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Food and wine matching: lightly seared tuna steaks
The food
Lightly seared tuna steaks, still quite pink and with a lovely texture. Why do tuna steaks represent an interesting candidate for food and wine matching? Well, they’re fish, so you’d expect to be thinking about matching them with white wines. But when they are only very lightly seared (practically raw), they share some similarity in terms of texture and flavour with red meat: tuna isn’t very fishy. I chose four very different wines to see how they fared.

The wines

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2001, South-East Australia
Fresh, crisp nose with a bit of toasty nuttiness. Palate shows nice balance between rich tropical fruit and a grapefruit/citrus freshness. Well crafted, this is a solid commercial Chardonnay and good value at the discounted price (although the regular price has crept up disturbingly in recent months: I've seen this for £6.99, at which price the value for money isn't there). (£3.97 from £5.97, Tesco)

Max Markgraf Durbacher Schoss Staufenberg Spätburgunder Weissherbst Kabinett 1998, Baden Ortenau
AP No 101 4799 This Pinot Noir rosé is a relatively full orange/pink colour. The nose is quite interesting, with a herby character and some subtle sweet strawberry fruit. The palate shows good concentration, nice balance and a touch of spiciness. After a while a honeyed edge emerges, but it's quite dry on the finish, although there's probably a touch of residual sugar here giving a rounded edge to the palate. It's a classy, characterful rosé. Very good+ (£8.25 Select German Wines)

Araldica Gavi 2000, Piedmont, Italy
This modern-styled Piedmont white is made from the Cortese grape, and it's lovely for the price. The nose is beautifully aromatic, with delicate floral and citrus fruit notes together with some 'boiled sweets' character. The floral, limey palate is fresh with lots of bright fruit: elegant and well balanced. Very good commercial winemaking. Very good+ (£4.99 Sainsbury)

Durney Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 Carmel Valley, California
This cut-price Californian (I'd expect normal retail to be nearer £10) has a spicy woody nose with some seductive, creamy blackcurrant fruit. The savoury palate is drying out a touch with some assertive, dusty tannins, but there's dense fruit and spicy complexity. A substantial wine and much more serious than you'd expect at this price, but a bit woody. Brilliant value. Very good+ (£4.99 Majestic)

How well did they match?

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay: This seemed a little crude and rich for the delicate texture of the fish, although it’s quite nice on its own. Just too much flavour here. OK

Spätburgunder Rosé: A better match here, but the wine still has too-pronounced a flavour: the sweet fruit and herbiness clash just a little with the tuna.

Araldica Gavi: Quite a good match. The delicate, perfumed wine doesn’t overpower the tuna, and its citrussy, high-acid edge complements the fish quite well.

Durney Cabernet Sauvignon: An odd match, but not disastrous. There’s no metallic clash, as red wine is often criticised of when it’s paired with fish. The spiciness and high acidity of this red work quite well with the tuna, but there’s no real synergy here.

None of these wines worked particularly well with the tuna, although none were disastrous. Of the four, the Gavi was the best match. Tuna is all about texture, and for this to be apparent it’s important that the wine doesn’t overpower it. I suspect most unoaked whites would perform well in this context.

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