Inventive Wine Pairings Around the World

A look at the creative ways different countries are pairing food (and everything else!) with their wine

Hahndorf Hills

Creative wine pairings seem to be gaining popularity.

We’re used to pairing our wines with a selection of fine cheeses. But just as vino has varietals, so does how we may enjoy it. Have you ever considered pairing your wine with music or fine art? Hummus or cookies? The world has become a playground for wine pairings, and there are a number of countries and places out there looking to make your glass of wine stand out amongst the rest with their creative pairings.

From Australia to America, there are a lot of wine pairing traditions and practices out there, some of which may change the way you once saw (and devoured) cheese with your wine.

Wine and Hummus


Photo Credit: CRS Sandidge Wines

C.R. Sandidge Wines in Manson, WA is doing some really fun wine and hummus pairings lately. The hummus used for the wine pairings is locally-made hummus from Lake Chelan Culinary Creations. Some of the flavors offered are roasted eggplant, chipotle lime with caramelized onion and garlic, and habanero with cilantro and spicy black bean. "Rich, creamy hummus served over almost any type of cracker is a natural pairing with food-friendly wines. Our red wines pair especially well with the baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant), caramelized onion and garlic, and spicy black bean hummus. Our barrel-fermented Gewurztraminer named Sabrina packs enough body, fruit and spice to compliment the chipotle, lime and cilantro and habanero flavors,” says winemaker Ray Sandidge.

Wine and music


Photo Credit: Rochford Wines

We’ve all considered the perfect music and wine for our important date nights, but have we pondered if there’s a perfect music for your wine? Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley of Australia is doing just that. “We match music delivered through high-end audio speakers, which wrap the participant in such tonal detail that they seek and find new layers of complexity in the wines,” explains John Bright, manager of direct sales for Rochford Wines. “Our trophy winning chardonnays exhibit newfound purity and length when combined with Eva Cassidy tracks, our L’Enfant Unique Pinot  is matched with the hauntingly beautiful saxophone in Dave Brubeck Jazz, racy orchestral numbers are chosen to bring out the spiciness in our syrah, and our Reserve Isabella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon shows all its depth with Andrea Bocelli singing operatic arias. The level of emotion has drawn tears sometimes!” says Bright, who shares that people get the connection as they progress from lighter cheeses and music with white wines at the beginning, with a journey through reds to a deeply rich combination as the finale.

Wine and Fine Art
The Art and Wine Gallery at Ellerman House in Cape Town, South Africa is integrating contemporary sculpture and cutting-edge design with an interactive journey into the wonderful world of wine. Perhaps the most notable feature of the wine gallery is an enormous three-dimensional wine rack in the form of a corkscrew that immediately grabs the attention of passing guests. It holds 1,500 bottles of indigenous South African wines, showcasing a vast array of bright, bold flavors to be paired with art for guests' enjoyment. The gallery is home to a variety of pieces by famous South African artists; one even chronicles the time Nelson Mandela spent on Robben Island.

Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas' wine and art experts team up monthly for an art and wine pairing. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Manager Richard Wonderly III chooses a selection of pieces from the resort's current exhibition, “Painting Women." Then, Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Jason Smith chooses bottles from Bellagio's celebrated wine cellar to pair with the artworks. The pairing can based on colors, aromas, flavors, or any sort of inspiration. It is a fun way to experience the Bellagio's incredible selection of wine and art at one event.

Wine and Cookies
Liberty Vineyards & Winery in Sheridan, NY, does a spin on this unusual combination with Christmas cookie pairings each year at their Christmas in July event. For the event, they pair Traminette wine with a ginger cookie. The wine has a nice spicy note, which is a great match to the spicy cookie. Also paired together is a cabernet sauvignon with a dark chocolate biscotti (the dark chocolate brings out the cherry notes in the wine), with the final pairing a cut-out cookie and Cool Cat wine. Cool Cat is a late-harvest style wine, and its sweet, fruity notes are a nice match for the cookie.


Photo Credit: Flickr/Matt DeTurck

Chris Couch, winery manager at King Ferry Winery (maker of Treleaven Wines) on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region of central New York offers demonstrations for visitors on wine pairings to enjoy with their favorite Girl Scout Cookies! For example, he pairs Caramel deLites ® with pinot noir or reserve chardonnay, as the creamy and caramel notes of the wine emphasize those same wonderful qualities in the cookie. Additionally, since the chardonnay is a nice crisp wine, this pairs beautifully with the crisp cookie. The earthy nature of these wines also matches the cookie’s toasted coconut flakes.

Wine and Fried Chicken


Photo Credit: Scottie Davison

Kelly Wooldrige, wine director and advanced sommelier at Bonanno Concepts in Denver, CO, says: “In addition to the awesome juxtaposition of fried chicken as an everyday dinner and Champagne as a luxury good, the fact is that there is a flavor/textural comparison to be made as well.” Think about fried chicken: hot, crispy, juicy, savory and rich. Now think about Champagne: cold, citrus-driven, high-acid and bubbly. “The differences between the two is where the harmony is found; the difference in temperature, the richness of something fried with the acidity and bubbles of Champagne to cut through it and keep you wanting more of both, and the base-note savory goodness of great fried chicken with the bright citrus and stone fruit notes of Champagne as a counterpoint!” says Wooldrige.

Wine and candy
Witt's End Candy Emporium is an old-fashioned candy store in a general store setting that opened three months ago in Bellevue, Kentucky’s Historic Fairfield Avenue District. The old-school sweet shop offers wine and candy pairings with another shop new to the Fairfield Avenue landscape: Generation Hill Winery. Besides pairing the wine with an assortment of chocolates (e.g., haystacks, malted milk balls, chocolate covered cherries, nonpareils), the winemaker will also pair Generation Hill wine with old-fashioned candy, like Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honeys, and newer candy treats including chocolate gummy bears.

While creamy cheeses are often paired with wine, Hahndorf Hill Winery in South Australia's Adelaide Hills takes an innovative approach by pairing fine chocolates with the area's world-class wines. The “ChocoVino Experience” offers paired wine and chocolate based on the concept that gourmet chocolate, as with fine wine, has the ability to reflect terroir. The tasting focuses mainly on single-origin bars that reflect the flavor of the area it comes from. The global chocolate selection come in a wooden treasure box and can include chocolates such as Amedei "Chuai” from Venezuela, Pralus "Papouasie" from Papua New Guinea, and Pralus "Madagascar" from Africa. These are paired with Adelaide Hills wines produced by Hahndorf Hill Winery, such as their shiraz and rosé, and partnered with the local South Australian Haighs chocolates.


Photo Credit: Hahndorf Hill Winery

Princess Cruises also just launched their Chocolate Journeys program in partnership with internationally-acclaimed master chocolatier Norman Love. Chocolate Journeys will debut this fall aboard the new Regal Princess for her inaugural Caribbean season, and will continue to roll out to the rest of the Princess fleet throughout the next year. In Vine's, Princess' signature wine bar, wine and chocolate enthusiasts alike can sample Norman Love's Black Line chocolates paired with six specific wine varietals designed to enhance the tasting experience, all selected by Love.

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