Dish with a Twist - Adding an Alcoholic Kick to Your Meal

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
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There's a world of opportunity to add a dash of the good stuff to your favourite dishes. Move beyond the Carbonara and get creative.

Everyone knows wine makes food taste better. Consider the humorous kitchen apron slogan: “I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in food”. The addition of booze to your favourite foods is not new, but it’s easy to forget just how delicious it can be as it adds a level of complexity not easily replicated by other means. Here are some every day ideas, as well as some fancier dishes, that include a delicious glug of something tasty.

Let’s get festive

A perfect festive dish, best served cold when it’s warm outside and paired with chilled dessert wine, is chicken liver pate with cognac. Not only will this challenge many people’s ideas of wine pairings, as sweet wine is most often left until last, but the beautiful salty and fatty food partners so well with the glorious sweetness and high acid of Sauternes in particular. Try Carmes de Rieussec, or for an Australian counterpart, Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora will do the trick.

Pass me a beer

Beer makes batter better. The golden battered fish made from beer-reinforced batter is a terrific summertime dish. Add the beer, something light and bright (not a stout or something too hoppy) like Little Creatures Bright Ale, to the batter in place of water. You can eat fish and chips with your hands and squeeze copious amounts of lemon over it. It’s backyard fare at its most tasty and simple. The obvious match is crisp white wine. Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Jim Barry Watervale Riesling are standout choices, though sparkling wine will also work really well.  Try Cremant de Lugny Blanc de Blancs. Wine with high acid is the key, as the salt and fat of the batter need something bright and fresh to cut through it.

Some sage advice on wine

“Never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink”. This is a pretty loose rule to live by and certainly one that is inconsistent across different people. What if you don’t drink Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon - do you not cook with it? The saying, no doubt, has forced many people to spend a few extra dollars on cooking wine over the years. In dishes that use white wine, use fresh unwooded whites and add them a few minutes before you finish cooking. Add them too late, and the dish can seem bitter; add them too early and the wine flavour will be lost. A simple pasta dish with white fish and prawns, garlic lemon, butter and parsley will always seem more adult and complex with a splash of white wine. Any of the above-mentioned whites will work well in this dish, even the sparkling!

Don’t forget dessert!

A little pick-me-up to finish. This requires a touch more time to prepare, and preferably a friend to make it for you. Tiramisu, the classic Italian dessert, always makes the best impression with a little spirit added to the coffee-flavoured treat. The classic and old-school liqueur in Tiramisu is Boronia Marsala; recipes often call for half a cup. To make a deeper and more coffee-centric Tiramisu, a quarter of a cup of Marsala and a quarter of a cup of Illyquore Coffee Liqueur take this sweet treat to the next level.

Don’t think that beer, wine and spirits are solely for the cup: using them in the food can bring a whole other level of food and wine pairing to the table.