The history of spice dates back to Sumerian times, to centuries before Christ. Spice has been associated with mystic properties and was worth more than gold and precious stones. Spice cultivations was discovered in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys and can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
This reverence tells us something about the value people place on the elevation of food with spices and herbs. If food was akin to sustenance, then eating memorable food, boosted with just the right amount of saffron, cardamom and black pepper, was the elixir to truly being alive.
With the days getting longer and the sun burning hotter, Cathedral Cellar, together with its Ambassador Chef, chef Mynhardt Joubert, are casting a renewed spotlight on the importance of spice.
“The old adage goes; variety is the spice of life. This is true in life where change gives life flavour, and this also rings true in food and wine,” says Tanya Blokdyk, Cathedral Cellar’s Brand Manager. A sprinkle of spice can elevate a dish, and it is often just this slightest hint of spice that adds something truly memorable to a wine pairing experience. Different spices are frequently referenced during wine tastings, with different wine varieties revealing certain dominant spicey aromas.
Spicing it up in Chef Mynhardt Joubert’s Cathedral Cellar kitchen
Adding spice to food is a delicate process that requires a knowledgeable hand and a trained palate. The process of achieving balance is like the balancing act the winemaker aims to achieve in the cellar. Spice flavours in wine come from fermentation temperatures, types of yeast and oak barrels. Some varieties also have an inherent spicy quality. Balancing the different tones and flavours is therefore of utmost importance in the making of a quality wine.
Cathedral Cellar’s range of wines are well-regarded for exhibiting a fine balance. Newly inspired by the balanced aromas of the Cathedral Cellar Triptych and Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc, Chef Mynhardt created two deftly spiced dishes for an elevated tasting experience.
Cathedral Cellar Triptych is an exotic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. To emulate the oriental spice notes of the wine, Chef Mynhardt prepared Vietnamese Pho. “The full-bodied character of the wine makes it a strong partner with the delicate chilli flavours in the dish,” says Mynhardt, adding “the original recipe is from Rick Steins “Far Eastern Odyssey” and our hero spice in this dish is chillies.”
On the more delicate side of spice is the Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc. This highly awarded wine has subtle hints of fennel and grapefruit on the nose, with a rounded body and soft acidity which makes it a particularly attractive match with more acidic spices – like sumac. “To illustrate this Sauvignon Blanc’s beautiful fresh palate, I opted to make a Lebanese Fatoush salad. This is a wonderful recipe with ingredients readily available. The sumac in the dish really elevates this wine pairing to the next level!” reveals Mynhardt.
“Wine for all its exciting properties, has one role more important than any other: it needs to be memorable,” says Tanya, “Cathedral Cellar’s wines will certainly add a sense of flavour to any occasion, and when paired with these spicy dishes from our Ambassador Chef the experience will be truly captivating. Is this the elixir of life? We like to think so!”