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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How many of you will be putting beer on the table at Christmas? Not that many, I suspect, but if you can bring yourself to break with tradition you could be in for a treat. Most supermarkets now carry a sufficiently wide range for you to be able to serve a different beer with each course, should you be so minded. And here’s how to do it:
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:
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.
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.
It’s rare to go to a wine event and be blown away by the matches at every course but my recent lunch at Murano devised by Angela Hartnett and her sommelier Marc-Andréa Lévy was as close to perfection as it gets.
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 . . .
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:
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.
None of you I’m sure can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket or wine store shelf. From being a summer speciality to quaff with summer food there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion just as there are different styles of white and red wine.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
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:
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 . . .
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.
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.
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 ;-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration tomorrow and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
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.
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
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.
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
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.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
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.
Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?
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.
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"
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.
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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).
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.
In London the trend was started by Rowley Leigh and picked up on by Paul Merrony of the Giaconda Dining Room*. The return of hors d’oeuvres, that tasty little selection of small dishes that preceded tapas but which had fallen from favour along with many other elements of French bistro cuisine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Given that it's National Vegetarian Week I thought I'd re-run an article from Decanter on wine and vegetarian food I wrote a few years ago but still contains some useful pointers from top wine producers and sommeliers. Some of the people quoted may now be in different jobs.
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
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.
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?
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.
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
Provence rosé has a particular character. It’s much crisper and drier than most rosés on the market, more like a white wine than a rosé - though within this style there are variations between the lighter, less expensive wines or ‘vins de soif’ and the more structured ones, which the local refer to as ‘vins de gastronomie’.
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.
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:
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?
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?
You might think the idea of eating bacon and egg with good claret is sacrilege but bear with me.
I was sure I was going to be featuring the splendidly retro Brown Windsor Soup and Madeira as my match of the week this week - a combination suggested by Ben Austin of number1wino for the underground supper club I went to on Friday - but sadly I left the Madeira at home by mistake. (Ben, who went the following night, said it was a treat.)
If your New Year breakfast today includes eggs, especially brunch-type dishes such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or eggs benedict there’s no better partner than Champagne or other dry sparkling wine.
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.)
If you don't feel like cooking a big Sunday lunch for Easter next weekend how about a brunch?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.
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.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
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.
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.
Following my trip to Islay last year I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.
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.
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
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.
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.
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.
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - next weekend to be precise.
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.
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
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.
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.
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
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.
The key element to this typically Bavarian recipe, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is the addition of hot stock which gives it a consistency half way between a conventional potato salad and mashed potato. It also has the most delicious sweet-sour flavour.
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard. My worst fears were confirmed when he insisted that our vodka shots should be downed in one but as it turned out his assertion that ‘that was the way it was done in Russia’ was not a line.
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.
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.
It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness (or Black Velvet) Bailey’s, Irish whiskey (most likely Jameson) or green cocktails are the usual suspects on any drinks menu. But if none of these appeal here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.
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.
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?
Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.
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?
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.)
One of the world's most popular cheeses Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour. Try one of these top wine and other matches:
Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it?
If you were going to introduce someone to beer the last course you’d probably think of would be a dessert but as I discovered at a beer and pudding matching session at Brown’s Hotel in London this week it can be a surprisingly successful combination.
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.
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.
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.
Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.
The English - and very delicious - way with pancakes is to serve them with granulated sugar and lemon (a dessert that pairs well with gently sparkling, sweet Asti or Moscato d’Asti). But an even better match is the French - or more specifically Breton - tradition of serving savoury pancakes with sparkling cider, a vastly underrated drink.
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!
We’ve got so used to thinking of champagne in terms of big brand names it’s easy to forget that it’s a subtle and complex wine, a fact of which I was reminded by a small tasting of Agrapart champagnes put on by the Bristol-based importer Vine Trail this week.
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.
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!)
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?
