You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?
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.
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.
Just over a month ago I was sitting with Javier Hidalgo in his cellar in Sanlucar sipping very old oloroso sherry from the cask, an experience that will go down as one of my great wine-tasting memories. This week I got to try the bottled version, the Bodegas Hidalgo Oloroso Faraon 30 y.o., which is equally thrilling.
The Spanish are more adventurous than us when it comes to matching sherry and food. I remember drinking a dry oloroso with roast partridge a few years back in Jerez. But what else could you pair with it?
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.
Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.
This is the most interesting and original wine and cheese pairing of the four* I devised for my talks at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair over the weekend. I wanted to come up with a variation on the usual port and Stilton combo and this was it.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
One of the more successful pairings from the otherwise rather challenging sherry lunch I attended at the Cinnamon Club last week was a dish of tandoori salmon with a Valdespino Innocente fino. I tend to overlook fino in favour of manzanilla but I’m not sure it’s not a more flexible match with food.
This was by far the most popular pairing at a chocolate and wine tasting I did for the West of England Wine and Spirit Association in Bristol on Friday night. We didn’t actually have the ice cream but I think it would have made it even better.
One of the nicest Christmas traditions I've picked up along the years is the Spanish habit of serving a platter of sweetmeats at the end of the meal or on other occasions when you want something sweet. It usually includes different kinds of turron, the Spanish version of nougat which comes in soft and hard versions, some with whole almonds, some without. To that you could add some polvorones (delicious almond cookies) large Moscatel raisins, figs and dates and even a few chocolate truffles if you like.
No apologies for returning to one of my favourite drinks, manzanilla sherry, as it’s such a versatile food wine. This time I found a felicitous match with a dish of mackerel en escabeche which was served at one of my regular hangouts in Bristol, Quartier Vert.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
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.
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday here are some great pairings for pumpkin pie which I’ve updated from my previous article here.
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.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
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.
Last week I was in Sanlucar, the Spanish town in the south of Spain where they make manzanilla, so what else could my match of the week be but a sherry?
If I were to tell you I was seriously excited about the pairing of a supermarket sherry with a supermarket cheese you'd probably think I'd totally lost it - but hang on a moment.
I’m particularly excited about this month’s prize which features one of my favourite drinks, sherry, in celebration of the first ever World Sherry Day on May 26th
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?
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
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 . . .
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.
A robust Spanish fish stew from Stevie Parle's fabulous new Dock Kitchen Cookbook. Stevie is one of the best -travelled and most original chefs in London with a well-honed magpie tendency of picking up ingredients and techniques from every country he visits. He also writes a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
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.
This delicious cake, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is based on a recipe from one of Britain's best bakers Dan Lepard. Do use organic dried fruit in it - you’ll get a much better result.
I was hoping for an interesting pairing from the last meal of the year and wasn't disappointed. Like last year we went to a New Year's Eve dinner at Montpelier Basement supper club where we were treated to an amazing 8 course feast which lasted into the early hours of the morning.
Simnel cake, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is the traditional British Easter cake (although at one time it was baked to celebrate Mother’s Day).
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.
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 ;-)
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.
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 . . .
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.
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:
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
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 already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.
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.
This doesn’t, I admit, sound a particularly tempting proposition so let me explain. By oxidised sweet wines I mean dessert wines which have been deliberately exposed to air through extended barrel ageing, giving them a complex nutty, treacley flavour.
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.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that most chefs would be pretty good at food and wine matching, not least French chefs. Well, you’d be wrong! I’m constantly shocked by the number of chefs who haven’t the faintest idea what wine goes best with their recipes or indeed, who drink wine at all. (Some of them possibly because they’ve, er hem, enjoyed it a bit too much in the past . . . )
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.
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.