About the most daunting audience that anyone could face is a group of wine writers, especially if a number of those happen to specialise in food and wine matching so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead a tasting on wine and charcuterie in London on Monday night on the eve of the London International Wine Fair.
Given that San Francisco is within two hours drive time from over 1200 wineries it is not surprising that one can savor great meals with delicious wines in any number of world class restaurants. But maybe fewer of you are aware of the opportunity to experience a food and wine matching experience without even leaving the City limits.
To most westerners the idea of drinking young red Bordeaux with Chinese food seems bizarre. Especially with delicate Cantonese dishes, the most widely available of the Chinese cuisines in the west . Clearly though the Chinese who are paying stratospheric prices for first and second growths - and presumably drinking them - think differently. They don’t turn to riesling and other aromatic and off-dry whites for a reason.
To celebrate Australia Day here's a feature I wrote a year ago on Australian chardonnay - not as out of date as you might think as many of the vintages will only just have worked through.
Hawke’s Bay is a sunny, coastal province, situated in the east of New Zealand’s North Island. The region is gaining repute as a wine and food locale that marries delicious regional cuisine with a diversity of exceptional wines. Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second largest producer of wine, after the South Island’s Marlborough region, known around the world for its herbaceous, tropical Sauvignon Blancs.
How on earth to whittle the great food and wine combinations I’ve experienced down to a mere 25? And not to base them all on a few favourite wines and foods?
US-based wine writer and educator David Furer reports on an epic tasting in the homeland of American barbeque, Austin, Texas pairing American and European reds with different meats.
A new online wine store whose USP is only selling 100 wines at any one time - apparently we get confused by more than that.
I have no evidence for it but I’m sure that the vast majority of wine that people buy is bought to drink with food. Yet most of the wine that’s tasted or presented to journalists and bloggers is shown on its own.
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
Are Languedoc wines grand enough to stand up to truffles? Our new contributor Donald Edwards reports:
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
To celebrate our unseasonal Indian summer here's a barbecue with a difference from my book Food, Wine and Friends. The centrepiece is a spiced, butterflied leg of lamb served with a delicious Turkish-style bulghur wheat salad called Kisir. Finish with grilled nectarines or, if you prefer to have your dessert prepared ahead, some refreshing wine jellies.
So sophisticated is the South African food and drink scene now that you can expect to find suggested wine pairings at practically every restaurant you go to but some wine farms have made even more of a feature of their skill at combining the two - a fun way of learning the art of matching food and wine.
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
Look up any book or guide to food and wine matching and you’ll find a list of foods that are regarded as anathema to wine. I’ve done it myself but have come to the conclusion recently that the problems are often overstated. It may be true that most wines fall out with such ingredients as artichokes or hot curries but they may be the kind of wines you wouldn’t be inclined to drink with those dishes anyway.
Yesterday was the Bunch tasting, one of the highlights of the UK press tasting circuit. The Bunch is a group of six well-known wine merchants: Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Lea & Sandeman, Tanners and Yapp Brothers. I’ve been seeing the same faces there for well over a decade. (None of them looks a day older, of course. Nor do I . . . ;-)
The news that London’s latest impossibly glitzy Russian-owned wine shop Hedonism aims to offer a ‘personal, concierge-like approach‘ according to an interview its CEO Tatiana Fokina gave the wine magazine Decanter, doesn’t come as a total surprise. The C-word has been creeping into the wine world for a while.
Following my tips on buying from wine sales yesterday here are some of the independent wine merchant sales that are currently on and some of the bottles that I would consider buying from them (though I should stress that I haven’t had the opportunity to taste most of the wines). Remember an unsplit case is generally going to be cheaper than a mixed case but a bit of a risk if you haven’t tried the wine. Some deals may have already sold out by the time you read this.
Donald Edwards finds a clue in the traditional Georgian food that was served at a dinner at the Notting Hill restaurant Colchis recently.
Apart from it being the basis for all known life, I have long harboured an interest in the nuances of H2O, visiting Buxton and Vittel’s bottling plants and Bath’s Roman Spa. I was thirsty, therefore, to see what the ‘Best Sommelier in the World’, Andreas Larsson had to say on the subject at his presentation at the recent Identita conference at London’s liquid theme park Vinopolis.
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
Can Tokaji – the great dessert wine of Hungary, and one of the sweetest wines in the world – go with Chinese food, asks Margaret Rand? And if it can, would you want it to?
Just as in every other kind of store, specialist wine shops have sales at this time of year largely to clear stocks that have been slow to sell through and make way for new vintages they've ordered. But is wine the sort of product you should be buying in a sale? Well it depends . . .
Last year I was party to a presentation at the recently-opened Norwegian Gastronomic Institute to the Vinmonopolet (state wine monopoly) buying teams by winemaker Nicolas Joly of France where he explained his approach to biodynamic winegrowing.
London's most luxurious wine shop by far Hedonism looks as if it's the kind of place you'd need to take out a mortgage to buy a case. Fortunately appearances deceive . . .
A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.
Talk to chefs and sommeliers about the wines they like to match with food and only rarely will Cabernet Sauvignon crop up. Many are, in fact, quite openly critical of today’s blockbuster styles. Even Robert Parker, when I interviewed him a few years ago, expressed a preference for simple unoaked wines from the Rhone for much of his everyday drinking. Presumably though purchasers of the new world’s top cabernets are not just buying them to lie around their cellars. Somebody out there is enjoying them - but with what?
When asked at a tutored tasting when his Grand Cru Chablis would be ready to drink, the maverick Burgundy and Luberon producer Jean-Marie Guffens replied in his usual opaque way "It's not a question of when the wine is ready, it's a question of when you are ready". Guffens was, I think, attempting to get away from what he saw as the tyranny of 'the perfect moment', the year, the month, the day even, when a wine is 'at its best'.
The answer most people would give to the question ‘should you use wine to make cocktails?’ is ‘Why ever not?” Yet there is a general feeling, of which I must confess I’m occasionally guilty, that it’s a waste of a wine that may be perfectly well balanced in itself.
There's no tradition of wine & food pairing in Georgia because, "we're permanently in the process of eating and drinking, so everyone is continuously matching for themselves," firmly declared Georgia's 'wine queen', Tina Kezeli, my host for a week's tour of eastern Georgia's Kakheti wine region. Georgian meals are lavish affairs with tables laden with dishes appearing in regular sequence but without regard for timing or harmonious wine pairing. Some guidance is needed.
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
“Isn’t it time you wrote a piece on cooking with wine again?” mused my editor over lunch. “How about cooking with a bottle of first growth Bordeaux?” I gulped. “Er, I don’t think most of our readers would do that.” “Well, we should try it out for them.” he said firmly.
You don’t often get the chance to have a philosophical discussion about what makes a wine great with a winemaker that actually makes one. Let alone one who thinks more like a philosopher than a marketing man.
Last night we had a fun five course wine and food matching dinner at Rockfish Grill in Bristol which showed the range of wines you can match with fish. Here’s a few thoughts about how we approached it for those of you who are organising a similar event.
When I received an invitation to a lunch that would see a range of wines from giant Australian wine producer Hardys paired with food prepared by Pied--Terre’s Shane Osborne, I have to admit that my inner wine snob rather expected the stuff in the glasses to be outclassed by the stuff on the plates.
Author and food blogger Signe Johansen reports on a visit to spice blender Rolf Gast.
The other day I went to an Asda wine tasting. It was held not as you might imagine in a well-lit modern tasting room but in the chandeliered splendour of Dartmouth House in Mayfair. Some of their wines were displayed in wooden Pomerol cases.
Take 6 top international chefs and 6 Argentinian wineries determined to prove their wines outlast anyone else’s and what do you get? A fascinating dinner but some titanic struggles on the plate and in the glass.
To kick off my coverage of the first Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona last weekend (and while I disentangle the many complex threads on food and wine pairing) here are some highly practical points which were made by a high level panel of restaurant and wine critics including Jancis Robinson, Victor de la Serna of El Mundo and Nick Lander, restaurant critic for the Financial Times and author of the recently published The Art of the Restaurateur. (My comments in italics)
I’ve just spent the past two days at What Food What Wine? tasting wine alongside dishes as disparate as smoked salmon and apple crumble, Stilton and steak and lasagne and lamb - a bit of an assault on the palate (and stomach!) but one of the best ways to work out what wine really works with your favourite recipes
A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the menu at the Hotel du Vieux Moulin, Domaine Laroche’s wine bar and restaurant in a converted water mill in Chablis. What they didn’t mention was that they’d just opened a cutting edge boutique hotel.
This weekend’s Bonfire Night celebrations tend to mark the start of the mulled wine season. Here's how to make a really good one and tailor it to your own taste.
Q We’re getting married shortly and thought we’d ask our friends to give us wine as we’d like to start putting together a cellar. Do you have any ideas on the type of wines we should include and who could help us?
Quite an old article from the archives (first published in Decanter in 2007) but the advice still holds good, I reckon. Although I had a fantastic bottle of 2008 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir with a T-bone rather than a fillet the other day. But that would taste good with anything.
Our roving gastronome Lucy Bridgers puts Portuguese wine through its paces with a succession of small plates from the inventive Nuno Mendes.
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which revealed more about wine pairing techniques than you might guess from the title of the event.
Last week, the Union des Grands Vins Liquoureux de Bordeaux, the body that represents Bordeaux sweet wine producers, hosted a tasting of wines from six of the appellations they represent to partner savoury and sweet dishes at a lunch at le Cercle restaurant in Chelsea.
It has been both the handicap and the saving grace of the English-speaking countries not to have a recognised centuries-long gastronomic tradition behind them. Settlers and colonists brought their own food customs with them to what became the British dominions.
An edited version of a very interesting article written for the Oxford Wine Company's magazine by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, organiser of the Great British Cheese Festival and author of The World Encyclopaedia of Cheese.
Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.
As I predicted in my round up of Top Trends for 2008, wine bars - and wine-themed restaurants - are already proving huge this year. New York and London seemingly can’t get enough of them and they’re even booming in smaller (but admittedly not so small) towns like Montpellier. The latest edition of Terre et Vins, a really excellent wine magazine which covers the south of France, devotes a whole feature to them.
The Chinese New Year, which starts on Sunday, is one of those annual events that really captures the imagination. It is celebrated in such a colourful and joyous way and Chinese food is so delicious, quick and simple to make that I hope you won't be able to resist having a go at it. Buy in the dim sum and make the ice cream ahead and all you need make on the night is the stir-fry.
An establishment bearing the name Taillevent sounds scarily expensive - the main restaurant is - but don’t let that it you off eating in its very innovative and well-priced brasserie which opened in Paris just under a year ago.
