Find a match
Found 584 results
Ask most people what the best wine is with cheese and most would choose a full-bodied red. But is it really the best pairing? It depends on the wine, it depends on the cheese and it depends on you. If you LOVE red wine with cheese nothing is going to put you off the experience.
As with white burgundy there’s a world of difference between a simple village burgundy and an elegant premier or grand cru - most of which need 5 years at the very least to show at their best but the dividing line when it comes to pairing wine with red burgundy is age. Is it a light wine you’re dealing with or a more mature, intensely flavoured one. Duck is almost always a winner but here are some other options.
If you’re looking for the ideal food pairing for cabernet sauvignon you don’t have to look very far. Almost any red meat, especially served rare, is going to do the trick.
If you're looking for food pairings for chardonnay, you're in luck! Whatever the style it's a fantastic food wine.
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There's no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains and what type of dressing you use.
Merlot has one of the widest ranges of styles of any red wine from the light, quaffable merlots of the Veneto to the grandest of Bordeaux. Obviously one type of food doesn’t go with them all but merlot is your flexible friend when it comes to wine pairing, smoother, rounder and less tannic than cabernet sauvignon with which, of course, it is often blended.
It’s sometimes hard to predict what type of food will pair well with riesling because they’re all so different - some being bone dry, some ultra sweet, some positively floral, others zingy and citrussy.
What wine should you pair with your favourite pasta? As you might guess it depends on the sauce rather than the pasta shape.
Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.
Wine and cheese are well known bedfellows but if you’re a beginner it might seem daunting to decide exactly which wine to choose for which cheese. This guide will quickly help you to get started pairing wine and cheese like a pro.
An edited version of a very interesting article written for the Oxford Wine Company's magazine by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, organiser of the Great British Cheese Festival and author of The World Encyclopaedia of Cheese.
The question I’m often asked at this time of year is what makes the perfect Christmas cheeseboard. It’s as difficult a question as what makes the perfect Christmas lunch.
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 was wondering which cheeses to suggest putting together for a Burns' Night cheeseboard and luckily thought to ask Patricia Michelson of London's famous La Fromagerie who came up with this brilliant selection.
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.
If you’re a fellow cheese fan I hope you’ll forgive me blowing my own trumpet and pointing you to my latest book Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course. Actually I don’t feel too bad about it because at least half its appeal is its quite gorgeous photography (by Richard Jung) and I can’t claim credit for that!
There are two wine pairings for blue cheese that are so famous that you may not think beyond them: port and stilton and roquefort and Sauternes. But does that mean that you have to drink sweet wine with blue cheese?
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 recently.
As with most cheeses the ideal wine 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 an aged cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
Cheese is possibly not the first ingredient that comes to mind in terms of a Valentine’s Night celebration but think again and you realise there's no shortage of suitable candidates.
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?
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.
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or macaroni and cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
Yesterday I visited my local deli* which had - as it often does - a visiting producer handing out samples. In this case it was a Shropshire producer called Moydens which makes a delicious gooey blue called Wrekin Blue.
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.
One of the most useful things you can have in your cupboard at the moment is vac packed cooked beetroot which you can buy in the fresh section of most supermarkets. Fortunately it doesn’t look that appealing so there hasn’t been a run on it despite the fact it’s relatively inexpensive (90p in my local Co-op).
What on earth do you drink with Époisses and France’s other famous stinky washed-rind cheeses such as Pont-l'Évêque, Maroilles, Munster and Langres? The problem is that the more mature and stinky you like your cheese, the tougher it will be on any wine you pair with it.
It’s still not widely recognised that white wines have the capacity to age, particularly wines that are noted for their freshness and bright acidity so it was fascinating to try a range of older wines from the Centre-Loire yesterday with a range of different cheeses.
Marylebone High Street in central London has become a mecca for foodies in the last few years but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Patricia Michelson’s La Fromagerie, a glorious jumble of a shop that sells everything from cheese (obviously) to chocolate, via honeys and herbal infusions.
Hard sheep cheeses are the winelover’s friend.
If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyère are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.
Whenever I see a producer is about to pair their best wine with cheese my heart sinks, particularly if the cheese is ripe and the wine red. But on this occasion - a tasting and lunch at the Quality Chop House - it worked.
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:
I’ve recently had the 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.
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 . . .
Those of you who visit the site regularly will know that I’m a great advocate of drinking white wine with cheese and a bit of a sceptic about how well red wine pairs with it.
I don’t often pair red wine with cheese, let alone make it my match of the week but the Italian cheeseboard I had the other day at Bocca di Lupo in Soho proved a great pairing for a highly unusual Provencal red
It’s always a bit of thrill to come across a cheese you don’t know especially when you’re bowled over by it as in the case of the Napoleon ewes milk cheese I tasted at the Plaimont pop-up wine bar in Marciac, in south-west France last week. (It's the one at the top of the board in the picture above.)
When I flicked through the pictures I’d taken of the wines I’d drunk over Christmas and the New Year I realised there was a LOT of champagne. Partly because I’d been given or shared some rather nice bottles but equally because champagne goes with practically everything from oysters to shepherds pie (as the novelist Jeffrey Archer famously established).
Even if you're not currently on the slopes you might want to take your chance to make one of the great ski-food classics, fondue, raclette or tartiflette.
You know that port goes with Stilton, right? Well, here’s another good variation on the pair-sweet-wines-with-blue-cheese rule: a glass of Vin Santo and a creamy Gorgonzola.
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
This is the kind of recipe (or rather idea) that I used to put on my old blog The Frugal Cook. But as I’ve given up on it (I know - I shouldn’t have done) I’m posting it here.
Despite the fact that white and sweet wines go just as well with cheese as red wine the idea persists that red is the better pairing
This week’s pairing is a short (and I imagine welcome) respite from Christmas fare - a wine we enjoyed with a number of small dishes yesterday lunchtime at a natural wine bar, Toast in East Dulwich.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
Of all the things I eat at Jose Pizarro's lovely tapas bar José, the croquetas are my favourite. Here's a recipe for the spinach ones from his brilliant book Basque.
A lovely serving suggestion from Trine Hahnemann's inviting book Scandinavian Christmas. The preserved plums couldn't be simpler.
It is absolutely worth making these addictively moreish, light crumbly cheese straws which were served at my son Will’s pub The Marquess Tavern back in the noughties and which I included in my book An Appetite for Ale (which you can currently pick up for an absurdly low price on Amazon.)
We’ve been feasting on figs from our neighbours' fig tree in Grau d’Agde down in the Languedoc this weekend - all the more satisfying as I gather that back home Waitrose is currently selling them at 99p each.
Burgers don't have to be beefy as these delicious salmon burgers from my book An Appetite for Ale prove, inspired by browsing the aisles of the Wholefoods market in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival a few years back!
I’m not normally someone who craves a ‘dirty burger’ but when I was sent a couple in a meat delivery from my mate Northern Irish butcher Pete Hannan I thought I’d go the full hog with it.
In a week of pretty amazing wine pairings (it’s not every day you get to taste five different vintages of Harlan Estate* over dinner) there was one really interesting match I wouldn’t have predicted - and that’s what this weekly slot is all about.
Although I’ve visited posh St James’s wine club 67 Pall Mall several times for tastings I hadn't ever had lunch there until last week. I don’t know quite what I expected - perhaps the sort of roast and overcooked veg you’d find in a gentleman’s club but certainly not a rare burger in an airy brioche bun with perfectly cooked onion rings on the side.
It’s been so steamingly hot this past week down in the Languedoc (sorry to rub it in, rain-sodden folks back home) that there isn’t any alternative to rosé for my match of the week. That’s what I’ve been drinking (albeit from different producers) with everything.
This week I’ve been on my first visit to Cognac, a place - and yes, there is an actual town of that name - I’ve never managed to get to during the 22-odd years I’ve been writing about drinks.
Cognac pairs with chocolate, we all know but what about cheese? Surprisingly there are some standout matches as I discovered when I chaired the cheese workshop at the 2014 International Cognac Summit in France a couple of years ago.
An archived article, first published in 2008, about how great cheddar is made and the difference between Keen's and Montgomery
I’ve done a fair few cheese and wine tastings in my time but none quite as challenging as the one I did at the RAW natural wine fair last year matching natural wine with unpasteurised cheese.
When you think how well apples go with cheese it’s amazing that cider isn’t the automatic go-to for a cheese board but as we discovered at Cheese School* earlier this month some work better than others with particular styles of cheese.
An archive post from a fascinating tasting with maître fromager, educator and author Max McCalman, one of the US's foremost cheese experts, back in 2009.
Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.
Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.
With all the fuss about oysters and Guinness and boiled bacon and cabbage you may overlook what must be one of the best ways of celebrating St Patrick’s Day: an Irish cheeseboard.
Today my son Will and I did an artisan cheese and craft beer tasting at the Great British Beer Festival to promote our new book An Appetite for Ale (due out at the end of September. Hint.) It seemed to go down well so I thought it might be something you’d enjoy trying at home with your friends.
The cheese ball is an American party food classic. It's a little retro, but retro food is fun, and a cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily posh up and adapt to use your favourite cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.
Those of you who've looked up my recommendations on cheese before will have picked up that I'm not a big fan of large cheeseboards. Especially with red wine. But at Christmas people tend to expect them so how do you create as harmonious as match as possible?
Pairing cheese and wine was once a no-brainer. In that post-rationing era when the British were just rediscovering wine, and had no idea what to drink it with, cheese and wine evenings provided an answer. Cubes of Cheddar on cocktail sticks made the vin rouge taste a little nicer, and were a useful way of soaking up the alcohol.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for red Bordeaux. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite'. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries . . .
Despite my passion for cheese I’ve long been a believer that you don’t need to lay on a massive cheese board to enjoy it. You can just as easily (and more cheaply) serve a cheese plate.
As this week was British Cheese Week I felt I had to try out one of the menus that featured cheese and went to The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell, a restaurant run by Anna Hansen who’s known for her innovative approach to food.
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
I’m an ardent advocate of pairing cheese with white wine so it came as a bit of a surprise just how well the Spanish cheeses I was eating over the weekend went with the full-bodied Ribera del Duero wines I was tasting, many of which were over 14.5%
If you're hosting a Hallowe'en supper this week and wondering what to put on the cheeseboard, here are a few suggestions.
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
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?
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
It’s not only Roquefort and Sauternes that pair well together, other sheeps cheeses and sweet wines match well too as I discovered at the Evening of Cheese event I hosted at The Butlers Arms in Sutton Coldfield on Sunday
Cheese is so inextricably linked in my mind with beer and wine I sometimes forget there are other delicious pairings out there but coffee? Well, actually yes.
Given what a tremendously difficult year it’s been we thought you deserved a treat so we’re giving away TWO prizes this month thanks to our very generous sponsors. (You’ll have to wait a couple of days for news of the other one!)
Last week I hosted a tasting for Wines of Rioja at Cambridge Wine Merchants. You never know quite how these things are going to work out on the day but happily most of the matches were spot on.
We tend to get stuck in a bit of a groove when it comes to serving cheese, picking five or six and serving them on a big cheeseboard but if you’re serious about trying to find a good wine match that isn’t the best strategy.
