Match of the week
My best wine (and other) pairings of 2017
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.
Well this is the pick of that selection - the most inspiring, intriguing and memorable pairings of 2017
2017 was the year I really got into coffee, finally realising there was more to life than a double espresso. This pairing was from back in January when I was playing with my new Nespresso machine (before I got into my V60 dripper). Anyway - coffee and cake - tick. Coffee and cardamom buns (from Meera Sodha's Fresh India). Double tick. Coffee and cardamom rocks
Furmint has been my big wine discovery this year - as flexible with different kinds of food as Austria’s Grüner Veltlner. At Corrigans in Mayfair I drank it with a starter of beetroot-cured salmon and horseradish cream and it sailed through. Try it in 2018
I got a bit obsessed with these squid ink noodles at Taverna Uvedoble when I visited Malaga back in February. And was surprised to find how well it went with a Rueda, a crisp Spanish white wine I’ve never rated much in the past but which suddenly seems to have undergone a real improvement in quality. Loved it.
I love finding good non-wine pairings and was really thrilled with this match at the (then) newly opened Lorne in Victoria - particularly with a builders tea ice-cream. Clever and witty.
March saw my first trip to India and a first real opportunity to try Indian wines with the local food. This marinated roast lamb dish which was served at the International Vine and Food Experience at the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad was in fact extraordinarily wine-friendly and the Grover Chêne - a blend of tempranillo and shiraz - a perfect match.
It was then on to Australia’s Hunter Valley to immerse myself in aged semillon. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought a mature vintage would go with a comparatively rich dish like this but Keith Tulloch’s 2009 totally hit the spot.
Back to the UK I dropped into one of my favourite Bristol restaurants Box E for a glass of rosé and they brought out a little snack of spiced whitebait with sriracha to go with it. Proof again that rosé can handle spicy food
I don’t look to Italy as often as I should do for great wines but this pairing with a 2011 Bolgheri Coronato at Marianne’s in Notting Hill was absolutely stellar. Can’t really go wrong with lamb, though.
Surprisingly the standout pairing of my trip to Montreal back in June - I say surprising because there were so much other great food and wine but I loved this fabulous combination of Canada’s answer to sticky toffee pudding with Neige Noir Ambré, a delicious rich apple-based digestif at Le Filet.
We all know that Krug goes with luxury ingredients such as lobster and caviar but who knew it could be set off so perfectly by brioche? Well, the folks at Krug obviously did and shared the discovery with us at the Krug Festival preview back in June. Krug for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.
One of three truffle pairings on this list, I realise (the others being black truffle pizza and Puligny Montrachet and Louis Roederer brut with a truffle cheese toastie just before Christmas at Fortnum & Mason) It was hard to choose between them but I think this combination of eggs, chips and truffles (huevos rotos) with Cava producer Juve & Camps ‘Gran’ gran reserva at Boca Grande in Barcelona back in July. (Get the message: truffles and vintage bubbly - and white burgundy - is a stellar pairing)
Riesling isn’t my automatic go to with oysters but I loved this combination with a 2014 Schloss Marienlay from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt at Magpie in London back in August. The reason? The oysters were topped with diced apple and chicharron (pork crackling), both riesling-friendly ingredients.
Another wine highlight of the year was San Sebastian’s fresh spritzy Txacoli with the local anchovies (the best I’ve ever tasted). You can find them in bars all over the city - these were from Bar Antonio. A real terroir-based match.
Margaux is a wine you’d more often think of pairing with lamb or beef than chicken but the intensely flavoured walnut sauce really kicked the match into touch. Mature Margaux though, note (2005)
Orange or skin contact wine has become increasingly popular and goes surprisingly well with strong flavours. We had this Ribolla at Peckham Bazaar last month and it went beautifully with all their eastern Mediterranean-inspired dishes, particularly the octopus. Expect to see more on wine lists in 2018.
Red wine and port are still more associated with cheese than white or sweet wine but sometimes a dessert wine is the best match, especially if the cheese is served - as this washed rind one was at Wilsons in Bristol - with honey. (Truffle honey, note. Am clearly a bit obsessed with truffles)
And the final pairing of the year. Early landed cognac with Christmas pudding. Christmas pud and brandy is of course a tried and tested combination but this took it to another level.
So here’s to many great new pairings in 2018 - do subscribe to my newsletter if you want to hear about them as soon as they’re posted - and let me know of any that have wowed you. A very happy new year to you all!
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