While cabernet and steak may be the classic pairing, one winery is hoping customers will instead be willing to try cabernet and crickets.

Patrick of Coonawarra in South Australia’s Limestone Coast will soon launch an insect and wine tasting menu as part of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival.

Roasted crickets are just one of the different edible insects on the tasting menu.(ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

Owner Luke Tocaciu said the tasting idea was inspired by celebrating sustainability.

“I really wanted to do something outside of the box,” Mr Tocaciu said.

“It’s really about challenging some perceptions and just having a bit of fun … just to get people thinking about the future and edible insects.”

The business recently became accredited with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

“Part of that [accreditation] was the establishment of an eco garden … planted with native plants to attract beneficial insects to the vineyards,” Mr Tocaciu said.

“So it’s a good way to tie in what we’re doing in the vineyard with a bit of an experience.”

Pairing wine and insects

Mr Tocaciu said customers keen to try their new menu could snack on ants, mealworms and crickets paired with both white and red wine varieties.

The tasting menu was put together by both the winery and the supplier of the insects, New South Wales insect protein farm Circle Harvest.

Established by entomologist and food scientist Skye Blackburn, the Sydney-based business has been breeding edible insects since 2007.

“We are familiar with all the different kinds of insects and their flavours so with the profile of the wine that gave us a good idea of what would work well,” Ms Blackburn said.

Ant hard candy, cricket corn chips, cinnamon mealworms and roasted crickets are all part of the tasting journey.(ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

“People will get a completely new experience which is fantastic.”

Ms Blackburn was hopeful it would help Australians consider incorporating insect protein into their meals in different ways.

“I’ve always thought that edible insects are a very gourmet kind of food,” she said.

“They are very nutrient dense and very sustainable, so I feel like this is a fantastic opportunity to help educate people.”

Changing perceptions

From the options, Mr Tocaciu said his favourite was the crunchy roasted crickets paired with a cabernet sauvignon.

The edible roasted crickets are seasoned with chilli and garlic.(ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

“It’s a crunchy flavour, you expect it to sort of be overpowering, but it’s actually quite subtle,” he said.

Many customers have already tried out the food and wine pairings at the cellar door.

Mr Tocaciu said the menu item people tended to hesitate the most over was the cinnamon-flavoured mealworm.

Luke Tocaciu says the winery has had an increasing focus on sustainability. (ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

“We’ve had some good reactions so far, some people are a bit disgusted, others are pleasantly surprised,” he said.

“So it’s [been] a mixed bag, it’s interesting.”

Mr Tocaciu conceded he was unsure how popular the tastings would be at first, but hoped customers would keep an open mind and consider giving it a go.

“People [have been] calling and saying, ‘Are you really eating crickets?'” he said.

To which he’d been replying: “Yeah, come and do it! Come and challenge yourself.”

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