Think outside the shell

Photo: Daniel Mahon

On the last weekend of February the best in Australian hospitality will join forces to present Acqua Panna Perfect Match. Each session will boost your food and wine pairing knowledge; resulting in combinations you never dreamed were possible.

As part of this rare opportunity to get intimate and interactive with Australia’s best wine writers, thinkers and wine-savvy chefs, we sat down with Leanne Altmann, Andrew McConnell’s wine buyer at Supernormal in Melbourne CBD, to talk Shellfish Synergy.

Originally from Adelaide, Leanne was surrounded by passionate wine professionals early in her career. "They loved nothing more that shoving glasses in front of me and excitedly describing the wine," she says. "That kind of enthusiasm is infectious!"

Her thirst for knowledge only grew from there. She went on to become Len Evans scholar, earning the top practical grade at Sydney Wine Academy and has since won the 2012/13 Negociants Australia Working with Wine Fellowship, as well as the inaugural Ruinart Scholarship in 2014.

Here are Leanne’s top tips on how to think "outside the shell" when exploring wines to enhance seafood:

The most common misconception when pairing is that people tend to match wine to protein, instead of to the sauce
While some couples are classic for a reason (think champagne and oysters), it’s worth reaching beyond the norm.  Think about the body and texture of both the wine and the dish – a light, vibrant red might be more suitable with a light 'white wine' dish than a rich, extracted white.

Taste, including matching wine to food, is also personal
There is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ match; people should drink what makes them happy. I love a great food and wine match; the interplay between dish and drink can enhance both, but in the end, sometimes it's good to just drink what you feel like. Having said that, Cabernet Sauvignon and natural oysters makes me somewhat unhappy.

In some cases, it’s the accidental pairings that are the most pleasantly surprising
Like the lazy evening at home when I discovered that really toasty, autolytic vintage champagne and disgracefully decadent mac n' cheese were devilishly delicious together. Fond memories.

Tip for a nonalcoholic pairing
Try cold infused tea as an alternative match to seafood. You’ll be surprised.

Three of a kind: wine and seafood matches

  • Affordable: 2014 Ad Hoc 'Wallflower' Riesling from Mt Barker, WA, with local flathead with crisp tempura batter. 
  • Mid-range: Gently smoked or grilled eel with 2013 Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy Grüner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills, SA.
  • Splurge: A Supernormal New England lobster roll and a bottle of 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne


You can learn more from Leanne when she joins John Susman in Acqua Panna Perfect Match’s Shellfish Synergy

Saturday 28 February
10.00am -11.00pm
Melbourne Town Hall
Book now

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