Chatelaine Kitchen

Food and wine pairing: szechuan duck and carmenere

Sommelier Sara d’Amato and our kitchen present March’s ideal match

Crispy szechuan duck with napa cabbage

Crispy szechuan duck. (Photo, Sian Richards.)wine pairing chstel

This pairing is all about umami, the “fifth taste.” Umami is a flavour, like sweet, sour, salty and bitter; it’s best described as richness. Think of the full-bodied savouriness of ripe tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and grilled burgers. Crispy duck breast is the epitome of umami, and here the heady intensity of the dish is rounded out by a sesame- and soy-drenched sticky sauce and vegetables (particularly shiitake mushrooms) cooked in duck fat. Garlic, ginger, molasses and just a hint of chili add brightness without overpowering our wine selection.

Carmenere, Chile’s signature grape,is just right for this dish. When servingmouth-watering flavours, it’s important forthe complementary wine to be savoury but not so strong as to overwhelm the food. Carmenere was originally (and mistakenly) thought to be merlot; this grape is similarly robust, but not overbearing. Its soy sauce quality is balanced by notes of blackberryand plums, which give it a lovely lightnessand acidity, creating a heavenly match.

Perfect pairing: Carmenere + Szechuan duck

wine_casillero de diablo carmenere

Generous & Affordable
Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2012, Chile, from $13.

wine_medalla real gran reserva carmenere

Complex & Elegant
Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Carmenere 2011, Chile, from $18.

wine_Novas Organic Carmenere

Bold & Velvety
Emiliana Novas Organic Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Chile, from $18.