Many of us are familiar with Lebanon's rich culinary heritage, courtesy of the Lebanese diaspora and food writers such as Claudia Roden and Anissa Helou. Yet the prevalence of popular Lebanese dishes such as tabbouleh and hummous in our supermarkets is not yet matched by Lebanese wines despite a long history of grape cultivation dating back to the Phoenicians.
It’s become fashionable these days to vilify butter and cream but if you want your wine to shine bring them into play. There’s almost nothing better than a rich creamy sauce to show off a fine white burgundy and whisking a little butter into a red wine sauce will set your Bordeaux off a treat.
This month I asked my fellow Tweeters to tackle the subject of wine with asparagus - supposed to be a tricky combination, but as @cuvee_corner put it “Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the difficulty.” (It isn't just you. There are plenty of options!)
Although I make my living writing about how food can enhance wine - and vice versa - I would never want to be dogmatic about it and freely admit that there are occasions when it matters less than others.
Pairing cheese and wine was once a no-brainer. In that post-rationing era when the British were just rediscovering wine, and had no idea what to drink it with, cheese and wine evenings provided an answer. Cubes of Cheddar on cocktail sticks made the vin rouge taste a little nicer, and were a useful way of soaking up the alcohol.
It’s a while since I’ve been to Germany so I thought I’d take the opportunity of running some top German wines through their paces at the restaurant Seven Park Place, which was coincidentally awarded a Michelin star last week in the 2011 UK Michelin awards. The dinner was hosted by Iris Ellman of The Wine Barn and featured nine of the top level wineries whose wines she imports.
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
Just as you think you might have got to grips with matching wine with Chinese food along comes a regional cuisine like Szechuan which is twice as challenging, as I discovered at a wine dinner at Flinty Red in Bristol last night.
If you’re one of those people who get off on the rarified byways of the wine world this bottle is for you - for what could be more obscure than a Chinese ice wine?
I always think it’s misleading to describe pork as a ‘white meat’. Strictly that's accurate, I suppose, but ‘whiteness’ somehow seems to suggest lack of flavour. Although that’s still true of much mass-produced pork there’s far more rare breed pork around these days which has a great deal of character.
If any sommelier looks set for Gordon Ramsay-style super-stardom it has to be Enrico Bernado.
Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)
The marriage of the aromatic wines of Alsace with spicy foods (Chinese and Thai cuisines leading the charge, with Indian usually not far behind) has become such an axiom of modern gastronomy that we might be forgiven for wondering what on earth anybody drank them with before.
Having just got back from Alsace I thought I’d update my recommendations on the best matches for Alsace dry and off-dry white wines. What struck me particularly on this visit is how key sweetness is to the success of a match - something that will often be more marked in a younger wine than an older vintage.
There's nothing like a glass of mulled wine to get you into the festive spirit. Here's three variations - including a seasonal sangria - plus a gorgeous mulled cider
An hour and a half on matching fine wine and chocolate and every pairing a winner? Impossible I would have said. But in the experienced hands of Roberto Bava, not only a winemaker but the President of the Italian chocolate society, the Compagnia del Ciccolatto, the tasting ran as smoothly as clockwork.
If you haven't yet worked out what to drink on Thursday (February 14th, if you need reminding!) here are a few suggestions to match popular Valentine's Day foods.
The dinner I mentioned earlier this week was ostensibly to present Zalto wine glasses but was interesting in its own right too as an example of a well-devised wine dinner. Goodness knows, it should be. Neville and Sonia Blech, a former professional chef, have been entertaining winelovers at their Kensington home for years and before that in their own restaurant, Mijanou.
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
Texture is one of the few restaurants to showcase a sommelier, the star in this instance being Xavier Rousset who used to work at The Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. His two year partnership at Texture with his former colleague Agnar Sverrisson has just been acknowledged with a Michelin star. I’ve reviewed it for Decanter here but the pairings were so exceptional I thought I’d go into more detail about them.
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.
Lucy Bridgers reports: The quintessentially English Quo Vadis in London was the setting for a recent lunch hosted by Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 long-established family-owned companies
The results of a unique competition in Hong Kong suggest that Asia-based judges may have a different take to Europeans on matching wine to Chinese food. The judging panel at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition awarded several medals to full-bodied reds in preference to the more common aromatic white wine styles such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer
For the past couple of days I’ve been involved in a groundbreaking tasting called What Food What Wine designed to find the wines that best match 10 of the most popular dishes in the UK. It’s a brilliant idea - wine is meant to be drunk with food after all - but you wouldn't believe how tricky it is to pull off.
Food and wine writer Marc Millon recounts a memorable celebration of the new vintage last week with his Piemontese winemaker friends
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There are so many different types, there’s no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains or accompanies and, most importantly, what type of dressing it has.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’m an enthusiast about natural wine so I was particularly interested to go to a couple of natural wine dinners this last week at Artisan and Vine and Angela Hartnett’s Murano
While summer isn’t a time one feels drawn to hearty stews (except possibly an English summer) Moroccan tagines are a different matter. Exotic and aromatic, they somehow suit the heat and not being particularly spicy are relatively simple to match with wine.
Aubergine - or eggplant as it’s called in the US - doesn’t have a strong flavour of its own but tends to enrich any dish in which it’s included especially when baked with tomatoes and cheese. The best wine pairing I think is a hearty dry red with some acidity unless you’re serving it cold as in a baba ganoush or spicy aubergine salad.
If i'm asked what my favourite wine is I usually say I don't have one as there are always moments when I fancy one wine more than anything else. But Pinot Noir has to be up there, especially a glorious, hedonistic Pinot like this Domaine Lucci Wildman Pinot which is one of the most delicious wines I've tasted all year*.
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
The idea of drinking sparkling wine with Indian street food might seem crazy but it’s a really good pairing as I was reminded last night when I dined at Masala Zone just off Carnaby Street with Warren Edwardes, the CEO of a company called Wine for Spice.
Here's an important area where the science is not fully formed, though a sufficient consensus exists to give useful advice.The uncertainty arises from the different storage environments that exist in different countries around the world. The ambient temperature in warehouses and cellars in Burgundy, for example, or in Spain, has been higher than in Britain, yet these are regions with traditions of long term cellarage.
There were some big surprises when the results in the What Food, What Wine competition were announced this week - always a bonus of tasting blind.
I’ve thought for a while that Scandinavian food is on the way up so am not surprised to find another new cookbook on the subject from Trina Hahnemann who Telegraph cookery writer Xanthe Clay dubs ‘Denmark’s answer to Nigella’ in the paper today.
Marylebone has been regarded as a foodie mecca for a while but the action's been mainly at the northern end. Now posh wine bar 28-50 has conveniently established an outpost at the entry to Marylebone Lane, not far from Bond Street tube - a new haven for weary shoppers or workers in need of a restorative glass of wine.
As was the case with his previous restaurants, Corrigan’s, which I reviewed yesterday, has a fascinating and idiosyncratic list put together with the help of the ingenious Douglas Wregg of Caves de Pyrne, the company which is also behind the excellent new Terroirs ‘natural’ wine bar* just off Trafalgar Square.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
Our roving gastronaut Lucy Bridgers discovers why German Mosel riesling is the ideal wine pairing for Vietnamese food
A smashing recipe from Chris and Jeff Galvin's Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe which you could make to impress on Father's Day. It's one of those books that teaches you to cook like a Michelin-starred chef - so also a great present for any Dad who fancies himself in the kitchen.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
It’s been an article of faith as long as I’ve been writing about wine that you need to age the best wines in your cellar. We sniff at consumers who buy and crack open a first growth as unsophisticated but maybe they’re the ones who know best?
It might seem odd to go to New York City to taste cheese but it’s home some of the most exciting stores and tasting programmes in the cheese world. One of the key figures is Max McCalman of Artisanal Cheese, author of several excellent cheese books including the recently published Mastering Cheese: lessons for connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
No Christmas goes by without some wine pairing discovery and this year it was the delicious Jorge Ordonez Malaga Seleccion Especial no. 1 2007 with some simple fresh clementines we had at the end of a post-Christmas meal with friends.
People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?
Ollie Couillaud’s inaugural wine dinner at The Lawn Bistro in Wimbledon, west London yesterday was a masterclass in how to get it right.
After the tradition-bound cooking of the Christmas period (from which the family will never let you deviate . . .) it’s good to branch out a bit with your New Year’s Eve meal and also pick some dishes that will allow you to drink some serious wines. Note you need to start the beef two days in advance.
I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.
Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.
The recent lunch hosted by Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester revealed the extraordinary versatility of red Bordeaux and how it can be served right through a meal.
It might surprise you to learn that Napa’s famous French Laundry has an English pastry chef, Claire Clark who previously worked at Claridges and The Wolseley in London. I know Claire from way back when we did a number of food and wine pairing exercises together and thought it would be fun to get her and head sommelier Gregory Castells to come up with some pairings for her incredibly exciting and creative desserts.
The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.
Looking out of the window this wet bank holiday morning it’s hard to credit that we produce wine successfully in this country but we most certainly do. Especially sparkling wine which many pundits reckon is beginning to rival Champagne in quality.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about formal wine tastings, more particularly that they’re far from being an ideal way to show off wine. But what’s the alternative?
Regular visitors to the site might have noticed that the title of this annual review has changed this year. Not the 'best’ matches of the year but the ‘most exciting’. That’s partly to avoid trotting out over-familiar pairings like steak and Cabernet or Chablis and crab, excellent though those were but also to reflect that this year has been a particularly inspiring one for food and drink combinations. And not just wine.
We had a great feast with friends on Saturday night to celebrate the Chinese New Year, cooking a range of dishes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s fabulous Every Grain of Rice about which I was raving last week.
Gewürztraminer is a tricky wine to match, one that one usually falls back on recommending with oriental food, so it’s always good to come across something that’s outside the Asian register.
There was a fascinating report in The Drinks Business this week of a speech by Dr Peter Klosse of the Academy of Gastronomy at the Fine & Rare Specialist Course in Vienna in which he argued that white wine is easier to match with food than red.
I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot about Koshu this year. No, it’s not some unfamiliar aspect of Japanese cuisine but a white wine made from a grape of the same name. A campaign to promote it in the UK was launched at a lunch in London yesterday by a VIP line-up of Japanese goverment officials from the Yamanashi prefecture where most of the winemakers are based.
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different appellations or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any. There are exceptions to this - Chablis styles that are particularly fruity or ones that have more vegetal notes but in general I think you’ll find most wines fall into one of the following five groups.
Although this site is called matchingfoodandwine.com you may have spotted it contains a fair few other drinks including beer, cider, spirits and soft drinks. So I’ve been thinking for a while of creating a weekly slot to showcase some some more off-beat bottles and bevvies I come across.