I spend a lot of my time trying to discourage people from drinking their favourite red wine with a cheeseboard because it's so often a disappointment but every now and again you come across a red wine and cheese combination that really works.
This month’s prize involves two of my favourite food and drink producers and a unique chance to enjoy their cheeses and ciders together.
I love this recipe from Claire Thomson's brilliant new book Home Cookery Year which I'm tempted to say is the only cookery book you'll ever need although if you're anything like me it's highly unlikely you're going to give the other however many dozen books you've got away.
A couple of years ago I went to a chutney-making demonstration and tasting. No, not at the WI - it was held by the family owned company Tracklements at leading London cheesemonger La Fromagerie which has recently expanded its empire into the neighbouring shop and now has a fancy new tasting room.
Given that it’s the run-up to Christmas I’ve been tasting (yes, tasting, not drinking!) a lot of port recently so have had some indulgent bottles to hand when the cheese comes out.
Last week I had the greatest cheese and wine tasting I’ve ever experienced conducted by France’s most famous affineur Bernard Antony who supplies cheese to most of France’s top chefs. You’ll have to wait till the article comes out in Decanter in a couple of months’ time for the full details but here’s a star match to whet your appetite.
I’ve been a fan of Peter’s Yard since they first arrived on the scene in 2008 and regularly buy their delicious sourdough Scandi-inspired crispbreads. Each batch begins with a 45-year-old sourdough starter which is slowly fermented for 16 hours - it’s the long, slow proving that’s the secret of their crispness and flavour.
After last week's Muscat pairing my match of the week oddly involves Muscat again, this time a sweet Muscat Petits Grains from South Africa with the romantic name of Heaven-on-Earth. The grapes are apparently dried on a bed of straw and rooibos tea, a flavour I couldn't really pick up in the wine but it was very attractive nonetheless with an lovely quince and apricot flavour.
I really didn’t know which match to choose from the spectacular 10th anniversary dinner which Sipsmith held in their distillery last week. Most of the pairings were cocktails (I also loved the combination of roast Iberico pork fillet with a Red Cat, an invention of master distiller Jared Brown’s*) but I’m going to go for the line-up of four cheeses which was paired with four different gins
I always think it's hard to improve on macaroni cheese but adding crab, which my mate Fiona Sims has done in her brilliant new The Boat Cookbook, is an inspired touch.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
As those of you who follow me on Twitter (as winematcher) will know I’ve been in New York this week and have a huge number of interesting wine and other matches to tell you about but the most unexpectedly successful - and therefore my pairing of the week - was a match of macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling.
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 Wallace & Gromit film. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it?
As those of you who are familiar with this site will know I’ve got issues about drinking red wine with cheese. It may seem an obvious partnership but all too often it seems a warring one.
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.
This week is British Cheese Week - and, by the looks of it, the start of autumn proper - so what better time to rustle up a macaroni cheese (or mac and cheese as they call it in the US)?
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.
I was beginning to think we’d managed to skip winter this year before last week’s icy blasts and snow came as a timely reminder we’ve got a good few weeks to go yet. So there’s still time to enjoy one of winter’s great favourites - a Swiss cheese fondue.
The hardest cheeses to match are washed rind cheeses - those stinky, orange rinded ones like Epoisses - but last week I found a new pairing: a 3 year old cider brandy.
For many people coffee is a regular companion to food whether it’s breakfast or that great German institution of kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) - only the amount of caffeine they might consume holding them back.
It’s been a very cheesy few days this past week - and I mean that in the sense of being cheese-focussed rather than corny.
I wouldn’t have necessarily opened a bottle specifically to drink with Nigella’s crab mac’n’cheese but Biden had just won the presidency and it seemed like the right thing to do. And in fact it went brilliantly.
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Advertising feature: As one of Spain’s most highly regarded red wines you want to pair Ribera del Duero with food that will fully show it off but as it comes at a number of different price points and styles what type of ingredients and dishes work best?
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
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.
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 . . . )
This is one of the many enticing recipes in The Orchard Cook, a beautifully illustrated book I was sent by photographer and food writer Stuart Ovenden and which provides inspiring ideas as to what to do with autumnal fruits such as apples, pears and quince.
Pear cider - also known as perry - has a different taste from apple cider. It’s generally lighter, drier and more fragrant, a better match for delicate ingredients like fish.
If you’re a fan of tartiflette, that wickedly indulgent après-ski dish of potatoes, bacon and meltingly gooey cheese, you’ll be familiar - though you may not be aware of it - with Reblochon.
This might not have been the best match of the week - that honour goes to the turbot and orange wine pairing I experienced at Ellory which I’ve already written up here - but it’s the one that’s easiest to replicate at home.
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.
Some of the most difficult people to buy presents for are serious wine collectors. Unless you have a cellar of your own from which to pluck a suitable bottle it’s quite hard to find something that will ring their bell (obscure sweet wines and sherries, I generally find, being the best bets)
One of the most useful tricks to master, especially when you’re dealing with a tricky-to-match ingredient, is to introduce a ‘bridge’ ingredient - in other words an element in the dish that makes it easier to pair with the wine you want to drink. It can be something as simple as cream or mashed potato or something rather more specific that picks out a flavour in the wine you’re serving.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week and two bottles - both Syrah - have impressed me for very different reasons. One was an inexpensive but characterful Ressac Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah which we bought from the co-op at Florensac, Vinopolis, after eating at their showcase restaurant Bistrot d’Alex which I’ve mentioned on the site before. The other a much classier bottle called Clos du Fou (the 2004 vintage) from a local Faugères winemaker Château des Estanilles which bore comparison with a Côte Rôtie.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible pairing 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.
Syrah and shiraz, as you may know, are the same grape variety but quite different in character. Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhône, tends to be savoury, shiraz from Australia, far more sweet-fruited. Here I’m concentrating on food pairings for syrah. Read this post if you’re looking for matches for shiraz though there is obviously some overlap.
Visitors to this website will be used to my recommending white wine with cheese by now but I didn’t anticipate how good this particular combination would be.
This match last week at 45 Jermyn St had EVERYTHING going for it starting with a decadent toasted cheese sandwich lavishly scattered with grated white truffle. What could be better? Well, actually a glass of very decent champagne (Louis Roederer Brut premier) with it - one of those matches made in heaven where the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
If you’ve visited the Cape Winelands you’ll know what an amazing food and drink scene it has but you may still wonder what sort of dishes to order in a restaurant or to pair with South African wines at home.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in a nutshell:
I really didn’t have much idea what to expect of Toronto. I knew it was ridiculously cold in winter and that it was hard to buy liquor (not a good combination) and that you could eat pretty good ethnic food, especially Japanese. But nothing quite prepared me for the range and scope of the city’s 5000+ restaurants. Here’s where I managed to get to in the 4 days I was there (thanks to taking in more than one venue at every possible opportunity)
So what stood out in the way of food and wine matches - and pairings with other drinks - in 2013?
Thanks - or rather no thanks - to Covid I’ve spent more time cooking from cookbooks this year than any other I can remember. And actually cooking from a book really separates the wheat from the chaff. Or the the sheep from the goats or whatever.
Five inspiring ideas from my recent trip to Toronto for home or professional cooks.
If you’ve been doing your duty by British cheesemakers you may well have a few odd pieces lurking in your fridge you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away and which are now past their best.
Look up any guide to food and wine matching and you’ll find a list of foods that are regarded as anathema to wine. I’ve done it myself but have come to the conclusion recently that the problems are overstated.
Most of the time we’re pairing wine and food it’s the food that comes first but for people in the trade it’s more often about what food will flatter the wine. But how do you ensure a successful match?
Housed in Gordon Ramsay’s former restaurant in Claridge's, Fera is one of the most high profile restaurant openings in London this year which means that it’s burdened with a high level of expectation.
New world wines are sometimes criticised (usually by the French!) for overwhelming subtle Michelin-starred food but award-winning blogger Jeanne Horak-Druiff of Cooksister found much to admire when she attended an Errazuriz food, wine and photography evening at Pollen Street Social.
Last night we went round to some new friends and they made the most delicious home-made burgers.
Sauvignon blanc is many people's favourite wine but what type of food pairs with it best?
There were many great pairings to pick from in Chablis last week but the one I’m going for is a cheese I was relatively unfamiliar with: Soumaintrain
Port and cheese is one of those combinations that hardly needs questioning but there are some variants on the theme that still have the ability to surprise as I discovered when I worked my way through a selection of Taylor's ports and Paxton & Whitfield cheeses the other day.
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
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.
Last week we had one of our periodic Cheese Schools - an event where we explore the best artisanal British cheeses and pair different drinks with them. A regular feature is a beer vs wine ‘smackdown’ but I sneaked in this amazing Blenheim Superb dessert cider* from Once Upon a Tree with the pud.
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
The news that Bristol was to stage its own food festival may have struck you as a bit of a yawn. After all every self-respecting city has a food festival these days, peppered with visiting celebrity chefs and food personalities.
After the frantic cooking of the holiday period I tend to go on strike at this time of year. I don’t want to do formal. I don’t want to do complicated. I just want to have friends round and enjoy a good glass of wine and a simple, relaxed meal with them - which I will have prepared in advance.
It’s the only meal I’ve been to recently where the waiting staff outnumbered the diners and where no less than three main courses were served but the so-called Blaggers’ Banquet was no ordinary occasion.
So sophisticated is the South African food and drink scene now that you can expect to find suggested wine pairings at practically every restaurant you go to but some wine farms have made even more of a feature of their skill at combining the two - a fun way of learning the art of matching food and wine.
Saint-Emilion is a familiar name on a wine list but what sort of food goes with it best? Sommelier Nathalie Gardiner suggests her favourite pairings.
Given the immense popularity of gin the chances of you sitting in a bar downing a gin-based cocktail are pretty high. But at some point you're going to need something to eat so what kind of food can you pair with it?
Often compared to rose petals, lychees and Turkish delight, gewurztraminer is the wine world’s most exotic grape variety so what on earth do you pair with it?
Two matches for the price of one this week - both killer pairings at our Christmas Cheese School* last week.
The best wine to pair with appetizers and hors d'oeuvres rather depends on whether they precede a meal, as is traditional, or, as is the way now, actually ARE the meal. We all seem to enjoy grazing these days.
Sauternes is a famously luscious sweet wine from the Bordeaux region of France but what kind of food should you pair with it?
When I scoured the website for existing pairings with mencia I was amazed how many dishes I’d suggested it with. It really is an incredibly versatile food wine.
With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.
Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).
I don’t know about you but I’ve massively changed the way I shop for food this year. I still go to my favourite food shops in my home town of Bristol (we have some fantastic bakeries and I must go to my local greengrocer Reg the Veg at least three times a week) but like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been shopping more online too
The dinner I mentioned earlier this week was ostensibly to present Zalto wine glasses but was interesting in its own right too as an example of a well-devised wine dinner. Goodness knows, it should be. Neville and Sonia Blech, a former professional chef, have been entertaining winelovers at their Kensington home for years and before that in their own restaurant, Mijanou.
With autumn and winter approaching (not that we’ve had much summer) you may be thinking of a trip to South Africa whose appeal rests not only on its great weather but its vibrant dining out scene.
If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.
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
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.
