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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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 . . .
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration tomorrow and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
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.
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?
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.
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!)
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 . . .
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
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.
This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....
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)
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 . . .
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.
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.
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!)
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?
If you don't feel like cooking a big Sunday lunch for Easter next weekend how about a brunch?
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
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).
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.
“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.
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.
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 ;-)
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:
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:
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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”!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
There’s a long story behind this week’s match but it’s a good one so bear with me . . .
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.
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).
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.