5 Questions for Sommelier, Kara Maisano

March 1, 2016

Discover what makes and breaks a food and wine match, and how a career as a sommelier can be so rewarding.

We delve into the ins and outs of food and wine pairing, with a little help from Kara Maisano, Sommelier at Masani Italian Dining.

Kara what appeals to you about being a sommelier?

Kara: The stories are breathtaking, and the people and their products just make it all come together and that’s why I really really love being a sommelier.

At Vintage Cellars we love the relationship between food and wine, what are some of the pairing rules that you live by?

Kara: Food and wine is about enjoying that experience. It’s about trying different flavours. Australian customers and food and wine has become a real passionate affair and people are really into it and they’re really excited about trying different things. I serve a lot of guests in the restaurant and they love listening to me, they love talking to me about their travels and reliving that experience, and they really love coming in and reliving that or telling me about their experience and adventure.

What other rules do you break?

Kara: You don’t necessarily need to have dry wines with savoury dishes. You can look at and try off-dry styles, off-dry Riesling, you can look at Moscato. Champagne goes really beautifully with dessert, you can always mix it up and that’s what experiencing food and wine matching is about. The beauty about Australia is we have such a diversity, we have such a diversity in our bottle shops, in our restaurants, in our little bistros and that’s what’s so exciting, that they can mix and match and that there’s always really passionate staff like yourself and myself who are prepared to demystify and tell them a little more.

What food and wine pairings that are trending right now do you think are the most exciting?

Kara: People are wanting to try and move beyond, perhaps the pungency of Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer is exciting its fantastic it’s also available in dry styles so it’s not a sweet wine for those who really want a dry wine but definitely the viogniers, the Marsanne Roussanne and Chardonnay – that beautiful expression, that beautiful true Australian wine has reinvigorated itself and it’s come back to life. And there’s two very beautiful styles; one is a little more linear and structured in its acid and flavour profile, and the other is a little more richer and buttery, and it’s great that customers can experience both of those. And those who had a bad experience in the past with that really big, rich oak Chardonnay of the 90s, can now look at a more linear, floral, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley - it’s a very exciting wine time.

So what’s the most intriguing pairing at the moment in wine and food?

Kara: Oh, Asian cooking is definitely a feature. We love the spices, we love the excitement on the palate, we have a huge culture of Asian, Japanese – lots of different flavours. And people are really starting to experiment a little more with those. So they’re going for some aromatic wines and some more traditional wines like Pinot Noir and they’re still finding that they match really well. They’re remembering or reminiscing about Tuscany or a little island off the coast or a fabulous Mediterranean summer experience and they’re wanting to relive those and they do that by grabbing a bottle.