You’re more likely to have heard of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry or Daniel Boulud’s Daniel but last year Gourmet magazine put a relatively unknown Chicago restaurant, Alinea, at the head of its Top 50 American restaurants, joining Charlie Trotter in making the city one of the US’s great dining destinations.
It must take guts to open a restaurant in Christchurch. Four years after the devastating earthquake that demolished much of the historic city centre it still looks like a war zone in places with yawning gaps where local landmarks once were.
As it's Word Vegetarian Day I thought I'd re-run an article from Decanter on wine and vegetarian food I wrote a few years ago but still contains some useful pointers from top wine producers and sommeliers. (Some of the people quoted are now in different jobs.)
It was surreal. The small room was filled with around thirty people – some with their faces painted white – walking around in disposable white boiler suits. We looked like workmen from outer space. Moreover, we’d been given miniature test-tubes of different flavoured liquids to add to our champagne to make instant, DIY cocktails – which made our glasses sparkle with exotic jewel colours of electric blue, turquoise and fuchsia. Though normally adventurous in matters related to food and drink, I chose to keep my champagne natural. After all, I was going to put my tastebuds through enough for one evening.
No-one who hasn’t experienced a Greek Easter can imagine the scale of the feasting. Wine writer Ted Lelekas tells all about "the most lavish and important meal of the year".
You may think it’s utterly pointless to waste time wondering what would be the best match for Christmas snacks. For most people the answer would be prosecco.
Today is 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.
Those of you who visit the site regularly will be aware I post a regular match of the week - the most interesting wine - or other drink - pairing I’ve come across in the past 7 days.
We had a celebration dinner with old friends the other night at my favourite local restaurant Culinaria so cracked open a bottle of La Réserve de Léoville Barton 2004*, a St Julien and the second wine of Léoville Barton. It really was quite lovely - rich, plummy, velvety - at its peak but with a few more years to go. It was everything you want from red Bordeaux (unless you have bottomless pockets)
Back in March when Covid first hit I remember thinking ‘no-one’s going to want to think about food and wine pairing’ and put my match of the week feature on hold.
July 14th - le quatorze juillet - is an important public holiday in France. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution. Despite its bloodthirsty connotations, it’s now seen as a family day, an opportunity for a picnic or an out-of-doors lunch and provides a good excuse - as if we needed one - for Francophiles to celebrate.
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.
Wheat beers are fabulously flexible when it comes to food matching - the beer world’s equivalent of a crisp white wine.
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
Having been on Islay for the jazz festival all weekend I've been thinking about nothing but whisky and jazz but there is as good a combination : Islay whisky and strong blue cheese
It’s not often that food and drink that goes together perfectly turns up at exactly the same time but serendipitously I was sent a selection of delicious meads last week just as my order of blue cheese from The Courtyard Dairy arrived.
Although it seems similar in style to Brie, Camembert is a trickier cheese to pair with a slightly funky edge that can clash with many wines, particularly reds.
Malbec has become so popular it may have become one of your favourite red wines but what are the best kind of dishes to pair with it?
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’.
White rioja is tricky when it comes to wine pairing as it comes in such contrasting styles. There are the crisp fresh unoaked white riojas which behave much like a sauvignon blanc and much richer barrel-fermented ones which can tackle more intensely-flavoured fish and meat dishes
Vermouth probably isn't the first thing you would think of pairing with cheese but this combination I enjoyed at our local wine bistro Flinty Red in Bristol the other night was just dazzling.
On Saturday night I went to a splendid dinner at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol hosted jointly by a group of Bordeaux producers in conjunction with the city’s best-known chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis of La Tupina and Barny Haughton of BQ, as it’s known locally.
Last post (for the moment) from Paris! A quick run-down of the most interesting food and wine ideas I picked up for those of you who haven’t time to read the full reviews:Sardines - cheap, sustainable - this summer’s must-eat fish, it seems. Grilled (Le Temps au Temps), served with red peppers and black-eye beans (La Gazzetta) served whole in a tin with seaweed butter (Cristal de Sel)
Last week I finally realised a long-held ambition to eat at La Maison de Marc Veyrat in Veyrier-du-Lac. Not a lot has been heard recently from Veyrat recently despite the fact that he is the only chef to have been awarded six Michelin stars for his two restaurants and score a perfect 20/20 from Gault Millau. Just under two years ago he had a horrific skiing accident that left him with multiple leg fractures and he now faces major surgery to break and reset the bones to try and regain his mobility.
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
Imagine trying to find a match for a main course of rare pigeon (squab), beetroot and chocolate followed by a rich molten chocolate pudding with ginger ice cream and a garnish of cucumber cress that has a bizarre flavour of raw oyster. No problem, says Garrett Oliver, the answer is beer (Liefmans Frambozen and Brooklyn Chocolate Stout respectively).
In preparing for a visit to Cognac I read an eponymous-titled book by International Herald Tribune editor Kyle Jarrard. Towards the end of the book Jarrard mentioned a restaurant in the region which pairs this finest of brandies with its own creations. “Ambitious,” I thought and immediately decided a meal at La Ribaudière was in order.
Whenever we come to Paris, whatever new places we book, we still always make time to see two old favourites, Le Baratin and Bistrot Paul Bert.
An establishment bearing the name Taillevent sounds scarily expensive - the main restaurant is - but don’t let that it you off eating in its very innovative and well-priced brasserie which opened in Paris just under a year ago.
You can’t help feeling that it’s Tom Kitchin’s misfortune to be in Edinburgh. Not because his isn’t proud of his Scottish roots - he obviously is - but because if he were in France I’m sure he’d have two stars rather than one.
If you're a fellow potato fan you'll absolutely love this warming recipe from Jenny Linford's new book Potatoes.
Finding a special occasion vegetarian dish is tough if you're not a veggie yourself but try this show-stopping recipe from Sabrina Ghayour's Persiana which won best new cookbook at this week's Observer Food Monthly awards.
Anyone who's lived around or visited Bristol in the last few years will know of the legendary Trethowan's Dairy toasties they used to sell* at St Nick's market. Here's the secret . . .
How on earth to whittle the great food and wine combinations I’ve experienced down to a mere 25? And not to base them all on a few favourite wines and foods?
A re-run of a piece I wrote a few years ago following a trip to Tuscany which reminded me how differently Italians approach food and wine from how we would eat and drink in an Italian restaurant here or at home.
One of the most welcome aspects of the craft beer movement is a new wave of beer events that involve learning about and trying different beers rather just than knocking them back in quantity (well, that too but it’s not the main focus . . . ). And they involve food - proper food (hallelujah!)
Heavily promoted Apothic is just one of a range of sweeter red wines that have been launched on the market recently. Not having much of a sweet tooth, I must confess it’s not particularly to my taste but I can see that it would greatly appeal to wine drinkers who find drier reds unappealing.
Although Bordeaux produces some of the most expensive wines in the world it also produces bottles that are great for everyday drinking. So what kind of food pairs best with them?
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 shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion and rosé pairings to match.
White burgundy includes a multitude of wines from generic bourgogne blanc to the grandeur of a Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But it’s the affordable wines that I’m focussing on in this post. What type of food do they pair with best?
Last Thursday’s dinner to celebrate Decanter’s 2018 Man of the Year, Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuriz was a treat - a line-up of the winery’s very best wines. It was obviously sound thinking to pair two of his top reds, the Don Maximiliano Founder’s Reserve 2014 and Kai 2005 with fillet of beef but I thought the more intriguing match was the first course of langoustine ravioli with their 2015 Las Pizarras chardonnay.
Last week I had three dishes that went unexpectedly well with sparkling wine - for slightly different reasons:
The problem with this time of year is that it leaves little scope for creativity. The mistress (or possibly master) of the house is in charge of the kitchen. The family want the same recipes they always have. You, the humble male have little else to do but choose the wine, pull the cork and make sure it’s served at the right temperature.
i know you’re supposed to run a blog like a magazine. Schedule in topical features and run them when people are looking for that kind of content but this year my annual round-up of cookery books which should usefully have come out at the beginning of December just didn’t happen.
This weekend I’ve been down at my favourite food festival in Dartmouth where I’ve been giving a number of wine talks. One of them was a forum on food and wine matching with wine writer and TV presenter Susy Atkins and former sommelier and wine supplier Tim McLoughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
With the first serious snow of the season you may be craving après-ski food but lack the time, energy or ingredients to rustle up a fondue or tartiflette.
Manzanilla, as you probably know, is a fino sherry made in the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda rather than in the cities of Jerez or Puerto de Santa Maria which gives it its characteristic salty tang.
More and more people have been drinking orange or amber wine but what’s the best kind of food to pair with it?
I suspect many of you decide what you’re going to eat for Christmas and buy in wine without connecting the one with the other. From a food pairing point of view ,however, it would obviously be better to plan your drinking around the meals you’ve decided to make.
I know we always think in terms of wine and cheese but sometimes other drinks can be just as good, if not better. Like this week’s pairing of medium-dry cidre traditionnel and Camembert I came across at a simple roadside restaurant just north of Domfront in Normandy.
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.
Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.
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.
The usual bombardment of hearts and flowers that heralds Valentine’s Day is bound to make anyone who doesn’t have a Valentine feel a bit out of it. But there’s no reason not to enjoy yourself . . .
Discovering you could make a wine from grapes that have shrivelled with rot to leathery little fossils on the vine is viticultural history’s finest example of making a silk purse out a sow’s ear. There is a sense of the miraculous in every sip.
Perhaps you've heard of this summer's requisite summer holiday? The "staycation," a clumsy if apposite description of holidays spent at home, thus summing up the prevailing mood of impecunity. Farewell conspicuous consumption, hello stomping through mud. If you're revisiting some of life's simpler pleasures, but have jettisoned the idea of staying at home I'd highly recommend signing up for a vineyard walk in France. Deploy a bit of ingenuity and you can avoid the extortionate fees 'wine travel' companies charge for a swanky gourmand holiday - after all, it's perfectly possible to be frugal and still have fun.
One of the problems about today’s ultra-complicated restaurant food is that dishes tend to be what I once heard aptly described as ‘ingredient-heavy’. Which can mean that a wine of character may just be one flavour too much.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
I’ve been having some fresh thoughts about food and wine matching since I was asked to participate in the Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona this past weekend and come up with pairings for the bottles submitted by the Primum Familiae Vini, 11 of the world's most famous family-owned wineries
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
There’s a fascinating article in the current edition of Elle à Table about a cheese and tea tasting conducted by Maitre Tseng of La Maison des Trois Thés in Paris with French artisanal cheeses from Alléosse.
Are Languedoc wines grand enough to stand up to truffles? Our new contributor Donald Edwards reports:
As there was so much interest in the post on where my fellow food writers eat out in Bristol I thought I'd do a follow-up with chefs.
I have to say my heart sinks these days when I read about a new restaurant with small plates and Nordic influences but the feedback about Dabbous was so glowing (5 stars in Time Out and from the notoriously hard to please Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard) it was clearly Not To Be Missed.
If you want to ring the changes on your Sunday roast try this delicious recipe from Diana Henry's brilliant new book From the Oven to the Table.
