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Food expert rethinks wine pairing with molecular

Francois Chartier, the sommelier-turned-food scientist, demonstrated his innovative approach to pair food and wine based, not on acidity or color but on molecular at the Pearl of Burgundy event organised by Wynn Palace in Macau.

Francois Chartier, the sommelier-turned-food scientist, demonstrated his innovative approach to pair food and wine based, not on acidity or color but on molecular at the Pearl of Burgundy event organised by Wynn Palace in Macau.

At a masterclass organised by Wynn as part of the Pearl of Burgundy event on January 11, Chartier who worked with celebrated – and now closed restaurant– El Bulli, was the champion behind the matching theory that examines the dominant molecular that shared by food and wine.

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The key to a harmonious food and wine pairing, according to Chartier, is to look at the dominant molecular.

According to him, when pairing ingredient of the same dominant molecule family, it creates powerful aromatic synergy. His aromatic theory was put to test at the masterclass with four alcoholic drinks including two sakes, an oaky Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

For instance, black pepper, black olive and Shiraz all contain Rotundone, which explains why a Shiraz or a Shiraz-dominated wine would go with dishes that work with these two food ingredient, he explains.

A pairing of dried fig and fino sherry at first glance would be “controversial”, as he put it but because both share solerone molecule, hence the matching works.

Similarly, because mint, parsley and Sauvignon Blanc have an affinity towards anise molecular. This means a Sauvignon Blanc will go nicely with dishes like Tabbouleh.

Scallop “a la plancha” with Pearl of Burgundy wine
Scallop “a la plancha” was paired with Domaine Roulot Mersault Lunchets 2013 at the gala dinner

In the evening, his pairing theory was again tested at the Pearl of Burgundy gala dinner where more than 30 major winemakers from Old World wine regions presented their wines. Guests enjoyed six dishes created by the master chefs at Wynn, and sampled eight exclusive fine wines from Burgundy, Champagne and Spain.

Curated by Chartier, the wines on offer included Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Beaumonts, Hudelot Noellat 2015, Echezeaux Grand Cru, Domaine Francois Lamarche 2013 and Niepoort Colheita 1997 as well as other premium fine wines.

Chartier’s theory of food and wine matching was published in several books such as Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine and Flavour, which received the highest honor of “Best Innovative Cookbook in the World” at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in France.

After gaining recognition for his work, Canadian native Chartier has since went on to consultant for some of the greatest chefs in the world. Most recently, he also partnered with Spain’s Cava DO to develop new ideas of food pairing with the fizzy sparkly wine.

What do you think of the pairing theory? Tell us your thoughts in comments.

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