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?
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
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
As you might imagine it doesn’t make any difference what shape of pasta you’re dealing with, what counts with wine is the flavour of the sauce. There are too many to mention, but here are the main types you’re likely to come across.
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.
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.
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.
Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it?
It does of course depend on how you make your spaghetti alle vongole - the classic Italian dish of spaghetti with white wine and clams - but in my book, the answer is simple: a young, unoaked, Italian white wine.
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:
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?
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.)
Just as with every other ingredient the ideal pairing for mussels depends how you cook them.
Spaghetti carbonara - spaghetti with a creamy bacon and egg sauce - is one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes but what’s the best wine pairing for it?
If your Easter roast is a ham or gammon you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.
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.
One of the few food and drink combinations I don’t feel that happy about is wine and soup. Not all soups, obviously, but many of them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Like many popular dishes chili con carne (aka chilli con carne) has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey. Beer in many way seems the best option but a big hearty red will see you right too:
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?
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.
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.
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:
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the most uncomplicated dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of bottle you choose.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
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 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.
When we talk about lasagne it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in most people’s minds but these days there are many different kinds. Here are my favourite wine pairings:
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.
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.
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?
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:
There’s no doubt about it, trifle is tricky. If it includes booze already do you serve more on the side? And what kind of booze should that be?
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 . . .
No Christmas would be complete without a slice of Stilton or its unpasteurised cousin Stitchelton. But what to drink with it? The usual answer is port - and that of course is classic - but here are some other drinks that make great pairings
Mince pies are not that different to Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like port, sherry and madeira
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.
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.
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.
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday here are some great pairings for pumpkin pie which I’ve updated from my previous article here.
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.
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 . . .
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.
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
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.
Unusually for this mini-series on British cheeses, I’ve had a recent chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my mates Jess and Todd Trethowan of Trethowan's Dairy - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
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!
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.
Cider seems to be on the verge of going through the same quality revolution as beer did a few years ago. In the last 12 months I’ve tasted more interesting ciders than I have in the last 12 years. There are many different styles, obviously but here are the type of foods I think suit cider best and some avenues that I think might be worth pursuing:
Given there are so many arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what to drink with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for
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.
While summer isn’t a time one feels drawn to hearty stews (except possibly an English summer) Moroccan tagines are a different matter. Exotic and aromatic, they somehow suit the heat and not being particularly spicy are relatively simple to match with wine.
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.
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:
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.
We all know a beer goes down well with a ploughmans and that it’s a great drink to wash down a barbecue but here are 10 more unusual pairings my son Will and I came up with for our beer and food book An Appetite for Ale which should liven up your summer drinking.
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:
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.
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).
And by paté I’m thinking of rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or kick off a classically French meal - particularly on le quartorze juillet. Happy Bastille Day!
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 . . .
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.
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.
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’.
Coronation chicken has been given a new lease of life by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it?
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.
I always like to respond promptly if someone draws attention to a wine match that’s not available on the site so thanks, Nigel B of Hong Kong for pointing out there was nothing on Brunello di Montalcino.
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 automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
I’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
People carp about food and beer pairings, griping that they're just made up pretentions that have no right being associated with something as inclusive and democratic as beer. "It's the drink of the common man," they cry, "Beer goes with everything!" To which I respond, uh, no, it doesn't. And to prove my point, here are ten food and beer partnerships guaranteed to make you wish you had chosen something else to drink.
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.
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’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.
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 . . .
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.
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 . . .
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.
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different appellations or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any. There are exceptions to this - Chablis styles that are particularly fruity or ones that have more vegetal notes but in general I think you’ll find most wines fall into one of the following five groups.
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.
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.
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:
What type of food is the best match for sake and why? Shirley Booth, founder of the British Sake Association comes up with a few surprises and some useful pointers on serving temperatures.
With the World Cup in full swing you might be thinking about cracking open a bottle of South Africa’s own red, Pinotage. But what to eat with it? Here are a few ideas based on my trip earlier this year.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
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.
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 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.
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.
Hot on the heels of quality improvements in recent years the buzz about Portuguese table wines has spread throughout the wine world. Efforts of individual small producers and larger companies, coupled with focused efforts made by the various generic bodies, have helped to cast aside the tired image of Mateus and Lancer's.
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
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.
One of the most impressive aspects of my visit to Toronto last week was the fact that almost every restaurant suggested a well chosen wine pairing against the dishes they served. Here are the ones that stood out for me:
This week's trip to Toronto has been so packed with restaurant visits and other activities that I haven't had time to post but here's a quick update in the form of a report on a fantastic beer restaurant called beerbistro which was founded by leading Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont.
Here’s my pick from the recent press tasting at Tesco, not only the UK’s biggest supermarket but its biggest wine retailer. Like most supermarket ranges it has its high and low points but here are the bottles I most enjoyed and thought had the greatest potential for matching with food.
