with cherry tomatoes cooked in a cast iron pot, with the limited edition Ohmine Shuzuo Sake Storm Cowboy

The expert: MasterChef Singapore contestant Joshua Kalinan, the first Singaporean to win Sake Sommelier of the Year bestowed by the UK-based Sake Sommelier Association. A fan of unconventional pairings, he believes sake shouldn’t be limited to Japanese cuisine. He is also a wine educator.

What he says: “This dum briyani has complex flavours, even though the protein is fish and prawns. The umami-ness of the dish is enhanced by a rich tomato mixture, and it is also quite oily as ghee is used to cook the spice mixture. So in pairing it with sake, you need one with sufficient acidity to stand up to it. The Sake Storm Cowboy [a limited-edition release in collaboration with NIGO®︎and Pharrell Williams] is made by Ohmine Suzhou in Yamaguchi prefecture. It is a Junmai daiginjo [most refined grade of sake] made from ‘the king of rice’, Yamada Nishiki, polished to 38%. It has a mellow fragrance of peach, and the sweetness of this sake blends so well with this complex slightly spicy dish.”

Try something else? Kalinan enjoys spreading the love of sake and frequently posts photos on Instagram of his home-cooked, typically uniquely Singaporean culinary adventures, paired with sake or wine. Have a look for inspiration.

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