International experts gathered in Barcelona to discuss the pairing of wine and world cuisine

09 October 2016

The third edition of the Wine & Culinary International Forum took place this Sunday, 9th October, at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya in Barcelona. This year's theme was wine and world cuisines.

Hosted by the food and wine writer Federico Oldenburg, the biennial event promoted by Bodegas Torres brought over 250 international wine and restaurant industry professionals and experts to the Catalan capital.

Miguel A. Torres opened the event with a welcome address in which he called the conference a tribute to the city as well as the Catalan and Spanish restaurateurs who, in his words, have become ambassadors of Spanish wine culture around the world: “We need the prestige of Spanish cuisine to sell our wines; we need wine to be understood the way we understand it – as a product to be consumed in moderation and accompanied by food – in order to present ourselves globally.”

Once the event was underway, a series of talks gave participants insight into some of the most exciting topics currently impacting the wine world.  British wine writer Sarah Jane Evans MW examined the immediate future of Spanish wines. Her lecture presented an optimistic analysis of the next step they must tackle – the globalization of success, brought about by the discovery of new regions, new varieties, and traditional techniques that are making a comeback and should be shared with the world.  “Everything will have changed when Spanish wines finally make their way into the wine auction houses on a regular basis,” she insisted.

Josep Roca spoke next, exploring the history of wine in relation to the dishes served at El Celler de Can Roca, perhaps the most successful restaurant at integrating wine into its culinary narrative. Roca described wine as a crucial creative agent in cuisine, a raw material, a landscape and ingredient; he recalled how he took inspiration from the aromatic components, texture, flavor and color of wine for every dish; he dazzled the audience with menus inspired by specific wines and grape varieties, such as Riesling, and once again proved that he has transcended the role of the sommelier to become a veritable author of emotions.   

Dishes by Korean chef Junsik Yim paired with a wine selection by French sommelier Julie Dupoy comprised the first show cooking of the day. Next up on the program, Pascal Chatonnet, a French enologist and wine producer, who talked about his interpretation of the concept of terroir: the land, climate, water – crucial – and the role of the individual, his or her background, psychological makeup and capacity for transforming the challenges of nature into winemaking opportunities through knowledge and experience.  The presentation was based on a study of various plots at the Mas La Plana vineyard in the Penedès, one of the Torres family's most iconic estates.

Then the endocrinologist Dr. Francisco Tinahones revealed the surprising results of his laboratory experiments. According to his research, moderate wine consumption not only has health benefits when it comes to diseases like diabetes, but shows extraordinary promise in combating other illnesses, because it produces a remarkable increase in beneficial bifid bacteria in our intestinal tract.

After his presentation, one of the morning's most well received, Michel Bettane talked about wine and food pairing from a French perspective. The first half of the day came to a close with the team of the Les Cols restaurant in Olot. The restaurant's culinary godmother Fina Puigdevall explained what drives her unusual cuisine, which is inextricably linked to its home turf of La Garrotxa and has turned an ingredient – buckwheat – into a symbol of locally sourced food, respect for the environment and authenticity.

During the roundtable discussion “Online communication: wine blogging, the audience was privy to an exchange of thoughts and ideas by experts in online wine communication: Víctor de la Serna (Mundovino), Amaya Cervera (Spanish Wine Lover), Tim Atkin MW and Jorge G. Balsera (Sibaritastur). They discussed new communication opportunities, as well as the risks that new forms of digital communication may pose for consumers: opinions proliferate on the Internet, but nothing acts as a filter. The democratization of information is a reality that we must learn to live with.

François Chartier, “Créateur d'harmonies,” is one of the world's leading experts in pairing different types of food based on the study of their molecular components.  His superb presentation alongside Ramon Morató of Cacao Barry, which explored the matching of wine and spirits with specific chocolates, inspired widespread admiration. 

Up next: the two masterminds behind Barcelona's Dos Palillos restaurant, Albert Raurich and Tamae Imachi, chef and sommelier respectively, treated the audience to an interpretation of different wine and food pairings from the perspective of Asian-inspired avant-garde cuisine. 

In “Wine above the clouds,” Markus del Monego, the first German Master of Wine and a renowned expert in the luxury and leisure industry, as well as a consultant for German Lufthansa Ag, revealed how the consumer's perception and the actual wine itself changes when it is consumed on an airplane where it undergoes integral transformations in relation to acidity and/or tannic structure.

The event concluded with a new show cooking by Helena Rizzo of the Mani restaurant in Brazil alongside journalist Luciana Bianchi and an unforgettable tasting led by Christophe Brunet and Arvid Rosengren. It featured some of the most emblematic wines produced by the families of Primum Familiae Vini, an association that represents the world's most prestigious family-owned wineries and of which Bodegas Torres is a founding member.

The program of the 3rd Wine & Culinary International Forum was coordinated by Foro de Debate (organizers of Madrid Fusión) with the support of the Advisory Council, which includes Josep Roca, François Chartier, Nick Lander and Víctor de la Serna.