A muggy evening in mid-July might seem an odd occasion to focus on wine and game matching but there were two reasons for last night’s Louis Jadot game dinner and the Westminster Kingsway catering college. One is that they hoped to engage the attention of consumer magazines who work 4-6 months ahead in terms of feature planning and the second is that the Game-to-Eat campaign is trying to encourage us all to think of eating game year round.
It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the more fruit driven varietals from the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on match it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
This is possibly the most off-the-wall pairing I encountered on my recent Chilean trip and for that reason the most exciting - both on account of the food and the wine.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about ingredients that cause problems for wine and have come to the conclusion that lemon is one of the major culprits. Of course we add lemon to many things for a subtle lift - I’m talking about recipes where lemoniness (if there is such a word) is the essence of the dish.
Although Christmas might feel firmly over many people will still be celebrating Twelfth Night this weekend. In France they mark the occasion with a Galette des Rois - a round cake filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with a golden paper crown.
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks are the best to serve?
It’s almost 20 years ago now since Josh Wesson wrote his first book on food and wine pairing - the ground-breaking Red Wine with Fish: the new art of Matching Wine with Food which he co-authored with David Rosengarten. He then went on to set up the attractive and innovative wine store Best Cellars which groups wines by style
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
With four days in Edinburgh and three at the Ballymaloe Food & Drink Litfest in Co Cork this weekend I’ve been overwhelmed with good food and drink matches but as I haven’t singled out a dessert for a while I’m making Tom Kitchin’s Rhubarb cheesecake my hero dish this week.
I have to confess I found it pretty hard to concentrate on the finer nuances of the food and wine combinations at the recent Cinnamon Club dinner. But when the speaker is the discursive Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and you're sitting next to him that's no great surprise. Before the meal had even started we were into Kierkegaard and a vigorous discussion of terroir in the bar below over our glasses of Vin Gris de Cigare (a typically unorthodox full-bodied rosé based on Grenache, Cinsault and Roussanne).
One of the problems about today’s ultra-complicated restaurant food is that dishes tend to be what I once heard aptly described as ‘ingredient-heavy’. Which can mean that a wine of character may just be one flavour too much.
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
If you haven't yet decided how to cook your Thanksgiving turkey try this fabulous Italian stuffing from ex-pat American food and wine writer Brian St Pierre.
Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).
Although you rarely match a wine to vegetables such as peas or beans they do have an influence on pairings. Peas have a natural sweetness, broad beans an earthiness and runner beans a herbaceous flavour that can affect the style of wine you choose. Here are my suggestions to go with the four recipes in Mark Hix’s column in the Independent today.
You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
I’m not quite sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse to be able to access the English papers so easily on-line these days. It makes it hard to resist the temptation to have a peek and therefore harder to cut off.
Even casual restaurants tend to have such good winelists these days that you might wonder whether there’s much of a market for wine bars. But from the heaving crowd at the newly opened branch of Vinoteca in Beak Street this week it looks like they’re on to a winner.
About the most unlikely wine match you could imagine - a delicate fish with a 19 year old red wine - but it worked! Which shows you can always be surprised by food and wine pairing.
I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.
William Smith and Anthony Demetre found a formula for success selling their winelist by the 250ml carafe at Arbutus. Now they have pulled the same trick at their latest opening Wild Honey, just off Bond Street. It has been received pretty well on the whole by the critics (including Giles Coren and A A Gill of the Times and The Sunday Times respectively who curiously went together then wrote about each other).
For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
The first thing to bear in mind about Thanksgiving - and for that matter Christmas - is that it’s as much about mood as food. Who you’re inviting, what age they are and how big your party is are factors every bit as important as what you’re eating. I say this particularly because the main Thanksgiving meal and the meals around it are hard ones to match: what you need is a wine that is going to cope with a whole battery of delicious flavours.
Lucy Bridgers discovers some stunning matches with madeira and gets some inspiration for Christmas entertaining.
Inspired by the recent spate of minimal ingredient cookbooks such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things I thought it might be helpful to come up with 20 wine matches that are easy to remember and which pretty well everyone will enjoy.
If you happen to be an ardent Pinotphile, as I am, an invitation to the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) is of the same order as an invitation to a lock-in at the sweetie shop. For an entire weekend every July, hundreds of Pinot lovers, professionals and amateurs alike, throng the Linfield College Campus in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley in order to talk about Pinot Noir – and taste it – with the men and women who make it.
About the last place I’d have expected to have an enlightening discussion about food and wine matching is in a fisherman’s shack called Chez Loulou down on the Languedoc coast. Actually I do it an injustice. It’s a restaurant - just - but one that relies for its appeal on fabulously fresh fish rather than fantastically skilled cooking.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine asparagus always comes up but as I've always felt the problem is overstated. Just like any other ingredient it depends how you cook and serve it and how many other ingredients there are on the plate.
As the best summer for a barbeque for some years it’s been a frustrating time for us flat-dwellers but when I was sent some fresh sardines* the other day I knew I was going to have to find some way to grill them outside if the flat wasn’t going to smell of fish for days.
There’s been a huge focus on calories in the last couple of weeks - whether wine should be labelled with calories and whether we’re counting them the right way. For once I’m inclined to agree with the Department of Health which says it sees little benefit in revising the system according to yesterday’s report in the Guardian. "The difficulties of implementing a change to the current system of calculating energy content would far outweigh the minor gains in accuracy from such a change and would offer little practical assistance to consumers" a statement says.
A celestial combination I enjoyed at a burgundy dinner at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux last week. Burgundy in Bordeaux? Yup - I guess they want to ring the changes from time to time but it does seem heretical.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that most chefs would be pretty good at food and wine matching, not least French chefs. Well, you’d be wrong! I’m constantly shocked by the number of chefs who haven’t the faintest idea what wine goes best with their recipes or indeed, who drink wine at all. (Some of them possibly because they’ve, er hem, enjoyed it a bit too much in the past . . . )
This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
I was reminded about my trip to Priorat almost exactly two years ago by my recent visit to the Roussillon which has a similar terroir. And I think the wines would go with similar kinds of food. These were my suggested pairings at the time . . .
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
There’s still a bit of resistance to drinking red wine with fish, let alone with a white fish like cod but last week I had the perfect dish to combine with a good red burgundy.
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
Former sommelier and wine consultant David Furer writes about a tasting at leading London chocolatier William Curley
Advice on food and wine matching tends to focus on such issues as flavour intensity and finding a wine to complement or contrast with the dish in question (not an approach, I admit, of which I’m overly fond) but a meal I had the other day reminded me of a couple of other factors that it’s worth bearing in mind.
Travel writer Philip Sweeney hobnobs with the locals, checks out the best places to eat and discovers why fishing for bouillabaisse isn't as easy as it once was . . .
Looking at the recipes online for Thanksgiving turkeys, stuffings and sides they’re very much sweeter (and more imaginative) than the typical UK Christmas turkey. They’re often brined, glazed or spiced (or all three), sometimes deep-fried and often accompanied by cornbread-based stuffings and sweet-tasting vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash.
I’m always in two minds about whether to write about the beginning of the grouse season. After all only a tiny number of people will be sufficiently interested - or well-heeled - to bag the first birds that arrive on restaurant tables. (Most, I suspect, were marking the glorious 12th sitting in front of the telly, watching the Olympics closing ceremony)
The widely held belief that wine doesn’t pair with curry has largely been dispelled with the new and more subtly spiced curries on the market. But what of really hot curries like a Vindaloo?
As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing? As always it depends on the sausage but I personally find that beer and cider are often just as good partners as wine.
There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding*, especially if you've sloshed brandy all over it but if you're pairing other courses of the Christmas meal you might fancy a small glass of something sweet and delicious.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list. Possessed of the sexy ingredient umami - the intensely savoury taste identified by the Japanese, they flatter and act as the perfect foil for wines as disparate as vintage Champagne, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
You may think tasting wine sounds arduous but a major wine and food tasting, I assure you, is a much greater assault on the system as I was reminded the other day when Victoria Moore of The Guardian and I ran 14 Pinot Gris through their paces with foods that ranged from smoked eel to chicken tikka masala. Neither of us was able to eat much for several days.
Some of the best meals - and the best wine pairings - come about without a great deal of forethought. Like the pasta I threw together last week in France from storecupboard ingredients then accompanied with a cracking bottle of inexpensive Tuscan red we’d just bought from a winemaker at a natural wine fair. Yes, Italian wine. In France! Who’d have thought it?
It’s almost impossible to pick out one pairing from last week’s trip to the Lebanon but if I’m forced to it has to be a dish of wild boar with cherry sauce I ate with Habib Karam the owner of Karam winery (and - extraordinarily - the airline pilot who flew us to Beirut)
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
And by paté I’m thinking of rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or kick off a classically French meal - particularly on le quartorze juillet. Happy Bastille Day!
It’s a mystery to me why we need a Chocolate Week. Surely no-one (except aberrants like myself who have an inexplicable preference for potatoes) needs encouraging to eat chocolate. But there we have it and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favourite food in the country’s classiest chocolate shops over the next few days.
It’s hard to pick out a single pairing from last week’s brilliant pop-up beer dinner at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IndyManBeerCon) but I’m going for this one because it’s Chocolate Week in the UK.
On Saturday night I went to a splendid dinner at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol hosted jointly by a group of Bordeaux producers in conjunction with the city’s best-known chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis of La Tupina and Barny Haughton of BQ, as it’s known locally.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.
The reaction of many people to the news that the new BBC Food & Drink show was to be co-hosted by Kate Goodman would have been Kate who? I confess it was mine.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
Summer (or what passes for it) is the perfect time of year to eat crab so why not try out your wine pairing skills and work out which wines you'd match with these eight different crab dishes. My own suggestions below . . .
After all the rich eating of the last few days there’s nothing better than a plateful of clean-flavoured, briney oysters. But what’s the best wine - or beer - to pair with them?
Now here’s an unexpected match. I would be wary of pairing a Beaujolais - even a Morgon - with something as sweet as a lamb tagine with dried fruits thinking it would make the wine taste slightly sharp but the combination worked perfectly.
When you have a fish as fine as Dover sole you don’t want to mask its delicate sweet flavour in any way. Here are my suggestions for Gordon Ramsay’s recipes in the Times today.
In the run-up Christmas there’s not much time for time-consuming dinner parties so this tasting and light supper is a fun and indulgent way to entertain good friends. Ask each of them to bring a chilled* bottle of bubbly - Champagne or otherwise - provide a couple of your own, cover up the bottles and taste them ‘blind’. Great fun for a start to see who can spot the ‘real’ Champagne (don’t worry if you can’t - many professionals are fooled by these kind of exercises) and a delicious way to get into festive mood.
