‘Pairings’ brings the science, and the fun, to food and wine pairing

Science world fundraiser lets guests unleash their inner child

June 20, 2018

By David Kitai / Photo: courtesy: science world

Have you ever been stunned by a wine pairing? Dumbfoundedly asking how this sauvignon blanc just made your asparagus come alive. Staring, wide-eyed and agast as you ask why this Cantonese BBQ pork makes a glass of chenin taste so good. It can feel like magic.

At Science World last Wednesday (June 13), a group of local chefs teamed up with wineries from B.C.’s Golden Mile Bench to show Vancouverites that there’s a little bit of science behind those seemingly magical pairings.

The fundraising event — fittingly called Pairings — played to the success of the Science of Cocktails events and proved, once and for all, that drinking in a science museum is a surefire way to make your inner child smile. Ticket sales from Pairings raised over $32,000 for Science World’s Super Science Club program, an afterschool program for vulnerable students around metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

“Over nine weeks, once a week, Science World staff head out to these schools to lead teaching sessions,” said Meredith Cochran, the program specialist for Super Science Club. “Afterwards all the kids get a free field trip to Science world and a yearlong family membership, so they can come with their families for free for a year.”

(Photo: courtesy Science World)

The pairings were the product of collaboration between pairs of wineries and restaurants. They tried to balance scientifically quantifiable elements in wine and food — such as Ph, tannin, and alcohol — against each other.

That’s no easy task according to Rhys Pender, a Master of Wine and winemaker at Little Farm. “There’s so many things going on in food and wine,” he said “it’s hard to simplify but the science of it is to look at the physical reactions going on, seeing the cause-and-effect relationship between food, wine, and your experience.”

Unfortunately, a few of those pairings fell flat. I was excited to see Miradoro restaurant’s fried oyster saltimbocca and nettle risotto on the menu but it ended up clashing with a chardonnay from Tinhorn Creek. Showcase’s curry albacore Tuna was a cool concept, especially matched to the Gewürztraminer-Schönburger from Gheringer Brothers, but it proved to be too much turmeric for the wine or the fish to handle.

The showiest table, was from Fairmont Vancouver, who offered “dinner on the surface of mars” with a little chorizo tart atop a paprika crumb and an orb of fava bean and braised octopus resting on a black garlic aioli. The chosen pairing of Rust Wine Co.’s 2014 Zinfandel actually worked, with an earthy spice running through the dish and the wine.

My favourite pairing came from Chau Veggie Express, who matched a tempeh and mung bean fresh spring roll with Road 13’s sparkling Chenin Blanc. The roll and the wine wedded beautifully into a nutty, fresh whole, an ideal no-nonsense snack.  

(Photo: courtesy Science World)

As the crowd worked through their pairings, the whole room seemed to come alive. Guests started playing with the pulley chair lifts and vacuum cannons as the sun set over false creek. It’s hard to think of a better setting to spend an evening feeling childish and adult-ish at the same time.

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