Q I am the best man at a wedding and agreed to provide the wine for the head table. The couple is serving a soy, ginger salmon and chicken dish (i assume you get a choice). Any thoughts?
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.
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.
I have to admit I was never very grabbed by the idea of egg nog until I tried it out for myself and discovered just how delicious it is - like velvety, vanilla-and-rum-scented air.
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.
Real perry - as opposed to the often confected and artificially flavoured pear cider - has a different taste from cider. It’s more delicate, more fragrant, a better match for fish. You can treat drier styles like a dry white wine, sweeter ones almost like a dessert wine. And sparkling perries like champagne. But cheaper. Good news all round!
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.
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?
To mark our first beer competition I thought I'd post my top matches with what I think is probably my favourite style of beer (though I'm always changing my mind depending on what I'm eating!) For more features on beer and food pairing check out the beer and cider section in Food with Drink (see menu on left).
With Southern hemisphere wines from the 2012 vintage having been on the shelves for a few months now the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November has become much less significant that it was but it’s still fun to crack open a bottle with friends.
There’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagusseason so here’s an interesting beer pairing to try as a change fromwine. Belgian witbier or bière blanche like Hoegaarden is just perfect with green asparagus, especially when served with goats’ cheese.
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.
This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....
I came across this pairing at a dinner to launch the London Restaurant Festival. It was held at Nuno Mendes Loft Project, a permanent East London pop-up - if there is such a thing - where he normally hosts visiting chefs of a similarly experimental bent. Mendes is one of the most talented chefs in London at the moment and normally cooks at nearby Viajante in Bethnal Green which I reviewed here.
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.
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)
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.
I realise this is not the first time I’ve written about the virtues of roast pork and beer but it’s such a great match (and such an underrated one) that I keep on coming back to it. This time I came across it in a splendid northern French tavern called Le Bruegel in Bergues, the highlight of what was otherwise a rather cold, miserable journey on our way back to England last week.
If you're not into herrings this match might not seem desperately appealing but I promise you it’s an outstanding combination. It’s prompted by my recent visit to Copenhagen where the Danes eat herrings on an almost daily basis as part of their smørrebrød (selection of open sandwiches).
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.
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.
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
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:
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 . . .
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.
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his new book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
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.
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.
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 . . .
One of the highlights of my recent New York trip was an extraordinary caviar tasting at Petrossian where I had a chance to taste for the first time the new farm-reared caviars that are coming out of the US and other countries such as Israel and China.
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:
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 . . .
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.
Signe Johansen selflessly reports back from two tea and chocolate matching events during London's recent National Chocolate Week.
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.
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.
I was in two minds about making this my match of the week because I’m not sure that the new DP vintage rosé - like many great wines - doesn’t taste better on its own.
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*
This week’s match is a predictive one rather than one I’ve recently experienced as I’ve been invited to a Burn’s Night dinner tomorrow night by the quirky Brewdog brewery and don’t yet know what the outcome will be.
It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)
Where I live in Bristol we’re lucky to have an unusually good Indian restaurant called Thali Café, that sells sophisticated street food which you can take away in your own tiffin box. I’m addicted to the vegetable-based ‘Dairy Free Tiffin’ which is light, fresh and aromatic and was wondering what to drink with it when I picked up a bottle of Tire Bite Golden Ale from the excellent Flying Dog brewery.
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.
Pigs and Pinot is a well established combination that is the focus of an annual celebration at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg and after reminding myself of the combination last week at Daniel Boulud’s new London outpost Bar Boulud I can see why.
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
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.
This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
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.
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’m constantly amazed at the stream of good value reds that is coming out of Spain these days. Here’s another - La Copa Tempranillo 2005 from the up and coming Campo de Borja wine region which is situated in Aragon to the north west of Zaragoza. It appears to be made by a co-operative, the Cooperative de Santo Cristo de Magallon but is none the worse for that.
There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).
It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.