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
Apple tart is a pretty forgiving kind of dessert but here's a brilliant new pairing I found at Casanis restaurant in Bath last week.
The weather has been so absurdly autumnal this week that I cooked a substantial stew for friends on Saturday night, an intensely flavoured braise of beef short ribs (or pot au feu as our local butcher describes them) with plenty of lush, red wine (a Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile which is part of the Waitrose own label range).
In the first of an occasional series on dishes to make at home to show off a special wine Lucy Bridgers devises the perfect romantic dinner for her lucky other half.
Before we finally plunge into winter here's a late autumn supper menu from my book Food, Wine and Friends that combines the best of autumn’s produce with a couple of convenience products. Ready rolled pastry has made it wonderfully easy to knock up a quick, impressive tart while a simple dessert of grilled fruit dresses up a bought carton of ice cream. The soup can even be made ahead and frozen if you like.
I’ve never totally bought into the idea but a recent wine and chocolate tasting put on by Australian Wine at Australia House in London went halfway to convincing me.
Few people now throw up their hands in horror at the idea of matching red wine with fish. But how many realise just how often you can pair the two?
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. It’s also been seized on by an enterprising PR agency as an opportunity to explore wine and pie pairing but to be honest I’m not convinced that beer isn’t the better drink - with the majority of British pies at least.
Tuna’s a versatile summer ingredient that you can use in salads or on the barbecue. Quick and easy to cook, like salmon a conductor of many different flavours. It’s also a meaty fish which adapts just as well to a red and a rosé as to a white.
Haggis may be traditional fare for Burns' Night but let's face it, it's not everyone's cup of tea. So here's a Scottish inspired menu that I suspect you'll probably enjoy rather more (unless you're born and bred Scots, of course...)
This week I had a really fascinating vegetarian tasting menu at the Lecture Room and Library at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s London restaurant. The sommelier, Fred Brugues, claims not to believe in food and wine matching (too complicated, he says, with large tables all ordering different dishes) but he actually came up with some inspired pairings.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
In our final extract from Cape Wine Braai Masters we feature a recipe intended for Gemsbok from Michael Bucholz, winemaker for the Obikwa range but as antelope are a bit thin on the ground in the UK I've adapted it for beef fillet.
One of the welcome reminders of this long hot summer (in the Languedoc at least) is just how well dry wines go with fresh fruit. I’ve been happily drinking whites, ross and even reds with fruit such as peaches, apricots, melons and figs. Sweet wines, of course, go well with all of these but sometimes sweet wines seem too intense, particularly if, like me, you don’t have a very sweet tooth.
Most of the pairings in this weekly slot are chosen for the way they flatter food but here’s one that’s designed to show off a very special wine: a 2010 Argentinian Pinot Noir called Chacra Cinquenta Cinca or Chacra 55.
It’s less common to come across Indian-spiced seafood dishes than it is fish and vegetable-based ones so what sort of wine works? Yesterday I had a chance to find out
Some of the most difficult people to buy presents for are serious wine collectors. Unless you have a cellar of your own from which to pluck a suitable bottle it’s quite hard to find something that will ring their bell (obscure sweet wines and sherries, I generally find, being the best bets)
It’s a lean weekend for menus to match in the national press so I’ve picked Thomasina Miers’ favourite childhood recipe - and one of mine - from the Times for my weekend pairing.
Forget for the moment my often-advocated match of chilled red wine with salmon, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a wild fish it deserves one of your best whites. Here are my suggested matches for Mark Hix’ recipes in the Independent today:
Wow, the celebrations are coming thick and fast this week! After lovers, now mothers . . .Well, curiously, a similar psychology applies. Mums come in all shapes and sizes so what will appeal to one may not necessarily appeal to another. It’s all about thinking about the individual and picking the bottle they would most enjoy.
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the most uncomplicated dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of bottle you choose.
There’s no doubt about it, trifle is tricky. If it includes booze already do you serve more on the side? And what kind of booze should that be?
I know I’ve highlighted crab as a match for a number of different wines but it really is a great dish to pick if you’re drinking a serious white. This time however the wine was far from stellar: the basic house Sauvignon at Culinaria in Bristol where I was doing a photo shoot for our next book.
The other day we went to Il Vino d’Enrico Bernardo, an innovative new restaurant in Paris run by the world’s best sommelier in 2004 which has just won a Michelin star. The unusual aspect is that there is a wine rather than a food menu. You choose what you want to drink and they create a dish or a menu around it.
The peaches are so fabulous here in Arles, so gorged with sweet, ripe juice that we’re eating them almost daily. One great way to serve them which I was reminded about the other night when we dined at a local restaurant, Le Corazon is with red wine - just as good as the better-known pears in red wine.
This coming weekend sees the 16th annual festival of the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) in San Francisco. I went one year and it was an absolute blast - two great sheds filled with hundreds of enthusiasts enjoying this great belter of a red.
With Hallowe'en just over a week away here's a sophisticated supper for those of you who don't have to go out trick or treating . . .
There was a time, about 10 years ago, when I wrote a lot about Merlot which was widely regarded as wine world’s alternative to Chardonnay - an easy drinking red wine that went with almost any meal.
If anyone still needs convincing about the virtues of food and wine matching Mark Hix’s fresh seasonal recipes in The Independent today should convince them. Even the ‘drink what you like with the food you like’ brigade would have to admit that a voluptuous Meursault or oak-aged white Bordeaux would totally overwhelm the flavours of raw food.
Just as we get used to the idea that there is an ideal wine glass foreach grape variety along comes a producer who suggests the enjoyment isall in the angle of the glass.
I went to a really interesting seminar last week on matching champagne with food. It was based on the chemical compounds flavourist Danny Hodrien of F & F projects had identified in Mumm champagnes using gas chromatography, solid phase micro-extraction and mass spectrometry (No, I don’t know what they are either). Based on those findings Iain Graham, the executive chef at the Caprice had devised a range of canapes that incorporated the flavours rather than seeking to complement them
As you might imagine it doesn’t make any difference what shape of pasta you’re dealing with, what counts with wine is the flavour of the sauce. There are too many to mention, but here are the main types you’re likely to come across.
There’s one wine that’s invariably recommended as a pairing for duck and that is Pinot Noir but of course duck, like any other meat, can be cooked in different ways. How does that affect the match?
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
A recent email from a reader asked me to suggest a wine to go with “a triple coconut cake with a tangy pineapple icing served with fresh fruit salsa that has kiwi, strawberry, madarine oranges, blueberries and fresh pineapple in it”. Quite a challenge (I suggested demi-sec Champagne or a peach-flavoured liqueur topped up with fizz) but it got me thinking that there are many possible matches for cake beyond a cup of tea or coffee, particularly if you're serving it as a dessert.
Beans are one of the great underrated aids to matching full-bodied wines as I was reminded at the weekend when we combined a dish of pork and lima beans with a fine St-Joseph.
It’s a tribute to the sheer joie-de-vivre of the Irish that we regard St Patrick’s Day with much more enthusiasm than St George’s, St Andrew’s or St David’s Days (the patron saints for England, Scotland and Wales for those of you who aren’t into your saints). So your friends are going to be more than pleased to be invited to celebrate it with you.
Having moaned for years how unhelpful it was for retailers and wine producers to put an incredibly vague ‘good with pasta’ or ‘good with chicken’ on their back labels I’m not sure the pendulum hasn’t swung too far in the other direction.
Unusually for this mini-series on British cheeses, I’ve had a recent chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
What to recommend as my match of the week in this astonishing week for British sport, and especially athletics? Well, what else but Jessica Ennis' post-event treat of “a few glasses of wine and lots of rubbish food”!
Friends came round the other night and I cooked one of my favourite new recipes - a chicken, lemon and olive tagine (which appears in my forthcoming book Food, Wine and Friends, she adds, unable to resist a cheap plug!). One of the reasons it’s slightly different from the authentic Moroccan version is that I remove the chicken skin which makes the dish a lot lighter.
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
For the next 10 days I’m going to be visiting the vineyards of Oregon and Washington State so the site will turn into more of a blog. Our first day yesterday included lunch at Chateau Ste Michelle, by far Washington’s largest wine producer.
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
Like other dishes the perfect wine match for risotto depends on the flavourings for the risotto rather than the rice itself - the lighter the dish, the fresher and crisper the wine. On the whole I prefer dry crisp white wines with seafood and spring vegetable risottos, but it’s more complicated than simply saying if it’s a fish or a vegetable risotto it’s a light dry white.
With Wimbledon kicking off this week, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a bowlful or two of strawberries. But what to drink with them? The classic Wimbledon pairing of champagne is to my mind too dry unless the champagne is demi-sec but there are plenty of other possibilities depending on how you serve your berries.
With the Olympics in full swing I guess we'll all be spending a fair amount of time in front of the TV eating takeaway pizza.You may not have given much thought to the ideal match but here’s what I suggest:
Apologies for returning once again to the subject of crab but it is one of my favourite summer foods and this was the outstanding match of last week.
This menu was created as part of a series of pieces I wrote for Sainsbury's magazine. The idea was to invite your friends round for a wine tasting then all have a slap-up meal afterwards. This meal was based on a tasting of South American reds from Argentina and Chile but it would be just as fun to base it round Malbec (Malbec being the perfect wine for a steak).
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
If you're looking for a sparkling wine or champagne for a party here's my pick of what's available under £15 in ascending order of price. I've deliberately picked that figure rather than £10 as I haven't found a champagne I really rate under the £10 mark.
A newbie's guide to sake from wine writer Natasha Hughes.
It does of course depend on how you make your spaghetti alle vongole - the classic Italian dish of spaghetti with white wine and clams - but in my book, the answer is simple: a young, unoaked, Italian white wine.
Fishcakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods - I remember TV chef Antony Worrall-Thompson saying he could never take them off the menu. In general they pair well with dry white wines, however it depends a little on what fish you use and whether you’re serving a buttery sauce alongside
Although not the problem they're generally made out to be tomatoes are one of the vegetables that do have an influence on a wine pairing. Being quite acidic, especially when dressed with a vinaigrette, you want a wine that has a good level of acid too - and not too much, if any, oak.
An irresistible dinner invitation came my way a few weeks ago, to attend a game dinner and tasting of René Rostaing’s Côte Rôties at Emanuel College, Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are famous for their wine cellars but these wines came from the personal wine cellar of its ‘wine steward’ Dr Jonathan Aldred, the fortunate fellow (in both senses of the word) who buys all the wine for the college.
It's been a while since I've posted about soup - it's notoriously tricky to match with wine - but this weekend I came across a great combination at a new restaurant in Bath, the oddly named Menu Gordon Jones*
Few these days dispute that red wine goes with fish - it’s just a question of which wine and how the fish is cooked. Most would accept ‘meaty' steak lookalikes like grilled or spiced tuna or salmon work with Pinot Noir but would hesitate to take it much further than that but last week I found a couple of surprisingly good fish matches at one of my favourite new wine bars 28-50.
