Match of the week

Hainanese chicken and green tea

Hainanese chicken and green tea

Alcohol-free drinks are sometimes overlooked as an accompaniment to food but tea, in particular, can be a good pairing and may be an unexpectedly good option for those of you who are doing dry January.

Scallops with Sauternes butter and oaked white Bordeaux

Scallops with Sauternes butter and oaked white Bordeaux

One of the treats I’ve lined up during lockdown is to have a weekly takeaway from a local restaurant, both to give me a break from cooking and hopefully help keep them in business and my first was a meal from one of my favourite Bristol restaurants littlefrench.

 My top food and wine pairings of 2020

My top food and wine pairings of 2020

Back in March when Covid first hit I remember thinking ‘no-one’s going to want to think about food and wine pairing’ and put my match of the week feature on hold.

 A rich jus and Ju de Vie

A rich jus and Ju de Vie

You’d think a rich winey sauce or jus would be the easiest thing to match with red wine but that isn’t necessarily the case as it tends to compete with it.

Christmas cake and Rutherglen muscat

Christmas cake and Rutherglen muscat

Funny, isn’t it, how there are lots of pairings for mince pies but few for Christmas cake. Maybe that’s because we tend to eat it mid-afternoon well before wine o’clock but that could equally apply to Christmas pudding for which I also have plenty of recommendations.

 Lamb tagine with prunes and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Lamb tagine with prunes and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

You might not immediately think of wine in the context of Moroccan food but in fact Morocco has been a significant wine producer since the days of the French protectorate. And they planted the same grape varieties - grenache, syrah and cinsault that thrive in the south of France.

 Single malt whisky and salted caramel fudge

Single malt whisky and salted caramel fudge

One of the interesting trends I’ve noticed is the number of English whiskies that are now coming on stream including the Masthouse single malt from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent I was sent the other day. (In fact there are, amazingly, more distilleries in England than Scotland now!)

Penne with gorgonzola and broccoli and malbec

Penne with gorgonzola and broccoli and malbec

Now here’s a wine pairing with pasta I didn’t wholly expect. The sauce - a gift from a neighbour - was a creamy gorgonzola one to which I added (just to make it fractionally more healthy ;-)) some steamed broccoli I had left in the fridge. (Well, it was raw but I steamed it!)

Crab mac’n’cheese and champagne

Crab mac’n’cheese and champagne

I wouldn’t have necessarily opened a bottle specifically to drink with Nigella’s crab mac’n’cheese but Biden had just won the presidency and it seemed like the right thing to do. And in fact it went brilliantly.

 Roast cauliflower with preserved lemon dressing and Assyrtiko

Roast cauliflower with preserved lemon dressing and Assyrtiko

A similar type of salad to last week’s match of the week (as you can see I’m already not getting out much!) from Claire Thomson’s excellent Home Cookery Year

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!)

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