It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on match it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
It’s tough to say what the best wine matches for lamb are - it’s served so many different ways and there are so many wines (mainly red) that work but here are my five favourites.
Today is the third International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.
I first met winemaker Wilhelm Coetzee back in 2006 when he was working for Flagstone. He's now working at Durbanville Hills and this is his favourite 'braii' recipe.
When you’re roasting lamb you’re almost spoilt for choice. Almost any red you enjoy will go with this most wine-friendly of dishes but my pick of Thierry Puzelat’s quirky KO In Cot we Trust (2005) proved a winner
Malbec is getting so popular it may have become one of your favourite reds but what are the best kind of dishes to eat with it?
In our final extract from Cape Wine Braai Masters we feature a recipe intended for Gemsbok from Michael Bucholz, winemaker for the Obikwa range but as antelope are a bit thin on the ground in the UK I've adapted it for beef fillet.
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the easiest dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of wine you choose.
Last week we were down at our house in Languedoc mainly cooking from home* and raiding the cellar for wines we thought needed drinking up - at least that was our excuse!
Given that it’s been in the mid-30s in the Cape Winelands recently it’s not surprising the local prefer their beef cold rather than hot but that also requires a change of thinking - from full-bodied to lighter reds.
I’m aware that there’s a Francophile bias to this site but there are recipes where I automatically turn to the New World. The spicy lamb dish I picked up the other night from my local restaurant and takeaway Culinaria is one of them - a hottish tagine-style dish of spiced lamb, aubergines, chickpeas & merguez sausage which was almost on the verge of being a curry.
This, I think, was the standout pairing from our Honey & Co wine club on Sunday and a great illustration of the difference a dish can make to the way a wine tastes.
A cabernet would have been the last wine I would have thought of drinking with a curry but as happens from time to time you come across an unexpected wine match that really works.
One of the most striking things I’ve noticed during my few days in Rome this past week is how white wine seems a better match for the local food than red does. Even with red meat like lamb? Strangely, yes.
It’s amazing how many different styles of eating you can pack into a week, particularly when you’re travelling. At the moment I’m in sunny Chile stuffing myself with seafood and sauvignon blanc so I'm finding it hard to remember that just six days ago I was in rain-ravaged Britain craving pies and stews.
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.
This may well be the most off-the-wall pairing I post this year: chardonnay with a lamb curry? Extraordinary - and this is why
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.
Last week I was travelling back through France again and encountered a number of interesting matches but the one that worked best for me was in a modern bistro by the covered market in Besançon called La Table des Halles.
The closest result so far from one of our polls was the recent question on what to drink with a roast rib of beef. Clearly imagining a classic English Sunday roast 33% of you opted for red Bordeaux with just under a quarter of you (24%) preferring a Rioja.
We get so used to thinking of red wine as the only pairing for beef that it’s good to be reminded there are other options. Especially when it comes to Japan’s fabled Wagyu beef which is all about subtle tastes and textures.
It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.
It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)
The sharp-eyed among you may have spotted we haven’t had a competition running for the last couple of weeks. That’s because we’ve been waiting for a very special prize. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
While we may not be enjoying quite the temperatures they have in Greece this time of year is still a good excuse for summery food so try this simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
I made this simple, classic French one-pot meal down in the Languedoc in April last year - proof that a stew hits the spot at what can still be a chilly time of year.
Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I reviewed here.
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.
My first Match of the Week of the New Year is a classic but none the worse for that: an award-winning South African Bordeaux blend with a slow roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic and rosemary.
A student gathering is not the first place you’d think of finding a good wine pairing or, indeed, a drinkable wine at all but the talk I gave last week at the University of Bristol Wine Circle produced some great combinations.
Manzanilla sherry never fails to surprise me with its versatility but you don't often come across a combination as good as the one I had last week at Lido restaurant in Bristol.
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
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)
Celebrations come thick and fast at this time of the year - first Burns' Night, and now Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Since both fall on the same day this year I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (terrible expression but you know what I mean) and mark the Year of the Ox with a beef recipe matched with an Australian wine.
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.
Last week I was in Galicia (for three days. Without my suitcase. Thankyou Easyjet) visiting the denominations of Valdeorras and Bierzo where the star red grape is Mencia. (For years I got them confused periodically thinking the grape was Bierzo and the region Mencia but I’ve finally got it straight.)
