Judging of the best wine with individual dishes follows a very similar format to the wine and spirits judging with all the same procedures and restrictions in place.
Samples are presented in flights with the judges never seeing the bottle alongside the relevant food. Judges are provided with a score sheet and given the basic parameters of the class being assessed. Samples are assessed quietly with the food and without comment; marks are recorded and collected by the panel chairman who may then open discussions in respect of judges comments/scores.
As with wines and spirits judging wines are scored which then determines the medal, if any, that is awarded. Where necessary a further round of judging is held to decide the ultimate trophy winner.
Cuisine-specific categories include: “Best Wine Paired with…”:
Peking Duck: a perfect wine match with this dish will enhance the duck’s oily, crispy skin, gamey flesh and deeply flavoured condiments.
Cantonese Dim Sum: the winning wine should pair equally well with steamed, deep-fried and stewed savoury items from the traditional dim sum trolley.
Kung Pao Chicken: judges will be looking for a wine that either harmoniously accentuates or suppresses the heat of this classic, chilli-laden dish from Sichuan Province in central-western China.
Braised Abalone: the winning wine must have resolved tannins as well as complexity and concentration to pair well with this dish: a sun-dried abalone, reconstituted in a concentrated chicken and Chinese ham stock.
Chicken Tikka: the ideal partner for this popular clay-oven roasted chicken will have plenty of fruit and weight with a full, luscious texture to balance the marinated chicken's flavourful, yet dry-heat character.
Pad Thai (photo courtesy of Benjarong Restaurant, Dusit Thani Hotel Bangkok)
Pad Thai: the wine selected in this category will need enough fruit not to be overpowered by this slightly sweet, but deeply savory Thai noodle dish, with its shrimp, chili, peanut and spring onion garnishes.
Tempura Shrimp: judges will be looking for a wine that is bright and refreshing on the palate to pair with this crunchy, batter fried shrimp.
Sashimi: the best match will show restraint and delicacy.
Yakitori-grilled Chicken: the winning wine in this category will complement both the tender, mild-flavored chicken and the smoky char of this classic charcoal-grilled skewer.
Beef Teppan-Yaki: the chosen wine will have to exhibit sufficient depth of flavor in order to stand up to this smoky, rich Japanese grilled beef.