At a time when everyone seems to be looking for meals they can make from 3 ingredients in under 15 minutes Christina Tosi's Volcanoes recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar will strike you as insanely long. It involves 3 separate recipes before you even begin to embark on the Volcanoes themselves. So why am I suggesting you should attempt it?
If you’re an adventurous drinker who likes to try new wines it’s well worth heading for your local branch of Marks & Spencer especially right now (August 2015) when they have 25% off if you buy six bottles.
It's party time and with any luck you'll be indulging in more than your fair share of luxury foods. But what to drink with them? The easy answer for most is champagne and that often works because it's as much a mood match as a food one. But if you're not content with the obvious so I've also come up with a few intriguing and stimulating alternatives:
Although we wine writers like to think we might be able to encourage you to be more adventurous in your wine choices this Christmas the truth is you’re probably going to stick to the wines you're familiar with.
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.
It might surprise you to hear it - and maybe you’ve never tried it - but a serious red wine is a really good match for a burger. Not a Maccy D, maybe but a big lush gourmet burger. And why not?
What on earth do you do when you have a line-up of some of the best wines in the world in front of you? Do you attempt to match them or reflect more the mood, the company and the time of year? Or, given that they're indisputably the hero of the occasion, do you just go with the sort of food the kitchen does well anyway?
As you may know if you visit the site regularly I do a regular match of the week - generally a less obvious pairing I’ve come across that has surprised me as much as it may have surprised you. So which were the best ones that would be worth looking out for or repeating? Here’s my top 20.
Last week I had lunch at my new favourite London hangout, the wine bar Terroirs which is run by a partnership including the quirky and original Caves de Pyrène. It's a place that you'll absolutely love if you're a Francophile: it feels just like a Parisien wine bar - without the surly service. The food is also cracking but as we'd resolved to kick off the new year by splitting a Vacherin Mont d'Or, as you can read on my cheese blog The Cheeselover, we didn't get a chance this time to sample chef Ed Wilson's robust bistro food.
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.
I’ve just had a sneak preview of a very lush new B & B Langford Fivehead which opens next week (March 1st) in the Somerset Levels just outside Taunton. The building dates back to 1453 and is owned and run by former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin and his partner Peter Steggall
Last week I went to a marvellous lunch in Oxford’s Christ Church college dining hall hosted for its members by the Guild of Food Writers. The room - shown right - was just breathtakingly beautiful, lit romantically although the event was held in full daylight, with lights all down the long trestle tables. The oil paintings round the walls must have been quite priceless - the room must have looked the way it does for a century or more.
This is the kind of easy meal I like to make for friends. The soup can be made in advance (or buy one of the excellent ready made chilled soups there are nowadays and dress it up with some fresh herbs), the steak is finished in the oven and the dessert literally takes minutes.
My inbox for the past couple of weeks has been full of gift ideas for Mother’s Day and when it comes to wine that’s all about one colour - pink.
If you've ever toyed with the idea of buying a wood-fired oven Genevieve Taylor's new book The Ultimate Wood Fired Oven Cookbook should persuade you. (And it didn't even cost a fortune. She built it herself!)
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.
It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness, Bailey’s and Irish whiskey are the usual suspects but if none of these appeals here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.
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.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my friends Trethowan Brothers - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
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 . . .
If you’re going to or hosting a Burns’ Night dinner tonight and want to create a bit of a stir, crack open a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a classic Belgian Trappist ale that is still made by monks at the monastery of Westmalle. You could of course drink a Scottish beer - there are plenty of good ones - but haggis to my mind needs a bit of roundness, sweetness and strength, qualities you find more often in Belgian than British beers.
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.
For most people the New Zealand winery Cloudy Bay is synonymous with sauvignon blanc but their range now extends to sparkling, sweet and red wines, a message underlined by a dinner at Hix Mayfair (in Brown’s Hotel) the other day.
This recipe, the subject of my Match of the Week, was so delicious I've persuaded Christine Smallwood, whose lovely book An Appetite for Lombardy it comes from, to share it on the site.
Although you can find any kind of recipe online these days nothing beats a beautiful cookbook and the new Fern Verrow book by Herefordshire farmers Jane Scotter and Harry Astley is one you're definitely going to want to own.
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.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
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.
There’a a fair chance that if you grow courgettes - or zucchini - you’re eating more than your fair share of them at this time of year but what wine should you drink with them?
This week's pairing is for all those of you who are having a dry January this month (although here’s why I’m not).
Although you can drink wine with a burger I’m coming to the conclusion that beer and cocktails are a lot more fun and, particularly with the modern American-style ales, have the sweetness to deal with the multiple flavours of today’s adventurous toppings.
Sometimes a good story is all it takes to make you buy a bottle and who could resist a beer that makes use of food waste - unused bread in the case of Toast?
This week I had a really fascinating vegetarian tasting menu at the Lecture Room and Library at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s London restaurant. The sommelier, Fred Brugues, claims not to believe in food and wine matching (too complicated, he says, with large tables all ordering different dishes) but he actually came up with some inspired pairings.
Take 6 top international chefs and 6 Argentinian wineries determined to prove their wines outlast anyone else’s and what do you get? A fascinating dinner but some titanic struggles on the plate and in the glass.
The first night of my short trip to Toronto was a tasting menu at Executive chef Joan Monfaredi's chef's table at the Park Hyatt charmingly entitled "An evening inspired by the Spring thaw". It featured what I gather is going to be the pattern for the next few days - locally sourced Canadian ingredients paired with Canadian wines.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’m an enthusiast about natural wine so I was particularly interested to go to a couple of natural wine dinners this last week at Artisan and Vine and Angela Hartnett’s Murano
Eating out in Venice is not cheap, as we’ve discovered, but there are ways of mitigating the cost (essential if you’re spending a fortnight in the city!) Here are five of the more classic Venetian restaurants we’ve been to. Some less expensive and off the beaten track options over the next few days.
I wouldn’t say that it’s been a lifelong mission to come here, but it’s certainly been on the list ever since it won its third Michelin star in 2004. Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence is one of Italy’s most revered restaurants – most expensive, too, many will grumble. But don’t let that deter you. Just to get it out of the way though, yes, Enoteca Pinchiorri is hideously expensive - our bill for four came to 500 per head with wine. Get over it – or don’t go.
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.
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 ;-)
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
The new generation of Portuguese wines deserves greater attention from consumers and restaurant buyers alike. While successive waves of wine commentators have celebrated the broad spectrum of original flavours and styles the country’s renascent industry is producing, they remain too little explored. What’s more, compared to the big, clunking fist of much Australian Shiraz, or the twacky, juicy-fruit quality of many a New Zealand Sauvignon, they are demonstrably food-friendly wines.
The last 24 hours' headlines have made gloomy reading. The most obvious casualties are those who have lost their jobs but the economic uncertainty affects us all.
As a massive sherry fan I confess that I find it hard to envisage any other drink with tapas but when you’re invited to experience an off-the-wall pairing you go - or at least I do.
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 Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London last year you need to choose your flavours carefully.
Those of us who have been writing about beer and food for a while have seen many false dawns in the UK - breweries positioning their beers as perfect for different kinds of food, competitions to find the best beer for British staples such as fish and chips, Indian restaurants offering beer pairing menus . . . there was no lack of ingenuity but it didn’t quite take off. But with the number of events and initiatives taking place this summer it really looks as if beer and food pairing has reached a tipping point.
In a recession you need to think outside the box to attract and keep customers. One way is to add a bit of theatre by serving a dish at the table or at a central point of the restaurant where everyone can see it. Here are three recent examples from France and Argentina:
If any sommelier looks set for Gordon Ramsay-style super-stardom it has to be Enrico Bernado.
When I knew I was going to spend 24 hours in Toulouse recently I asked my followers on Twitter - as you do - what restaurants and wine bars they would recommend. Unusually they all suggested different places which didn’t help that much so I ended up trawling around online.
Even if you’re the most enthusiastic gourmet you can’t eat in 3 star restaurants all the time. And for most of us the prices of Paris’s top restaurants simply put them out of reach. Here are four very varied alternatives, discovered by my husband, an assiduous researcher into places that are off the beaten track, which we ate in with great pleasure last week
The Walnut Tree at Llandewi Skirrid has been on my radar for as long as I've been interested in eating out. First under Franco Taruschio and now Shaun Hill, it’s been a place I’ve returned to every couple of years, always wondering why I don’t go more often.
It's hard to keep up with London restaurant openings these days. The latest hotspot seems to change from week to week but these four should definitely be on your radar in spring 2015.
Another recipe for your World Cup celebrations from the Van Loveren family. It comes from the new Wines of South Africa cookbook Cape Wine Braai Masters but you could equally well cook it with a conventional oven and grill.
A recipe from a charming and inventive cookbook this week - blogger Rejina Sabur-Cross's Gastrogeek. I've picked it because I love dips - who doesn't? - but also because of the amazing-looking crackers.
If you fancy baking something easy for the family this weekend try this delicious savoury bread from Claire Thomson's just-published National Trust Family Cookbook.
Lucy Bridgers selflessly devotes herself to finding the perfect pairing for tapas on a tapas crawl through some of London's leading tapas bars
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!)
Sherry gets a bad rap for being granny’s tipple of choice but if you’ve never tried an authentic Spanish style sweet sherry you haven’t lived.
Like any other red South Africa's Pinotage comes in different styles - some lighter and fruitier than others. When you're matching it with food you take a cue from the sort of ingredients and dishes that go with its two ancestors - Pinot Noir and Cinsault.
There’s a lot of talk about how the wines of a region tend to match its food but that seems truer of Tuscany than almost anywhere else.
If you've bough a bottle of English wine to celebrate St George's Day or English Wine Week you may be wondering what sort of food suits it best.
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.
Some recent questions that have been posed to me:
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:
Given the amount of champagne that’s on special offer at the moment you’d think people would drink nothing else but most I suspect will just have a celebratory glass before Christmas lunch or to see in the new year.
Tomorrow is St David’s Day - cue for the media to roll out its annual selection of Welsh recipes. Wales produces its own wine, beer and even whisky so what should you drink?
Far from slow, and much more than a food salon, the biennial grand congress of the Slow Food movement has the stern old city of Turin abuzz, with world gastro-activists mingling with crowds of locals of all ages. The second biggest employer in its nearby HQ town of Bra, Slow is a heavyweight in Italy. Prince Charles sent a video message for the opening ceremony two weeks ago, and the Italian Foreign Minister a much longer one, booed by the crowd, for the closing.
The most successful wine pairing from a tasting I hosted on behalf of Touraine wines the other day was not the expected sauvignon and goats cheese or even fish and chips but a rich gamey dish of venison with a robust Cot, the name by which Malbec is known in the Loire.
Port and stilton is one of the classic wine pairings but does it work if you pair a port with a blue cheese chocolate?
I had a reminder last week of just how good Chardonnay can be with meat given the right accompaniments.
This menu was created as part of a series of pieces I wrote for Sainsbury's magazine. The idea was to invite your friends round for a wine tasting then all have a slap-up meal afterwards. This meal was based on a tasting of South American reds from Argentina and Chile but it would be just as fun to base it round Malbec (Malbec being the perfect wine for a steak).
As some of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will know I lost my husband suddenly three weeks ago. It’s obviously hard to write about it while it's still so raw but I wanted to tell you about something quite unexpected that has helped - and is helping - to heal the pain.