Our final port of call on our recent French trip was a modest family run restaurant at Bourneville called Risle-Seine, a few minutes off the autoroute between Le Havre and Rouen (and therefore ideally placed for a last minute lunch before catching the ferry). It has no great pretensions but does what it does really well: simple classic country food served with decent, well-priced wines - and cider, we discovered this time.
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.
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.
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.)
Smoked eel is not so difficult to find but most retailers sell it vacuum packed*: the problem with this technique, whilst keeping the fish admirably, is that it tends to express the oil from the meat. It is worth drying the fillets on kitchen paper before slicing. Most people don’t peel young baby carrots: I prefer to because I like to see them look smooth and glossy but I see the point of those who don’t.
Hugo Rose examines the conventional wisdom that they do.
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.
Some unusual steak recipes from Jason Atherton (then of Maze, now of Pollen Street Social) that prove you don't always need to drink red with beef.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
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.
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.
I don’t think I ever go to a sherry tasting without coming away renewed in my conviction about what a marvellous match it is for food and the one I attended yesterday was no exception. It was organised by the enterprising Les Caves de Pyrne who are importing for the first time into the UK some rare sherries from Emilio Hidalgo and took place at Dehesa, the sister (if that’s the appropriate word) restaurant of the better known Salt Yard.
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.
In preparing for a visit to Cognac I read an eponymous-titled book by International Herald Tribune editor Kyle Jarrard. Towards the end of the book Jarrard mentioned a restaurant in the region which pairs this finest of brandies with its own creations. “Ambitious,” I thought and immediately decided a meal at La Ribaudière was in order.
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.
I’ll be doing a major round-up on my trip to Provence next week buthere are a few more thoughts on matching rosé and food, an update of mylast overview
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!)
I lobbed a question about unusual Champagne pairings into the Twittersphere yesterday and got the most amazing response. It prompted the idea of having a monthly Twitter matching session - Twitmatching - the results of which I’ll post on this site.
Most people wouldn’t think in terms of combining tea and food beyond the classic pairings of Indian teas with a traditional afternoon scone or sponge, or jasmine tea with Chinese food but there are many other possibilities to explore, says Signe Johansen.
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.
If you’re on the wagon this month, mealtimes can suddenly seem a bit drab and colourless. But if you’re missing the taste of your favourite wine try substituting a fruit juice that has similar flavours.
Think of an air-dried ham such as serrano and you probably think of tapas and therefore fino or manzanilla sherry. But I’ve experienced two recent wine matches which opened my eyes to another option that even those on a diet could enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It must be the unseasonally hot weather but I've been drinking a lot of soft drinks lately. There seems to be much more choice on the market, especially more sophisticated drinks that are full of flavour but not too sweet. And which go well with food.
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.
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 seem to be spending most of my time dining with bloggers at the moment. On Sunday it was the Blaggers Banquet, next week an Umami night at Ms Marmite Lover’s underground restaurant and last Monday Dine with Dos Hermanos a monthly (or so) feast organised by Simon Majumdar and his brother Robin.
This pretty dish was served the other night at what is still our favourite Bristol restaurant, Culinaria, even if we now live over the other side of town. It provided everything you want from a starter - light, appealing, appetite-stimulating.
I think I’m a bit fixated with figs at the moment. Last week’s match of the week involved them and so does this week’s but it’s a totally different affair.
It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had one ingredient constantly by the side of the stove - a bottle of vin cotto. Literally it translates as 'cooked wine' but is in fact made from the cooked down must that’s left over from the winemaking process. In other parts of Italy it’s known as Saba.
If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.
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
In the second of his features on his recent trip to China, food writer and restaurant guide inspector Stuart Walton examines the burgeoning restaurant scene in Beijing and Shanghai
A stunning recipe from Bruce Poole's cookbook Bruce's Cookbook that shows barbeques don't have to be all about burgers and ribs.
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.
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.
Is rosé champagne a good match with dim sum? Our roving correspondent Lucy Bridgers retains admirable control of her critical faculties while being plied with successive vintages of Bollinger's Grande Année . . .