It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)
This party piece – a deliciously aromatic fusion of flavours – isn’t a true Moroccan bastilla, but it is inspired by those I have eaten there, and less laborious to make. I serve it with a green salad – with fennel slivers and coriander and mint leaves added – and a bowl of yogurt to spoon onto your plate beside the pie. The filling can be made ahead.
Not a question I normally have to trouble my head about, I admit but which was prompted by an extraordinary wine dinner I went to last week at The Don in St Swithin's Lane.
A lot of chefs - particularly male chefs - don't really get salads, making them either an afterthought or wildly, elaborately fussy. Mark Hix of the Independent is an exception - his are always simple but imaginative, reflecting the season perfectly. Here are my matches for his recipes in the Independent this weekend.
Just as with every other ingredient the ideal pairing for mussels depends how you cook them.
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
Let’s face it, I don’t get to drink Chateau d’Yquem every day so what else could last week’s match of the week be than this stellar pairing I had at Dinner at Heston Blumenthal?
The great thing about going to old country pubs is that they tend to have wines you can’t find anywhere else - or certainly not at the price. Like the bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994 we found at the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh in Devon at the weekend.
It was hard to pick just one pairing from the stellar meal I had at Marcus Wareing in London last week but this combination of robustly cooked John Dory and 2005 Nuits-St-Georges from Domaine Daniel Rion was the most interesting, underlining that red wine can be just as good a partner for white fish as for meatier fish like tuna.
I spent last week in the Languedoc where we visit quite regularly so there weren’t many new food and wine discoveries to be made but I think the most thought-provoking match was a main course dish of roast turbot with girolles and a bottle of Château Cabezac 'Alice' 2008 from the Minervois I had at a restaurant in Agde called Le Bistrot d’Hervé.
I came across this unlikely combination while I was flying back from Argentina with the Brazilian airline TAM* who have this year decided to inaugurate a Brazilian menu in business class devised by a woman chef called Ana Luisa Trajano. And quite right too.
This doesn’t, I admit, sound a particularly tempting proposition so let me explain. By oxidised sweet wines I mean dessert wines which have been deliberately exposed to air through extended barrel ageing, giving them a complex nutty, treacley flavour.
Whatever you get up to on Valentine’s night (and truly, I’d rather not know) my guess is you’ve got better things to do than spend it slaving over a hot stove. So this is an unashamed cheat’s menu for you to romance your loved one with the absolute minimum of effort. Needless to say, buy only the very best ingredients.
November is typically a time you spend stressing about what to buy for friends and family so we thought you might like a prize that any winelover would covet, all for yourself. And the lovely London-based wine accessories shop Around Wine came up with the goods. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
We Brits don’t have a long tradition of washed-rind cheeses but we have a true champion in the aptly named Stinking Bishop, which shot to worldwide fame when it was featured in the film Wallace and Gromit and the Were-Rabbit. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it? Read on . . .
A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
Another interesting insight on pairing red wine and fish in Tuscany this week. We were served lightly salted cod with a rich tomato and pepper stew called ciambotta at Tenuta Argentiera which proved a perfect match for the mature 2004 vintage.
If your Easter roast is a ham or gammon you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.
Cuttlefish is a pain to prepare as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall points out in the Guardian today but it is particularly delicious to eat. It’s often partnered with robust flavours so you need to think in terms of equally intense flavoured wines.
The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.
Whenever I see a producer is about to pair their best wine with cheese my heart sinks, particularly if the cheese is ripe and the wine red. But on this occasion - a tasting and lunch at the Quality Chop House - it worked.
A good obscure pairing to kick off the week from the newly opened Vinoteca wine bar at Seymour Place.
What do you give the winelover who has everything? Dinner at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe looks like the answer. A recent dinner to launch their laudably adventurous new wine list revealed a whole bunch of grapes that I’d never heard of including Braucol (an alternative name in Gaillac for Fer and Mansois - pretty obscure in themselves), Gringet, a crisp white from Haut-Savoie (described as ‘glacial as a Hitchcock heroine’), Mondeuse (another wine from Savoie, this time a red) and Frappato, a 'rarely encountered' Sicilian red.
If you’re the kind of person (like me) who puts garlic into practically everything you cook you may regard this question as an irrelevance but some dishes are much more garlicky than others.
The classic tarte au citron is tricky with wine, particularly if it’s home made. And the sharper and more lemony (and delicious) it is, the harder it is to find a good match.
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
I’ve been so busy catching up after my Alsace trip that I haven’t had much time for new food and wine discoveries but here’s one we had at Les Temps Changent in Chalons-en-Champagne, a hotel we frequently stop at to break the journey through France.
I came across this pairing at Chris and Jeff Galvin’s newly opened Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields in the City where they have a vertical of vintages, some of which are available by the glass. As I observed in my review on decanter.com it’s not a cheap option but if you’ve never tasted an old vintage of Hermitage la Chapelle here’s a chance to do so.
Continuing with our series of South African Braai recipes to celebrate the World Cup, here’s winemaker Paul Cluver’s version of beer-can chicken made with apple juice rather than beer.
Few things make up for this time of year. In the UK it’s relentlessly wet, grey and occasionally blustery. Time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
The highlight of last week was my trip to Priorat so this week’s pairing has to be one of the wines I tasted. Oddly it wasn’t one of the wines I enjoyed most although it was in the upper echelons of what the region has to offer : a Vall Llach 2004, a blend of 65% Cariñena (old vine Carignan), 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
Scallops are normally a sure-fire match for chardonnay so it was quite a challenge to think of some alternatives for Skye Gyngell’s inventive recipes in the Independent on Sunday today.
As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.
Spaghetti carbonara - spaghetti with a creamy bacon and egg sauce - is one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes but what’s the best wine pairing for it?
If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes better with a rosé or a red.
A general idea has got about that Chardonnay is for chavs but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world Chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
We may have got rid of the old convention of white wine with fish and red wine with meat but you’d still expect to drink a light wine with a starter and a more robust wine with your main course, non? Well not when it’s tea-smoked duck as I discovered at a great meal at one of our local Bristol restaurants, Riverstation in Bristol last week.
The other day I found myself at a meeting just round the corner from the newly opened Princess Victoria in Shepherds Bush in West London and popped in for lunch. It’s a splendid old building with a wonderfully baroque ceiling, one of the best I’ve ever seen in a pub.
Although stollen is a little bit lighter than the classic British Christmas baking some of the pairings I suggested with mince pies (like sweet sherry and tawny port) will work too . . .
Assuming it’s made conventionally with a white sauce and mashed potato topping fish pie is a relatively straightforward dish to match. Almost any smooth dry white wine will do.
“Can you come up with a tastier, more satisfying, more consensual dish than calamari fritti?” asks restaurateur and Guardian columnist Yotam Ottolenghi in the paper today. Well, it’s a tough call but his other mouthwatering recipes would certainly run it close. Ottolenghi’s food is full of flavour and therefore quite a challenge for any accompanying wine but here’s what I would choose.
We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.
Not last week's match, actually but a great one from a couple of weeks' back just before I went to Paris and which got overlooked.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.
I’ve already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration tomorrow and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
As the old saying goes, it’s a small world. I was already booked in for a Pegasus Bay wine dinner in London when I ran into their winemakers, Matt Donaldson and Lynette Hudson last week on my trip to Oregon - not once but twice. So they felt like old friends by the time I caught up with them again at Providores where chef Christian Hossack (Peter Gordon was away) came up with some really well thought out pairings.
One of the more endearing aspects of the current British food scene is the number of festivals devoted to a single food. I’d heard of oyster festivals, crab festivals and cheese festivals but I’d never come across a scallop festival before.
Another recipe for your World Cup celebrations from the Van Loveren family. It comes from the new Wines of South Africa cookbook Cape Wine Braai Masters but you could equally well cook it with a conventional oven and grill.
Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.
This great pairing arose as a result of a new interest my husband has in natural wines. Actually no-one has come up with a watertight definition of ‘natural’ but it’s generally agreed that the vines are treated organically and/or biodynamically and the wines made with as little sulphur and chemical additives as possible (in some cases none).
Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.
I first had this wonderful vegetable stew - a northern Spanish equivalent of a spring vegetable minestrone - in a restaurant in Pamplona and dreamed about it for several years before managing to recreate it. This version comes from winemaker Maria Martinez of Bodegas Montecillo in Rioja who I was interviewing for a feature in Decanter. We bought the ingredients together from the market in Logrono.
Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. Certainly the childrens’ though they’re not going to be wondering which wine to pair with it.( I hope! I can recommend apple juice for non-drinkers.)
Mince pies are not that different to Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like port, sherry and madeira
I have a bit of a problem with pumpkin pie. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin and I don't have a massively sweet tooth which makes the thought of partnering it with a sweet wine a bit of a killer. But I know I'm in a minority and with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday here are my top picks:
I know duck and Pinot is a bit of a no-brainer but this was such a great dish and such a stellar wine that it's worth revisiting. (Coupled with the fact that some of you may be having duck for Christmas.)
I only have to look at how many of my matches of the week involve fish to realise that it now appeals to me more than meat. Not that I’m anti-meat by any means it’s just that the sort of wine you pair with it is fairly predictable, well-trodden ground.
Why don’t more people make souffls these days? I include myself in that. They’re not that difficult, look so impressive and are such a lovely match for a dessert wine.
Once the game season starts to get into full swing my husband ventures into the kitchen. Pheasant, of course, doesn’t come into season until the 1st of October but our local butcher was obviously clearing out last year’s stocks and we picked one up for a song.
I spent three days last week travelling through France (about which more over the next few days) so it’s a tough call to decide which food and wine combination came out tops but I think it would have to be the Matthieu Cosse Cahors and the duck ‘parmentier’ I ate at a delightful modern bistro in Cahors called L’O à la Bouche.
This week’s match is not mine but fellow wine writer Margaret Rand’s who also writes for Decanter. She recently went to Hungary at the invitation of AXA Millésimes who ownes the Tokaji producer Disznókö - as well as Château Suiduiraut - for what must be the most extraordinary wine dinner ever conceived: a Chinese meal, paired with sweet wine cooked by two Bordeaux-based chefs Tommy and Andy Shan of Au Bonheur du Palais, (which happens to be AXA proprietor Christian Seely’s favourite restaurant in the city).