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
If you're a fan of the iconic St John in Smithfield you'll have no doubt had their rarebit at some point and here's how to make it (if you can work out what 'a very long splash' of Worcestershire sauce is!)
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’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagus season 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.
Tokaj or Tokaji Aszu from Hungary is one of the most historic and delicious dessert wines which now has it’s own dedicated day on December 10th but if you’re looking for the ideal food pairing you can take it much further than the dessert course.
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?
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:
One of the world's most popular cheeses, Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour so you need to adapt the wine - or other drink - you choose to how mature the cheese is.
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.
While orange wines are becoming more common I’m still not sure most people know when and with what to drink them so here’s a pairing that worked really well from a dinner I hosted for Bar Buvette, one of my favourite Bristol haunts, last week.
With just over three weeks to Christmas - and even less time to order the Christmas wine if you haven’t already done so - it’s time for us laggards to focus on what we’re going to be drinking and that’s what I’m going to be doing this week.
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
The idea of matching a soup with a full-bodied south-western French red wine might seem bizarre but it proved a surprisingly good pairing.
It’s always a bit hairy doing a live food and wine pairing if you haven’t had a chance to have a run-through first - and even if you have some variable, usually the food, invariably changes.
Last night we had a fun five course wine and food matching dinner at Rockfish Grill in Bristol which showed the range of wines you can match with fish. Here’s a few thoughts about how we approached it for those of you who are organising a similar event.
I don't normally run commercial recipes but this comes from an enterprising new cookbook from a brewery I really like called Thornbridge with recipes from chef Richard Smith.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
There was once no point in thinking about wine in the context of cauliflower. It was a vegetable. It was bland - except arguably in cauliflower cheese - but now it’s roasted, fried, spiced and partnered by other exotic and flavourful ingredients.
Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s best known white wine, it’s true.
Cabernet franc can be the most food-friendly of wines, as good with fish and veggies as it is with meat but as I pointed out in a recent Guardian column it comes in several styles.
Of course it depends what type of IPA or India pale ale you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .
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, writes Stephen Beaumont
The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.
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.
Now here’s a wine pairing with pasta I didn’t wholly expect. The sauce - a gift from a neighbour - was a creamy gorgonzola one to which I added (just to make it fractionally more healthy ;-)) some steamed broccoli I had left in the fridge. (Well, it was raw but I steamed it!)
This is one of those rare weeks where I’ve come across four brilliant pairings that could have made the ‘match of the week’ slot but as it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t done a beer for a while I’ll go for the topical one.
I’m a bit obsessed with orange wine* at the moment. It seems to go with so many things not least blue cheese as this match with gorgonzola at Le Baratin in Paris underlined.
Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)
With this unseasonably hot weather why not look to Greece for inspiration when you're entertaining. Here's a simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
I get to go to some amazing food and wine events but none has beenquite as original as last night’s dinner, part of a series called A Journey From Water to Wine: New Concepts in Contemporary Fish Cuisine.
Although I’ve been doing food and wine matching events informally for a while they’ve gone so well and there seems so much demand for them I’ve decided to offer them more regularly
Someone asked me the other day whether I knew of any courses or classes where you could get practical experience of matching food and wine. Compared to the number of courses on wine, there aren’t many at all but here are the ones I know about - 4 in London and one in Edinburgh.
Bandino Lo Franco carefully lays some slices of rough Tuscan bread on a rack and places it on the glowing embers of an open fire. He toasts them each side, sprinkles each piece with salt, rubs over a garlic clove in one quick movement then pours a generous amount of deep green two day old oil over the toast. “Wait a few seconds” he urges. “Now eat!” It’s the most extraordinary oil, I’ve ever tasted - so intensely vivid and grassy I feel like I’m tasting olive oil for the first time.
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.
As I couldn’t find a sufficiently interesting selection of dishes to match in any one column in the papers this weekend I’ve turned to the food magazines' cookery sites for inspiration:
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.
As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.
Instead of hurtling down south on the motorway as we used to do with the kids to minimise family squabbling, we’ve taken to a stately three day progression with frequent stop-offs to visit winemakers, eat or simply drive through France’s beautiful unspoilt countryside and blissfully traffic-free back roads.
Spending a whole week in Paris is any foodie’s idea of heaven but how do you choose from the vast amount of restaurants on offer without breaking the bank? If you’ve read about how we planned our recent Paris trip I thought you might like to know where we ended up eating . . .
Oxford is a place that doesn’t have a great reputation for food but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the restaurants we ate in last weekend.
Of all the meals we had on my 3 day visit to Piemonte this week Trattoria della Posta was the best. It’s not that the food was different (Piemontese cuisine has a limited repertoire), simply that it was perfectly executed.
If you’re going to go to a restaurant in a tourist city like Florence it certainly helps to go with a couple of Italians. Especially if one of them is a well-known chef* and - better still - has been recommended by one of his mates at one of the poshest local hotels.
With Sergio Herman of Oud Sluis announcing he intends to close his restaurant at the end of 2013, Jonnie Boer’s De Librije could be left as the only 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Holland. So what makes it so special?
If you’re not familiar with London Hackney sounds a heck of a long way to go for dinner. But believe me Mayfields is worth it.
You’d think the combination of a great site in Hoxton, an installation by Damien Hirst and a steak- and chicken-based menu devised by one of London’s best known and most successful chefs, Mark Hix, would be something you’d hurtle across London for but somehow his new restaurant The Tramshed just doesn't come off.
With trattorias on every street corner you might wonder why you need to jump on a number 8 tram and go to the end of the line to eat but Da Cesare is well worth the detour, as Michelin famously puts it.
You’d think London had enough in the way of new French restaurants lately but along comes Boulestin in another bid to seduce the city’s Francophiles. Does it succeed?
The mark of a ‘good ‘critic, my dad always used to say, is that you agree with them. This certainly applies in the case of the Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin whose view of what makes a great meal (good simple food, lack of pretention) I totally sign up to.
I sometimes wonder if we value novelty too much. As an avid restaurant-goer the temptation is always to head for the the latest opening - but keeping pace with what’s new inevitably means you don’t spend as much time as you’d like in the places you actually enjoy.
French onion soup is one of the classic French bistro dishes, famously served to late night Parisian partygoers. But if you don't feel up to it at 2am or whenever you roll in, it makes a warming supper for a chilly winter evening.
If you're vegetarian - or catering for one - you expect more than the Christmas sides while everyone else tucks into the turkey. This delicious pie from Rachel Demuth of Demuths Cookery School in Bath fits the bill perfectly.
New year tends to mean two things - frugal living and healthy eating - and this recipe my eldest daughter Jo devised when she was a student ticks both boxes. Best, of course, with organic veg if you can get hold of them.
Beets are everywhere at the moment but have you ever thought of using them in a risotto? And adding a dash of pinot noir?
Is it possible to eat vegan food that’s as satisfying, sumptuous, and comforting as their meat-based counterparts? The growing popularity of vegan cuisine – particularly amongst non-vegans – has made the concept of “plant-based eating” enormously trendy, but not always easy. Monica Shaw has picked out six great vegan recipes that even carnivores will love.
Talk to chefs and sommeliers about the wines they like to match with food and only rarely will Cabernet Sauvignon crop up. Many are, in fact, quite openly critical of the blockbuster style of many modern cabs.
Sophie Atherton reports on the introduction of a new range of 'birra artigianale' (craft beer) at ciccetti restaurant, Tozi.
I was recently asked the question: "What am i looking for when matching beer and food? Do I want a beer with a similar taste or should I be looking for a contrast?"
On my last day on Mendoza I had one of the most sophisticated winery restaurant pairing experiences I’ve ever come across, quite worthy of the Napa Valley. Ironically it was at Ruca Malen, who made the Malbec I enjoyed at Don Julio in Buenos Aires in Mendoza on the first day of the trip.
Inspired by the recent spate of minimal ingredient cookbooks such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things I thought it might be helpful to come up with 20 wine matches that are easy to remember and which pretty well everyone will enjoy.
You’ve probably got your Thanksgiving wine sorted but what about a beer? If you don’t drink it yourself it may not be something you've given much thought to but in fact beer makes just as good a partner for the myriad different flavours of the typical Thanksgiving feast as wine.
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.
Beetroot is one of the few vegetables that pairs better with red wine than with white - not only for the colour though that tends to put the brain on auto-suggest - but its rich, earthy sometimes sweet flavour.
Should you drink wine or beer with pizza? No rights or wrongs, obviously but here are a few thoughts which might encourage you to experiment.
March 1st is St David’s Day so what better to focus on than Wales’s national symbol, the leek? (Well they have daffodils and dragons too but I’m assuming you don’t want to eat either of those ... )
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone knows that malbec and steak is a classic pairing but the Argentinians do of course eat other foods and drink other wines. Here are 10 that I came across on my recent trip that might possibly surprise you.
Croatia is on a roll, wine-and-gourmet-wise, and the Zagreb Festival is the place for a rapid immersion course in Plavac Mali, Teran, Malvasia and the other regional grapes which go into some of the fearsomely alcoholic products now at large across the Adriatic.
An irresistible dinner invitation came my way a few weeks ago, to attend a game dinner and tasting of René Rostaing’s Côte Rôties at Emanuel College, Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are famous for their wine cellars but these wines came from the personal wine cellar of its ‘wine steward’ Dr Jonathan Aldred, the fortunate fellow (in both senses of the word) who buys all the wine for the college.
Yesterday Jamie Oliver opened the first branch of Jamie's Italian, his much heralded new chain of affordable Italian restaurants, in Oxford. (Others will follow later this year in Bath and Kingston. )
The idea of partnering asparagus with wine is contentious enough but red wine? Surely that won’t work?
As the weather is finally turning warmer we thought we had better clear the freezer of winter ingredients so last night my husband pot-roasted a couple of pigeons we’d picked up on the cheap. Unusually we didn’t have any red wine left over so we cracked open a bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro, a sound but not overly exciting Garnacha and Cariñena-based Spanish red.
In my annual round-up of the best matches of the year I usually end up listing around a third of my matches of the week so I thought this year I’d set myself the the challenge of picking one from each calendar month.
It's always great to have a fresh voice on the site and few are better qualified than Jackie Dyer and Bianca Ford to talk about matching food and wine. Having both worked in the wine trade they've decided to put their expertise to good use in a joint venture called Sip with Supper (@sipwithsupper on Twitter) which will be hosting events and making videos about food and wine pairing.
A report on an all-day butchery and barbeque course at Hobbs House cookery school I went to a couple of summers ago. A great day out for any BBQ enthusiast (or women who live with one who want to keep their end up ;-)
You might think the last thing you need is another list of this year’s cookery books. but indulge me in this slightly different take - who would you give them to and why would you find them useful.
The surprise publishing hit among food books last year was not the record selling Jamie’s 30-minute meals or even the new Nigella but an unillustrated book called The Flavour Thesaurus by an unknown author, Niki Segnit. The book catalogues nearly 1000 flavour combinations which are described in an endearingly quirky way. It’s erudite, original and funny
I’ve never understood why people want to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. Why would you fancy sitting in a restaurant with dozens of other people, paying over the odds for an often indifferent meal and a glass of overpriced champagne? The only argument in favour is that you don’t have to make it yourself.
