Odd Pairings

Odd Pairings
  • Written by
  • Harri Sharman

Food & drink combinations that surprise and delight

Making delicious food and drink pairings doesn’t need to be the reserve of fine dining restaurants. Here are some delightfully unusual pairings that are guaranteed to please, whether you’re looking to spice up your Friday night takeaway or widen your drinks options next time you go out for dinner.

an odd pairing of a glass of whisky on the rocks and a plate full of oysters

Whisky and Oysters

We Kiwis might be well-used to a glass of sauvignon or chardonnay with our Bluffies, but over in Scotland the nouveau pairing of choice with bivalves is a smoke-driven Scotch whisky. Opt for a peaty, maritime-flavoured Islay or Island whisky such as Laphroaig or Talisker.

Why it works:

The salinity of the seafood brings out the fruitiness in the whisky, while the smoke will complement the delicate flavour of the oyster.

an odd pairing of a glass of champagne with a bowl full of mac n cheese

Champagne & Mac ‘n’ cheese

Champagne’s delicious chemistry with fatty, carb-loaded food is well documented: like Champagne and French fries, or fried chicken (allegedly The Foo Fighters’ favourite post-gig meal). But this combination seamlessly blends the sophistication of sparkling wine with the gluttony of the ultimate creamy, cheesy comfort food: mac ‘n’ cheese.

Why it works: 

Whether you’re springing for an authentic French bubbly, or a crisp New Zealand méthode, the zesty spritz of a brut cuvee helps cut through the rich, decadent, sauce. Bubbles and acidity refresh the palate between bites, while the salt and fat in this dish amplify the body and fruitiness of the wine, making it appear more flavourful. It’s a match made in heaven – or maybe an upmarket diner.

glass of sherry as an odd pairing with a plate of sushi

Sherry & Sushi

While the well-known drink of choice with sushi is sake – what grows together, goes together after all – sherry offers an intriguing alternative. Having made a comeback in the wine and cocktail worlds in recent years, the many styles of this Spanish fortified wine make it a versatile food partner. For sushi and sashimi, choose a light, dry variety, like Fino or Manzanilla.

Why it works: 

As an umami-rich wine, sherry provides a strong backbone of flavour. The acidity breaks through fatty salmon and brings out the sweetness in the raw fish. Nutty, citrusy flavours in the wine are a delicious match with seafood and sushi.

pinot noir and big mac as an odd pairing

Pinot Noir & a Big Mac

Have you ever sat down with your takeaway maccas and thought, I wish I had a great glass of vino to wash this down? If a sommelier isn’t to hand next time, try enjoying your beef burger with a glass of Martinborough pinot noir.

Why it works: 

The lighter body and earthy, red fruit flavour of this region’s pinot noir pair perfectly with the beef patties in the big mac, while the briny pickles bring out the body and fruitiness in the wine.

Glass of kombucha paired with a pizza

Kombucha and Pizza

Another carb-rich, cheese-laden comfort food, pizza is often eaten with beer or wine to cut through the grease. But for those being more mindful with their drinking, you don’t have to resort to soft drinks with your slice. Kombucha offers a flavourful, low-sugar alternative, and there are a wide variety of flavour options on the market. We like the Original Kombucha from Daily Organics for its rich, almost cidery flavour and subtle acidity.

Why it works:

Kombucha is naturally acidic, which provides a necessary lift to the richness of the pizza. The fermentation process creates CO2, leaving kombucha naturally sparkling, also helping to refresh the palate.

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