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Alto Cabernet Sauvignon

Recipe & Pairings

Salt, especially when combined with rich fatty foods, softens tannins in bold, full bodied wines. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exists in the skins, pips and stems of grapes. Tannins help form the backbone of red wines, giving the wine firmness, structure and also aging potential. Because red wines are fermented with their skins and pips tannin levels tend to be much higher than in white wine. Tannins in wine are often confused with acidity because it can create a sensation of dryness, often perceived as bitterness, in the mouth. Salty foods not only reduce the bitter sensation on the palette but also enhances the fruit and sweetness in the wine, thereby creating a smoother wine with softer tannins.

Salt in food

Salt does not just make food salty, far from it! Salt’s relationship with food is much more complex than that.  Not only does it season food but it also unlocks many aromasand levels of flavour previously undetected. Salt also plays an important role in the balancing of flavours by enhancing sweetness and reducing bitterness.


Spices:Aromatic spices like Star Anise work well with this full bodied aromatic Cabernet, enhancing the hint of delicate spice already present in the wine.

Herbs:Bay leaves have a savoury, earthy character that pairs very well with the savoury character of the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cheese:  Alto Cabernet Sauvignon works especially well with aged cheddar. The rich saltiness of this fatty cheese balances the cabernet sauvignon perfectly, bringing forth the red, plump fruit and natural sweetness while smoothing out the tannins.

Salted Olives: Blackolives, in a salty brine or dried and salted, work very well with this wine but avoid olives preserved in a vinegar-based marinade.

Cured meats: Curing and drying enhances the natural glutamines in meat. The salty character of naturally cured and aged meats like Parma ham and Coppa, usually with a good helping of fat, suits this wine perfectly.

Salt Baked Duck with Roasted Grape Jus

Serves 4

Aromatic spices like star anise seed and the savoury notes from bay leaves pairs well with the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon. The richness of the duck also compliments the ripe, juicy fruit in this full-bodied wine. Duck is naturally high in fat and baking the duck in salt will also tame the tannins in this wine.

1 x 1,5kg-2kg Duck with giblets

45ml butter

45 ml olive oil

15ml honey

5-star anise seed pods

5 all spice berries

5 bay leaves

2 kg coarse salt

4 egg whites, lightly whisked

250g black grapes

500 ml chicken stock

250 ml Alto Cabernet Sauvignon

45 ml corn flour mixed with 30 ml water to create a slurry

  1. Clean the duck with kitchen towel paper. Prick the skin all over with a small, sharp knife. Pour boiling water over the duck, pat dry with kitchen towel and chill in the fridge for 1 ½ hours.
  2. Remove from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. heat a large, heavy based saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Season the cavity of the duck with salt. Melt the butter and olive oil in the saucepan and brown the duck on all sides. Add the spices and honey after a few minutes and continue to brown the duck on all sides. Reduce the heat if the butter starts to burn. Remove from the heat. Lift the duck out with tongs and allow to cool completely. Reserve the cooking juices in the saucepan.
  5. Once the duck is completely cooled you can start to make the salt crust. Mix the coarse salt and the egg whites in a large bowl until completely mixed. Pour ¼ of the salt into a big, deep baking tray and place the cooled duck on top of the salt bed. Cover the duck completely with the rest of the salt mixture.
  6. Place in the oven and roast at 200˚C for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180˚C. for 1 hour.
  7. In the meantime; prepare the sauce. Add the giblets (not the livers and kidney’s) to the cooking juices in the saucepan. Fry until golden. Add half the grapes, removed from their stems to the saucepan and roast until they begin to blister. Add the chicken stock and red wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for ½ hour. Add the cornflour slurry just before serving while whisking constantly. Allow to come the boil and remove from the heat. Keep aside
  8. Remove the duck from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before breaking the salt crust with the back of a chef’s knife. Remove the all the salt and lift the duck onto a serving platter. Serve the duck with the roasted grape jus.