I’ve been thinking for a while about adding some video content to the site and have now found the perfect way to do it: six second videos on Vine, the video world’s equivalent of Twitter.
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?
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.
How many of us wine-lovers who wouldn't dream of serving a sub-standard wine to our friends are perfectly happy to give them - or serve ourselves - a cup of tea made with a teabag? Like wine, tea is a daunting subject. Many of us, and I include myself among their number, are woefully ignorant about different types of tea, how best and when to serve it and how to partner it with food.
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.
Beer blogger Steve Lamond has been matching beer and cheese for the past seven years and has compiled an invaluable guide on his blog Beers I’ve Known. Hare are his 5 all-time favourites which include some cracking combinations.
I’d been aware that cheese was a good match for whisky but it was good to have the opportunity to try several different styles and cheeses at a tasting this week
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.
One of the under-appreciated qualities of champagne is how well it goes with fast food. Like fish and chips, fried chicken, popcorn and . . . er . . . hot dogs. Or so the clever founders of Bubbledogs discovered and found themselves with a smash hit on their hands.
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.
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”!
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.
This actually wasn't the dish with which I drank this brilliant new sparkling wine at Rocksalt in Folkestone last week - I'd unfortunately finished my glass by then - but it would certainly have been a knockout wine pairing.
A combination I came across at the launch of Moët’s new Ice Imperial Champagne last week - a Champagne that’s designed to be served over ice (yes, that’s right - with the ice actually in it)
We decided some time ago we were going to drink Beaujolais with our turkey in memory of the late Marcel Lapierre who very sadly died back in September. I thought his vibrant fruity 2009 Morgon would be ideal with the classic Christmas feast and so it proved to be, mirroring the tartness and fruitiness of the cranberry sauce.
I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
When luxury foods are discussed there's always an omission. An ingredient that I personally think is one of the most delicious in the world - sea urchins.
There’s a long story behind this week’s match but it’s a good one so bear with me . . .
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
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)
I came across so many great wine pairings in Toronto last week it's hard to pick out one but this dish just shaves it as my match of the week.
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.
With St Patrick’s Day falling on a Monday this year - and in Easter week into the bargain - many are expected to be celebrating this coming Saturday so here’s a reminder of just how great an Irish stout (Guinness or otherwise) is with that classic dish of boiled bacon and cabbage.
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).
Like most wine-lovers, I suspect, I’ve made a new year’s resolution to drink rather less after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year. I’m not a big fan of sweetened fruit juices so my drink of choice at the moment, with meals and in between, is sparkling mineral water.
I know Thanksgiving has past but I came across such a good pairing for pecan pie at a friend's* house the other day I had to tell you about it. Her pie by the way was quite distinctive with a thin layer of soft caramel in the centre (and, obviously, crisp pecans on the top).
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.
The soft creamy fizz of Italy's famous sparkling wine Prosecco makes it a marvellous match for Italian panettone which is not too rich or too sweet to overwhelm it. I discovered the combination a couple of years ago when I tried the celebratory Easter dove-shaped Colomba Pasquale which is topped with crystallised sugar with a glass of Bisol’s elegant Cartizze Prosecco de Valdobbiadene which sells in the UK for roughly 16 a bottle (check out wine-searcher.com for stockists)
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.
Given the runaway success of Big Apple Hot Dogs and Bubbledogs - London’s smash hit champagne and hot dog restaurant, it can only be a matter of time before you can pick up a dog on your local high street. But in the meantime you can throw your own hot dog party in if you follow these tips from my book Sausage and Mash (published 8 years ago!)
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.
Stuart Walton checks out the restaurant scene in Colmar.
Good to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall giving some recipes that use beer in the Guardian today. As I discovered when my son Will and I wrote our book An Appetite for Ale last year, beer makes a great addition to many recipes and is often just as good a match for a meal as wine.
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.
