Pairings | Food and wine matching
So what stood out in the way of food and wine matches - and pairings with other drinks - in 2013?
I’ve just spent the past two days at What Food What Wine? tasting wine alongside dishes as disparate as smoked salmon and apple crumble, Stilton and steak and lasagne and lamb - a bit of an assault on the palate (and stomach!) but one of the best ways to work out what wine really works with your favourite recipes
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.
Over lunch with Peter Klosse the other day I re-discovered what a huge difference the way an ingredient is cooked and sauced can make to the wine you choose.
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
There was a fascinating report in The Drinks Business this week of a speech by Dr Peter Klosse of the Academy of Gastronomy at the Fine & Rare Specialist Course in Vienna in which he argued that white wine is easier to match with food than red.
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.
A while ago I encountered a problem that restaurants must deal with every day: the issue of consistency.
I have no evidence for it but I’m sure that the vast majority of wine that people buy is bought to drink with food. Yet most of the wine that’s tasted or presented to journalists and bloggers is shown on its own.
The second London Wine Sessions took place last Saturday - rather appropriately in über cool Hackney. It was a day of wine tastings and discussions featuring some prominent, established names such as Fiona, Jamie Goode of Wine Anorak, the Telegraph's Victoria Moore and the Independent's Anthony Rose as well as current trail-blazers.
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.
Author (and self-proclaimed shopkeeper) Sally Butcher of Persepolis asks whether Grenache rosé reminds you of patchouli and Malbec of Beethoven. And are we missing out if we’re not fellow synaesthetes?
The results of this year’s What Food, What Wine? competition were announced yesterday and, as in previous years, I’m sure eyebrows will be raised at some of the trophy winners.
If any sommelier looks set for Gordon Ramsay-style super-stardom it has to be Enrico Bernado.
There were some big surprises when the results in the What Food, What Wine competition were announced this week - always a bonus of tasting blind.
Advice on food and wine matching tends to focus on such issues as flavour intensity and finding a wine to complement or contrast with the dish in question (not an approach, I admit, of which I’m overly fond) but a meal I had the other day reminded me of a couple of other factors that it’s worth bearing in mind.
Those of you who enjoyed the recent events I’ve been doing with the lovely people at Honey & Co will be pleased to know we have a new series coming up, starting next month. Billed as Wine Adventures around the Med, we’ll be focusing on three countries and regions and the wines we feel go with their food best.
The reaction of many people to the news that the new BBC Food & Drink show was to be co-hosted by Kate Goodman would have been Kate who? I confess it was mine.
Fascinating to see Gallo (now Gallo Family Vineyards, note!) make food and wine matching the focus of their latest glossy, full-colour advertising campaign in the national press (which also coincides with their sponsorship of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word.)
When you have a menu in front of you how do you decide which wine to order? Sure, you can ask the sommelier or waiter but in some restaurants the service is not as helpful or knowledgeable as it might be. But there are plenty of clues in the descriptions of the dishes themselves that point to the key ingredients and the way in which they are handled. Here are a few examples:
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.
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.