Here are some pairings to suit 4 different styles:
As with other grape varieties sauvignon blanc varies markedly from one part of the world to the other – from the crisp minerally wines of the Loire to the exuberant grassy herbaceous sauvignons of New Zealand’s Marlborough region. Although many are interchangeable so far as ingredients such as goats cheese are concerned others suit different types of dishes and ingredients.
Minerally Sauvignon Blancs such as Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and other cool climate Sauvignon Blancs from e.g. Tasmania. This is the style I’d choose with simple, barely seasoned ingredients such as raw and lightly cooked shellfish like oysters and shell-on prawns, fresh crab and simply grilled fish such as sea bass, especially with olive oil. They also work well with dishes that contain raw or barely cooked tomato such as gazpacho, tomato consommé or tomato vinaigrettes and young goats’ cheeses – or salads that contain goats cheese. Also good with Japanese dishes such as sushi and sashimi, seafood-based steamed and fried dim sum and smoked salmon, particularly if the smoke is delicate. And air-dried ham, oddly.
Citrussy Sauvignons. These range from simple lemony flavours e.g. unoaked white Bordeaux, to more intense lemon peel flavours you find in an Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc to the grapefruity character you find in many Chilean and Argentinian Sauvignons.
I like this style with simply grilled fish , especially oily fish such as sardines and mackerel. They also go well with fried fish like goujons, whitebait and fish and chips and with simply grilled chicken or lamb (without a powerful marinade) In terms of ethnic cuisines they work well with Greek and Mexican food and other fresh-tasting dishes with avocados, tomatoes, green onions, olives and sharp cheeses like feta (though be careful not to neutralise their character with over-lemony dressings) They pair well with big garlicky prawns and chargrilled squid and also cheeses flavoured with garlic and herbs such as Le Roulé and Boursin. And this, in my view, is the best type to drink with globe artichokes (particularly the ‘lemon peel’ style of Sauvignon)
Aromatic/grassy/’herbaceous’ Sauvignon Blancs and Sauvignon blends such as Western Australian Sem-Sauvs
I tend to reach for these with salads especially if they contain seafood and/or ‘grassy’ ingredients such as asparagus, pea-shoots, green peppers and herbs. You can drink them with similar dishes to category A but where the flavours are more pronounced e.g. seafood with south-east Asian flavours such as lime, chilli and coriander or Thai fish cakes. Try them with pea soups and dishes accompanied by pea purées too.
Oaked Sauvignon/Semillon blends such as oaked white Bordeaux and fumé blanc styles
You can drink these where you might reach for a Chardonnay or straight Semillon – with white meats such as chicken or veal especially if accompanied by a creamy sauce or with spring vegetables such as asparagus and peas. Pasta dishes with spring vegetables and buttery or creamy sauces too. They also suit simply grilled or pan-fried salmon, scallops and grilled fish like hake with salsa verde and lightly smoked fish such as smoked eel and trout.
Written by: Fiona Beckett – www.matchingfoodandwine.com