Our roving gastronaut Lucy Bridgers discovers why German Mosel riesling is the ideal wine pairing for Vietnamese food
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the simplest Chinese recipes but a perfect one for the Chinese new year according to cookery writer Fuchsia Dunlop, author of the brllliant Every Grain of Rice
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.
An unusual and fresh-tasting frittata that would make a perfect brunch dish from Ryn and Cordie's In Search of the Perfect Partner (The Food and Wine Matching Formula) 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.
You're probably all organised for the great day but just in case, here are a couple of clever ideas for festive cocktails using storecupboard ingredients from mixologist Myles Davies.
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’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
Food and wine writer Marc Millon recounts a memorable celebration of the new vintage last week with his Piemontese winemaker friends
You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire
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
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.
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:
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.
Is there a good match for jelly and ice-cream? A dessert wine can seem too heavy - and ice cream can strip out its sweetness - but prosecco is perfect, as I discovered at the weekend.
To kick off National Vegetarian Week and a week of veggie pairings (don’t groan, carnivores, we’ll be back on meat next week!) here’s a great pairing from Friday night’s underground supper club, Montpelier Basement in Bristol.
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.
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.
It’s not often these days that I hit on a totally new discovery but this combination at the newly opened Pitt Cue Co, a southern American-style ribshack is the business.
A very Western approach to Chinese food, admittedly, but if you're celebrating Chinese New Year today with a dim sum lunch you'll find that Champagne - or other sparkling wine - makes a perfect pairing.
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.)
It's always difficult to decide what to drink with soup - one liquid with another never seems quite right as I've remarked before - but the thicker the soup is the easier it is.
I’ve always thought of an elderflower spritzer as the perfect drink to pair with elderflower fritters - until this weekend when I tried them with Moscato d’Asti at the local underground supper club Montpelier Basement.
Anchovies are always reputed to be difficult with food but I found a great match for them over the past few days down in Collioure and Banyuls. Which of course there should be as they’re a speciality of the area.
Chocolate is generally considered a tricky ingredient to match but it's not that hard - unless it's a hot fondant pudding.
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.
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)
I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anything manzanilla doesn’t pair with - or fino, come to that. Of course, there is but both sherries do seem to be brilliant at dealing with the tricky customers of the culinary world, especially pungent salty ones like anchovies and capers.
I was at the opening of TV chef Mitch Tonks' new fish restaurant in Bristol last week, Rockfish Grill. Normally they serve you bubbly on these occasions and there was some - an appealing Prosecco - but what caught my eye was an oyster stout that Mitch and a mate who owns the Albert Inn at Bridgetown, near Totnes had brewed up between them.
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.
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've taken recently to combining my salad course and cheese course. Over the years, influenced by the time we've spent in France, we've picked up the habit of following our main course with a salad and nowadays I prefer - and it's cheaper - to eat one cheese at a time.
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 been so hot over the last couple of days here in the Languedoc I haven’t felt much like cooking so we raided the very good local traiteur (takeaway) in Murviel yesterday for our weekend’s eating. The highlight was some beautifully cooked rare roast veal with herbs - in the style of Italian porchetta.
Pancakes and beer might not sound like the most obvious of combinations but as with other flour-based foods such as sandwiches or pies they work together remarkably well. Especially, as I discovered when I was writing my food and beer book An Appetite for Ale last year, fruit-filled pancakes and fruit beers.
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.
The weather has been so unseasonally hot over the last couple of days - well into the 20s (or the late 70s for those of you who prefer to think in Fahrenheit) - that I’m suddenly fast-forwarding to summer and one of my favourite meals, Salade Niçoise.
Although I'm not one of those who is resolutely against pairing wine with spicy food there are definitely occasions when beer goes at least as well, if not better and this is one of them.
Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.
If you haven’t already made your plans for New Year’s Eve why not invite over a few friends and treat them to a beer dinner instead of one based on wine? It’s a great way to open their eyes to the great range of artisanal beers that are now available.
