Mike is a freelance wine and drinks writer and journalist, wine judge and presenter based in Sydney. Mike is the Editor-At-Large and contributor for the wine commentary site The WIne Front, wine and drinks of delicious magazine, a columnist/feature writer for Gourmet Traveller Wine and co-director of Australia’s first sustainable and artisan wine and produce fair Rootstock Sydney.
Duck and pinot noir. Sauternes and foie gras. Hunter Valley semillon and oysters. Vin Jaune and Comte cheese. Sherry and anchovies. Wine and foodstuffs made for each other.
How about Tasmanian sparkling wine and fried chicken?
The idea that fizzy wine goes with one of modern dining’s favourite junk foods is gaining traction.
Famed New York-based chef David Chang of the Momofuku group of restaurants was one of the first to publicly tout the low-brow and high-brow Champagne-and-fried-chicken-combo, so Australian wine can’t claim to have invented the match, but it’s time to shove off the Champagne and match up our local bird with local fizz.
Tasmanian sparkling wine has the right vibe for pairing up with fried stuff. Just ask bird and booze slinger Tai Tate, wine impresario of notorious burger-and-fried-chicken restaurant Mary’s in Sydney’s inner west.
“It just kinda works”, states Tai, “I mean you don’t have to be strict on this stuff, but fizzy, good acid, tangy flavour, refreshment factor, those things kinda help out the deep fried chicken”.
Tate’s wine list runs deep with all sorts of wines, but it’s the gear with bubbles in it that catches my eye when I’m hunkering into the crunch-and-grease of their ‘Larry Bird’ fried chicken.
Tasmania sparkling wine gets its vim and vigour from high natural acidity born from truly cool growing conditions.
The east side of the Tamar River a happy hunting ground for vineyards growing sparkling wine grapes of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, often harvested several weeks later than cool-as-is west side of the Tamar. But sparkling base is made from vineyards all over the island state, and with it, potential for a multitude of symphonic sparkling wines.
Wine producers like Jansz and Arras have long owned the vocal chords of brand identity in Tasmania, and it’s their wealth of sparkling wine offering that’s inspiring a growing sect of producers on the Apple Isle. Rose, late disgorged styles, vintage wines and even some experimental sparkling wine is creating a currency that’s, quality-wise, knocking plenty of big company Champagne off its stride.
The wealth of offering means that those seeking out a fast food hit of quality fried chicken can pair up from bargain basement-but-quality offerings, through to prestige, grand marque equivalents that will fancy up the seemingly low key nature of fried chook.
Roll up your sleeves and dive in.