When I’m not writing about food and wine matching I’m writing a book - and a blog - about budget eating called The Frugal Cook. So this week’s match is a chance discovery with a scratch supper I knocked up last night (for which you can find the recipe on the blog)
Sometimes I wonder when we get to drink our best wines, food has become so fiddly and complicated so it’s a welcome relief to see a recipe like Rowley Leigh’s in the FT this weekend for a simply roast duck with peas.
Today is the third International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
It's always a challenge to pick a single wine with an elaborate tasting menu but the Jardins de Bouscassé 2008 Pacherenc du Vic Bilh sec from Alain Brumont we ordered with our meal at La Renaissance in Argentan last week hit the spot with almost every dish.
Hugo Rose examines the conventional wisdom that they do.
I've been in Paris for the last few days so this week's pairing had to be from here. There are so many possibilities but as I haven't written about a meat match for a while I'm going to pick the braised beef cheek and vegetables we had with a quirky wine called KM31 from the Roussillon.
Last week’s highlight without a doubt was the meal I had with my Guardian colleagues at Brawn, Ed Wilson’s new restaurant in Columbia Road. As you may know it’s the new City outpost of the hugely popular wine bar Terroirs with a similar natural wine list which you can read about on my natural wine blog here.
Last week I had lunch at my new favourite London hangout, the wine bar Terroirs which is run by a partnership including the quirky and original Caves de Pyrène. It's a place that you'll absolutely love if you're a Francophile: it feels just like a Parisien wine bar - without the surly service. The food is also cracking but as we'd resolved to kick off the new year by splitting a Vacherin Mont d'Or, as you can read on my cheese blog The Cheeselover, we didn't get a chance this time to sample chef Ed Wilson's robust bistro food.
Every so often you come across a great little recipe than does wonders for almost any wine you pair with it. And so it is with mushroom ‘caviar’, a regular offering from the takeaway section of my favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Basically it’s a mushroom pâté but so reduced and wickedly intense it’s like pure essence of mushroom. Except for the perfect counterpoint - a tiny touch of tarragon.
Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.
Fascinating to see Gallo (now Gallo Family Vineyards, note!) make food and wine matching the focus of their latest glossy, full-colour advertising campaign in the national press (which also coincides with their sponsorship of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word.)
Peashoots exemplify the delicate flavours of spring as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall persuasively argues in the Guardian today. How do you find a wine that won’t overwhelm them?
It might seem bizarre turning to an American cookbook for a classic French recipe but this version from the Balthazar Cookbook is hard to beat.
If you’re organising a Red Nose Day tasting tonight here’s a zany idea for a pudding that I devised for a Sainsbury’s magazine feature a couple of years ago when I interviewed TV presenter Phillip Schofield for Comic Relief.
William Coetzee is the winemaker at Flagstone winery in South Africa and is reputed to be as fanatical about his braiis (barbeques) as he is about his wine.
With the World Cup in full swing you might be thinking about cracking open a bottle of South Africa’s own red, Pinotage. But what to eat with it? Here are a few ideas based on my trip earlier this year.
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
If you were eating it entirely on its own roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, ros or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine.
Last week’s best pairing was at a fascinating meal I had at Les 110 de Taillevent in Paris which I’ll be writing up in more detail so here’s an off-the-wall match from last night’s feast at The Unfiltered Dog - a pop up restaurant at the Real Wine Fair run by the team from Terroirs.
Most of this past week has been spent in Paris where almost every wine match is a good one. There’s been a lot of Beaujolais - and other Gamay - drinking and a fair amount of crisp dry whites such as Aligoté - but the pairing I’m going to pick is a Syrah I didn’t know with a stonking great plateful of braised rabbit at the legendary Baratin.
Another week of brilliant pairings, another tough decision to make but I’m going for this combination at Delaire restaurant in Stellenbosch because it was such a great dish.
Asparagus, it’s often said, is tough to match with wine, let alone a red, but this combination with a light, chilled Saumur Champigny at the re-opened Bell’s Diner in Bristol was a perfect pairing.
There were leeks everywhere you looked in the Languedoc last week so I decided to make a classic dish of leeks vinaigrette (and finely sliced serrano ham) as a starter for Sunday lunch with friends. Despite the vinegar and mustard in the dressing it’s not a sharp dish - the dominant note is the delicate, sweet, oniony taste of the leeks so I was looking for a light, unoaked white which wouldn’t mask that flavour.
I recently went to a Portuguese food and wine evening in Bristol hosted by an enterprising wine merchant called Corks of Cotham. It featured the wines of a producer called Casa de Saima, the ports of Niepoort and an intriguing Barbeito Single Harvest Madeira which went exceptionally well with some classic Portuguese custard tarts.
We’re in Arles this week for our annual visit to the Rencontres Arles, the fabulous photography festival that takes over the entire town. Since we’re with our youngest son, culinary exploration has to alternate with visits to his favourite pizza and sandwich joints which is how we ended up last night at a basic but brilliant pizzeria in the Trinquetaille on the other side of the Rhône.
Last week I had the greatest cheese and wine tasting I’ve ever experienced conducted by France’s most famous affineur Bernard Antony who supplies cheese to most of France’s top chefs. You’ll have to wait till the article comes out in Decanter in a couple of months’ time for the full details but here’s a star match to whet your appetite.
Thos of you of a certain age may remember that great ‘70s favourite ham and pineapple which conisisted of a large limp gammon steak, curling at the edges and a couple of fried pineapple rings. From a tin. There was one thing that was good about the dish though and that is that ham and pineapple are great together, something we’ve rather forgotten in these more sophisticated times.
Heston Blumenthal’s Jubilee picnic hamper was unveiled yesterday - to be served at Buckingham Palace before an open-air concert on June 4th. The picnic is being funded by Waitrose who must be pleased as punch to have the Palace’s endorsement in this video. The guests will also apparently be given vouchers for a glass of Moët or a bottle of Cobra beer (the other sponsors of the event).
Tired of turkey? Bored with goose? Try Signe Johansen's fresh-tasting suggestions for a simple New Year's supper with friends.
Just over a month ago I was sitting with Javier Hidalgo in his cellar in Sanlucar sipping very old oloroso sherry from the cask, an experience that will go down as one of my great wine-tasting memories. This week I got to try the bottled version, the Bodegas Hidalgo Oloroso Faraon 30 y.o., which is equally thrilling.
People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my mates Jess and Todd Trethowan of Trethowan's Dairy - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.
The first thing we do when we get back from France is to eat some kind of spicy food. It’s not impossible to eat ethnic down in the Languedoc (there are a couple of Vietnamese restaurants locally) but it’s not good.
As the kids were off home straight after the New Year we jumped the gun by a few days with the last of the seasonal treats, a celebratory galette des rois. Traditionally eaten in France on the 6th of January (Twelfth Night) it celebrates the arrival of the three kings to visit the infant Jesus.
Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday here are some great pairings for pumpkin pie which I’ve updated from my previous article here.
Last night was my first in a two week trip of Australia - an informal dinner with Vasse Felix at a Chinese restaurant in Perth (Grand Palace).
Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).
One of the most useful tricks to master, especially when you’re dealing with a tricky-to-match ingredient, is to introduce a ‘bridge’ ingredient - in other words an element in the dish that makes it easier to match with the wine you want to drink. It can be something as simple as cream or mashed potato or something rather more specific that picks out a flavour in the wine you’re serving.
This is one of my favourite recipes ever - made famous by the late, great George Perry-Smith and faithfully reproduced by one of his most talented protegés Stephen Markwick who retired last year.
With the sun shining and the World Cup just a week away what could be better than a South African-style braai. Let alone one that involves a pie . . .
It's always a struggle to think of something quick and delicious to make for a mid-week supper. This easy Italian-inspired recipe from my book Cooking With Wine solves the problem.
French onion soup is one of the classic French bistro dishes, famously served to late night Parisian partygoers. But if you don't feel up to it at 2am or whenever you roll in, it makes a restorative lunch for a chilly weekend after a brisk walk in the snow.
This was by far the most popular pairing at a chocolate and wine tasting I did for the West of England Wine and Spirit Association in Bristol on Friday night. We didn’t actually have the ice cream but I think it would have made it even better.
This week’s wine pairing couldn’t be anything else but Istrian having spent three days in this northern part of Croatia last week. Surprisingly it turns out to be a great gastronomic destination - not from the point of view of fine dining but of respect for local traditions, ingredients and grape varieties.
A simple lunch of quiche from leftovers thrown together from the fridge turned into a feast with a glass of Claire and Fabien Chasselay's Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois, an organic Beaujolais from the excellent 2009 vintage.
We had a celebration dinner with old friends the other night at my favourite local restaurant Culinaria so cracked open a bottle of La Réserve de Léoville Barton 2004*, a St Julien and the second wine of Léoville Barton. It really was quite lovely - rich, plummy, velvety - at its peak but with a few more years to go. It was everything you want from red Bordeaux (unless you have bottomless pockets)
There’s a long story behind this week’s match but it’s a good one so bear with me . . .
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
My first Match of the Week of the New Year is a classic but none the worse for that: an award-winning South African Bordeaux blend with a slow roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic and rosemary.
I went to a Piemontese wine dinner last week at a local Italian restaurant in Bristol, Prosecco about which I’ve written before. There were some very good matches - along with a couple of off-key ones, one of which involved a faulty bottle which the wine merchant introducing the event seemed determined to disregard despite grumblings from the floor.
One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.
I was reminded just how spectacularly, unexpectedly good southern Italian whites can be by a Slow Food wine dinner the other night at Flâneur to celebrate the publication of the English edition of their restaurant guide Osterie & Locande d’Italia. It was hosted by Feudi di San Gregorio, the iconic winery from Campania whose wines I haven’t tried for a while.
I’m always undecided as to whether I prefer red wine or white with roast chicken but of course it depends on the accompaniments and the time of year.
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already opted to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous about your choice of drink too.
I spend a lot of my time trying to discourage people from drinking their favourite red wine with a cheeseboard because it's so often a disappointment but every now and again you come across a red wine and cheese combination that really works.
While I no longer eat foie gras myself (as explained here) for the French there is no other way to celebrate the réveillon, or New Year’s Eve.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for claret. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries. The most successful match I’ve found so far is Mimolette so maybe it was auto-suggestion at work when I tasted a deep orange Red Leicester at The Fine Cheese Co’s Cheese Fair in Bath at the weekend and immediately thought of red Bordeaux.
An elegant main course recipe* from one of my favourite food writers Sue Lawrence's A Cook’s Tour of Scotland that would be a great option for a haggis-free Burns' Night supper.
A student gathering is not the first place you’d think of finding a good wine pairing or, indeed, a drinkable wine at all but the talk I gave last week at the University of Bristol Wine Circle produced some great combinations.
