As most of my readers would not have had the chance to eat at Momofuku in Sydney or New York, I feel it might be of interest to report on my recent wine pairing experience there.
Like many, in particular up-market, restaurants do, Momofuku indulges in presenting obscure wines, where the customer has no reference points. I find this often a disappointing experience, but at Momofuku something else happened. Following are the wines
- Keller 'von der Fels' Riesling 2011 (Rheinhessen, Germany)
- Philippe Bornard 'le blanc de la rouge' Chardonnay 2008 (Jura, eastern France)
- Ngeringa 'growers selection' Pinot Noir 2010 (Adelaide Hills)
- Matej Skerlj Vitovska 2009 (Friuli, Italy)
- Eric Bordelet poire 'granit' 2011 (Normandy, France)
The Riesling and the Pinot Noir were pretty much what you would expect. The other three wines, on their own, were very ordinary. The Bornard Chardonnay showed very little fruit. Minerality dominated. The Vitovska, a relatively rare grape mainly grown in Slovenia, equally had not much fruit flavours on the palate. The wine was tight and quite nutty. The Eric Bordelet is a pear cider with relatively high sugar content and firm tannins.
Yet with the food matches, these wines suddenly were shining. I have never experienced such a difference. The Bornard was paired with a trumpeter. The Vitovska was paired with congee and marron, and the cider with curd. In all cases the wines supported the food. They were all quite low alcohol. The lesson is, many wines fight with food for dominance. These wines could not dominate anything, but they added real flavour complexity in the background. What looked like a wine pairing to score points for being exotic, was actually brilliant.