Sometimes certain foods just go well together. Whether traditional or habitual, pairings like duck and orange, strawberries and cream or even salt and caramel seem to have a particular durability.
William Downie’s pairing of pork and pinot is another such example. His upcoming Pork & Pinot dinner marks the fourth time the winemaker has collaborated with chef Paul Wilson at Middle Park Hotel and he still considers the match a cold-weather favourite.
Indeed, for Downie, pork lends itself particularly well to medium-bodied wines. “My wines, grown from the Yarra Valley to Gippsland, are made from pinot noir grapes and are developed into specific, complimentary styles,” he says. “I also have a special relationship with pork because I grow pigs. The suckling pig for this year’s Pork & Pinot dinner has been grown in my farm.”
The suckling pig in question is an apple wood spit-roasted Downie Estate Berkshire suckling pig, to be served with heritage apple marmalade and fennel salad and matched with the 2012 Yarra Valley pinot noir. It’s not difficult to see how Downie came up with the pairing, as the aromatic Yarra Valley wine will compliment the fruity elements contained in the dish with ease.
Downie explains that pairing wine with food is often a case of simply complimenting flavours, depending on the intensity of flavours in your food. Put simply, “if you have an intensely flavoured food, you need a wine with enough body to interact appropriately with the food”.
For example, a pairing of the 2011 SOS chardonnay with king prawn saltimbocca, chestnuts and roast chicken juices. As an earlier course, the refreshing wine has been chosen to enhance, rather than overpower the palate prior to the following courses.
That said, the winemaker is happy to admit that there is no exact science to the art of pairing food with wine. Back on the farm, Downie is more prone to cooking whatever produce is growing and washing it all down with a wine he has in store.
Still, it’s no accident that Pork & Pinot has been so popular for four years in a row, so book a table and see why the dinner is a winter favourite at Middle Park Hotel.
Tickets to the William Downie Pork & Pinot Dinner at Middle Park Hotel are priced at $120. To book, call (03) 9690 1958.