I’m conscious there’s a marked French bias in the pairings on this site so I’m going to go not for the excellent Alsace riesling and choucroute combo I had last week - or the many amazing wine matches at the Szechuan dinner which I’ve written up here but a very flashy lobster ‘burger’ and chardonnay I had at the Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard
I was invited to host a food and wine evening by the Bristol Uni Wine Circle last week which I have to say, despite the vast quantities of food and drink consumed, they took impressively seriously.
This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....
I agonised over which match to highlight this week - there were so many good ones, especially from my trip to the Jura which I’ll report on in the next couple of days but I’ve gone for this intriguing and off the wall pairing from a seasonal wine dinner at Lido in Bristol on Saturday night.
After last week's Muscat pairing my match of the week oddly involves Muscat again, this time a sweet Muscat Petits Grains from South Africa with the romantic name of Heaven-on-Earth. The grapes are apparently dried on a bed of straw and rooibos tea, a flavour I couldn't really pick up in the wine but it was very attractive nonetheless with an lovely quince and apricot flavour.
I’ve just had a sneak preview of a very lush new B & B Langford Fivehead which opens next week (March 1st) in the Somerset Levels just outside Taunton. The building dates back to 1453 and is owned and run by former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin and his partner Peter Steggall
Sometimes you get in a rut with a particular food and wine combination - maybe on a ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it? basis. Such is the case for me with tapas which I tend to recommend pairing with something Spanish - usually manzanilla sherry or - depending on the amount of seafood - a crisp Rueda, dry Spanish rosado or a young Rioja or similar Spanish red.
Laksa is one of those dishes you hesitate to pair with wine being both a soup and really spicy but the pairing I came across at the Pegasus Bay wine dinner at The Providores the other night was spot on.
I think I’ve found the perfect match for Sancerre - and the perfect Sancerre to drink with them!
Just squeaking in in time for this week’s match of the week is a great gazpacho and Rueda combo I had at lunch today at a new London winebar 28-50.
As those of you who follow me on Twitter (as winematcher) will know I’ve been in New York this week and have a huge number of interesting wine and other matches to tell you about but the most unexpectedly successful - and therefore my pairing of the week - was a match of macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling.
You may be unconvinced about the wisdom of incorporating chilli into achocolate cheesecake, let alone accompanying it with Merlot but bear with me!
For the first time my match of the week is not one I’ve experienced myself but was reported by Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington on Twitter (where he tweets as Herbguy - and I tweet as winematcher)
One gets so used to partnering dark chocolate with sweet red wines, most notably port, that it’s easy to overlook other equally successful options. This was a brilliant combination I came across - somewhat improbably - at the game and Burgundy dinner I reported on last week.
I went to a great little bistro the other day in St-Rémy-de-Provence called - appropriately enough - Bistro Découverte. It’s run by a very talented young sommelier I used to know in London called Claude Douard who worked for Marco Pierre White and Joel Rebuchon.
Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.
Last night I had dinner at the Dorchester Grill Room, one of London’s grander hotel restaurants which has been given an absurdly baroque makeover reminiscent of what Balmoral must have looked like in Victorian times. The team in the restaurant though are bang up to date with one of the smartest sommeliers in town, Jason McAuliffe doing an impressive double act with the talented young chef Aiden Byrne.
There aren’t many wine pairings that form the subject of a book title but Elizabeth David’s Omelette and a Glass of Wine immortalised the combination. Unlike other egg dishes wine actually does go pretty well with omelettes but should it be red or white?
Although chocolate mousse is usually made from dark chocolate it's quite a light dessert as chocolate puddings go because of its airy texture - lighter than petits pots au chocolat, for example.
One of the advantages of BYO is that you can have a stab at matching your wine to the menu. Particularly when you know exactly what each course will be. But sometimes the description is a bit vague as in Saturday’s ‘layered salad’ at the Montpelier Basement supper club in Bristol.*
When you’re roasting lamb you’re almost spoilt for choice. Almost any red you enjoy will go with this most wine-friendly of dishes but my pick of Thierry Puzelat’s quirky KO In Cot we Trust (2005) proved a winner
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
If you want to understand what British cooking is about - not the magpie character of of modern British but the genteel English country house tradition - head for Soho where Jeremy Lee has taken up residence behind the stoves at Quo Vadis.
An unusually complicated recipe for this site but one which should be absolutely worth the effort. It comes from Phil Howard's fantastic The Square: The Cookbook volume 1 which I suspect is already well-thumbed in many restaurant kitchens.
To round off National Vegetarian Week here's a recipe from one of the most inspiring vegetarian cookery books I've come across: Sally Butcher's charming, idiosyncratic Veggiestan.. Sally runs an Iranian food store called Persepolis in south-east London so the recipes - which are terrific - all have an middle-eastern slant. It's also a cracking read!
A recipe from a charming and inventive cookbook this week - blogger Rejina Sabur-Cross's Gastrogeek. I've picked it because I love dips - who doesn't? - but also because of the amazing-looking crackers.
Whatever you’re eating and drinking tonight you’d be hard pushed to better the feast of food and wine that one of our new subscribers Michael Barnstijn is hosting. Each vintage has been carefully selected to commemorate the birthday of one of his friends. I found the menu so seductive I twisted Michael’s arm to share it with you. The menu is devised by one of Toronto’s best known chefs Jamie Kennedy, a former sommelier and it shows in the clever choice of dishes to go with these great wines.
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?
I’m a huge fan of Nigel Slater’s. I buy the Observer every week just to read his recipes. Yes, I know I could read them online (as you can here) but you don’t get the luscious Jonathan Lovekin photographs. Not that you need them. Slater’s prose is so evocative you can taste the recipe as you read.
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible partner for food. We serve it with stilton, obviously and with hard cheeses like cheddar, with nuts and dried fruits and over Christmas with fruit cake and mince pies but that’s usually as far as it goes.
Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.
This week’s match is a blast from the past - a visit to the historic Rules restaurant in London’s Covent Garden where we tucked into the kind of food you’d have eaten 50 years ago - if not 100.
Toasted hay tart might not sound particularly appealing but you’ll have to trust me, it was delicious! It was the spectacular finale to a meal to celebrate 36 years of the iconic Bristol restaurant Bell’s Diner at the Eat, Drink Bristol Fashion festival in Bristol last week. The current chef Chris Wicks who cooked the meal has been in place for the last 12 or so.
Odd though it sounds it's unusual to find a chef who's really knowledgeable about wine let alone one who's involved in creating his own list. Sam Harris of Zucca is one of the rare exceptions and the other day showed me some of the wines he's excited about.
One of the most reliable wine matches is white fish with white wine and cream and/or butter and white burgundy - one of those blissful combinations that actually makes the wine taste better than it otherwise would.
It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.
I know I’ve already raved about this stunning combination at Heston’s new restaurant Dinner but it's already a candidate for one of my top 10 pairings of 2011, never mind my match of the week.
I’ve been tasting a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc this week but was also reminded how well it goes with Asian food at Peter Gordon’s new restaurant Kopapa.
With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.
Last week was a particularly indulgent one for dining out so it was a tough call coming up with my match of the week but I think it has to be the Côte du Boeuf I had at Racine with a stellar bottle of Ridge’s 1999 Monte Bello
This week I’m on a wine trip in South Africa (so posting may be slightly more spasmodic). There have been many great matches already but two interesting ones have involved Semillon a grape the country is beginning to handle very impressively.
As is often the way Christmas wasn’t a time for any startling food and wine discoveries, rather for celebrating favourite combinations but I realise I forgot to mention one pairing just before Christmas at Angelus restaurant in Lancaster Gate.
Faggots, which are basically a rather gamey British meatball made with pork belly and offal, are a bit of an acquired taste along the lines of the French sausage andouillette but well made, as they are when supplied by our local butcher, they can be very tasty. They need to be accompanied by onion gravy which normally leads one in the direction of a robust ale but the other night we had them with a bottle of Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 which actually worked very well.
On Saturday we celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of some good friends - a rare occasion which deserved (and got) several splendid bottles including a magnum of Gosset Champagne and another of one of the best of our local winemakers down here in the Faugères, Domaine des Estanilles (a magnum of the 2002 Château des Estanilles which was drinking superbly)
You might be surprised to know that red wine isn’t the first pairing I think of with steak tartare, which for those of you who haven’t tried it is chopped raw beef flavoured with punchy seasonings such as capers, parsley and hot pepper sauce. I actually think it pairs really well with sparkling wine, especially Champagne but last week I was down in the Languedoc and that didn’t really seem appropriate.
If you want to show off a fine dessert wine the ideal match is a simple French apple or pear tart, so there should be no surprise then at this pairing of a pear frangipane tart (pears with a spongey almond base) and a Pacherenc de Vic Bilh cuvée 'Octobre'.
A classic match for this time of year but no less enjoyable for that.
Citrus flavours are difficult to match with wine, as I’ve mentioned before, but a classic lemon tart with its combination of sharpness and sweetness is particularly tricky. The better a tart is the more it will tend to strip the flavour out of any accompanying wine, so much so that it’s almost worth serving a shop-bought one (of which there are some very good examples) if you have a serious dessert wine to show off.
Once you get a feel for food and wine matching you don’t always need to taste a wine with a dish to know what will work. So it was with a simple, seasonal dessert I had last week at my favourite local, Culinaria.
Of all the festivities round this time of year Hallowe’en, with its ghouls and pumpkins, is definitely the most kitsch so if you’re inviting a few friends round to celebrate it’s a fun to theme the drinks.
I’m particularly excited about this month’s prize which features one of my favourite drinks, sherry, in celebration of the first ever World Sherry Day on May 26th
One of the problems with choosing wine in a restaurant - especially if you're ordering for a crowd - is that you need to find a bottle that will go with a number of dishes but I find more often than not Italian whites come to the rescue.
As with most cheeses the ideal pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than a tangy cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
One of the all-time favourite British desserts sticky toffee pudding is super-sweet so will overwhelm most wines you might think of pairing with it so what should you choose?
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
One of the tricky decisions to make when you’re serving a rich, winey stew is whether to go for a wine of equal weight or a lighter medium-bodied wine as a refreshing contrast.
With the blazing weather over the last couple of days it's hard to remember it's still spring rather than summer but here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends before we move on to full al fresco eating.
When you have a menu in front of you how do you decide which wine to order? Sure, you can ask the sommelier or waiter but in some restaurants the service is not as helpful or knowledgeable as it might be. But there are plenty of clues in the descriptions of the dishes themselves that point to the key ingredients and the way in which they are handled. Here are a few examples:
Frankly if you can afford white truffles (currently selling at about 2500 euros per kilo) you probably already have a substantial cellar to pick from but just so you don’t in any way detract from the pleasure of eating your investment let me tell you what the Piedmontese do.
