A toast to the Sunday roast

Pairing wines with roast meats is easy with a little know-how, writes Jo Burzynska.

Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013; Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013; Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Central Otago 2011. Photos / Supplied.

I like mine studded with garlic or braised long and slow and washed down with something rich and red. Roasts make a perfect winter dish, and wine company Selaks is again encouraging the nation to celebrate this seasonally suited meal on Selaks New Zealand Roast Day on Sunday.

Being a lover of baked meats, I don't need much encouragement to cook up a roast and share it with my nearest and dearest this Sunday with a well chosen wine. This year, Viva's own Nici Wickes is back for the second year in a row as Roast Day Ambassador and has created a mixture of old and new style recipes matched to a selection of Selaks wines.

Celebrities are also on board this year, and their recipes can be voted for by the public, with the winning celebrity cook getting $5000 to donate to their chosen charity.

Actor Shane Cortese has submitted his roast pork chops with pear and roast veges, which I'd pair with an off-dry pinot gris - yes, white wine can go very well with meat, and an off-dry riesling would also be a good match, especially given the apple sauce.

Radio presenter Leah Panapa is proposing roast chicken on a couscous and kumara salad, which would work well with a fruity chardonnay.

And comedian Leigh Hart, aka "That Guy" has submitted a somewhat bizarre hybrid of roast lamb topped with pork cracking, which he's calling a "lork". It's the trickiest of the trio to pair with an appropriate wine given its mix of proteins, but I'd personally plump with a rich high-acid red like a good chianti to cut through the fat while having the weight to handle the lamb.

This anomaly aside, roast meats are relatively easy to pair with wines as the protein is the dominant character. These tend to be intensified with roasting, so look for wines with plenty of flavour.

Looking through Nici Wickes' recipes for the year, her boneless lamb leg stuffed with beetroot and rice pilaf begs for a pinot noir, which is often a great partner to lamb. Selaks pairs her Dalmatian-inspired pot roasted beef with its syrah - another choice would be a mellow cabernet merlot blend, a classic match for beef.

Nici's also created a roasted eggplant recipe for the vegetarian at the table, which is a touch trickier than the meat dishes for matching. Having a relatively light flavour of their own, you need to pay more attention to what they're cooked with, which in this case is onions, garlic and tomatoes. Selaks suggests their merlot cabernet and a hearty red is certainly in order, such as a rich ripe primitivo from Southern Italy.

A perfect finish to a Sunday lunch is a warming dessert and Nici has created a gooey citrus self-saucing pudding paired with the Selaks Reserve Waipara Gisborne Dessert Wine. Desserts are often the most difficult to match. If you pick a wine that's less sweet than the dish it can make what you're drinking taste sour and thin.

You need to select a wine that's sweeter than your pudding, and, as Nici's dish also has a strong citrus character, one with plenty of acidity is also in order. A super-sweet wine is the best option here, with those labelled "noble" a safe bet as this would have concentrated its sugars while preserving its acidity.

Bon appetit!

Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013 $16.99
When presenting the wines to pair with the roasts at a launch event for New Zealand Roast Day, Selaks' winemaker Brett Fullerton said the brand's merlot cabernet from the stellar 2013 vintage was a favourite from the label's current wines. It's mine, too, with its smooth and supple blackcurrant fruit and notes of olive and herb. A great value wine to pair with roast beef or Nici's aubergines. Available from most supermarkets and liquor stores.

Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 $22.99
Another strong wine in Selaks' recent releases is its syrah, with its smooth plum and blueberry fruit and aromatic notes of cracked black pepper and spice. Selaks recommend this with Nici's pot roast beef, and it would also work well with a rich game casserole or the darker meat of roast birds such as turkey or goose. Available from most supermarkets and liquor stores.

Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Central Otago 2011 $74.90
Cloudy Bay is another wine company promoting winter wine and food pairings and has been celebrating duck season this month with restaurants across the country matching special duck dishes to Cloudy Bay pinot noir. This particular pinot is the label's second release of the Te Wahi from Central Otago; perfumed and elegant, with juicy red cherry infused with notes of spice and rose over a minerally undercurrent. Find at Glengarry, Caros and selected fine wine retailers.

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