Think about the last time you went to an event, party, or get together where you had a spectacularly good time. These are the moments that pop up in your Facebook memories and make you think “oh wow, that was a special evening." Everything seemed to flow. Was it the food? The atmosphere? The people? Whatever the reason, you can almost guarantee that behind all of that was a host who was having as great a time as his or her guests.
One of the things that still surprises me after all these years is how scared otherwise confident people are of wine. The number of people who preface a comment on a bottle with ‘I really don’t know ANYTHING about wine’ as if their view didn’t count is ridiculous. Even people like chefs and food writers who taste for a living.
This week Bristol finally has its own natural wine bar*, Bar Buvette which has been opened by a local chef, Peter Taylor who runs one of my favourite places in France, the Auberge de Chassignolles.
Every so often someone has a go at food and wine pairing. The media love it as they like to knock anything to do with wine (the other old chestnut being that wine professionals haven’t a clue because they can’t always recognise wines blind)
I ordered this amazing soup at one of my favourite local Bristol restaurants Wallfish (now Wallfish & Wellbourne) and begged the recipe from the chef, Seldon Curry. It's tastes like the sweetest of oniony fondues and is soooo delicious.
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.
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.
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?
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.
We Brits don't need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
This week I was at Heathcotes Brasserie in Preston, Lancashire for a wine dinner for which I’d had to devise the wine matches. Paul Heathcote, the chef, is an old sparring partner and obviously thought he’d put me on the spot by coming up with some challenging dishes.
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.)
The port and Stilton combo has become a bit of a cliché. Not that it doesn't work - it's hard to fault - but if you want to really impress your guests and take them out of their comfort zone, serve your stilton with a shot of sloe gin instead. It has much the same brambly flavour as a Late Bottled Vintage port but, despite being stronger, manages to taste lighter, fresher and less alcoholic.
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.
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.
Meatballs are essentially comfort food so you don’t want to drink anything too fancy with them but you do need something equally delicious - usually red in my book
The food of Piedmont in north-west Italy is as highly regarded as its wines so it makes sense to make the local dishes your first choice if you’re looking for a match for a bottle of Barolo or Barbaresco.
Viognier (pronounced vee-on-yee-ay) is a rich, exotically fruity white wine, sometimes achieving quite high levels of alcohol so what are the ideal foods to pair with it?
Although there are obviously differences between the two types of beer, dark stouts and porters tend to pair with similar types of food. Here are my top matches ...
Following my trip to Islay a while ago 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.
The English - and very delicious - way with pancakes is to serve them with granulated sugar and lemon (a dessert that pairs well with gently sparkling, sweet Asti or Moscato d’Asti). But an even better match is the French - or more specifically Breton - tradition of serving savoury pancakes with sparkling cider, a vastly underrated drink.
A slightly obscure pairing this week from the Lombardy region of Italy, the focus for an absolutely brilliant pop-up supper I went to at Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge last Friday.
Although chardonnay is grown practically everywhere that grows grapes (with notable exceptions such as Bordeaux) it’s not a variety you may associate with Italy. But the country produces some fine examples and Isole e Olena’s Collezione Privata is one.
When I’m not writing about food and wine matching I’m writing a book - and a blog - about budget eating called The Frugal Cook. So this week’s match is a chance discovery with a scratch supper I knocked up last night (for which you can find the recipe on the blog)
The highlight of last week was my trip to Priorat so this week’s pairing has to be one of the wines I tasted. Oddly it wasn’t one of the wines I enjoyed most although it was in the upper echelons of what the region has to offer : a Vall Llach 2004, a blend of 65% Cariñena (old vine Carignan), 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
I’ve spent the last 3 days in the Veneto at a prosecco festival called Vino in Villa (yup, alright for some, but if it’s any consolation the weather hasn’t been as good as it has in the UK)
If anyone can make Aperol - the Venetian Campari drinkalike - fashionable it's Russell Norman of Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino and now Da Polpo - four of the coolest (and smallest) restaurants in London. Admittedly bitters are not to everyone's taste - they are...well...bitter but I find Aperol fruitier and easier to drink than Campari. The traditional way to serve it as as an Aperol spritz topped up with Prosecco and a whoosh of soda water - the perfect way to recover when the Tube is at its hellish steamy worst.
I’ve been in Vienna for the past few days so couldn’t really avoid eating asparagus. Not that I wanted to. Austria’s white asparagus is one of the highlights of the spring and early summer so we grabbed any opportunity we could to wolf it.
After the excesses of the Christmas period I always reckon January drinking should be about quality rather than quantity with a small sip of something strong and flavourful being infinitely preferable to several glasses of something weak and bland.
Majorca produces serious wine? Go on, you’re kidding! No I’m not as it happens. This luxuriant red from Bodegues Macia Batle - surprisingly stocked by Marks & Spencer - is a great buy.
I’m continually on the lookout for soft drinks that are not too sweet as I know there’s a big demand for them. This isn’t perfect - it’s still a fruit juice so quite high in sugar - but it is genuinely refreshing.
One of the side effects of the recession, I’ve noticed, is that more restaurants are introducing an element of food and wine pairing into their menus. It may be simply a question of suggesting a wine that is available by the glass to go with a dish or a more ambitious food pairing experience - the key thing is that both the front of house and the kitchen can pull it off.
Next time you wonder what bottle to put on the table maybe you should reach for a malt whisky instead of a glass of red or white. At least that’s the Big Idea from drinks giant Diageo, distributor of the Classic Malts Selection™ who are energetically promoting a glossy new magazine-style food section to their website www.malts.com.
Last September I went for the first time to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, a terrific event which really shows how impressive American beers have become. This week, which has been designated American Craft Beer week, many breweries are showing off their beers with food so, if you’re in the states, take the chance to look one up.
Yesterday was my first serious food and drink tasting of the year and it could be a portent of what is to come in 2007 that it was beer we were pairing, not wine.
There are some lovely recipes from up and coming women chefs in the Guardian’s summer food and drink special today together with wine pairings from the paper’s own rising star, wine writer Victoria Moore. Here are a few more suggestions of my own
Now that Grner Veltliner has become a fixture on fashionable restaurant wine lists (along with Albarino and Picpoul de Pinet) there are signs that sommeliers are looking for the Next Big Thing. And the most likely candidate looks to be Vinho Verde.
Not a question I normally have to trouble my head about, I admit but which was prompted by an extraordinary wine dinner I went to last week at The Don in St Swithin's Lane.
The papers are full of her. Despite her six year absence from our screens and and the rise of TV rivals such as Gordon, Jamie and Nigella, Delia (that’s veteran cookery writer Delia Smith for those of you who live on another planet) shows she can still bewitch the media.
The problem with well-known restaurants is the burden of expectation they carry. You go expecting an out of the ordinary experience and are frequently disappointed. Fortunately that wasn’t the case with Francis Mallman, the founder of modern Argentinian cuisine and one of the best known chefs in Latin America.
The word wassail comes from the old Anglo Saxon ‘wes hal’ meaning to be whole, in good health. Wassailing is a very old English custom with its roots in paganism; the idea is to protect the cider apple trees from evil spirits and to ensure a plentiful crop in the coming season.
A Well-Run Kitchen: my second book with chef Stephen Markwick - and a few thoughts on self-publishing
It’s always great to have a new book out, particularly one you’ve published yourself and it’s been a real pleasure to work with Stephen, a chef I so much admire.
A muggy evening in mid-July might seem an odd occasion to focus on wine and game matching but there were two reasons for last night’s Louis Jadot game dinner and the Westminster Kingsway catering college. One is that they hoped to engage the attention of consumer magazines who work 4-6 months ahead in terms of feature planning and the second is that the Game-to-Eat campaign is trying to encourage us all to think of eating game year round.
Donald Edwards finds a clue in the traditional Georgian food that was served at a dinner at the Notting Hill restaurant Colchis recently.
Our roving gastronome Lucy Bridgers puts Portuguese wine through its paces with a succession of small plates from the inventive Nuno Mendes.
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.
Anyone who buys wine on a regular basis will be familiar with the frustrating experience of discovering undrunk bottles lurking at the bottom of a rack that should in theory be long past their best. They’re too good for everyday drinking yet too uncertain to serve to guests. And if they have survived they may be, frankly, slightly weird. Old wine is not to everyone’s taste.
The recent lunch hosted by Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester revealed the extraordinary versatility of red Bordeaux and how it can be served right through a meal.
At the Cape Wine Legends dinner in London showcasing some of South Africa's greatest old vintages, Lucy Bridgers wonders which was the hero - the wine or the food?
One of the main events at the Dartmouth Food Festival this weekend was a dinner at Mitch Tonks Seahorse restaurant cooked by London chef Mark Hix. The unusual factor though was that every dish was matched with a cocktail.
Back in the day if you were invited to go on a stag or hen do for a good friend’s wedding all you had to worry about was making sure you packed enough paracetamol for a raucous night out.
You know your interest in wine has entered the next level when you start to wonder what food goes with the wine you’re drinking. So I thought it might be helpful to put together this beginner's guide, covering the basics of pairing wine with food.
There was a time when the best place to eat in Agde or its seaside satellite Grau d'Agde which lie between Montpellier and Ste on the Languedoc coast was the Michelin-starred La Tamarissire. After that closed two to three years ago it left a bit of a gastronomic black hole but a couple of new places have sprung up which have serious gastronomic ambitions.
So the International Pinot Noir Celebration aka IPNC has pretty well been and gone apart from today’s brunch and it’s fair to say it’s very different from what I expected.
One of the more endearing aspects of the current British food scene is the number of festivals devoted to a single food. I’d heard of oyster festivals, crab festivals and cheese festivals but I’d never come across a scallop festival before.
So many institutions are being converted into hotels these days that one should feel no great surprise at staying at a former eye hospital. But I must confess to feeling a shade queasy at spending a night in the operating room* at the Magdalen Chapter in Exeter - particularly when I spotted the drain in the floor down which many unspeakable fluids must have been sluiced . . .
I’m embarrassed to admit that until last week I’d never been to Beaujolais - it was the one French wine region that had passed me by. I’d heard it was attractive and even on a bleak early March day it was - the famous villages are clustered improbably closely together in the middle of pretty, rolling countryside, spiked by soaring church towers.
I’ve been a huge fan of Brindisa, the Spanish food importer who was probably more responsible than anyone for putting chorizo on our culinary map. They have a great shop in Borough Market and a number of convivial tapas bars so it seemed good news when they announced they were opening Tramontana, a restaurant based on 'speciality dishes from the Spanish Mediterranean'.
When I first went to Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek around 10 years ago I was blown away. Since then its chef Margot Janse has become one of the world’s most high profile chefs and the food more experimental. Would the experience be as memorable?
My father, a sweet man who was never unpleasant about anyone had a phrase for people or places about which he couldn’t summon up much enthusiasm. "Rather nice."
Veg is the new chicken - or so it seems from the overnight reincarnation of Bristol chef Josh Eggleton’s fried chicken shack Chicken Shed into a largely vegetarian restaurant called Root.
From the outside, the re-opened Quality Chop House in Farringdon may look like yet another retro restaurant revival but the big draw is the wine list put together by its well-connected young proprietors.