The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
The other day I picked out some wines to match your Easter meals. Today here are some beer pairings. You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns. The more your guests see how great beer is with different types of food the more confident they’ll feel about serving it to friends themselves and the less likely it is that the only beer you’ll find when you go to their house is a Bud. So, here goes:
Smoked salmon is most commonly associated with champagne but in fact it goes with many other wines as well as with beer, whisky and vodka.
One of the things I most enjoy doing when I get a new cookbook is flicking through sticking Post-it notes on the recipes I plan to cook and this recipe for Turkish coffee cake in Margot Henderson’s charming You’re all Invited really stood out.
Last week’s highlight was a trip to the newly opened downstairs restaurant at Terroirs, a restaurant of which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan (along with the rest of the UK’s wine-writing fraternity).
The other day I enjoyed a surprisingly good pairing of a beetroot soup with an English blend of Pinot Noir and Rondo from Kent winery Chapel Down at the London restaurant Roast. I say surprising a) because soup is difficult to pair and b) because the two are so similar in colour that you’d think the wine wouldn’t be a sufficient contrast to the soup. In fact its fruitiness and crisp acidity (the Rondo making it taste more like a mid-weight Italian red) was just the right counterpoint to the earthy rich character of the beetroot.
According to Tesco in the UK, sales of Riesling are up 30% since TV temptress Nigella Lawson used it to make the French classic coq au Riesling - in one programme succeeding in what a generation of wine writers have conspicuously failed to do: to make this grape variety sexy.
If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from my son Will and Huw Gott's restaurant Hawksmoor* would fit the bill perfectly. After all it does contain oysters which as you know are an aphrodisiac . . .
Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I've reviewed here.
Before home-grown strawberries disappear totally from the shops, a re-run of what I reckon is the ultimate strawberry tart recipe from Orlando Murrin's irresistible book, A Table in the Tarn and which he used to serve at his French guest house Le Manoir de Raynaudes.
If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyere are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.
I always like to respond promptly if someone draws attention to a wine match that’s not available on the site so thanks, Nigel B of Hong Kong for pointing out there was nothing on Brunello di Montalcino.
To mark the first ever World Sherry Day I’m running a new series of posts on the best food matches for different styles of sherry, starting with fino and manzanilla.
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
Just as with any other grape variety Sauvignon Blanc varies markedly from one part of the world to the other - from the crisp minerally wines of the Loire to the exuberant grassy herbaceous Sauvignons of the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
I’ve been reminded during the last few days in the Cape Winelands of the great versatility of Chenin Blanc also known locally by its Afrikaans name Steen but this was the standout pairing.
We went to a Portuguese evening at a local cafe, Tart in Bristol last week, which does a monthly supper club. The food was great, especially a main course of cozido, a substantial, saffron-laced stew of chicken, pork, chorizo and beans that would have actually made a meal in itself.
I’ve been in the Loire for the last two days enjoying a fascinating range of wines but the pairing that stood out for me was one I’d never come across before: roast chestnuts and Bernache.
Last week I was travelling back through France again and encountered a number of interesting matches but the one that worked best for me was in a modern bistro by the covered market in Besançon called La Table des Halles.
This is the most interesting and original wine and cheese pairing of the four* I devised for my talks at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair over the weekend. I wanted to come up with a variation on the usual port and Stilton combo and this was it.
A slightly unseasonal but absolutely delicious wine pairing from Bjorn van der Horst’s much anticipated new restaurant Eastside Inn. The talented Van der Horst used to cook at the Greenhouse and then for Gordon Ramsay at La Noisette and has now branched out on his own. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days but this, for me, was the outstanding match of the meal, selected by sommelier Thierry Sauvanot, also ex-Ramsay.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week and two bottles - both Syrah - have impressed me for very different reasons. One was an inexpensive but characterful Ressac Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah which we bought from the co-op at Florensac, Vinopolis, after eating at their showcase restaurant Bistrot d’Alex which I’ve mentioned on the site before. The other a much classier bottle called Clos du Fou (the 2004 vintage) from a local Faugères winemaker Château des Estanilles which bore comparison with a Côte Rôtie.
Celebrations come thick and fast at this time of the year - first Burns' Night, and now Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Since both fall on the same day this year I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (terrible expression but you know what I mean) and mark the Year of the Ox with a beef recipe matched with an Australian wine.
I’m aware that there’s a Francophile bias to this site but there are recipes where I automatically turn to the New World. The spicy lamb dish I picked up the other night from my local restaurant and takeaway Culinaria is one of them - a hottish tagine-style dish of spiced lamb, aubergines, chickpeas & merguez sausage which was almost on the verge of being a curry.
In the general flurry of celebrations last week I missed out on St David’s Day (the patron saint of Wales) and the opportunity to write about leeks. Leeks tend to excite a certain amount of derision but I think they’re a fabulous vegetable, much milder, subtler and sweeter than onion and much more sympathetic to a fine white wine (for I think they go much better with a white wine than a red one).
I was trying to think what food and wine match I would most like to be presented with on Valentine’s Day. I’m off foie gras. Caviar is horrendously expensive and very un-PC. Smoked salmon is nice, certainly, but no longer quite the special treat it once was (unless it’s wild). And I must be one of the few people in the world who isn’t anyone’s for a gooey chocolate pud.
The two days I spent in the Gers region of the south-west of France last week (members can see a full report here) reminded me just what a strong terroir-based match the local Tannat-based wines are with duck confit. I tried it both with a Madiran and a humbler Côtes de St-Mont which uses the same grape varieties.
With just over three weeks to go to Christmas it’s time to begin planning your holiday drinking if you haven’t done so already. You may have already decided what to eat and drink for the Big Meal itself but chances are you’ll have to provide several other meals over the holiday period for which it’s useful to have an appropriate bottle.
The last few days I’ve been eating and drinking my way around Piedmont - the perfect time of year as the region’s fabled white truffles are in season.
I’m increasingly impressed by the new generation of Spanish wines that are arriving on the shelves. The other day I had a fabulously crisp, zesty white called Godello from the up and coming region of Bierzo, in the region of Castilla y Leon in the north-west of Spain, not far from Galicia.
With the unseasonally warm weather showing no signs of a let-up it’s time to revisit the classic combination of French charcuterie and Beaujolais - perfect for picnics and other outdoor eating.
On Saturday I was in London’s Borough Market which was full of the most wonderful spring vegetables - artichokes, broad beans, peas and asparagus. It reminded me of a dish I normally make this time of year when we’re at our house in the Languedoc in southern France which is rabbit braised with spring vegetables and Viognier.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
A robust Spanish fish stew from Stevie Parle's fabulous new Dock Kitchen Cookbook. Stevie is one of the best -travelled and most original chefs in London with a well-honed magpie tendency of picking up ingredients and techniques from every country he visits. He also writes a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
The gorgeous summery weather we've been having requires a dramatic change in mindset from the almost wintry food we've been eating for the last couple of months so here's a simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a couple of years ago.
Earlier this week I was involved in judging a selection of South African rieslings at High Timber in London and afterwards we had a three course lunch that had been designed to match with them. This is what we ate and drank.
This delicious cake, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is based on a recipe from one of Britain's best bakers Dan Lepard. Do use organic dried fruit in it - you’ll get a much better result.
This typically Burgundian dish of pork with a wine, cream and mustard-based sauce is quick, easy and versatile. You could equally well use it for chicken.
This recipe came from a fascinating dinner at which chef Greg Malouf cooked a selection of Iranian dishes from his book Saraban which he wrote with his former wife Lucy with whom he still collaborates. This unusual and simple fish dish in yoghurt particularly appealed to me and I thought it would to you too.
Having written a book on beer and food matching and cooking with beer last year (An Appetite for Ale) it’s been heartening to see the growing interest in the subject, especially in the states.
In a recession you need to think outside the box to attract and keep customers. One way is to add a bit of theatre by serving a dish at the table or at a central point of the restaurant where everyone can see it. Here are three recent examples from France and Argentina:
It’s unusual these days to come across a menu that’s totally unfamiliar. You can almost predict it. Pork belly? Check. Steak? Check. Sticky toffee pudding? Check. But the recently opened Lima, which specialises in modern Peruvian food, is so startlingly original that it feels like taking a two hour trip to Peru.
Burgers don't have to be beefy as these delicious salmon burgers from my book An Appetite for Ale prove, inspired by browsing the aisles of the Wholefoods market in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival a couple of years ago!
An unusual combination, you may think, but the acidity of the rhubarb cuts through the richness of the pork and makes this a beautiful dish.
When we talk about lasagne it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in most people’s minds but these days there are many different kinds. Here are my favourite wine pairings:
Like many popular dishes chili con carne (aka chilli con carne) has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey. Beer in many way seems the best option but a big hearty red will see you right too:
Sherry gets a bad rap for being granny’s tipple of choice but if you’ve never tried an authentic Spanish style sweet sherry you haven’t lived.
Given there are so many arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what to drink with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for
Thanks to the Argentinians, everyone associates Malbec with steak and that’s a great pairing but with Malbec World Day coming up this Wednesday maybe it’s time to stretch your wings and give some other dishes a try. Here are a few ideas:
A standout combination from the Hong Kong Tourist Board lunch at Bordeaux’ annual wine festival Fête le Vin last week. It was also the standout dish, a finely worked assembly of delicate flavours and textures from Chef Man Sing Lee of the Mandarin Oriental.
Having been in Portugal for three days this week it’s no surprise that my top match this week is a port but the food pairing is surprisingly simple and delicious.
I’m a great believer in eating and drinking like the locals when I’m on holiday so when we stopped overnight at Le Pot d’Etain in L’Isle sur Serein in Burgundy last week there was nothing for it but to order a starter of snails with the Chablis we were drinking.
Despite the razmatazz surrounding the launch of Dom Perignon 2003 and a serious amount of wine and truffle action to which I’ll devote more space shortly I’m picking a more modest match from last week - the delicious beetroot-cured salmon, capers and egg yolk and 2010 Godelia Godello I had at José Pizarro’s new London restaurant Pizarro.
Vermouth probably isn't the first thing you would think of pairing with cheese but this combination I enjoyed at our local wine bistro Flinty Red in Bristol the other night was just dazzling.
It was a tough call to single out the best pairing from my meal at Galoupet in Knightsbridge last week but as I haven't featured a dessert for a while this just shaded it.
This may sound an unlikely combination but bear with me.
Manzanilla sherry never fails to surprise me with its versatility but you don't often come across a combination as good as the one I had last week at Lido restaurant in Bristol.
I’ve always tended to go for Prosecco with Parma ham but last week I found an even better wine pairing - Malvasia.
The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
I’ve already mentioned this wine pairing as part of my write-up of the Action Against Hunger pop-up with Rick Stein but it was the outstanding match of last week.