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
This has been one of the most difficult weeks ever to pick my match of the week but this, by a whisker, was it.
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.
Last night was my first in a two week trip of Australia - an informal dinner with Vasse Felix at a Chinese restaurant in Perth (Grand Palace).
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.
Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.
I found myself back in an old haunt last week - Peter Gordon’s The Providores in London’s Marylebone High Street. As the bar was crowded we went up to the restaurant and treated ourselves to the à la carte*
This is possibly the most off-the-wall pairing I encountered on my recent Chilean trip and for that reason the most exciting - both on account of the food and the wine.
Now here’s an unexpected match. I would be wary of pairing a Beaujolais - even a Morgon - with something as sweet as a lamb tagine with dried fruits thinking it would make the wine taste slightly sharp but the combination worked perfectly.
I can’t pretend to be wholly impartial about this wine match which comes from Foxlow, the latest restaurant from my son Will and his business partner Huw Gott (who also own Hawksmoor).
I imagine you all know how well sake works with sashimi but it came as quite a surprise to me - wagyu aside - how well it could handle red meat and spice
If you’re looking for the ideal food pairing for a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (or any other full-bodied cabernet) you don’t have to look very far. Almost any red meat, especially served rare, is going to do the trick.
With July 4th falling on a Saturday chances are you’re going to be thinking barbecue this weekend. Here’s an authentic Texan style BBQ recipe from “Slow Fire, The Beginners Guide To Barbecue” by Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ.
Just as last week’s match of the week was a classic - so is this week’s: the main course we had at Oliver Peyton’s National Gallery Café at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Wine Writers.
Inspired by the recent British Kebab awards Zeren Wilson wonders what the perfect wine pairing is for a kebab and comes up with some surprising conclusions.
Rioja - and by that I mean red rioja - is one of the UK's best-loved wines and one of the easiest ones to match with food too.
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
With Hallowe'en just a couple of weeks away here's a sophisticated supper for those of you who don't have to go out trick or treating . . .
If you haven’t already made your plans for New Year’s Eve why not invite over a few friends and treat them to a beer dinner instead of one based on wine? It’s a great way to open their eyes to the great range of artisanal beers that are now available.
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
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 . . .
There was a time, about 10 years ago, when I wrote a lot about Merlot which was widely regarded as wine world’s alternative to Chardonnay - an easy drinking red wine that went with almost any meal.
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?
You may not be familiar with Carmenère but it's a delicious red at this chilly time of year.
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.
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.
Here's a barbecue with a difference from my book Food, Wine and Friends. The centrepiece is a spiced, butterflied leg of lamb served with a delicious Turkish-style bulghur wheat salad called Kisir. Finish with grilled nectarines or, if you prefer to have your dessert prepared ahead, some refreshing wine jellies.
If you like the style of super-Tuscans but find the prices a bit steep the Tenuta Monteti wines, which are stocked by London merchant Lea & Sandeman, are for you.
Some unusual steak recipes from Jason Atherton (then of Maze, now of Pollen Street Social) that prove you don't always need to drink red with beef.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
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.
Shiraz, like every other wine, varies in style depending on its price, age and region of origin but you can be pretty sure when it comes to matching Australian shiraz we’re talking about a full-bodied red.
As with my previous ‘learn by heart’ posts this is simply a quick way to remember great food and wine pairings at a busy time of year. There are of course other possibilities to which the links will guide you.
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!
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.
We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.
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.
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.
If you want to serve something a little different at your Christmas party try these delicious crisp little Dutch meatballs from our guest contributor Bianca Ford of Sip with Supper (@sipwithsupper on Twitter).
US-based wine writer and educator David Furer reports on an epic tasting in the homeland of American barbeque, Austin, Texas pairing a selection of international and home-grown reds with different meats.
If you’re celebrating July 4th this weekend and haven’t yet made up your mind what to drink here are some last minute suggestions.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
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’.
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.
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.
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 . . .
Although I make my living writing about how food can enhance wine - and vice versa - I would never want to be dogmatic about it and freely admit that there are occasions when it matters less than others.
You might be surprised to know that red wine isn’t the first pairing I think of with steak tartare, which for those of you who haven’t tried it is chopped raw beef flavoured with punchy seasonings such as capers, parsley and hot pepper sauce. I actually think it pairs really well with sparkling wine, especially Champagne but last week I was down in the Languedoc and that didn’t really seem appropriate.
