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Wine, women and a twist of science – by Cathy Sorbara

Have you ever tried wasabi with Riesling? What about biting into a slice of lemon before sipping your Chardonnay?

The Cambridge AWiSE network welcomed the New Year in delectable fashion on January 27th with a Wine Tasting with a scientific twist. Held at the Cambridge Wine Merchants on Cherry Hinton Road, Alice Archer challenged our perception of food and wine pairing as well as helping us brush up on our chemistry.

She taught us that the sensory components of food – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami — can influence the perception of flavours in the wine with which it is paired. For example, taste any wine and focus on its acidity level. Next, taste a strongly acidic food such as a lemon and afterwards re-taste the wine. The wine tastes much sweeter although the composition of the wine did not change at all. In the same respect, a wine which is particularly sweet, when paired with a sweet treat can appear more acidic. Food with high salt content, on the other hand, can magnify the perception of acidity in wine.

Our scientific background has instilled upon us that hypotheses can only be proven following rigorous testing. Therefore, we were forced to oblige Alice by sampling many delicious, high-quality wines with the large spread of cheese, charcuterie, bread, olives and sweets that were provided (and yes, even wasabi crackers and lemon wedges!).  Beginning with a sparkling Jansz Premium Rosé NV and ending with a Chateau des Tours 2008, each wine had its collection of admirers and foes. My personal favourite was the Meerlust Rubicon 2009 red wine from South Africa and I am now actively searching and stashing every 2009 South African wine that I can get a hold of.

The evening was filled with light-hearted discussion in superb company. Our sincere thanks to Alice for sharing her vast knowledge of wine interspersed with humour and mouth-watering meal pairing suggestions – you have started the 2015 Cambridge AWiSE year on a fantastic note!

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