Viognier: The Great South African Wine Secret (with Coconut Pilaf Recipe)

All you need to know about viognier wine, plus a delicious curry recipe that's a perfect pairing.

Viognier: The Great South African Wine Secret (with Coconut Pilaf Recipe)

Viognier wine was almost impossible to obtain fifty years ago. The vine that makes this wine, the viognier vine, was having a difficult time being planted at the right time to harvest it for wine later on in the year. Even in France, winemakers were having a difficult time with this plant.

However, since then, viognier vines have been growing rapidly and do really well in places like South Africa. The hotter the climate, the better the viognier vine does. Yet, this does not necessarily mean that it is easy to grow viognier in South Africa.

The viognier vine is extremely vulnerable. Powdery mildew is just one problem that viognier producers can encounter. Other problems include the fact that this is a wine type that is hard to get just right. If the berries are left on the vines for too long, the wine will be lacking in some aspects. If the berries are picked too early, they turn a green colour and are tasteless.

Viognier wine itself is a very distinctive variety, with some very specific “viognier taste” characteristics. There is no bite to this wine, despite its high alcohol content (about thirteen percent).

This lack of bite means that the wine is often had with little time to age, despite the traditional wait of fifteen to seventeen years before drinking a viognier.

The viognier taste is also known to be very sweet. The practice of blending viognier with Syrah (Shiraz) wine in Australia is common, as this makes it less dry. In South Africa and other areas where the viognier vine is grown, this is not an ideal thing to do.

Some wines are better harvested than others. Alvi’s Drift viognier is one of our top sellers. With a pale-straw colour, the fruit is nuanced with just a hint of cashew nut, elegant and aromatic. Viognier really is a red wine drinker’s white wine.


Foods To Enjoy With Viognier Wine

Matching viognier with a dish can be difficult, due to its unique viognier taste. However, it is not impossible to match viognier with delicious foods and dishes.

An Indian curry would be an ideal dish to enjoy with this wine. Coriander herbs and dried spice, and ginger are just two types of food that go well with viognier. Both these foods also happen to be ingredients in Indian curries.

Enjoy viognier wine with spicy, aromatic Indian curries

For those who don’t quite want to go to the trouble of learning how to cook curry, chicken with orange ginger sauce and coconut pilaf is another dish that complements the viognier taste very well. And don’t forget to sip on your viognier wine whilst cooking!

Did you know that Alvi’s Drift is the biggest producer of viognier wine in South Africa?View the wine fact sheet for the popular Alvi’s Drift viognier from our Signature range here.

Visit the Alvi’s Drift online wine shop to order our award-winning Signature viognier wine.

Here is a Chicken Recipe for a mouthwatering dish you can enjoy with this unique wine.


Coconut Pilaf Recipe

Find the original recipe here.

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (not bread or self-rising, flour)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup roasted, finely chopped, salted macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, preferably Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 4 skinned chicken breast halves with bones, about six or seven ounces each
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • around 2 tablespoons butter
  • about 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (onion substitute)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth (reduced-sodium)
  • ½ cup viognier or other dry white wine
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges’ worth)

While the oven is preheating to 190°C, put flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Put coconut milk in another wide, shallow bowl. In a third bowl, mix the nuts and bread crumbs. Rinse the chicken, then pat it dry and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

Put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cover chicken in flour and shake off excess flour. Dip coated chicken into coconut milk; let excess coconut milk drip off. Press and coat chicken on all sides with the nut mixture. Put coconut milk aside for now.

Place chicken pieces in the frying pan in a single layer. Turn pieces with a spatula after three or four minutes (the bottom should be golden brown) – be careful not to break the nut coating. Brown other side of chicken for two or three minutes. Bake on a baking pan until no longer pink in the thickest part (cut one piece of chicken to test this) – this should take about fifteen to twenty minutes.

While chicken is baking, wipe the scorched nuts from the other pan with a paper towel. If the pan is dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Next, add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring often. Pour in the chicken broth, wine and orange juice. Boil for eight to ten minutes, or until there is only half of the liquid left.

Pour this mixture into the blender. Hold the lid down tightly with a towel and whirl it until the mix is very smooth. Return it to the frying pan and add 1/4 of the leftover coconut milk. You may discard the rest. Stir over low heat until it is warm and then pour into small bowl. Add the coconut pilaf by spoon onto the plates, then the chicken.

Enjoy, drink wine and be merry!

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