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.
So what should you drink? White is the obvious answer but I’d emphasise crisp, fresh unoaked young whites with a pronounced mineral character and not too much sweetness. Some rosés - particularly delicate, dry Provençal rosés - would also fit the bill. Fresh dry sparkling wines and sake too. Here are my suggestions to match Mark’s recipes:
Shaved asparagus and goats’ cheese salad
Asparagus and goats’ cheese is a classic pairing with Sauvignon Blanc - the fact that the asparagus is raw doesn’t make much difference although I’d be inclined to go for a crisper more minerally style - a Sancerre, say, or a Pouilly-Fumé. A crisp dry German or Austrian Riesling would work well too.
Pineapple with Sichuan pepper sorbet
This is such a clean fresh end to a meal I’m reluctant to suggest anything with it. A frozen shot of very clean pure vodka, maybe.
The issue here is not what you might think - raw fish - but the ponzu dressing which with its powerful citrus flavours is going to knock the citrussy element out of any accompanying wine. Solution? I’d go for a hight quality Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige without much obvious fruit character of its own but enough intensity to survive the dish (cheaper Pinot Grigio just won’t hack it). Or maybe an Albariño.
Beef with white radish and pomegranate molasses
I know where I’d go if we were just talking about rare beef and radish (sake or champagne!) but the sweet pomegranate molasses throws something of a spanner in the works. I think I’d go for a red burgundy or a New Zealand or Californian Pinot Noir with this. Young but not too sharp - or too jammy. Again you need intensity.