In case it's escaped your notice today is World Gin Day - a rather bizarre notion but then every food and drink seems to have its own day these days. However it does provide an excuse to re-run this article on how to make the perfect gin and tonic, under the guidance of the great Salvatore Calabrese:
This is a slight adaptation of a fantastic recipe from Italian cookery writer Valentina Harris which I first tasted on one of her cookery courses in Tuscany and included in my book Food, Wine and Friends.
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.
I was writing an article the other day about food and wine matching that required spot-on pairings and found myself specifying the age of the wines I was recommending. It’s not something I tend to do when making generalised recommendations (as opposed to matching a specific wine) but I realised it is as important as giving information about whether a wine is oaked or unoaked, the nature of the vintage or what country, region or producer it comes from.
A friend I ran into the other day asked my advice on a birthday meal he and his wife were cooking. He wanted a menu - and wines - that would iimpress their 20 guests but which didn’t involve them in too much work. He’d also recently developed a taste for German riesling but wasn’t sure if his guests would share his new-found enthusiasm. So what should they eat - and drink?
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
Our new contributor, former sommelier Donald Edwards, reports back from a sake and food tasting at Novikov and reveals why the art of sake appreciation has a lot to teach wine-lovers.
There’s a fascinating article in the current edition of Elle à Table about a cheese and tea tasting conducted by Maitre Tseng of La Maison des Trois Thés in Paris with French artisanal cheeses from Alléosse.
As a massive sherry fan I confess that I find it hard to envisage any other drink with tapas but when you’re invited to experience an off-the-wall pairing you go - or at least I do.
How can champagne be used to create a summer tasting menu? Seafood is an obvious candidate but as food and wine writer Lucy Bridgers found at a recent Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London you need to choose your flavours carefully.
Those of us who have been writing about beer and food for a while have seen many false dawns in the UK - breweries positioning their beers as perfect for different kinds of food, competitions to find the best beer for British staples such as fish and chips, Indian restaurants offering beer pairing menus . . . there was no lack of ingenuity but it didn’t quite take off. But with the number of events and initiatives taking place this summer it really looks as if beer and food pairing has reached a tipping point.
Olive, the UK-based food magazine, has identified cocktail and food pairing as a coming trend in 2009. It's possible but I'm a little sceptical nowadays when it comes to initiatives involving spirits and food. There have been so many false dawns over the last few years (remember cocktail dessert menus?) and I would have thought the current economic climate was the least propitious period to get the idea off the ground. But I could be wrong.
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.
If any sommelier looks set for Gordon Ramsay-style super-stardom it has to be Enrico Bernado.
Author and food blogger Signe Johansen reports on a visit to spice blender Rolf Gast.
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.
The perfect recipe for Mother's Day this Sunday from Sybil Kapoor's lovely Simply Baking book for the National Trust. In fact you might giver her a copy of that as well . . .
One of the more charming touches of my stay at Langford Fivehead last week was the way they offered a cup of tea and seedcake on your arrival, a deliciously old-fashioned English cake made with caraway seeds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 was recently asked the following question: "What am i looking for when matching beer and food? Do I want a beer with a similar taste or should I be looking for a contrast?"
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:
Even those who normally drink beer feel the need to put a bottle of red wine on the table at Christmas* but beer is actually just as good, if not a better accompaniment for turkey.
I was reminded the other night of how the average wine newbie must feel confronted with a wine list in French. The names of the wines and the grape varieties mean nothing. You have no idea what they taste like and what to order. Panic sets in.
Of all the great food and wine pairings I experienced in Rioja last week this was the most unexpected.
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.*
My problem this week is that I have a terrific wine pairing but I can't tell you about it because it's the result of a tasting I was running for Decanter magazine. So you'll have to hang on till December for that. Sorry.
