Gardening with Food and Wine
Kitchen gardens are an old idea. Little garden plots that grow a few herbs, greens, maybe a tomato plant or two are a convenient and inexpensive way to add a quick kick of flavour to your meals. Take the kitchen garden one step further, and you’ve got the sensory garden. Brimming with a greater variety of plants, it’s a space that’s meant to stimulate all of our senses.
Reif Estate Winery in Ontario in partnership with Niagara Parks School of Horticulture Instructor Darren Schmahl and his graduating class of ’07 created a sensory garden on the winery grounds that encourages visitors “to contemplate the colours, aromas and flavours characteristically used to describe wines.” Kendall Jackson Winery in California has expanded its garden to include fruits, vegetables and herbs used in French, Italian, South American and Asian cooking. “These gardens allow … visitors to see for themselves how to pair wine varietals with different cuisines.”
You don’t need a lot of space to create your own sensory garden. Grow plants in pots on a patio, balcony or even a window box.
Determine the size of your garden based on your budget and available space.
Designing a Sensory Garden
Combine flowers and foliage to create visual interest. Medium and full-bodied red wines, like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are typically deep burgundy in colour with aromas of blackberry, chocolate, licorice and oregano. At Reif, these reds are represented in the garden by perennials with dark foliage and flowers, and annuals such as Sweet Cicely, Chocolate Mint, Oregano, Patchouli and Staghorn Oak Geranium.
Full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay and Icewines are golden in colour. To showcase the typical aromas of apple, vanilla, lemon and apricot, plant Purple Heliotrope, Pineapple Sage, Lemon Verbena and Apple Mint.
Your sensory garden will not only look and smell great it will taste great, too. Whenever you’re cooking add herbs to the pan that match the wine, and take wine and food pairing to a whole new level.