Monday, 21 June 2010

The Harmonisation of Water & Wine

By Philippa Morton

It was through a personal health journey of my own that I learnt about the importance of the quality of water you drink. Having cured myself of my skin ailment by drinking purified water for some months and purging a GP’s recommended tablets, pills, brews and ointments, I have since been a fan of drinking pure bottled water (I was lucky to be living where I had regular access to pure bore water!). I have also come to learn that there are grades of quality in bottled water too. Some have a much a higher mineral content than others.

I have often been curious as to whether there was a certain etiquette to apply to the eating of food with water and wine. I never bothered to ask and scorned at my own pedantic patheticism. Pedantic, yes; pathetic, no. Not when there is a whole study of this topic active today by some of the world’s finest sommeliers. Andreas Larsson, to name one.

It was my privilege and honour to meet one-on-one with Andreas and although our time was short, I learnt alot and was delighted to know that my quirky interest is actually the basis of someone’s career. It’s called ‘harmonisation of water and wine’, a science in itself and an art too.

To get to the crux of the story, though, when drinking white wine, it is best paired with Aqua Panna, a still water found in the mountains of Tuscany. When tasting the wine, the flavours and sensations lingered in the mouth after a luxurious sip of Aqua Panna. I tried it with tap water and was amazed to see how much the taste of the wine was overridden by the tap water. What was most potent was the chemicals in the water that impinged completely on the flavours of the wine.

S. Pellegrino is the sparkling version, which is found in San Pellegrino, Italy. This water is also low in acidity and high in mineral content. Delicious with rich red wines, the sparkling mineral water of S.Pellegrino matches intense flavours of reds and allows the sensational flavours to linger.

The Taste of London festival, where I had met Andreas Larsson, had much to offer once I had finished our harmonisation session, such as the delicious lamb from Sauterelle and a dim sum medley from Yauatcha. There were whisperings of Michele Roux’s presence and a friend of mine got her picture with Angela Hartnett from York & Albany. There weren’t any riff raff about the place, everything was too expensive (on average, £10 for a tiny side plate of food – about 3 mouthfuls worth). It was no surprise then to see the laa-di-daa of London swanning about the place. A tip for next time: towards the end everything is discounted or you can haggle, as the motivation to sell stock and perishables impresses upon traders.

Leaving with boxes of biscuits, meats, jams and plenty of literature tucked under shoulders and hanging over arms, my head swimming just a little, I was delighted to have experienced my first taste of Taste.

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