I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.
I've been in Paris for the last few days so this week's pairing had to be from here. There are so many possibilities but as I haven't written about a meat match for a while I'm going to pick the braised beef cheek and vegetables we had with a quirky wine called KM31 from the Roussillon.
After the tradition-bound cooking of the Christmas period (from which the family will never let you deviate . . .) it’s good to branch out a bit with your New Year’s Eve meal and also pick some dishes that will allow you to drink some serious wines. Note you need to start the beef two days in advance.
If I saw this wine on a supermarket shelf I wouldn’t pick it up. There’s the name for a start, which sounds like something a marketing department has invented
A lot of chefs - particularly male chefs - don't really get salads, making them either an afterthought or wildly, elaborately fussy. Mark Hix of the Independent is an exception - his are always simple but imaginative, reflecting the season perfectly. Here are my matches for his recipes in the Independent this weekend.
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.
Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard.
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
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.
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
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.
Beaujolais - by which I mean red Beaujolais - is the most French of wines, the perfect wine pairing for a picnic or bistro meal. It’s generally thought of as light and fruity though it can also be quite full-bodied.
Barbera is a versatile red that will happily partner pretty well any meaty dish you throw at it. It is more robust and typically drunk younger than its Piedmontese counterparts Barolo and Barbaresco.
Although there are obviously differences between the two types of beer, dark stouts and porters tend to match similar types of food. Here are my top matches ...
The other day I won a selection of Pieminister pies in a raffle and as my husband was away rather sneakily found myself scoffing them for supper (until guilt set in and I put the rest in the freezer). As I also had some beers to taste from a new Marks and Spencer range I decided to pick one to partner with each pie and the combination that really impressed me was their London Porter with the Pieminister ‘Moo and Blue’ (aka steak and Stilton).
I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
As it was my first Easter in Greece - which was celebrated a month later than that of the western Christian church this year - what could I focus on but what to drink with a Greek Easter lunch?
Normally my matches of the week are quite specific - a dish and a drink - but it’s always great to find a wine that sails through everything on the table as this gorgeous grenache did at London’s latest barbecue restaurant Temper last week.
The other night I went back to one of my favourite restaurants Ransome’s Dock, a friendly neighbourhood restaurant in Battersea that has great food and an even more stellar wine list, put together with detailed and well-written tasting notes by chef/proprietor Martin Lam. (You can download it from the site)
The weather has been so absurdly autumnal this week that I cooked a substantial stew for friends on Saturday night, an intensely flavoured braise of beef short ribs (or pot au feu as our local butcher describes them) with plenty of lush, red wine (a Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile which is part of the Waitrose own label range).
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - kicking off this weekend.
After the wild winds and lashing rain we’ve endured in the UK this week my drink of the week really had to be a full-bodied red and what better choice than a Malbec?
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall proclaims firmly in The Guardian today that he won’t be serving turkey for lunch on Christmas Day so if he’s going to break with tradition why shouldn’t you? Bring on the beer!
It’s not often these days that I hit on a totally new discovery but this combination at the newly opened Pitt Cue Co, a southern American-style ribshack is the business.
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):
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.
Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
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:
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
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.
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from Will Beckett, Huw Gott and Richard Turner's Hawksmoor at Home* would fit the bill perfectly.
If you think you have the ultimate bolognese recipe, think again. Try this fantastic version from Tom Parker-Bowles book Let's Eat Meat. I love Tom's style of writing - do read the great introduction:
As you'll see in the entertaining section today I've come up with the idea of throwing a hot dog party and here's a recipe for a basic chilli to go with it. You could of course use a more authentic recipe (without beans) but authenticity isn't the point of hot dogs. They're basically fun food.
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.
One of the most enjoyable food and wine matches I’ve experienced was also the most serendipitous. The family were away, I was working on a book and staggered down half way through the evening to find the fridge virtually bare except for a half bottle of Krug, a half-empty packet of the kids’ fish fingers and some frozen spinach. Ten minutes later, the spinach well anointed with butter, the fish fingers grilled and the Krug poured I had the perfect supper.
Few things cheer at this time of year. In the UK it's cold, grey and damp Time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing?
