‘Paired: Champagne and Sparkling Wines’ by Fran Flynn & David Stevens-Castro
For many people, pairing food and wine is a scary concept. Picture a special dinner or a romantic liaison when you want to choose just the right wine to accompany a special dish. Perhaps it’s a case of a little information breaking open the dam wall of self-doubt, or the fear that they will be judged by others as uncultured or lacking the prerequisite social manners for the occasion. Whatever! A simple mention of one word, ‘Pairing’, is enough to bring a big kahuna conqueror to his knees or an accomplished home cook to tears.
A Gold Coast couple, sommelier/agricultural scientist David Stevens-Castro and his photographer/graphic designer wife Fran Flynn have taken up the challenge to provide a guide to pairing champagne and sparkling wines with food in the first of a proposed series of books which will result in a comprehensive guide for matching commonly available wine with great recipe suggestions.
The presentation of the book itself is absolutely delicious! In hardcover coffee table format, it’s printed on high gloss paper with stunning photographs of delectable achievable dishes. The design is highly accomplished, providing visual variety and interest, clear chapter divisions and helpful tables. The text is informative and witty, highly accessible with lots of information snippets and asides.
Divided into eight chapters, the introductory chapter is a guide to help you understand food and wine matching, wine terminology and labelling. The remainder of the chapters are divided according to the type of sparkling wine (Champagne, Cava, Proseco, New World Sparkling, Sparkling Rosé, Moscato and Sparkling Reds), each chapter beginning with an overview of the type of wine, followed by a cheese match, three recipes and an information snippet or wine buying tip.
It’s not only the extensive experience and cultural heritage that Fran and David bring to this book which make it so special, but also their personal touch. It’s as though we’re joining the pair in a personal conversation about food and wine. The intimacy of voice adds depth of story to the narration, making it both fascinating and absorbing.
There are only two experiences which could top reading this book: preparing a selection of the dishes myself and enjoying them ‘paired’ to wine with special guests, and attending such a meal presented by Fran and David, the dishes paired with wines. (See Paired Media’s website for details.)
Paired would make a fabulous Christmas gift and, given to the right person, who knows how many meals you could enjoy together! While this delightful book may rest on coffee tables around Australia, no doubt it will also make many trips to the kitchen! Paired is available through leading bookstores and from Paired Media as both a book ($38) and ebook ($22).
About the authors…
David Stevens-Castro grew up in Chile playing in the vineyards on his grandfather’s farm and inspired by his aunt and uncle’s wine analysis laboratory. Fast forward a few decades, with a degree in Agricultural Science under his belt (specialising in fruit and wine production) and a passion for food and wine in his belly, David set out exploring Australia and enriched his career as a sommelier in several five star locations. These days he is a highly respected wine expert, whose admirable palate is regularly employed for food and wine selection and menu design.
Meanwhile Fran Flynn honed her skills in all things creative in the Emerald Isle of Ireland – before setting off on adventures that meandered through five continents. After working her way up through many creative agencies, this award winning photographer and designer settled in Australia and has enjoyed ten years running her own successful business.
Their worlds collided on the salty, sunny, romantic stage of Byron Bay and eight years later, now based on the Gold Coast, they have combined their skills to present what they know and love with a narrative that is unique, compelling and accessible to everyone.
NOTE: No incentive or financial enticement was provided by Paired Media for this review.