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Photo credit: Photo: Wairarapa WinesWhy does wine go so well with food? Wine is essen­tially an acid, which cleanses the pal­ate. More import­antly, wine provides an array of aromas, fla­vours and tex­tures that, when com­bined with food, cre­ates the epi­phan­ic exper­i­ence in which the sum of the two parts topples the indi­vidu­al com­pon­ents. It takes a bit of prac­tice, so lucky for us, Wel­ling­ton is step­ping up to the mark with the newly formed Wel­ling­ton Culin­ary Events Trust and a sup­port­ing part­ner­ship with Wellington’s very own wine region.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the wine­mak­ing and culin­ary cus­toms of a region evolve in part­ner­ship over cen­tur­ies. Italy, for example, has an epi­cur­ean his­tory that stretches back to the fourth cen­tury bc. By com­par­is­on, we may appear a little less evolved when it comes to food and wine pair­ing. It’s a rel­at­ively new phe­nomen­on for us. Yet what we have in New Zea­l­and is a wealth of mul­ti­cul­tur­al cuisines and a young, ener­get­ic wine industry. Rather than fol­low tra­di­tion­al prac­tices of what goes with what, we can be far more adven­tur­ous and exper­i­ment­al. What bene­fits Wel­ling­ton in par­tic­u­lar is that our back­yard play­ground is also our best source of fresh pro­duce and artis­an, food-friendly wines. Wel­ling­ton food and wine are inev­it­ably betrothed and this year become a form­al union.

August 2014 sees the world-fam­ous Visa Wel­ling­ton On a Plate (VWOAP) fest­iv­al enter­ing a new phase, with the estab­lish­ment of an inde­pend­ent char­it­able trust. Recog­nising that the VWOAP is both valu­able and stra­tegic­ally import­ant to the cap­it­al, the newly formed Wel­ling­ton Culin­ary Events Trust sees as one of its core out­comes the devel­op­ment of a ded­ic­ated food brand for Wel­ling­ton. This includes bene­fits to the Wel­ling­ton eco­nomy; cre­at­ing a ‘path to mar­ket’ in sup­port­ing region­al pro­du­cers and sup­pli­ers; show­cas­ing region­al strengths; and cre­at­ing a culin­ary plat­form — all 365 days of the year.

In regards to the part­ner­ship provided to the trust by the Wair­ar­apa wine pro­du­cers, VWOAP fest­iv­al dir­ect­or Sarah Meikle says: “Wair­ar­apa wines and wines from Mar­tin­bor­ough rep­res­ent Wellington’s wine region. We want the Wair­ar­apa, as a region, to be as syn­onym­ous with Wel­ling­ton, as the Barossa is to Adelaide. The Wair­ar­apa is New Zealand’s home of Pinot Noir, as well as a num­ber of oth­er spe­cial­ist vari­etals, and it’s import­ant that we share this mes­sage not just with Wel­ling­to­ni­ans and New Zeal­anders, but with people inter­na­tion­ally as well.”

For the wine pro­du­cers of Mas­ter­ton, Glad­stone and Mar­tin­bor­ough, the joint ven­ture rep­res­ents an oppor­tun­ity to cre­ate a firm and unequi­voc­al iden­tity as Wellington’s (and New Zealand’s) source of food-friendly wines. When Wel­ling­to­nions feel the nor’westerly on their faces, so does the Wair­ar­apa. And so do the grapes. That wind is expressed in wines, and that wine is the expres­sion of a shared experience.

This year’s VWOAP pro­gramme offers over 120 events show­cas­ing Wellington’s innov­at­ive food and bever­age offer­ings. Wine pair­ing is strongly rep­res­en­ted, with many oppor­tun­it­ies to flex the taste buds, chomp, chew, slurp, swill and engage in your own private epiphany.


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