Earlier this week, I attended one of the first food media events of 2014 as presented by Haywire Winery. Hosted at Kaya Malay Bistro on West Broadway and Oak, the invitation was inspired by the challenges and subsequent rewards of pairing wines with Asian cuisine. Although I eat Asian food on a daily basis, I personally never pair my meals with wine so this event definitely had my interest.
For those not familiar with the Haywire label, their wines are made up at Okanagan Crush Pad winery in Summerland, BC. The term ‘haywire’ is an old Canadian term that refers to the wire used to bale hay which has a reputation for tangling quite disastrously. For winery owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, haywire was the perfect word to describe their challenging but ultimately rewarding journey.
The Haywire Winery Signature wines include a traditional sparkling wine, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir. Like many great wineries, their personal winemaking philosophy is defined by a mandate to keep things simple and clean. Fermented and aged in concrete wine tanks, Haywire wines are characterized by a singular commitment to sincerity of origin, openness of taste and freedom from additives.
Throughout the 3-4 hour event, media attendees had the chance to pair a half dozen different wines with a very diverse selection of dishes. Intentionally complex and at times even contrasting, the dishes were specifically chosen to demonstrate how wine can compliment and even enhance Asian cuisine.
Upon arriving at the venue, guests were treated to trays of Malaysian satay in chicken and lamb variants and vegetable samosas. These reception appetizers were paired with arguably the most popular and all-purpose Haywire offering: The Bub 2012. Remarkably light and cool, this 51% Pinot Noir, 49% Chardonnay blend seemingly went well with everything. From the flavourful meat skewers to the light puffy pastries, The Bub remained delightfully bubbly and phenomenally smooth. For those new to the Haywire label, this is definitely the bottle I would recommend as the ‘gateway’ to experiencing this fine winery’s lineup.
After getting settled in at our respective tables, our dinner began with plates of Japanese-style Deep-fried Soft-shelled Crab paired with bottles of Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2011. Listed by Haywire as an ‘all purpose rosé’ this Gamay Noir definitely presented quite punchy and bright with a generously ‘juicy’ profile. As the crab was slightly greasy, the lightness and fruity accent of the rosé was an interesting pairing choice. I could definitely see myself pairing this wine with a light dessert course as the hints of raspberry and rhubarb definitely lend themselves to highlight slightly sweeter dishes.
The second dish paired with the Gamay Noir ’11 was a BBQ Duck Salad with Cantonese Dressing served on a lettuce shell. Similar to my comments above, I personally would not have paired this wine with this particular dish but individually they were both quite good. If the duck meat had been spicier perhaps the rosé would have presented with a more complimentary appeal but in this form, I feel the Gamay Noir was simply too light and fruity.
For our second wave of dishes we were served two very different types of soup along with quarter glasses of Haywire Gewürztraminer 2012. This round was met with conflicting opinion because the first soup (Mandarin Hot & Sour Soup) turned out to be more sweet than anything else. As the Gewürztraminer is quite sweet unto itself, the combination of sweet and sweet was not that well received. That said, I would be interested in sampling this wine with a more traditional hot and sour soup as the Gewürztraminer did pair better with the Thai Seafood Soup. As the Gewürztraminer is comprised of floral and fruity elements, the intrinsic sweetness should theoretically pair well with spicier soup bases. I look forward to sampling this Gewürztraminer with something more along the lines of a Singaporean laksa broth to see how the fragrant wine profile handles the more pronounced spice component.
Moving on to a completely different round of dishes, we were served plates of Taiwanese Stir-fried Eggplant and Korean-style Grilled Sablefish with Haywire’s Pinot Noir 2012. This pairing was interesting in that the two dishes were quite different both in texture and flavour profile but both played well with the Pinot. The rich eggplant and crispy sablefish seemed to work well with the warm cherry undertones of the Pinot Noir. I would definitely be interested in seeing this wine paired with other more traditional Asian fish dishes as the soft texture and light tannins seem ideal for something along the lines of a lightly steamed fish dish.
The last two dishes before dessert were plates of Kaya Wok-fried Egg Noodles with Shiitake & Siuchoy and Vietnamese Shrimp & Scallop Fried Rice. Paired with these two mains were bottles of Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012. I believe this wine was chosen for this final round as it is known to pair well with fish and other Asian seafood dishes. Of all the wines I sampled through dinner, this Pinot Gris was arguably the most complex. Well-balanced with tiers of substance and flavour, this is undoubtedly a strong wine that can competently hold its own in any setting. Due to its strength, paired dishes must exhibit a respective intensity to match or this Pinot Gris will simply be too strong.
The final dish of the evening was dessert in the form of Berry & Rice Pudding with a Deep-fried Banana served with vanilla ice cream. As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, the Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2011 was the ideal pairing choice for dessert. Even through the sweet vanilla ice cream, the rosé still shone brightly which is a testament to its potential as a fruity dessert wine.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Haywire Winery, I definitely encourage you to check out their website at http://www.haywirewinery.com/ or look at their label list at http://okanagancrushpad.com/buy-haywire-wine/. A big thank you to Haywire Winery, Kaya Malay Bistro and all the attended media guests for a most enjoyable evening!