Talking wine with Kim McCosker: Travis Schultz
She may be renowned for her ability to design recipes that simplify life in the kitchen, but Australian author Kim McCosker’s taste in wine is anything but uncomplicated.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, McCosker’s career didn’t start out in either the restaurant industry or as a wordsmith.
Initially studying a Bachelor of International Finance at Griffith University, McCosker enjoyed a successful career as a financial planner before she left the industry to dedicate herself to raising her three young boys. It was somewhat by chance that she discovered her passion (and talent) for creating tasty but undemanding meals that would please every age and stage from infants to senior citizens.
“It is my desire to write gloriously simple cookbooks that start with a beautiful baby, and his or her transition to solids, and follow them all the way through to retirement – cookbooks that span a lifetime,” she said.
As the author of over 37 cookbooks, you’d expect McCosker to know a thing or two about vin de table and wine pairing, yet she professes to have an unsophisticated palate.
“I wish I knew more about wine, but I do know what my palate appreciates”, she said.
So what styles of wine does an author of more than nine millions copies of cookbooks like to enjoy as a Friday afternoon tipple?
Well, according to McCosker, “I don’t really like big red wines like shiraz. I always look for the lighter styles, rather than heavier. And in the whites I’m not fussed about riesling, but with lighter reds I do like pinot noir wines from Martinborough and Marlborough because of their lovely citrus and grapefruit characters”.
What was music to my ears was McCosker’s staunch disapproval of the Shakey Isle’s flagship wine export.
“While I do love their pinot, I’m just not a fan of their sauvignon blanc; it’s just not my style of wine,” she said.
I didn’t bait her by suggesting that Marlborough sauvignon blanc is perhaps the world’s most overrated wine, but I couldn’t help but smirk – maybe her disapproval of the NZ savvie shows that her palate is actually more refined than she gives herself credit for.
While it was harmonious to agree with Australia’s cookbook queen on the topic of New Zealand wine exports, as my Mum always said, “Too much agreement kills a conversation”; so it was fortuitous that our opinions became somewhat disparate on the topic of sparkling whites.
“When it comes to champagne, my fave would have to be Veuve Clicquot and among Australian bubbles, I guess my pick would be the Grant Burge pinot noir sparkling,” McCosker said.
I can understand McCosker’s appreciation of the French fizz, but I’ve always struggled to enjoy the Barossa Valley bubbles.
It’s not the fruit dominance that upsets my palate, but rather the richness and creaminess that I find just a tad too flabby for my liking. But each to their own.
Fortunately, we again found some consensus when the subject matter of our discussion turned to chardonnay.
Asked which was her favourite everyday drinking Australian chardy, McCosker declared, “That would have to be the Vasse Felix Chardonnay from the Margaret River region. I usually choose a restaurant to dine at based on the content of their wine list and I’m actually enjoying one now here at Tides at Caloundra.”
Full of praise for the classic WA chardy, McCosker added, “I really love the Vasse Felix, it just sings on my palate”.
The Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay is currently in the 2019 vintage and can be found on the shelves of your local bottle shop at around $22 a bottle.
I love the vibrancy of the straw colour it displays in the glass and the nectarine and stone fruit that wafts on the nose. On the palate there’s ample grapefruit and citrus while a flintiness emerges alongside some biscuit notes through the finish.
Outstanding value at the price point.
I never thought I would talk about pairing wine with lentils, whole grains and vegetables, but with McCosker’s recently released book (and next bestseller) being titled “Veggie and Vegan: simple and delicious”, the subject was probably unavoidable.
So, what do you pour to wash down eggplant and sweet potato curry, cauliflower steak pizzas or mushroom carpaccio?
Ask McCosker and she’ll tell you that colour doesn’t matter; so pinot noir or chardonnay will be perfectly fine.
“And don’t diss the vegetarian dishes; during the COVID-19 lockdown, the second biggest search terms in Australia were around diets using plant based foods,” she said.
With runs on the board for crowd-pleasing crafting recipes that have put her under the international spotlight, who am I to argue?