All discussions on where to eat in Cape Town tend to end up with a recommendation to eat at what is still generally regarded as the city’s best restaurant, The Test Kitchen. Which is not a wholly practical suggestion as it’s almost impossible to get a table.
Burgundian restaurants are some of the most traditional in France but Jérôme Bigot’s charming, original Les Grès wouldn’t disgrace Paris’s fashionable 10th arrondissement.
I don’t envy Gordon Ramsay - or rather his head chef Clare Smyth - the 10/10 rating they received in this year’s Good Food Guide. It makes people like me think ‘Ha! I wonder if they’re really worth it?’ and book to find out.
As the fourth restaurant in the Salt Yard Group which specialises in Spanish and italian food Ember Yard has a fine pedigree but does it live up to its stablemates?
When I asked Twitter - as you do - where to eat in Dublin I was inundated with replies. There is obviously no shortage of good places to eat in the world’s favourite Irish city.
One of the strange things about the restaurant scene in Venice is that the big players are pretty well exactly the same as they were when I last went 10 years ago (yes, way too long!) Only the prices have changed - unfortunately in an upward direction, aggravated by our lamentable exchange rate.
For the past few years French food has been eclipsed by more fashionable Italian and Asian but there are still some great places to go if you want a taste of Paris without having to cross the Channel.
Marylebone has been regarded as a foodie mecca for a while but the action's been mainly at the northern end. Now posh wine bar 28-50 has conveniently established an outpost at the entry to Marylebone Lane, not far from Bond Street tube - a new haven for weary shoppers or workers in need of a restorative glass of wine.
A really easy, delicious preserve using red wine and cassis from Sybil Kapoor's recently released The Great British Vegetable Cookbook - a great present for anyone who has an allotment.
The big trend for cookbooks this year is vegetarian food and no-one is better able to hold your hand and give you inspiration than my pal Elly Pear. This delicious weekday recipe, which can be rustled up in 20 minutes, comes from her new book Green.
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
Maybe I've got a bit overexcited with all the sun this week but the barbecue season doesn't seem that far away so it was good to find Dan Vaux-Nobes' 101 BBQ and Grill recipes arriving through my letterbox.
I love this Spanish twist on baklava from José Pizarro's gorgeous new book Andalucia - it would make the perfect end to a summer meal.
I discovered this deliciously nutty bread in South Africa when I first visited back in the 90s and couldn't stop making it but had forgotten about it until I was reminded about it the other day by winemaker Bruce Jack. This is the version I put in my book The Healthy Lunchbox, adapted from one I was given by Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town.
There's been a decided nip in the air these last few evenings so I don't think it's too soon to make this comforting savoury crumble from James Rich's new book, Apple.
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
I make a point of not going to Vinexpo, the biennial wine fair in Bordeaux (too hectic, too noisy) but it does mean you miss out on the occasional treat like the gala dinner that was held at Château Mouton Rothschild to celebrate the opening of their new chai.
Eggs are supposed to be one of the trickiest ingredients to pair with wine but I’ve never entirely got it myself. More to the point do you want to drink wine with eggs at breakfast or even brunch, the time you’re most likely to eat them?
When we think of pairing wine with lasagna (or lasagne, whichever way you spell it) it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in our minds but these days, as you know, there are many variations. As with pasta sauces, then, your wine choice should reflect the other ingredients in the dish.
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:
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.
As with pasta the best wine to pair with gnocchi is all about the sauce rather than the gnocchi itself. You want a different wine if you’re serving it with a creamy sauce than if you’re serving it with a simple tomato one.
You may not be familiar with Carmenère but it's a delicious red at this chilly time of year.
The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you if you're looking for a food match need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.
You might be surprised that a nut roast isn’t that different from a conventional roast when it comes to finding a wine pairing. The savoury flavours are designed to act as a satisfying substitute for meat and so work best with similarly full-bodied red wines.
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.
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different crus 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.
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.
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're wondering what wines you should buy for Easter weekend here's quick guide to what I think are the best Easter wine pairings.
"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.
I'm pretty sure most of you don't have a fraction of the half-finished bottles I do in my kitchen but I bet you have one or two. And that you don't want - as with other ingredients - to waste them. The solution, of course, is to cook with them and that's what my new book Wine Lover's Kitchen is all about.
Steak isn’t the first ingredient you might think of pairing with champagne but if it’s ground wagyu beef, served in a bun with a quality glass of fizz in a glitzy Park Lane restaurant you might just have to force yourself.
It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)
This week’s match of the week doesn’t come as a big surprise but it’s sometimes good to be reminded of tried and tested pairings rather than ones that come totally out of the blue.
“Tender little dumplings, as fragile as a pasta filling” is how Diana Henry describes gnudi in her fabulous new book How to Eat a Peach. (The word, which is pronounced new-dee means naked)
Some of the best meals - and the best wine pairings - come about without a great deal of forethought. Like the pasta I threw together last week in France from storecupboard ingredients then accompanied with a cracking bottle of inexpensive Tuscan red we’d just bought from a winemaker at a natural wine fair. Yes, Italian wine. In France! Who’d have thought it?
In the general flurry of celebrations last week I missed out on St David’s Day (the patron saint of Wales) and the opportunity to write about leeks. Leeks tend to excite a certain amount of derision but I think they’re a fabulous vegetable, much milder, subtler and sweeter than onion and much more sympathetic to a fine white wine (for I think they go much better with a white wine than a red one).
Last week I was in Manchester for lunch at the new Hawksmoor, a restaurant I can hardly review given it’s one of my son Will’s.
I realise this is not the first time I’ve written about the virtues of roast pork and beer but it’s such a great match (and such an underrated one) that I keep on coming back to it. This time I came across it in a splendid northern French tavern called Le Bruegel in Bergues, the highlight of what was otherwise a rather cold, miserable journey on our way back to England last week.
As it turned out the star pairing of my bizarre Brewdog Burns night was not the haggis spring rolls and Punk IPA but an equally off the wall pairing of raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon, a 15% Imperial stout.
I’ve always thought of gewürztraminer as a bit of an inflexible wine - brilliant with spicy food. rich patés and pongy cheese but not much else. However it went brilliantly with several dishes at my local, Bellita in Bristol the other day including a classic Italian dish of pumpkin gnocchi with sage and brown butter.
I thought it was pretty brave of rioja producer Ramon Bilbao to present their wines at a cutting edge Peruvian restaurant last week. Still, everyone knows rioja goes with Spanish food so why not? You never make new wine pairing discoveries if you don’t push the envelope.
Usually this feature focusses on less familiar wine pairings but sometimes you can’t beat a tried and trusted combination.
I know Thanksgiving has past but I came across such a good pairing for pecan pie at a friend's* house the other day I had to tell you about it. Her pie by the way was quite distinctive with a thin layer of soft caramel in the centre (and, obviously, crisp pecans on the top).
This has to be one of the most off-the-wall drink pairings not only this year but since the site was first created over 10 years ago:
With the traditional emphasis on port and, to a lesser extent, sherry at Christmas, it’s easy to forget the virtues of marsala, an equally festive drink. Especially as I discovered last week at my friend cookery writer Thane Prince’s with a rich, boozy panettone.
As last week was Sherry Week and I’m a MASSIVE fan my match of the week clearly had to involve sherry. But which to choose? It was hard given the number of standout pairings at the sherry dinner my local tapas bar, Bar 44 in Clifton put on but I’m going for the sherry by which I was most blown away - a limited edition of Gonzalez Byass Alfonso oloroso, one of six rare casks that are being bottled by the bodega under the name ‘Vinos Finitos’ (finite wines)
OK, this pairing is not rocket science - I’m sure you know that pinot noir is a great match with mushrooms and so obviously with mushroom risotto too. But you may not have totally taken on board just how good German pinot - or spätburgunder, as they call it in Germany - is nowadays.
I know I’ve already raved about this stunning combination at Heston’s new restaurant Dinner but it's already a candidate for one of my top 10 pairings of 2011, never mind my match of the week.
Since I was in Provence for three days last week you might have expected me to come up with an all-Provençal pairing as my match of the week but in fact it was a lunch of Lebanese mezze that provided the best partner for the local rosé we were tasting.
It’s unusual for me to have two consecutive beer pairings as my match of the week but not surprising given that this week’s comes from an excellent beer dinner at The Bull, Highgate to mark the launch of Canadian beer and food expert Stephen Beaumont’s Beer and Food Companion
Beef and red wine is a blindingly obvious match but it gets more interesting once you think about the cut and the way that it's cooked.
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.
The best meal on my whirlwind tour of the Centre Loire* last week - and there was stiff competition - was a Japanese meal prepared by sommelier Juli Nakata-Roumet, the Japanese wife of the local promotional body’s director of communication Benoit Roumet
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.
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.
I was invited to host a food and wine evening by the Bristol Uni Wine Circle last week which I have to say, despite the vast quantities of food and drink consumed, they took impressively seriously.
In the wake of the great cider boom that has gripped the UK over the past year or so perry - which is cider made from pears - is also undergoing a renaissance. Typically drier than cider it goes well with the sort of dishes with which you’d drink a light dry white wine like a Chenin Blanc or a Chardonnay.
I often feel I don’t get - or make - enough opportunities to try beer with food so was especially pleased to be invited to a Dea Latis beer dinner at The Albion in Bristol last week
Until last night I was confident what I was going to make my match of the week, this week - the unlikely but delicious combination of a Langhe Nebbiolo and Berkswell sheep’s cheese but last night I was blown away by this pairing.
It’s tough to pick out just one wine match for from the dinner I had at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons last week but I’m going for this sophisticated twist on a classic English pudding from chef Paul Heathcote which was paired with a passito dessert wine from the island of Pantelleria
The other day I enjoyed a surprisingly good pairing of a beetroot soup with an English blend of Pinot Noir and Rondo from Kent winery Chapel Down at the London restaurant Roast. I say surprising a) because soup is difficult to pair and b) because the two are so similar in colour that you’d think the wine wouldn’t be a sufficient contrast to the soup. In fact its fruitiness and crisp acidity (the Rondo making it taste more like a mid-weight Italian red) was just the right counterpoint to the earthy rich character of the beetroot.
Yesterday I had lunch with some old friends in a chic little Italian restaurant called Trenta. It’s in in the upwardly mobile neighbourhood just west of Edgware Road in London into which Tony and Cherie Blair have just moved. (It also has a Jimmy Choo shop two doors down. It’s that kind of ‘hood)
I’d already flagged up southern Italian red wines as a good pairing for aubergine (or eggplant) but it was good to be reminded just what a great match nero d'avola can be, especially with aubergine parmigiana
Six top chefs reveal their best ever food and wine match and what they'll be eating and drinking this Christmas.
This has been one of the most difficult weeks ever to pick my match of the week but this, by a whisker, was it.
I actually experienced so many great wine and food matches last week in South Africa - some accidental, some intended - that it would be invidious to pick out just one as my match of the week so here are a dozen that really stood out for me. (See also my match of the week last week of Semillon and seafood)
I think Txakoli may be my new favourite restaurant wine - or at least it is this summer. It’s a unique, sharp, very slightly fizzy white wine from the Basque region of Spain. The one we were drinking - at the Palomar in Soho - was the Agerra Txakoli which comes from the designated origin of Getariako
I’ve never known quite what wine to pair with cacio e pepe, the fashionable pasta dish that’s just based on cheese (usually pecorino) and cracked pepper.
