Match of the week | My 12 best drink pairings of 2014

Match of the week

My 12 best drink pairings of 2014

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.

Of course that suffers from the drawback that some months have more than their fair share of good pairings but you can always trawl through the rest if you feel inspired.

Looking back through 2014 I see that as usual I’ve picked a lot of seafood pairings - maybe because meat matches are more obvious. And - unusually for me - a fair number of desserts. But although a lot of my drinking comes from France - only two make the final 12.

January - Grilled tuna tart and Camus Ile de Ré double matured cognac.
The standout pairing from a cognac lunch that was part of the 2014 International Cognac Summit. The cognac, which had a slightly salty edge, was served frozen (i.e. ice cold rather than solid). A real show-stopping start to the meal. (You can also find the cognac and cheese pairings our group came up with here.)

February - Chocolate marmalade slump cake and tokaji
A dessert I made for friends inspired by a new batch of homemade marmalade. The Tokaji was a 2002 Kiralyudvar 6 Puttonyos and the recipe came from Lucas Hollweg’s marvellous Good Things to Eat. Dark chocolate and orange - what's not to like?

March - Sweetbreads morels and madeira
Served as a small plate by one of my favourite local restaurants Bell’s Diner which is a good plan as sweetbreads are incredibly rich. The madeira - a chiled 5 y.o. Barbeito rainwater - handled the dish perfectly

April - Fruit and flower tart with German auslese riesling
This dessert at the Ledbury was certainly the prettiest of the year but the match with a Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Auslese 2004 from the Rheinhessen was as spectacular

May - 40 day aged fillet of black angus beef with Henschke’s 2010 Mount Edelstone Shiraz
No, not rocket science but sometimes you can’t beat the classics - and a welcome reminder (at a wine dinner at Allium in Bath) just what a good buy the Mount Edelstone Shiraz is.

June - Crème brûlée and carthagène
You don’t expect to find a great wine and food pairing (or even anything edible) at a trade show but Foncalieu had the inspiration to show a selection of their wines with canapés devised by Cyrus Todiwala of which these saffron and cardamom tarts and carthagène - a sweet liqueur - was the standout combo. I also managed to twist his arm to give me the recipe which you can make without the pastry cases if you prefer

July - Cherry and pistachio cake and Sweet Agnes riesling
Yet another dessert from the wonderful Honey & Co cookbook which I paired with a Seifried Late Harvest riesling from New Zealand. (There’ll be lots more New Zealand pairings coming up as I’m heading there next month for the first time since 2000. Whoo hoo!)

August - Veal chops and Eben Sadie Sequillo red
August is a bit of an odd month unless you’re on holiday but I had a great lunch with the guys at Bordeaux Index at Hix Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon. I was expecting them to order Bordeaux but they picked this cracking 2011 vintage from one of my favourite South African producers Eben Sadie. Again, classic.

September - Salmon uri with spicy ginger beer
I’m always pleased to find an inspiring alcohol-free pairing and this one - at the newly opened Palomar in Soho - proved you don’t necessarily need wine to hit the heights. A reminder that it’s time I went back there

October - Currywurst and pils
THE pairing, obviously, if you go to Berlin as we did for the first time this year but why knock it? What else would you drink with currywurst? Ace!

November - Scallop and mango ceviche and Montes cherub rosé
I admit the location had something to do with this. Nothing beats tasting a wine in the vineyard the grapes come from. Especially at sunset. But the combination of the sharp/sweet ceviche and strong fruity rosé was terrific anyway you look at it.

December - Smoking Goat fish sauce wings and Peter Lauer ‘Fass 16’ dry riesling The third riesling pairing of the line-up. Sublime spicy wings from one of the hippest restaurants in town and a glass of classy German riesling. Can’t beat it.

The best match? Has to be the tuna tart and cognac. I wrote back in January “If I come across a more clever or imaginative pairing this year I’ll be lucky” and, indeed, nothing beat it.

And my wine of the year? Gotta be riesling which has to be one of the most food-friendly wines on the planet. See other pairings here and here.

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