Probably because of its relative novelty, the idea of food and wine matching has generated excitement and discussion in Asian wine circles for many years. However, the truth of the matter is that for the truly wine-dedicated, the question as often as not isn’t “what wine shall I pick to go with my chou doufu?”, but “what meal can I summon up to accompany my Corton Charlemagne?”.
Hence, we’ve decided to kick off a series covering food and wine matching from a wine-first perspective. Each time we’ll pick a category of wine and give you a suggestion of three different pairings you could opt for to highlight the qualities of your chosen bottle. First up is white Burgundy.
For the purposes of this article, when we say white Burgundy, though the term technically covers any white wine made in the larger region known as Burgundy, including Chablis or Bourgogne Aligoté, what we mean is the white wines made from chardonnay in the Côte d'Or (primarily the Côte de Beaune, since the lion’s share of whites are made here rather than in the Côte de Nuits to the north). This includes wines from Grand Crus like Corton Charlemagne and Le Montrachet (and all its many associated Grand Crus) as well as villages like Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet or––more affordably––St Aubin.
The style we’re referring to is one made with an impressive array of winemaking inputs, from the veils of hazelnut and vanilla perfume contributed by new oak to the creamy texture of lees stirring and malolactic fermentation. Because of Burgundy’s still somewhat cool climate relative to other chardonnay regions, we’re talking about wines of power and intensity but not that much body or alcohol (say 13.5% at the upper end) that have bright, forthright acidity. The aromas generally tend toward the savoury and ethereal––the fruit component is rarely dominant and tends to lie at the citrus to unripe stone fruit end of the spectrum.
A less discussed feature of white Burgundy, and something that adds dimension from a food-matching perspective, is the phenolic texture of the finish, brought by either oak ageing or the grape skins themselves. The presence of tannins is one reason why, despite being white, these wines are not necessarily the most apt choice for a delicate seafood meal.
See also: 6 Suggested Seafood & Wine Pairings