Pairings | Champagne
It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on wine pairing it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
Talking about wine matches for risotto is a bit like talking about wine with pasta - it’s depends on the other ingredients you use, not the rice.
Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. It can take a red or a white wine so the key thing to focus on is what flavourings - or stuffing - you put with it and the sides you serve.
I lobbed a question about unusual Champagne pairings into the Twittersphere yesterday and got the most amazing response. It prompted the idea of having a monthly Twitter matching session - Twitmatching - the results of which I’ll post on this site.
I went to a really interesting seminar last week on matching champagne with food. It was based on the chemical compounds flavourist Danny Hodrien of F & F projects had identified in Mumm champagnes using gas chromatography, solid phase micro-extraction and mass spectrometry (No, I don’t know what they are either). Based on those findings Iain Graham, the executive chef at the Caprice had devised a range of canapes that incorporated the flavours rather than seeking to complement them
If you're planning a special meal for Valentine's Day you may be wondering which wine to pair with your menu. I've picked some favourite Valentine's Day foods and suggested some matches that should work well with them.
With Wimbledon kicking off this week, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a bowlful or two of strawberries. But what to drink with them?
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
The ideal wine pairing for eggs benedict - that unctuous dish of poached eggs and ham topped with buttery hollandaise sauce - is likely to be dictacted as much by when you eat it as the dish itself.
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
If you’re the kind of person (like me) who puts garlic into practically everything you cook you may regard this question as an irrelevance but some dishes are much more garlicky than others.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration for Tuesday and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
Should you drink the same sort of full-bodied red wine with steak tartare - raw chopped beef - as you would with a grilled steak?
None of you, I’m sure, can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion.
Think of an air-dried ham such as serrano and you probably think of tapas and therefore fino or manzanilla sherry. But I’ve experienced two recent wine matches which opened my eyes to another option that even those on a diet could enjoy!
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
Frankly if you can afford white truffles (currently selling at about 2500 euros per kilo) you probably already have a substantial cellar to pick from but just so you don’t in any way detract from the pleasure of eating your investment let me tell you what the Piedmontese do.
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or macaroni and cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.
Crab is one of the most delicious kinds of shellfish and the perfect foil for a crisp white wine. But there are other crab dishes that pair better with a fuller-bodied white or even a red.
Eggs are supposed to be one of the trickiest ingredients to pair with wine but I’ve never entirely got it myself. More to the point do you want to drink wine with eggs at breakfast or even brunch, the time you’re most likely to eat them?
This month I asked my fellow Tweeters to tackle the subject of wine with asparagus - supposed to be a tricky combination, but as @cuvee_corner put it “Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the difficulty.” (It isn't just you. There are plenty of options!)
Although it seems similar in style to Brie, Camembert is a trickier cheese to pair with a slightly funky edge that can clash with many wines, particularly reds.
Scallops are some of the most delicious seafood around and some of the most flattering to a serious white wine. There’s one grape variety that will almost always see you right but also some other options
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
Whether it's topped with mashed potato or pastry fish pie is a relatively straightforward dish to pair with wine but some styles work better than others.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
I wouldn’t have thought of proferring wine pairings for garlic cheesy bread had I not stumbled across the fact that it was the most repinned image on Pinterest. Exceeding even sparkly toes!
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
Asking which wine is the best match for Chinese food is a bit like looking for the best match for European food - it in no way reflects the diversity of Chinese cuisine.
One of the world's most popular cheeses, Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour so you need to adapt the wine - or other drink - you choose to how mature the cheese is.
“Can you come up with a tastier, more satisfying, more consensual dish than calamari fritti?” asks restaurateur and Guardian columnist Yotam Ottolenghi in the paper today. Well, it’s a tough call but his other mouthwatering recipes would certainly run it close. Ottolenghi’s food is full of flavour and therefore quite a challenge for any accompanying wine but here’s what I would choose.
Should you drink wine or beer with pizza? No rights or wrongs, obviously but here are a few thoughts which might encourage you to experiment.
