Sunday, 24 May 2015

Perfect pairings of classic dishes and classic wines.

By Karena & Kasey Bird

MasterChef winners Karena and Kasey Bird write a fortnightly food column in Living.

We have been non-stop since our book tour. Last weekend we were at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, meeting amazing chefs we look up to and, of course, sampling all the delicious food and wine they had on offer. We love trying wine with food and seeing how they both affect each other in highlighting each other's taste.

We tried some great Australian wine while we were there, but one of the main things we were reminded of was that New Zealand does amazing wine. So many locals talked about how good New Zealand wine is and we felt proud to say we were from the other side of the ditch.

When we won MasterChef last year we went to our local shop to check the mail. A huge case of 12 bottles of wine had been sent to us with a note that made our mum cry. It was from Kono, which makes Tohu and Aronui wine.

The letter talked about how they saw values in us that they have as a company, values like integrity, that we were custodians for our heritage through the way we tried to enhance dishes influenced by our culture, the hospitality we showed in the way we cooked and how we shared the stories with New Zealand about the inspiration for our dishes.

They credited our parents for instilling in us these values and invited us to Marlborough to meet the team and learn about the company and wine. By the time we left, we had formed such a close and genuine relationship with all of the staff and learned a lot about their yummy wines. This week we are excited to share some recipes using a few of our favourites.

One of the wines we found interesting and delicious was a variety we had never tried before. The 2014 Single Vineyard Nelson Albarino is super crisp and fresh but very balanced. We thought it would be a great match for seafood. The lemon and lime notes match nicely and the creaminess of the prawns and scallops is great with the underlying ripe fruit flavours.

New Zealand has great pinot noir and the 2013 Single Vineyard Tohu Pinot Noir is no exception. It's our choice of wine when we need to say thank you to our mum for picking up ingredients for us when we don't have enough time (which is often, so she has a nice collection now).

This is our version of a classic French dish but only using the juicy dark thigh meat. It's great for winter meal and the wine adds delicious plum, thyme and cherry flavours to the chicken and mushrooms.

We both love matching desserts with bubbles instead of dessert wine. We aren't sure if that's against the rules but we love having a bubbly, long finishing glass of 2012 Rewa Blanc de Blanc with our sweet course. These poached pears are so easy and when we make them our family and friends are always really impressed.

Try Kasey and Karena's delicious recipes at below