Match of the week

Pear, watercress and chickpea salad and viognier

Pear, watercress and chickpea salad and viognier

Sometimes the best insights come from having a bottle already open rather than consciously choosing what to drink with a dish. I suppose I knew that viognier would go with a salad but it was the composition of this particular salad that made the pairing work so well.

 Hake with pork dumplings and Côtes du Rhône

Hake with pork dumplings and Côtes du Rhône

I suspect most of you know that you can drink red wine with fish these days but you may well stick to lighter reds like pinot noir. But this week’s match of the week proves you can drink a more full-bodied red if the food is robust enough.

Pheasant terrine with Kings vintage cider

Pheasant terrine with Kings vintage cider

Pubs brewing their own beer has become quite commonplace but few make their own cider. Not that you’d expect anything less of The Crown at Woolhope which was nominated Cider Pub of the Year Pub three times recently at the the Great British Pub Awards in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

 Cappellacci with cime di rapa and alvarinho

Cappellacci with cime di rapa and alvarinho

OK, I know I wrote about dumplings last week and stuffed pasta isn’t *that* different but if they’re both delicious with wine why not?

Dumplings and grand cru Chablis

Dumplings and grand cru Chablis

You might think dumplings were humble fare, not best suited to show off a great wine but as last week’s tasting lunch at Bob Bob Ricard proved, that’s not necessarily the case.

 Sticky chicken ‘tulips’ with vintage Sercial madeira

Sticky chicken ‘tulips’ with vintage Sercial madeira

It’s not often you get eight pairings in a single session, any one of which could have been a match of the week which makes this week’s choice particularly difficult but I’m going for a combination that surprised me as much as, I suspect, it will amaze you.

Roast grouse and saperavi

Roast grouse and saperavi

I’m not sure how many of you actually eat grouse - I’m not sure I would if I didn’t have a chef friend who loves to cook it. As a result I get to have a grouse dinner every year and this year’s was last week.

Steak and Trousseau

Steak and Trousseau

'Hmmm, steak and red wine - nothing particularly original about that' you might be thinking but bear with, as they say.

Cote Hill Blue and blackberry mead

Cote Hill Blue and blackberry mead

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.

Bao and Bacchus

Bao and Bacchus

Who would have thought a few years ago that it would be as easy to drink local wine in southern England as it is over the channel in northern France? (Well, almost. I’m not counting Burgundy!)

 Meursault and black truffle crisps

Meursault and black truffle crisps

Food is always a secondary consideration when you’re enjoying a really great bottle of wine but you don’t want anything to detract from it either.

 Prawns with ouzo, orzo and courgette and Greek rosé

Prawns with ouzo, orzo and courgette and Greek rosé

I didn’t have plans to go to Greece this year but staying in the UK for the summer has given me itchy feet so I’m cooking my way round the Med instead.

Polenta with roasted courgettes, tomatoes and basil and Bardolino

Polenta with roasted courgettes, tomatoes and basil and Bardolino

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.

Grilled monkfish with salsa verde and vermentino

Grilled monkfish with salsa verde and vermentino

Monkfish is regularly referenced as a meaty fish you can pair with red wine, especially when it’s wrapped in pancetta but suppose you serve it with salsa verde instead as they did at the Seahorse al Mare pop-up in Dartmouth last week?

Rainbow trout ceviche and Western Australia riesling

Rainbow trout ceviche and Western Australia riesling

I can’t actually believe I’ve never tried it before but I made some ceviche as part of a Zoom masterclass organised by the Bristol Food Union, a collaboration of local restaurateurs and food producers to raise money for those who have been most affected by the COVID 19 crisis.

Beef cheek arancini with a (very special) Spanish garnacha

Beef cheek arancini with a (very special) Spanish garnacha

In some cases it doesn’t matter what form an ingredient takes, if it’s present in a dish it dominates the match. So Claire Thomson of 5 o’clock apron’s innovative beef cheek and black rice arancini which she brought to a (very soggy) outdoor picnic last week hosted outside by wine importer Carte Blanche was just as good a pairing with a grenache as braised beef cheek would have been. In fact the dark nutty rice added an extra dimension which made it even more interesting.

Pizza and Franciacorta

Pizza and Franciacorta

Expensive Franciacorta might not be the first wine you’d think of drinking with a pizza but bear with, as they say … And not just because it’s Italian.

 Chocolate truffles and PX

Chocolate truffles and PX

You can tell how much I love sherry from the fact that this is the second week running a food pairing involving sherry has been my match of the week.

Paella with pork, chorizo and spinach and palo cortado sherry

Paella with pork, chorizo and spinach and palo cortado sherry

There’s still a tendency to think of sherry as an aperitif or just for drinking with tapas but it can go really well with a more substantial dish as I was reminded this week.

Korean meatballs with mango, lime and ginger gin

Korean meatballs with mango, lime and ginger gin

Oooofff, Korean food is spicy! Even when I toned down the gochujang chilli paste in the meatballs I made on Saturday night they were a challenge for most of the wines I tried with them (a characterful Babylonstoren rosé powered through). But the best match by far was a gin and tonic made from Romy's Edition Mango, Ginger and Lime gin, a collaboration between Bristol-based Six O’Clock Gin and Indian food writer Romy Gill.

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