A new series for the Wine Pros section on what’s been happening in the world of food and drink pairing over the past few weeks:
This has been one of the most popular food and wine pairings our team at Jascots has put together to date. Mac & cheese has taken the restaurant scene by storm and this month we cooked up a delectable version with three cheeses and a drizzling of truffle oil.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
Prosecco is so often drunk on its own that you may not have given much thought to the kind of food you can pair with it but if I had to sum it up in two words it would be ‘party food’
If you live in the UK and are enjoying pancakes today it’s most likely the classic kind, simply topped with lemon juice and a sprinkling of crunchy sugar. But what to drink with them?
It shouldn't come as a massive surprise that Spain can provide any style of wine you might fancy to drink with tapas.
Do you need to splash out on champagne for Valentine’s Day - and if so how much do you need to pay for it? You may not realise quite what pressure you’re under to spend over the odds
We’ve saved one of the best prizes we’ve had this year till last - a six bottle case of one of my favourite champagnes Louis Roederer from The Finest Bubble PLUS a zzysh® Champagne Preserver, a unique preservation system from Switzerland worth a total of £280. Do we spoil you or what?
Champagne is never exactly cheap (think what you could get if you spent the equivalent amount on a bottle of still wine) but Christmas is undoubtedly when you can get the best bargains. (Updated Dec 20th)
We have a really incredible prize this month: a case of some of the champagne region’s very best cuvées which I chose from 50 that were recently shown at a spectacular tasting put on by Bristol wine merchants Davis Bell McCraith to celebrate their 5th anniversary. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
We’ve got so used to thinking of champagne in terms of big brand names it’s easy to forget that it’s a subtle and complex wine, a fact of which I was reminded by a small tasting of Agrapart champagnes put on by the Bristol-based importer Vine Trail this week.
Champagne is once again a Christmas battleground between the supermarkets though I haven’t spotted quite so many £8 and £9 bottles this year (I suspect we may see a few next week). Best avoided anyway: here’s the best of what’s available under £20 this weekend. Note prices may have changed by the time you read this.
There was such a lot of interest in last month’s gin competition that we’ve managed to persuade our friends at the International Wine and Spirit Competition to offer an even better prize this month: a dozen bottles of champagnes that have won at least a silver medal in the demanding judging process.
Given the amount of champagne that’s on special offer at the moment you’d think people would drink nothing else but most I suspect will just have a celebratory glass before Christmas lunch or to see in the new year.
The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.
Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?
For those of you who are lucky enough to be serving caviar this New Year's Eve I just dug this post I wrote back in 2009 out of the archives. Is champagne or vodka the better pairing? (I must confess the *research* was fun ...)
How can champagne be used to create a summer tasting menu? Seafood is an obvious candidate but as food and wine writer Lucy Bridgers found at a Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London last year you need to choose your flavours carefully.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED BUT DON'T WORRY - THERE WILL BE ANOTHER GREAT PRIZE SOON!
In the run-up Christmas there’s not much time for time-consuming dinner parties so this tasting and light supper is a fun and indulgent way to entertain good friends. Ask each of them to bring a chilled* bottle of bubbly - Champagne or otherwise - provide a couple of your own, cover up the bottles and taste them ‘blind’. Great fun for a start to see who can spot the ‘real’ Champagne (don’t worry if you can’t - many professionals are fooled by these kind of exercises) and a delicious way to get into festive mood.
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
Champagne, we all know, goes with practically everything but PIG TAILS? Surely not.
This morning I posted a round-up of what I think are the best champagne and sparkling wine offers at the moment but I don’t want you to get overly excited.
We’ve detected that our subscribers are rather keen on champagne (funny, that … ) so we’ve wangled another amazing prize for you - a case of six bottles from Champagne Deutz*. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
Steak isn’t the first ingredient you might think of pairing with champagne but if it’s ground wagyu beef, served in a bun with a quality glass of fizz in a glitzy Park Lane restaurant you might just have to force yourself.
It’s rare to go to a wine event and be blown away by the matches at every course but my recent lunch at Murano devised by Angela Hartnett and her sommelier Marc-Andréa Lévy was as close to perfection as it gets.
Is rosé champagne a good match with dim sum? Our roving correspondent Lucy Bridgers retains admirable control of her critical faculties while being plied with successive vintages of Bollinger's Grande Année . . .
