A true revelation for me at this year’s Vinexpo was a (re) introduction to the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, says Harshal Shah.There is still a slight misconception amongst wine-drinkers that these sweet wines are best served either with foie-gras or with dessert, making them wines that are locked away in a cupboard until a ‘special occasion.’ But, as my eyes and palate were opened by the ebullient Bérénice Lurton of Château Climens in Barsac, what truly makes these sweet wines so special is their ability to marry a host of cuisines.
The secret lies in a balance between acidity, alcohol and sweetness.
The best Sauternes/Barsac wines, when young, should be refreshing. Aromas of exotic fruit such as pineapple, sometimes lychees and peaches are perfect foils to the marmalade-nuttiness that one often encounters in these wines. Over a delightful light lunch of Schezwan cuisine in the heart of Barsac, I experienced how wonderfully young Sauternes and Barsac matches flavours such as ginger, light soy, chilli and sesame. Prawns, chicken and pork all can be paired to sweet wine. If these wines go so well with Chinese cuisine, surely there is something to be said for their pairing to Indian food?
The next time you are out for a meal, be a bit daring and order a bottle of Sauternes or Barsac to accompany your meal. Make sure it is served well-chilled throughout the meal. I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
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