Unless you are a Sommelier – a wine connoisseur that is, it can be quite difficult to choose a wine suited to the food you have selected for your fine dining experience.
Here at The 9th Floor, our angels are always on hand to advise you on your selection. We also however, think it would be nice to arm our guests with a little knowledge of their own when it comes to that perfect pairing. In this article we will walk you through some of the items on our fine dining dinner menu, and their fitting wine counterparts.
Although our food is Mediterranean, our wine selection spans the globe. Therefore, we understand that for someone less well versed in the wine world, it can be quite the Everest to conquer. We boast wines from France, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, North America, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Argentina, and Australia. Each and every bottle on offer to our diners in hand selected for the menu, to compliment the food we craft here at The 9th Floor.
We truly believe the fine dining experience is about more than just the edible items on the menu, and that fine wine forms a very important part of the whole experience. Below we will provide advice on some of the food items on our menus, this list is not definitive, because a lot of this is actually down to personal taste.
Beetroot and Apple are well paired with a crisp and bubbly Champagne. There is no better way to start the meal than with a well-rounded glass of bubbles which sits beautifully with the more refreshing starters on our menus. We can recommend the Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage (3100) from 2006 to work with this combination of flavours. Salmon is a very meaty fish, and therefore it requires a wine with a full-body to accompany it.
A white Pinot Noir is a common choice, but a Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, or White Rioja is an equally fine choice. For our salmon starters we just love our Swiss Pinot Noir (7130) from 2014. It really has that full-body feel and pairs perfectly with the meatiness of the salmon.
Eggplant (also known as aubergine) is an ingredient we love to use here at The 9th Floor. It can be tricky to prepare, but when it is done well, it makes a fabulous base for a main meal, or a stunning stand-alone starter. Because eggplant can form part of a variety of flavours on the plate, and is usually dressed to impress, a simple red is a great choice. You might want to go for a Cabernet Savignon, Merlot, or Syrah. We would suggest our Grottascura Sangiovese-Syrah (6630) for our eggplant based starters due to its light notes and fruity undertones.
Prawn risotto requires a wine with a delicate balance of crispness and full-body. This echoes the balance of a perfect risotto. The wine can’t be too heavy or else it will overshadow the food. Many wine experts believe a Pinot Grigio, or a Chenin Blanc provides that balance. From our wine menu we believe the South African Darling Chenin Blanc (2530) fits well with our version of this Italian Staple.
Lamb Ragout is one of the easier pairings to make. Lamb as a rule, no matter how it is presented, as a red meat is best paired with a red. A delicious, full-bodied red, with a gentle whisper of oak undertones would pair wonderfully with a hearty starter such as our Lamb Ragu. In the robust red genre of wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot are strong suitors. Chile does Merlot particularly well, and therefore we would suggest number 7970 on our menu for this dish.
Tomato’s go well with a more acidic and crisp wine. Therefore the selection of whites and roses are the area of the wine menu you want to go for. They can work well with a light and refreshing red such as a Sangiovese, but for our recipes we would suggest a rose works best. Therefore we would recommend the Cipressetto Rose (1750) from Tuscany which really lifts the tomato salad starter.
Caesar Salad is another one of those that is easier to pair as it’s recipe and palate doesn’t differentiate much between restaurants and chefs. It is a classic staple and therefore the wine should be too. Chardonnay is the wine for this dish and we have several offerings. Our favourite is our Australian Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay (2160) which helps cut through the richness of this creamily dressed salad with a fresh nose.
Crab is also a meaty seafood, and therefore needs a robust wine. Surprisingly a good combination is the slightly dryer Riesling which can also have a rich mouth-feel and vibrant layers of fruity notes too. From our menu the German Riesling Jean Baptiste Kabinett (1930) provides just that for our crab meat-based appetisers.
Tuna can be a tricky customer when it comes to pairing, because yes, it is a fish and therefore white immediately springs to mind. However, it is a red meat and a very hearty fish – qualities that lend themselves to red. Therefore, the best solution seems to be a rose. Many wine experts would suggest a light red such as a Chinon or Bourgueil. The fruitiness of the wine is also important and therefore a Pinot Noir is also a strong choice. For our dish we recommend the French Whispering Angel Rose (1290).