Like many popular dishes chilli con carne has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey.
Vermentino is incredibly versatile - a brilliant wine pairing for anything fishy, herby or citrussy and a great wine for spring and summer drinking.
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.
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?
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.
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?
Or 'what wine should I drink with hachis parmentier?' - the French answer to shepherd's and cottage pie.
As with other grape varieties sauvignon blanc varies markedly from one part of the world to the other - from the crisp minerally wines of the Loire to the exuberant grassy herbaceous sauvignons of New Zealand's Marlborough region.
People carp about food and beer pairings, griping that they're just made up pretentions that have no right being associated with something as inclusive and democratic as beer. "It's the drink of the common man," they cry, "Beer goes with everything!" To which I respond, uh, no, it doesn't. And to prove my point, here are ten food and beer partnerships guaranteed to make you wish you had chosen something else to drink.
This week’s match is a predictive one rather than one I’ve recently experienced as I’ve been invited to a Burn’s Night dinner tomorrow night by the quirky Brewdog brewery and don’t yet know what the outcome will be.
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).
This week I’m on a wine trip in South Africa (so posting may be slightly more spasmodic). There have been many great matches already but two interesting ones have involved Semillon a grape the country is beginning to handle very impressively.
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.
Those of you who have read my report yesterday on the 20th anniversary of Charlie Trotter’s will know I’ve spent the last few days in Chicago eating some quite amazing food. But occasionally you need a change from all that gourmet fare and I found it in that great Chicago institution Gibsons steakhouse where they serve something called a ‘Gold Coast Slider’.
Faggots, which are basically a rather gamey British meatball made with pork belly and offal, are a bit of an acquired taste along the lines of the French sausage andouillette but well made, as they are when supplied by our local butcher, they can be very tasty. They need to be accompanied by onion gravy which normally leads one in the direction of a robust ale but the other night we had them with a bottle of Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 which actually worked very well.
Last week was a particularly indulgent one for dining out so it was a tough call coming up with my match of the week but I think it has to be the Côte du Boeuf I had at Racine with a stellar bottle of Ridge’s 1999 Monte Bello
It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.
One of the tricky decisions to make when you’re serving a rich, winey stew is whether to go for a wine of equal weight or a lighter medium-bodied wine as a refreshing contrast.
As is often the way Christmas wasn’t a time for any startling food and wine discoveries, rather for celebrating favourite combinations but I realise I forgot to mention one pairing just before Christmas at Angelus restaurant in Lancaster Gate.
It should really come as no surprise that a beef stew made with red burgundy should pair with red burgundy but when you think about it it’s not a given. A rich stew cooked for hours in red wine accompanied with a light red burgundy doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven even if the cooking wine involved is burgundy.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a really rich pasta dish you need to wash down with a refreshing red - preferably Italian.
I had a conversation on Twitter before Christmas with Elly from The Durham Brewery about whether there was a perfect beer for Christmas pudding.
So here’s a special for Malbec World Day - maybe a bit of a cheat as it also includes some Touriga Nacional but I quite like Malbec in a blend.
I must confess a sentimental attachment to Gentilini who I visited on the beautiful island of Kefalonia back in 2001 when I was researching a feature on Greek food.(Kefalonia - or Cephalonia as it's sometimes spelt - is where the book and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set.)
What bottle should you take to dinner with friends? It’s a tricky one. You want something that doesn’t break the bank but will impress. Cheap bordeaux and burgundy are dodgy. Barefoot and Blossom Hill brand you as a cheapskate
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 the old saying goes, it’s a small world. I was already booked in for a Pegasus Bay wine dinner in London when I ran into their winemakers, Matt Donaldson and Lynette Hudson last week on my trip to Oregon - not once but twice. So they felt like old friends by the time I caught up with them again at Providores where chef Christian Hossack (Peter Gordon was away) came up with some really well thought out pairings.
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 ;-)
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
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.
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
Q Could you make a suggestion for a pan-fried flank steak with a mustard/cream sauce consisting of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, cream, and Dijon mustard?
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
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.
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.
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.
Quite an old article from the archives (first published in Decanter in 2007) but the advice still holds good, I reckon. Although I had a fantastic bottle of 2008 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir with a T-bone rather than a fillet the other day. But that would taste good with anything.
