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.
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.
I’m in Chablis for a couple of days this week and last night enjoyed one of the classic local pairings: a basic Chablis and a dish of Jambon à la Chablisienne - thick slices of ham in a cream, tomato and white wine sauce. This version also had a touch of tarragon which cut the richness of the sauce. It contained all the elements that kicks a young Chablis into touch - saltiness (of the ham), acidity (the tomato) and richness (the cream), a perfect counterfoil to Chablis’ own crispness.
I’m a great believer in eating and drinking like the locals when I’m on holiday so when we stopped overnight at Le Pot d’Etain in L’Isle sur Serein in Burgundy last week there was nothing for it but to order a starter of snails with the Chablis we were drinking.
A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the menu at the Hotel du Vieux Moulin, Domaine Laroche’s wine bar and restaurant in a converted water mill in Chablis. What they didn’t mention was that they’d just opened a cutting edge boutique hotel.
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!)
I went to a very posh lunch at Fortnum & Mason last week (about which more to follow) which has to be the most festive place in London. If you’re in the vicinity this week make sure you check out their Christmas decorations department on the first floor. And don't miss the spectacularly expensive crackers! (I was told the £1000 boxes had already sold out.)
One of things I enjoyed most on our recent trip to Ireland* was the seafood. The fish shop in Midleton, Co. Cork had a fantastic array of locally caught lobster, crab and prawns at very reasonable prices. They tasted great too - really fresh and sweet.
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.
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.
Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.
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.
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.
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?
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 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 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 typically Burgundian dish of pork with a wine, cream and mustard-based sauce is quick, easy and versatile. You could equally well use it for chicken.
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.
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?
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:
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’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.
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.
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.
Any of you who have been to J Sheekey's in the West End will probably have succumbed to their unbelievably good fish pie. Here's the recipe from their cookbook J Sheekey Fish.
If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from my son Will and Huw Gott's restaurant Hawksmoor* would fit the bill perfectly. After all it does contain oysters which as you know are an aphrodisiac . . .
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.
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.
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 . . .
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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?
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.
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.
Apologies for returning once again to the subject of crab but it is one of my favourite summer foods and this was the outstanding match of last week.
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.
It’s a tribute to the sheer joie-de-vivre of the Irish that we regard St Patrick’s Day with much more enthusiasm than St George’s, St Andrew’s or St David’s Days (the patron saints for England, Scotland and Wales for those of you who aren’t into your saints). So your friends are going to be more than pleased to be invited to celebrate it with you.
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