I know I said I was going to make a Riesling my match of the week but given that I've already written about it and that it's the Great British Beer Festival this week I'm going for this great combo at my son's restaurant, Hawksmoor. (Blatantly nepotistic, I know. Apologies)
I could have made almost any of the pairings in the Restaurants in Residence pop-up supper in Docklands last Tuesday my match of the week but I think this one just inches it, mainly because I absolutely loved the wine, Corail Rosé.
It’s hard to pick out the best match from my trip to Alsace last week but I think it has to go to this classic combination you find in every traditional restaurant.
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.
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!
Since I was in Provence for three days last week you might have expected me to come up with an all-Provençal pairing as my match of the week but in fact it was a lunch of Lebanese mezze that provided the best partner for the local rosé we were tasting.
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
I have to admit there's an element of nepotism about this pairing which I enjoyed the other day at my son’s award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor where we were shooting new photography for the site (an exciting development about which more news shortly!)
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.
A surprisingly good pairing I came across in a local Italian restaurant on Saturday night. The (admirably light) home-made gnocchi were dressed with a fresh tomato sauce with basil which I would have thought would have been overwhelmed by the firm, well-structured 13.5% Barbera the boys had ordered with it - a Ca’ del Matt 2002. (For preference I’d have drunk a dry Italian white such as a Soave.) But it was spot on - even better than it was with my main course of slow roast pork belly.
Yesterday finally felt as if spring had come. After weeks of unsettled and unseasonably cool weather it was warm and balmy, rich with the scent of blossom. We went out with friends to the village of Wrington just outside Bristol to follow an ‘art trail’ of exhibitions by local artists. (Yes, I bought something - a delightful picture of radishes by a talented collage artist called Anne Carpenter)
One of the real treats of our trip to Venice is fritto misto which used to refer to the assorted small fish that were too small to be sold from the fishermens’ catch but nowadays takes all manner of shapes and forms including vegetables and polenta (usually to keep the price down).
Last week I was on an assignment in Tuscany for a couple of days. It was pretty hot but that didn’t discourage the Tuscans from serving the kind of food they enjoy all the year round - namely substantial bean and chickpea soups.
I was reminded just how enjoyable this combination is the other day when I dropped by London’s latest tapas bar Barrafina and enjoyed a pre-dinner pick-up of a glass of Hidalgo with some al-i-oli and toast. The sharp tangy sherry was the perfect foil for the crisp toast and silky, garlic-flavoured mayo that accompanied it.
We get so used to thinking of champagne as the ultimate fizz that it’s easy to overlook the many excellent sparkling wines that are made in other areas.
This recommendation might surprise you - I wouldn’t normally go for commercially produced cavas especially ones targetting women buying wine for their mums on Mother's Day but it’s an altogether successful bottling.
The surprise publishing hit among food books last year was not the record selling Jamie’s 30-minute meals or even the new Nigella but an unillustrated book called The Flavour Thesaurus by an unknown author, Niki Segnit. The book catalogues nearly 1000 flavour combinations which are described in an endearingly quirky way. It’s erudite, original and funny
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.
Discovering you could make a wine from grapes that have shrivelled with rot to leathery little fossils on the vine is viticultural history’s finest example of making a silk purse out a sow’s ear. There is a sense of the miraculous in every sip.
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 . . .
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
I’m sitting in the pitch dark, my hand groping around the table. On my plate I think I’ve got some tuna - or is it chicken? - orange, fennel and yes, those are pomegranate seeds. In my heavy glass (so it doesn’t shatter if I knock it over) is what tastes like a commercial Vin de Pays d’Oc chardonnay.
Anyone who thinks the only place for beer is with a curry or a barbecue should take a look at this scrumptious menu from a ‘Grand Banquet’ which was prepared for the 1600 delegates to the Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas last weekend by Executive Chef Mark Dayanandan of the Hilton Austin.
A new regular feature on the site to give you a chance to play sommelier and practise your matchmaking skills. Here’s how it works:
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?
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.
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.