It’s easy to get into a mindset with food and wine pairing where you automatically revert to a tried and tested combination. Like pizza with Peroni or a Sicilian red
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).
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration for Tuesday and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
One of the highlights of my trip to Australia a couple of years ago to celebrate the World’s 50 Best restaurant awards was lunch at one of their best known cookery writers Lyndey Milan’s in Sydney
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
A vodka party sounds dangerous, the sort of idea you used to come up when you were a student but think Russian-style hors d’oeuvres, or zakuski as they call them, and you’ve got a great theme for an evening with friends.
Recommending a specific wine is a bit of a lottery at the moment. I had planned to tell you about this seductively velvety Chilean red a few days ago but couldn’t get get into the Morrisons site. But I’m hoping you can find the odd bottle in store although its current sharp promotional price of £6 (until April 4th) may make that a long shot.
Not only a candidate for drink of the week but drink of the year, this small-batch Somerset vermouth is one of the most delicious products I’ve come across in 2014.
I’m not normally a massive fan of elderflower bubbly which I generally find too sweet but I tasted one the other day from Sharpham vineyard that was in a different league.
For obvious reasons* I was all set to recommend a handsomely bottled Irish whiskey I’d discovered this weekend but then I tasted it and actually didn’t rate it so here’s a fantastically good value wine deal I found in my local Co-op instead.
If you’re after a bright, fruity, sunshine-filled red to carry you through the dark, dreary days of winter you couldn't do better than this delicious Côtes du Rhône.
It’s easy to overlook the familiar in favour of the esoteric, particularly when you’re a wine writer but it’s hard to think of a bottle that consistently gives more pleasure than Cune’s Gran Reserva Imperial Rioja.
Those of you who read my Guardian column may have spotted that last week’s was devoted to winemakers who tackle an established grape variety or wine style on their own doorstep
I’ve long been an admirer of Compass Box whisky who were one of the first blenders to create and package sophisticated modern ‘artisan’ whiskies as they like to describe them.
I’ve been getting a fair amount of flak recently - can you BELIEVE it? - for recommending wines that are too cheap so this bottle at £62 for 50cl should satisfy those of you who are itching to splash the cash
You might wonder why I so regularly flag up Lidl’s season ‘wine tours’. (No, I’m not paid to do so in case you were wondering, it’s just that it’s hard to find decent wines under £7 these days and these limited edition offers are well worth snapping up.
Lidl has released its latest limited edition batch of wines including 2 at under £5 - if you can still find them on the shelves. Here are the 10 I think represent best value.
One of the best sources of good value reds right now is Portugal and if you like full-bodied styles the Douro is the region to look out for. This 2017 Glorio Douro is almost porty which should come as no surprise as it’s made from three of the grapes - tinta roriz, touriga nacional and touriga franca - that are used to make port.
The South African wine industry has had a torrid 2020 so far with a ban on exports back in April and now a ban for the second time on domestic sales, citing the pressure that hospitals are under dealing with the high levels of alcohol abuse on top of the COVID crisis.
The latest orthodoxy about bookselling in these straitened times must be that a book has to be big to sell well. Hence the 492 pages devoted to Nigella’s latest opus Kitchen which weighs in at 1890g or 4lb 2 oz. (Out of curiosity I checked).
How often do you find a recipe book that offers a genuinely original selection of recipes inspired by a cooking tradition you’re not even aware of? For those whose shelves are bulging with Italian and middle-eastern cookbooks, Mamushka, by the talented young chef and food stylist Olia Hercules, offers a window into a different culinary world.
Having eaten Jane Baxter’s food on a number of occasions I was really looking forward to the publication of Leon Fast Vegetarian, the book she’s just written with Leon founder Henry Dimbleby, one of a series of books that has been published by the Leon chain.
It’s almost 20 years ago now since Josh Wesson wrote his first book on food and wine pairing - the ground-breaking Red Wine with Fish: the new art of Matching Wine with Food which he co-authored with David Rosengarten. He then went on to set up the attractive and innovative wine store Best Cellars which groups wines by style
When I blogged about my Christmas in East Dulwich the other day and speculated where else in London would make a good place for a food lover to live I never expected it to trigger such a response.
As you may have already picked up Marks & Spencer is selling 32 top 2014 Bordeaux It bought bought two years ago en primeur.
It’s the evening of December 27th and my daughter and I are holed up in the luxurious Rosewood hotel in London tucking into a club sandwich (her) and a lobster macaroni cheese (me) on room service.
‘God I miss restaurants!’ has been the plaintive cry on Twitter from quite a few of us lately. This lockdown makes me realise how often I normally eat out and how much I enjoy the warm, welcoming buzz of my favourite places. Not to mention those cosy suppers huddled with friends round the kitchen table.
I had a great day in Brighton yesterday on an occasional gig I do for the Discover the Origin campaign talking about (and tasting) Burgundy, Douro wines, port, parma ham and parmesan. So not exactly a hard day at the office . . .
A friend I ran into the other day asked my advice on a birthday meal he and his wife were cooking. He wanted a menu - and wines - that would iimpress their 20 guests but which didn’t involve them in too much work. He’d also recently developed a taste for German riesling but wasn’t sure if his guests would share his new-found enthusiasm. So what should they eat - and drink?
If you’re wondering why I’m devoting a post to Lambrusco you obviously haven’t tasted the real thing and today, Lambrusco Day, is your ideal opportunity to try it.
A simple lunch of quiche from leftovers thrown together from the fridge turned into a feast with a glass of Claire and Fabien Chasselay's Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois, an organic Beaujolais from the excellent 2009 vintage.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.
An easy seasonal supper to make for friends, most of which is from my book Food, Wine & Friends. Instead of having a first course/appetizer hand round a selection of crostini with drinks then move on to the main course, an Italian-style roast that can be carved before you bring it to the table. An indulgent, creamy rhubarb and strawberry fool completes the meal though you could always serve a selection of goats’ cheeses as an alternative.
When I received an invitation to a lunch that would see a range of wines from giant Australian wine producer Hardys paired with food prepared by Pied--Terre’s Shane Osborne, I have to admit that my inner wine snob rather expected the stuff in the glasses to be outclassed by the stuff on the plates.
As was the case with his previous restaurants, Corrigan’s, which I reviewed yesterday, has a fascinating and idiosyncratic list put together with the help of the ingenious Douglas Wregg of Caves de Pyrne, the company which is also behind the excellent new Terroirs ‘natural’ wine bar* just off Trafalgar Square.
Having spent five days in Germany this week I’ve been thinking a lot about riesling and food. And my conclusion is that the heavy focus on Chinese, Thai and Indian food may be doing German wine a disservice
One of the reasons people most appreciate independent wine merchants is that they can talk to them about the kind of wine that will suit the meals or occasions they're planning.
If I had to live anywhere in the US it would be Oregon. Admittedly the last couple of days have been unbelievably beautiful but I think it’s more that it’s comfortingly familiar - with green rolling hills and woods and flower-strewn hedgerows. Very much like Burgundy, the spiritual home of most Oregonian winemakers.
The last time I did a round up of the best places to eat in Bristol was back in 2014. Since then the food scene has exploded to such an extent that I hardly recognise my original list.
For those whose courgettes (zucchini) just won't stop producing here's the perfect way to use them from Tom Hunt's lovely book The Natural Cook.
Waitrose is the latest to offer a 25% deal off wine and champagne if you buy six bottles (12 online) The deal runs until midnight on November 5th and excludes gift packs and spirits.
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
If you're planning a special meal for Valentine's Day you may be wondering which wine to pair with your menu. I've picked some favourite Valentine's Day foods and suggested some matches that should work well with them.
Being surrounded by peaches and nectarines at the moment has reminded me what a brilliant match they are for a glass of dessert wine. And, surprisingly, even for a red!
You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the Easter table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns.
With southern hemisphere wines from the 2016 vintage having been on the shelves for a few months now the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau has become less significant but you may still want to crack open a bottle today.
Prosecco is so often drunk on its own that you may not have given much thought to the kind of food you can pair with it but if I had to sum it up in two words it would be ‘party food’
Roquefort cheese is unusual in having such a frequently recommended wine match (Sauternes) that you may wonder if it’s worth drinking anything else but depending how you serve it there are a number of other options.
If I had to sum up the best food pairing for albarino in one word it would be seafood. Which makes sense considering where it comes from on the coast of Galicia in the Rias Baixas region of northern Spain.
German wheat beers are sufficiently different from Belgian wheat beers to merit a separate post - so what are the best food matches for hefeweizen with their striking banana and clove flavours?
If you’re wondering what type of wine to serve with moussaka the obvious answer is a Greek red. The dry, dark-fruited character of the country’s indigenous grapes suits the dish perfectly.
In London the trend was started by Rowley Leigh and picked up on by Paul Merrony of the Giaconda Dining Room*. The return of hors d’oeuvres, that tasty little selection of small dishes that preceded tapas but which had fallen from favour along with many other elements of French bistro cuisine.
Sometimes you get in a rut with a particular food and wine combination - maybe on a ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it? basis. Such is the case for me with tapas which I tend to recommend pairing with something Spanish - usually manzanilla sherry or - depending on the amount of seafood - a crisp Rueda, dry Spanish rosado or a young Rioja or similar Spanish red.
This match, which I enjoyed at Plateau wine bar in Brighton last week, breaks a couple of wine pairing conventions. Firstly that you match red meat with a full bodied red. And secondly that you don’t drink red wine with asparagus.
After months of lockdown it’s been such a pleasure to return to favourite restaurants like Elliott and Tessa Lidstone’s Box-E and I couldn’t have had a more perfect day to enjoy it. The food too - especially this quintessentially summery dish of courgettes, tomatoes and basil with the lightest, fluffiest polenta - was just perfect for sitting outside on a hot day.
This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.
I came across this pairing at a dinner to launch the London Restaurant Festival. It was held at Nuno Mendes Loft Project, a permanent East London pop-up - if there is such a thing - where he normally hosts visiting chefs of a similarly experimental bent. Mendes is one of the most talented chefs in London at the moment and normally cooks at nearby Viajante in Bethnal Green which I reviewed here.
If you’ve never tasted a fruit beer you might think this pairing sounds bizarre. If you have you can probably imagine just how good it would taste.
Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.
Rosé at Christmas! Well, why on earth not? We enjoy white wine year round and reds in the summer so why not enjoy what has become one of the most popular styles of rosé at this joyful time of year?
If you like Beaujolais you’re going to love this 2019 Touraine gamay, from Domaine Roc de Chateauxvieux which has the same bright juicy happy-making fruit.
Some of the most interesting wines I come across currently are from Spain but with restaurants closed I don’t often come across them these days. So full marks to the enterprising London restaurant Arros QD for holding a Saturday night wine tasting to show off some of the wines that are normally on their list.
Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.
One of the best things I’ve done in the last three years is to judge the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Contrary to what the name suggests it’s not all about prize heifers and outsize marrows though it does include awards to food producers and farmers but also features school and other institutional cooks, food markets and drinks.