A perfect match

Pairing Tokaj’s sweet wines with various courses
Pairing Tokaj’s sweet wines with various courses

The Aszu? wines of the Tokaj region are steeped in history and tradition, being the first noble rot-affected wines in history of which we are aware. The habit has generally been for these wonderful wines to be reserved to go with desserts and, as such, they usually find their way to our table only at the end of the dinner.

But to consign Tokaji Aszu? only to the pudding course is missing out on so much potential drinking pleasure. These wines possess a fine balance of aromatics, acidity, flavour intensity, sweetness and dry extract, providing a fulfilling mouthfeel. I would urge readers to explore different ways to taste and match Aszu?, along with other sweet styles from Tokaj. And we hope this guide will encourage you to do just that, experimenting with food pairing in what could be considered ‘unconventional’ ways.

Great wines, great pairings

A year ago, Wines of Hungary UK set out to demonstrate just how versatile sweet Tokaji can be, at a special wine and food- matching lunch at Michelin one-star Trivet restaurant in London. The aim was to challenge the accepted criteria – the ‘norm’ in food and wine matching – and to showcase the compatibility of these wines with savoury dishes. As it turned out, the younger Aszu?s were excellent with lighter dishes, while the wines with more bottle age complemented richer dishes such as game; they also worked wonders with cured meats and cheese. Ultimately, great wines tend to work very well with a wide variety of dishes.

In the pages that follow, 10 of the UK’s leading sommeliers and restaurant specialists share their specific insights into pairing Aszu? wines with food (some of the wines may only be found on the restaurant’s wine list). But here we start with a few general tips for matching Aszu? with food, based on my own experience.

Firstly, foods high in fat, salt, sugar and acidity, as well as ingredients such as saffron, all complement the sweetness and mineral structure of these wines. Also, consider matching the weight and body of the wine to that of the dish. Include elements that are in contrast to, or resemble the properties of the wine, such as salt to pair with sweetness, paprika and saffron-like spices for similar flavours. Charring or caramelisation goes well with the sweetness and minerality of the wine. Punchy, strong flavours are always good, as long as they are matched with similarly punchy, fuller styles of wine.

Contrasting structures and textures are difficult to match, though when they work they can create truly memorable pairing experiences. For instance, a light wine can work with a bold and rich dish. Equally, spiced pigeon can benefit from pairing with a richly complex aged Aszu?.

Enjoy the journey here through different styles of cuisine. Our 10 experts have taken the time to play with the acidity, sweetness, mineral content and body of 10 Tokaji sweet wines (Aszu? and Szamorodni), to create dishes that provide a perfect match. Why not read through the results of their endeavours with a glass of Aszu? in hand? Then put on your apron, ready to recreate some of them for yourself. Ege?szse?gedre!


Head sommelier at Ekstedt, Klearhos Kanellakis matches Royal Tokaji, Aszú Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2017 with juniper-smoked wild duck

Head sommelier at Ekstedt, Klearhos Kanellakis matches Royal Tokaji, Aszú Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2017 with juniper-smoked wild duck

Klearhos Kanellakis

Head sommelier, Ekstedt at the Yard, London SW1A

WINE Royal Tokaji, Aszu? Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2017 (£29.50-£33.95/50cl Jeroboams, Majestic, The Wine Society)
DISH Juniper-smoked wild duck

Royal Tokaji was founded in 1990 by a consortium that included world-renowned author and Decanter columnist Hugh Johnson. Its aim was to bring Tokaji wines back to international attention and it soon became one of the most respected producers in the region ‘We’re very familiar with their wines,’ says Kanellakis. ‘We sell several of their cuve?es in our restaurant, and we even serve Eszencia in teaspoons (see All about Aszu?) at special…


Source : https://www.decanter.com/sponsored/a-perfect-match-sommeliers-pair-tokajs-sweet-wines-with-savoury-courses-518818/

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