The food and wine matching formula

In Search of the Perfect Partner – Ryn and Cordie

By Robyn Lewis
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In Search of the Perfect Partner – Ryn and Cordie

In Search of the Perfect Partner – Ryn and Cordie


It sounds more like something you’d read on a lonely hearts site, not a wine and food travel guide: the search for the elusive Mr or Ms Perfect.

Although as soon as you see the two authors on the cover, you realise that they’d never have difficulty finding a date. But they did have trouble finding the right wine to match with their food – not so much restaurant meals, where you may have help from a waiter or sommelier – but the sort you cook at home, midweek as well as weekends.

Challenged by the task of remaining enthusiastic about everyday cooking, and the unanswered question ‘What wine DO you serve with roast chicken?’, authors and best friends Ryn and Cordie (Karyn MacDonald and Cordelia Smiley) set out on a quest.

They were confused at the bottleshop. Didn’t know what to drink with a stir-fry. Sound familiar? Convinced they were not alone, they started to turn their curious minds to research. They looked for a book – and couldn’t find one.

So, combining their two great loves, food and wine, they created their own cookbook ‘that demystifies the food and wine matching experience… and takes the process of food and wine matching from the realms of the posh dinner party, makes it easy to understand, and places it right back where it belongs: as an everyday event’.

‘We set ourselves a task – write a book that would be interesting enough to read, practical enough to use every day and informative enough to get people excited about food and wine’, but without going into the massive amount of often complex and confusing (and sometimes contradictory) information in wine tasting and food matching notes.

The 66 recipes from In Search of the Perfect Partner (The Food & Wine Matching Formula) are ‘fresh, easy to follow, tasty and best of all, achievable. The wine matches are simple and give readers something fun, delicious and new to integrate into the everyday cooking experience’.

The recipes are probably a good cross-section of what is going on in many modern Australian (read multicultural) home kitchens. They start with brunches: bircher muesli with bubbles, darling!, through eggs, goat’s cheese and even a tomato tartlet matched with merlot.

The wine matches are all for a variety, not a label or a vintage, and most with one or two suggested Australian wine regions that produce good and affordable examples. No esoteric ‘drink with char-grilled butterflied quail and seasonal forest fungi’ for these gals, who are no doubt aware of what foods are readily available in most supermarkets and are being cooked and consumed by the average family, especially those feeding kids.

There’s a section on easy cooking: ‘Easy recipes are a great way to say to your kitchen, ‘Hey, I’m back.’ So pour a glass of something yummy, sit back and go through this section… ‘ It includes soups, fish cakes, gyoza, marinated chicken wings, pasta, noodles and other Friday night delights, along with palate-pleasing wine matches, which include plenty of new varietals for the young and/or adventurous.

Then there’s ‘On the side’ – salads and sides which can turn into the main event, and are great to take to a bbq or one of those ‘bring a salad’ events – you’ll even know what wine to take with it!  Here’s one mystery solved: Cordie and Ryn suggest that marsanne goes exceptionally well with any Middle Eastern style dish, and suggest trying one from Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.

Then there are starters for ‘in the company of others’, but applying the same principles: easy and fun. Enjoying the process is paramount.

Their advice: ‘Choose the dish that really speaks to you (the spring zucchini flowers stuffed with Persian feta, perhaps?) then go to the bottleshop and pick your favourite match…. Taste as you prep and enjoy the anticipation of serving your inspired choice with your inspired dish.’ Alternatively, you can start with the wine and pick a dish to match.

Ditto for the yummy range of mains, from vegetarian to slow-cooked beef cheeks Moroccan style. As well as wine matches, all the recipes have inspiring photos which fully illustrate the intended result.

Lastly: sugar hits, from girly (rosewater panna cotta) to impressive (Pedro Ximénez semifreddo). Their Queensland origins shine through here, with use of bananas, coconut and passionfruit, although of course these fruits are ubiquitous. Plenty of berry recipes for summer, too.

Add a few basics and this is the perfect recipe book for those lusting after a David Herbert Max Allen combo in your kitchen. The recipes are well explained, and there are also hints and tips if anything is unfamiliar, plus a useful chart at the beginning ‘to make food and wine matching possible for those who, up until now, have felt too intimidated to give it a try’. There are also 16 ‘rules’ if you really get stuck.

Ryn and Cordie describe themselves as being ‘down to earth and approachable, (not) chefs or professional cooks’. Between them they are ‘business women, parents, social addicts and lovers of all things food and wine... just like their audience’.

Their message is to ‘join them in falling in love with food and wine matching for everyday cooking’. My guess is that this cookbook will end up with the food spatters of the loved and much-used, and not idle on the dream shelves. As they say, it’s easier than you think to find that perfect partner, especially with this book in your hand.


In Search of the Perfect Partner (The Food and Wine Matching Formula) by Karyn MacDonald and Cordelian Smiley is published by Red Candy (Brisbane, Qld 2010; sc 156, pp) and retails for RRP A$29.95 (postage extra).

Buy online at or in selected booksellers nationally.

Subscribers and Members of and WinePros Archive can purchase direct online at 20% off total cost (ie book + postage). To obtain the code to quote when you order, click here »



  • Brisbane and Scenic Rim (including Mt Cotton) (QLD)

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October 20th, 2010
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