Matching wine with ice cream
Joanne Gibson discovers that pairing wine with ice cream comes with a lick and a promise
Wine and biltong, wine and chocolate, wine and pizza, bubbly and nougat ... there are any number of innovative wine pairings on offer in the Cape's tasting rooms these days, but the coolest of all - literally - must be the ice cream and wine tasting at Clos Malverne.
I was sceptical when asked to test it. Overly sweet things make wine taste acidic , and ice cream is as sweet as it gets. How was chef Nadia Louw Smith going to pair it with Clos Malverne's range of award-winning but full-bodied and entirely dry wines?
Reminding myself that the rules of food and wine pairing are made to be broken, often with surprisingly delicious results, I hit the road to Stellenbosch. "I love wine," I told myself. "I love ice cream. There are far worse ways to spend a sweltering afternoon ..."
First up, the Clos Malverne sauvignon blanc 2011 (R76 a bottle, ex-cellar) with Nadia's litchi-and-lime ice cream. Named one of the country's top 10 sauvignons last year, the wine has ripe tropical-fruit flavours and a creamy mouthfeel. The ice cream not only matched the flavour intensity and creaminess but also enhanced the wine's tastebud-tingling freshness.
Next was Clos Malverne's new coffee-style pinotage, Le Café 2010 (R76), for which Nadia devised a mandarin, chilli, and pistachio praline ice cream. Even though I got the concept of nuts bringing out the wine's roasted-coffee flavours, and the crunchy caramel and citrus highlighting its smoky undertones, I felt the chilli overpowered its subtle cinnamon notes. Perhaps it's simply because I'm not a big fan of choc-mocha pinotage, or of "chewy" ice cream, but this was my least favourite combination.
All was forgiven with the third match, the Auret 2009 flagship blend of cabernet, pinotage and merlot (R160) with a decadent strawberry and white chocolate ice cream. Where fresh strawberries on their own would be a mouth-puckering disaster, they lose all tartness when blended into the creamy white chocolate ice cream: the result a velvety triumph of texture that somehow enhanced the wine's ripe, red-berried fruitiness.
As for the grand finale, well, what's not to love about red wine and dark chocolate? In this case, the full-bodied Clos Malverne Pinotage Reserve 2009 (R140) with Nadia's dark choc-chip ice cream (70% cocoa, of course). They melted into each other, the bitter chocolate accentuating the wine's rich black berry fruit, the mouth-coating creaminess holding the flavours for even longer. If I close my eyes, I can taste it even now ...
Clos Malverne is offering wine and ice-cream tastings between 10am and 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday until the end of April. Cost R55 per person; booking advisable. Tel 0218652022 or visit www.closmalverne.co.za.