Match of the week
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
'Hmmm, steak and red wine - nothing particularly original about that' you might be thinking but bear with, as they say.
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.