Given that it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend what better prize to offer than a case of Champagne Billecart-Salmon’s gorgeous brut rosé, a champagne that appears on many of the world’s best wine lists. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
Champagne two weeks running? I know - it is a bit indulgent but I just couldn’t ignore last night’s extraordinary dinner at the Savoy to celebrate the trophy winners and launch of the first Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. Besides it is our 400th Match of the Week - equally something to celebrate.
As it’s Christmas we thought you’d spoil you with an amazing case of champagne from one of the region’s top producers, Louis Roederer. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
In case it’s escaped your notice (hello, chaps!) it’s Valentine’s Day in 2 weeks time so time to start thinking about spoiling your significant other. And what better prize could we offer for this month than a bottle - or three - of bubbly? THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
This weekend I’ve been away at Mawgan Porth in north Cornwall attending a champagne dinner (yes, tough) and chilling out by a beautiful beach. Actually the best thing has been just having 24 hours to draw breath in the hectic run-up to Christmas. And three things have particularly struck me:
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
The idea of drinking champagne with fast food might seem outrageous but you have to believe me it works!
If you're looking for a sparkling wine or champagne for a party here's my pick of what's available under £15 in ascending order of price. I've deliberately picked that figure rather than £10 as I haven't found a champagne I really rate under the £10 mark.
A reminder this week of just what a perfect match champagne and fried fish is - with a twist. The fish was one of the cheapest of catches, the humble sprat.
One of the under-appreciated qualities of champagne is how well it goes with fast food. Like fish and chips, fried chicken, popcorn and . . . er . . . hot dogs. Or so the clever founders of Bubbledogs discovered and found themselves with a smash hit on their hands.
One of the products I regularly have in the fridge is Tesco’s Orkney Crab paté, not least because it’s so low in calories (85 calories per 38g serving) it’s even compatible with the 5:2 diet*.
To celebrate our relaunch we have a fabulous prize draw of a six bottle case of Louis Roederer Premier Brut*, a sumptuously full-bodied champagne that is particularly delicious with food** THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED BUT DON'T WORRY - THERE'LL BE ANOTHER ONE SOON!
When I flicked through the pictures I’d taken of the wines I’d drunk over Christmas and the New Year I realised there was a LOT of champagne. Partly because I’d been given or shared some rather nice bottles but equally because champagne goes with practically everything from oysters to shepherds pie (as the novelist Jeffrey Archer famously established).
A very Western approach to Chinese food, admittedly, but if you're celebrating Chinese New Year today with a dim sum lunch you'll find that Champagne - or other sparkling wine - makes a perfect pairing.
When luxury foods are discussed there's always an omission. An ingredient that I personally think is one of the most delicious in the world - sea urchins.
It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)
A recent email from a reader asked me to suggest a wine to go with “a triple coconut cake with a tangy pineapple icing served with fresh fruit salsa that has kiwi, strawberry, madarine oranges, blueberries and fresh pineapple in it”. Quite a challenge (I suggested demi-sec Champagne or a peach-flavoured liqueur topped up with fizz) but it got me thinking that there are many possible matches for cake beyond a cup of tea or coffee, particularly if you're serving it as a dessert.
A combination I came across at the launch of Moët’s new Ice Imperial Champagne last week - a Champagne that’s designed to be served over ice (yes, that’s right - with the ice actually in it)
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Given the runaway success of Big Apple Hot Dogs and Bubbledogs - London’s smash hit champagne and hot dog restaurant, it can only be a matter of time before you can pick up a dog on your local high street. But in the meantime you can throw your own hot dog party in if you follow these tips from my book Sausage and Mash
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
I’ve been having some fresh thoughts about food and wine matching since I was asked to participate in the Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona this past weekend and come up with pairings for the bottles submitted by the Primum Familiae Vini, 11 of the world's most famous family-owned wineries
Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?