I’ll be doing a major round-up on my trip to Provence next week buthere are a few more thoughts on matching rosé and food, an update of mylast overview
Although I regularly recommend wines to pair with barbecue - most recently in my Guardian column - I’m actually an equal fan of beer. In fact I think many types of barbecue work better with it.
If you haven't yet worked out what to drink tomorrow (which is February 14th, if you need reminding!) here are a few suggestions to match popular Valentine's Day foods.
Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a perfect match? You could simply say the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
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
One of the best hot weather dishes, this piquant dish of cold poached or roast veal with a tuna, anchovy and caper mayonnaise invariably pops up on menus at this time of year. But what to drink with it?
As with many other pairings the best match for steak pie depends how you cook it and whether the sauce includes beer, stock or wine
A general idea has got about that Chardonnay is for chavs but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world Chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
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.
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.
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
Of course it depends what type of IPA 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 . . .
Moussaka cries out for a red but not too powerful a one otherwise the effect will be to add to the richness of the dish. (Cooked cheese, by the way, is much easier with red wine than uncooked cheese is).
This wasn’t the most innovative wine pairing I came across in the last 7 days but it was such a classic I couldn’t fail to make it my match of the week.
I had lunch for the first time for a while at Hix’s Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon last week where I ordered - appropriately enough - a chop. In this instance a veal chop with sage butter.
The great thing about going to old country pubs is that they tend to have wines you can’t find anywhere else - or certainly not at the price. Like the bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994 we found at the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh in Devon at the weekend.
About the last thing you'd expect at the launch of a new burger joint is to be served a £59 bottle of wine. But then Danny Meyer, more famous for his New York fine dining spots, is no ordinary restaurateur.
Pigs and Pinot is a well established combination that is the focus of an annual celebration at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg and after reminding myself of the combination last week at Daniel Boulud’s new London outpost Bar Boulud I can see why.
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.
Last week I went on a flying visit to Tuscany to take part in the olive oil harvest and had the rare treat of being able to sample oil that has just been pressed. As you can see from the picture, it’s an incredible colour - literally deep olive green and has the most fantastic grassy flavour.
I’ve always thought of riesling as a better match for the fresh flavours of south-east Asian-inspired food than curry but a visit to the Lahore Kebab House proved otherwise this week.
My match of the week has to include Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand which featured in two unexpectedly good pairings at two different restaurants.
It’s been so hot over the last couple of days here in the Languedoc I haven’t felt much like cooking so we raided the very good local traiteur (takeaway) in Murviel yesterday for our weekend’s eating. The highlight was some beautifully cooked rare roast veal with herbs - in the style of Italian porchetta.
If you’re lighting a few fireworks for the kids (or yourselves, of course . . . ) tonight and hanging round in the cold you’ll need some warming food and a good chilli hits the spot perfectly
Last night we went round to some new friends and they made the most delicious home-made burgers.
Steak and red wine sounds too obvious a pairing to highlight but sometimes it hits the spot so perfectly it’s worth being reminded there’s nothing better you can eat with a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (unless you’re a vegetarian, obviously . . .)
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.
One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.
My match of the week for last week has to come from the sublime WIMPS lunch I had at the Ledbury which members can read about here. It was hard to decide which the best pairing was but I think the calf’s kidney and 1998 Gilles Barge Côte Rôtie just shaved it.
About the most unlikely wine match you could imagine - a delicate fish with a 19 year old red wine - but it worked! Which shows you can always be surprised by food and wine pairing.
Last Friday I attended the Soil Association annual Organic Awards lunch at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol. The menu was based on the winning ingredients which in the case of the main course was Langley Chase organic mutton served with chard and spelt risotto.
One of the most intriguing things to find out about chefs is not what they cook in their restaurants but what they feed their family and friends. True, at St John one morphs into the other, but the lunch they held in London this week to celebrate the publication of Fergus Henderson’s new book The Complete Nose to Tail was one I’d have been more than proud to put on for my mates.
Now that malbec has become the Rioja de nos jours there are so many brands on the market that it’s hard to choose which to buy.
If you’re looking for a cheap all-purpose red after Christmas this old favourite from the Co-op should fit the bill.
I’m surprised there aren’t more wine brands and labels dedicated to Hallowe’en but yesterday I found a perfect one at the Majestic press tasting.