Looking at Mark Hix’s Irish-inspired recipes in the Independent today my first thoughts were about beer rather than wine. I don’t think he’d have the slightest objection.
Continuing our series where guest wine writers pick their top wines from the major London wine tastings here are wine writer David Furer’s favourite whites from the recent Wines of Austria tasting, together with his suggested food pairings.
I have to say I mistrust lists like the Observer’s 50 Best Recipes Ever. Who’s to say? Celebrity chefs get to pick their favourite but may do so for many reasons: the need to sound interesting/as if they have humble roots or the fact they love their mum or gran. But chances are some of them will be your favourites too. Here’s what I’d drink with them:
Food and wine writer Natasha Hughes picks the 10 wines that appealed to her most at the recent Australia Day tasting in London and suggests the ideal food match
According to a report on the blog Musings from Thailand, an adviser to the Thai government has suggested a campaign to link French wine and Pad Thai as a way to promote Thai food overseas. But I'm not sure they're thinking along the right lines. The picture on the post is of a red wine - possible of course - but I would definitely prefer a white.
Signe Johansen selflessly reports back from two tea and chocolate matching events during London's recent National Chocolate Week.
“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.
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
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.
"If you think you know German wine, drink again" ran the slogan of an advertising campaign in the UK a few years ago. Consumers, it seemed needed persuading but a succession of good vintages, the enthusiastic advocacy of wine writers such as Jancis Robinson and the appearance of a broader selection of German wines on the lists of an increasing number of London’s top restaurants seems to be finally stimulating an appetite for these most underrated of wines.
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.
Some recent questions that have been posed to me:
The other day I received an email from one of London’s most energetic PRs Rupert Ponsonby singing the praises of asparagus and beer. Would I, he asked, like to try some of the new season’s asparagus with three different beers? Given my passion for asparagus it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes better with a rosé or a red.
I’m a huge fan of Nigel Slater’s. I buy the Observer every week just to read his recipes. Yes, I know I could read them online (as you can here) but you don’t get the luscious Jonathan Lovekin photographs. Not that you need them. Slater’s prose is so evocative you can taste the recipe as you read.
About the last place I’d have expected to have an enlightening discussion about food and wine matching is in a fisherman’s shack called Chez Loulou down on the Languedoc coast. Actually I do it an injustice. It’s a restaurant - just - but one that relies for its appeal on fabulously fresh fish rather than fantastically skilled cooking.
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
It's an odd feeling going up to the podium with your son to pick up an award for beer writing. It’s not exactly the scene you envisage when you’re wheeling him around in his push chair. But there we were last night to pick up the oddly named Bishop’s Finger Beer With Food Award at the British Guild of Beer Writers Annual Dinner for our book Appetite for Ale (Phew - that was a mouthful!)
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.
The closest result so far on one of our food and wine matching polls ended with rosado (Spanish rosé) and fino sherry neck and neck as the best match for tapas with 30% of the vote, closely followed by Rioja on 24% which had topped the poll for a good few days. Spain's sparkling wine, Cava, came fourth with 16% of the vote.
You may think tasting wine sounds arduous but a major wine and food tasting, I assure you, is a much greater assault on the system as I was reminded the other day when Victoria Moore of The Guardian and I ran 14 Pinot Gris through their paces with foods that ranged from smoked eel to chicken tikka masala. Neither of us was able to eat much for several days.
The Sherry Institute in the UK has come up with a really smart book called ‘The Perfect Marriage: The Art Of Matching Food & Sherry Wines From Jerez’ which totally dispels the idea that the only partners for sherry are nuts and olives. The book is fronted by top chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck who has long been a sherry fan and offers 30 sherries by the glass in his restaurant.
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.
Whisky may have become firmly entrenched in the after-dinner slot in the Western world but Japan has always been more open to the idea of drinking it with a meal. In fact, the Japanese are much more open-minded about the drinks they enjoy with food and you’ll often find beer, sake and whisky on the table at the same time. It certainly maximises the opportunities of finding a good food and drink match.
Coincidentally I have had invitations to two Indian dinners in two weeks - one accompanied by beer and one with wine which makes for some interesting comparisons.
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?
A great dinner last night organised jointly by the London and Krakow convivia of Slow Food who laid on a lavish Polish feast at Marylebone Cheese shop La Fromagerie. The Poles had sent over an impressive contingent including a talented young chef Artur Moroz who runs a restaurant called Bulaj on the Baltic cost and has made a study of Polish culinary history, many of whose traditions have been lost. A Polish-born Londoner Ewa Spohn, who devised the menu with Moroz, is spearheading a drive to revive them.
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.
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:
Walk through the entrance of Culture Biere (sorry, I can’t remember how to do a grave accent on my Mac) and you’d think you were in a cutting edge cocktail bar. But in fact this is Paris’s new temple to beer funded by brewing giant Heineken.