This match last week at 45 Jermyn St had EVERYTHING going for it starting with a decadent toasted cheese sandwich lavishly scattered with grated white truffle. What could be better? Well, actually a glass of very decent champagne (Louis Roederer Brut premier) with it - one of those matches made in heaven where the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
After two days in the Jura and 24 hours in Champagne it was harder than usual to come up with just one match this week* but I’m going for this combination of apricot tart and Louis Roederer’s demi-sec champagne Carte Blanche because it’s one you can reasonably easily replicate at home.
You may have a fixed idea of what constitutes a vino da meditazione but, as Peter Pharos argues, many wines are well suited to sipping thoughtfully on one's own.
This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....
The standard of English sparkling wine is already high but I can’t remember being as impressed by a homegrown sparkling wine for a while as I am by this bottle. Of course you could argue that it’s not really English at all as it’s made by the team at Vranken Pommery in collaboration with Hattingley Valley in Hampshire.
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.
I was in two minds about making this my match of the week because I’m not sure that the new DP vintage rosé - like many great wines - doesn’t taste better on its own.
The Chinese New Year, which starts tomorrow, is one of those annual events that really captures the imagination. It is celebrated in such a colourful and joyous way and Chinese food is so delicious, quick and simple to make that I hope you won't be able to resist having a go at it.
The launch of Dom Prignon 1999 in London the other day was the occasion of one of winemaker Richard Geoffroys’ legendary food and wine matching experiences.
You might be surprised to know that red wine isn’t the first pairing I think of with steak tartare, which for those of you who haven’t tried it is chopped raw beef flavoured with punchy seasonings such as capers, parsley and hot pepper sauce. I actually think it pairs really well with sparkling wine, especially Champagne but last week I was down in the Languedoc and that didn’t really seem appropriate.
If your New Year breakfast today includes eggs, especially brunch-type dishes such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or eggs benedict there’s no better partner than Champagne or other dry sparkling wine.
Whatever you get up to on Valentine’s night (and truly, I’d rather not know) my guess is you’ve got better things to do than spend it slaving over a hot stove. So this is an unashamed cheat’s menu for you to romance your loved one with the absolute minimum of effort. Needless to say, buy only the very best ingredients.
Wow, the celebrations are coming thick and fast this week! After lovers, now mothers . . .Well, curiously, a similar psychology applies. Mums come in all shapes and sizes so what will appeal to one may not necessarily appeal to another. It’s all about thinking about the individual and picking the bottle they would most enjoy.
"It’s not every day you get invited to a private dinner cooked by the most famous chef in the world" writes Guy Woodward. "But the other week an email arrived in my inbox that had me scrambling for my diary and clearing anything and everything listed under October 30.
The mistake most people make when they’re serving wine is to serve whites too cold and reds too warm. Assuming you haven’t got a handy wine thermometer here’s a quick guide to the ideal temperature for different styles of wine:
Like other dishes the perfect wine match for risotto depends on the flavourings for the risotto rather than the rice itself - the lighter the dish, the ligher and fresher the wine.
There’s a certain repertoire of ingredients and dishes that are regularly paired with vintage champagnes and other sparkling wines - luxury foods like lobster, turbot, sweetbreads and even roast chicken but until last week’s trip to the Cava region I would never have thought of pairing them with a casserole
Men, it seems, are real softies at heart and you will woo them either with their favourite wine or an experience so romantically spontaneous it won’t matter if you drink plonk. “I've always considered gluggability to be a much undervalued virtue in wine, for sometimes, when you are with the right person, that is all that you ever really need.” wrote one friend, wine writer Marc Millon, whose full response you can read below.
Assuming you’re not going to be attending the BAFTA film awards in person on February 16th we’ve got a fabulously glitzy prize for our winner to enjoy at home - a bumper pack of goodies put together by the awards' sponsors. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
Have you ever given someone a hamper and wished someone would send you one for a change? Well now’s your chance to win one. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
I know a lot of you are going to be looking for a well-priced sparkling wine for Mother's Day this weekend and this is the perfect bottle
The problem with practically every food and drink having its own day or week now is that it’s all too easy to miss one. Which is how I come to be doing my bit for English Wine Week with less than 48 hours to go before it finishes tomorrow.
We get so used to thinking of champagne as the ultimate fizz that it’s easy to overlook the many excellent sparkling wines that are made in other areas.