The first thing everyone asked me when I got back from Korea was what does the food taste like? Unless you live in London, or New Malden in Surrey, which, rather randomly, boasts the UK’s biggest concentration of Korean restaurants, then you probably won’t be familiar with Korean food.
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.
I came across this article the other day which I wrote 4 years ago after a visit to Chablis. We attended two great dinners organised by Daniel Defaix and Herv Tucki of La Chablisienne which were an object lesson in how to pair Chablis with food. I thought it deserved a re-run.
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.
If you’re the kind of sad, unreconstructed Francophile (like me) who thinks French food has gone to the dogs head not for Eurostar but the newly opened Brasserie Zédel in London’s West End. Housed in the late and not-much-lamented Atlantic Bar and Grill near Piccadilly Circus, it occupies a huge subterranean space which has been decked out at eye-watering expense in full fin de siècle style.
The best known fact about Alvin Leung the Hong Kong-based chef who has just opened Bo London is that he serves a dish featuring an edible used condom called Sex on the Beach.*
A great recipe for a simple tapa from José Pizarro's lovely new book Spanish Flavours. José, as you may know if you're based in the UK, has a cracking tapas bar in Bermondsey called José and, appropriately enough, a slightly more formal restaurant in the same street called Pizarro.
With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.
A smart new Brazilian restaurant and cocktail bar, Mocoto, has opened in Knightsbridge, so I thought I’d go down and check out their Caipirinhas, which is to Brazil what the Margarita is to Mexico. And one of my very favourite cocktails.
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 . . . ;-)
A friend of mine’s brother in law apparently wants to take up brewing so I thought I’d ask Twitter for advice. As usual, people were fantastically helpful and gave so many good recommendations I thought I’d post the advice here together with a few links I unearthed myself:
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.
Twelve months is a long time in a recession. This time last year we were all writing about 30 bottle water lists and 50 bottles of water. In 2009 all the talk is about tap. The unease we may have felt at flying bottles half way round the globe and lack of political correctness in drinking designer water while many have none has been superceded by the the more prosaic necessity to cut down our personal spending.
With snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing it’s a timely reminder that matching drinks is not just about flavour but temperature and alcohol levels too.
It was surreal. The small room was filled with around thirty people – some with their faces painted white – walking around in disposable white boiler suits. We looked like workmen from outer space. Moreover, we’d been given miniature test-tubes of different flavoured liquids to add to our champagne to make instant, DIY cocktails – which made our glasses sparkle with exotic jewel colours of electric blue, turquoise and fuchsia. Though normally adventurous in matters related to food and drink, I chose to keep my champagne natural. After all, I was going to put my tastebuds through enough for one evening.
“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.
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday here are some great pairings for pumpkin pie which I’ve updated from my previous article here.
Some recent questions that have been posed to me:
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.
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 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.
As it turned out the star pairing of my bizarre Brewdog Burns night was not the haggis spring rolls and Punk IPA but an equally off the wall pairing of raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon, a 15% Imperial stout.
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.
Last week I went on a flying visit to Tuscany to take part in the olive oil harvest and had the rare treat of being able to sample oil that has just been pressed. As you can see from the picture, it’s an incredible colour - literally deep olive green and has the most fantastic grassy flavour.
If you’re not drinking for whatever reason - because you’re driving, pregnant or just taking a break - it’s sometimes difficult to find something that makes a good match for what you’re eating. Soft drinks can be sweet and sugary. Water sometimes too plain.
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.
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.
Yesterday we arrived in Arles for the Recontres Arles, a massive annual photographic exhibition that takes over the entire town. Our youngest son Flyn is showing some of his work at a restaurant called Le Corazon so we’re here for the next 10 days or so.
If you haven’t got round to thinking of a suitably romantic dessert for tonight try this simple idea: buy a few gorgeous dark handmade chocolates and truffles and serve them with a frozen shot of cherry brandy. (Don’t worry, it won’t actually freeze, simply turn lusciously cold and syrupy.)