Cheese is undeniably best suited to a full-bodied red. Red wine and cheese go together like the moon and the waves. A Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot are a safe bet, but for our cheese boards we believe a strong Chianti provides that extra special edge. The Chianti Castiglioni (6590) from Tuscany provides the strength and aromas needed to really bring out the subtle flavours in the range of cheeses we provide.
Beef Carpaccio is such a delicate and refined dish it needs a wine to compliment it and not overpower is. Something crisp and elegant is what is needed here, a Cremant de Bourgogne would work well, but so would other lighter reds such as a Fleurie or Valpolicella. The latter is what we would recommend here at The 9th Floor, and our Amarone Classico della Valpolicella (6930) fits beautifully with this starter.
Oysters – the easiest to pair. Champaign, Brut, or Prosecco. Something decedent, and bubbly and light to wash down this tasty offering. Our favourite for this starter is Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve (3000) which elevates this distinguished dish even further.
Onion Soup is a strange one, as it is sometimes hard to pair a wine with a food that itself is liquid in nature. This is why a dry wine is a good option for a soup course. For an onion-based soup a dry red is what works best. Our La Mourvache (grenache) (4490) works fabulously with this soup starter.
Mussels themselves provide such a strong and intense flavour that the wine one chooses to accompany this dish must be fresh and crisp. As a seafood dish, white is the right choice, and something with fruity notes such as Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio works really nicely. The New Zealand Sileni Sauvignon Blanc (2340) sits really well with this dish.
Roast chicken is a perfect pairing for a simple white wine. Chardonnay, or even a Champaign is a great choice as the try nature allows you to enjoy the sweetness and softness of the meat. It can be paired with the lighter reds, but our choice for our roast chicken dish is our Chassagne Montrachet from Burgundy (1120) – it’s light notes and fresh aromas work perfectly.
Rib of beef is robust dish which needs an equally robust wine to do it justice. Beef is almost always paired with red, especially in rib form. A rich Cabernet Sauvignon is destined for this dish, as its depth of flavour and mix of aromas really adds to the main event. The Show Cabernet Sauvignon (7630) from North America provides just that for diners when ordering the Rib or any other cut of beef from our main menu.
Pasta as a main is very flexible, this means that the sauce accompaniment is what drives the wine matching. Bolognaise for instance with the hearty beef is destined for a classic red. A Merlot is a great choice for this dish, especially our South African Paul Sauer Cab.Sau-Cab.Franc-Merlot (8520). For a creamy Carbonara however, you may wish to think about a lighter white such as our crisp and delightful Italian Pinot Grigio Dolomiti (1620).
Scallops require something crisp and fruity to bring out their delicate flavours. The Sauvignon Blanc suites this dish’s needs perfectly. The 20 Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon (7990) from Chile compliments our scallop dishes really nicely. The delicate notes with undertones of citrus are perfectly balanced for this dish.
Sea Bass also requires something fresh, but a little drier. Due to its depth of flavour this fish course needs something to compliment but not overshadow. Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial (5700) from Spain is a really vibrant White Rioja that provides all the essential components for this part of the menu.
Duck Breast is another very deep and flavoursome ingredient. Some dishes work well with sweet white wines such as a Riesling or dessert wine, maybe even a Pinot Gris. Pan fried duck breast can work brilliantly with light but fruity reds such as a Sangiovese or Pinot Noir. We think our dish is partnered perfectly with our Australian Plexus Shiraz-Grenache (7350).
Beef Stroganoff is best places with a lighter fruitier red due to its rich nature as a dish. A classic Merlot is perfect for the job and provides a crisp respite from the fullness of the meal. Our favourite Merlot on the menu for this job is the 7620 from Napa Valley.
Lamb Chops much like our Lamb Ragu are great with a full-bodied red. A Chianti or a Rioja is a great choice, as is a Cabernet Sauvignon. The full flavours really bring out the juiciness of the meat. For chops, the Portillo Malbec (7860) from Argentina provides something a little different and well balanced for your main course selection.
So, there you have it – a run down of some of our favourite dishes and the wines that accompany them. If you are unsure and want some advice on your pairing, please do not be afraid to ask one of our angels who will be more than happy to help you with your selection.