First Publiched in Costa News Group July 2010




 Having owned and run two restaurants in the UK I have perhaps a natural interest in wine and food combinations. I don’t, in fact, subscribe to the widely held view that wine was invented to be drunk with food. I’m sure it was the buzz he got from drinking the alcohol that appealed to Stone Age man when he first discovered how to make wine, rather than thinking it would go perfectly with his mammoth steak that evening!

 However I certainly believe that wine can complement food and vice versa and it has always been fascinating for me to experiment with various wine/food matches. Some matches are of course easier than others but I also like a challenge. So when Su, joint owner of Javea’s La Casa Del Vino wine merchants, invited me to present a tasting of the wines they supply to the new Indonesian Restaurant, Tapindo, and to match them with the exciting Indonesian tapas with which they would be served – I accepted with alacrity.

 A warm June evening on a relatively quiet World Cup night saw forty of us filling the terrace of the restaurant arm of the established Tapindo Take-Away a kilometre or so nearer the Arenal than this new location, not far from Javea Port. Su and I had colluded several times regarding the choice of wines to be used and although we were fairly confident that we had it right we were both nevertheless nervous. You see there are so many flavours and aromas happening in Indonesian cuisine that wine matching is a precarious business.

 Indonesian cuisine uses aromatic and sweet spices, sweet and hot chilli, perfumed herbs etc and to find wines that can take on this very sensual cuisine and at the same time complement it can be difficult. Judging by the appreciative comments restaurant owners Glen and Martin and Su and I received it seems we mostly got it right!

 Udang Goreng is prawns wrapped in filo pastry and chives served with a chilli dip. My wine selection for this really attractive starter was Bodegas Viñas del Vero’s Gewurztraminer. This is such a super, aromatic wine and it really does go so well with lots of Indonesian dishes, this one included. You must try this gorgeous, perfumed white wine

 It’s a while since I’ve mentioned the wines of Bodegas Urbezo from DO Cariñena but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten them. So it was good to re-acquaint myself with, this time, their medal winning Rosado 2009. A lovely pink colour in the glass and super aromas of raspberry and a faint touch of stewed light red plums. There is a slight residual sugar content to this wine giving it an off-dry style which will appeal to those with a slightly sweeter tooth. We used this mild sweetness to balance the hot chilli of Rempan – spiced Indonesian meatballs.

 Pangsit Goreng is a super dim-sum style parcel filled with beef and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Normally I’d hesitate to recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon with anything that contained chilli, sweet or otherwise. Often Cabernet’s tannin in younger wines can be too harsh anyway, but include some fiery heat and this is accentuated giving an after-burn of which Houston Mission Control would be proud!

 However Muñana Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from vineyards over 1,000 meters above sea level in the Granada area, is a really super example of how good this variety can be when fully ripened and treated with care. Not a trace of harshness, just lovely blackcurrant and blackberry character with a really good finish too. I’m going to have to taste more from this VdlT bodega (Vino de la Tierra) as I’m very impressed.

 The excellent Ribas from the Island of Mallorca is made with local variety Mantonegro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot – a super mix of extra fruity varieties but sturdy sweet tannins too. Ten months in oak also give it a depth of flavour that adds to the sensation as you taste.

 It was Su who introduced me to Mantonegro and I’ve become quite a fan. Daging Rendang is spicy beef served with fresh chilli – any tannin in Mantonegro and Cabernet would be highlighted with such a dish spoiling both the wine and the food, but there is also a crucial further ingredient. The beef is stewed in coconut milk and it is this that softens the tannins and make the match a really good one.

 Finally we had an Indonesian dessert. Lapiz Ligit is a layered cake with sweet spices and cardamom. The wine choice for this dish was a Brut Cava from Bodega Bohigas whose rich grapes are picked at their optimum ripeness giving a fruity-sweet first hit on the palate, blending with the dessert but finishing dry and refreshingly clean.

 There are other wine/food tasting evenings planned by La Casa del Vino – you can find out about them by being included in my client e-mail list, just send me an e-mail at; or by calling in at the shop.

 PS My first English language articles for the top Spanish wine magazine, Vinos de España, will be available in the August/September edition – you can buy your copy at wine shops: La Casa del Vino; Moraira’s A Catarlo Todo; and Calpe’s La Vinoteca as well as all good newsagents.