Beef and red wine is a blindingly obvious match but it gets more interesting once you think about the cut and the way that it's cooked.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
Forget for the moment my often-advocated match of chilled red wine with salmon, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a wild fish it deserves one of your best whites. Here are my suggested matches for Mark Hix’ recipes in the Independent today:
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
When you have a fish as fine as Dover sole you don’t want to mask its delicate sweet flavour in any way. Here are my suggestions for Gordon Ramsay’s recipes in the Times today.
Peashoots exemplify the delicate flavours of spring as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall persuasively argues in the Guardian today. How do you find a wine that won’t overwhelm them?
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
I've always been intrigued by Oysters Rockefeller, described by the great Simon Hopkinson as "the best hot oyster dish I know". Here's his recipe.
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
There aren’t many wine pairings that form the subject of a book title but Elizabeth David’s Omelette and a Glass of Wine immortalised the combination.
Although we wine writers like to think we might be able to encourage you to be more adventurous in your wine choices this Christmas the truth is you’re probably going to stick to the wines you're familiar with.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
I was sure I was going to be featuring the splendidly retro Brown Windsor Soup and Madeira as my match of the week this week - a combination suggested by Ben Austin of number1wino for the underground supper club I went to on Friday - but sadly I left the Madeira at home by mistake. (Ben, who went the following night, said it was a treat.)
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
I seem to be spending most of my time dining with bloggers at the moment. On Sunday it was the Blaggers Banquet, next week an Umami night at Ms Marmite Lover’s underground restaurant and last Monday Dine with Dos Hermanos a monthly (or so) feast organised by Simon Majumdar and his brother Robin.
I spent last week in the Languedoc where we visit quite regularly so there weren’t many new food and wine discoveries to be made but I think the most thought-provoking match was a main course dish of roast turbot with girolles and a bottle of Château Cabezac 'Alice' 2008 from the Minervois I had at a restaurant in Agde called Le Bistrot d’Hervé.
If you're planning ahead for Easter weekend and don't fancy doing the traditional big Easter Day lunch how about a brunch instead? Here's my menu for this time of year ...
Are we about to witness a revival of that 70s classic, the vol-au-vent? There appear to be sightings. Philip Sweeney reports
About the most daunting audience that anyone could face is a group of wine writers, especially if a number of those happen to specialise in food and wine matching so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead a tasting on wine and charcuterie in London on Monday night on the eve of the London International Wine Fair.
It’s hard to stand out amidst the flood of new restaurant openings that greet each week in London at the moment but the magical words ‘caviar trolley’ give you as good a chance as any.
The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.
Although Christmas might feel firmly over many people will still be celebrating Twelfth Night this week. In France they mark the occasion with a Galette des Rois - a round cake filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with a golden paper crown.
The idea of drinking sparkling wine with Indian street food might seem crazy but it’s a really good pairing as I was reminded last night when I dined at Masala Zone just off Carnaby Street with Warren Edwardes, the CEO of a company called Wine for Spice.
You may be used to drinking prosecco as an aperitif, maybe even with a nibble of parma ham or some other cichetti but last week was the first time I’ve been to a dinner where prosecco featured right throughout the meal.
This actually wasn't the dish with which I drank this brilliant new sparkling wine at Rocksalt in Folkestone last week - I'd unfortunately finished my glass by then - but it would certainly have been a knockout wine pairing.
I went to the most extraordinary wine pairing dinner last week at Elena Arzak’s Ametsa in London, sponsored by the Consejo Regulador for Cava
It’s a pretty safe bet that if you have a wine-based sauce that an accompanying glass of the same type of wine will pair well with it so I was confident of ordering a glass of cava to go with a hake dish cooked with a cream, cava and anchovy sauce last week.
I’ve been so busy catching up after my Alsace trip that I haven’t had much time for new food and wine discoveries but here’s one we had at Les Temps Changent in Chalons-en-Champagne, a hotel we frequently stop at to break the journey through France.
Looking out of the window this wet bank holiday morning it’s hard to credit that we produce wine successfully in this country but we most certainly do. Especially sparkling wine which many pundits reckon is beginning to rival Champagne in quality.
I’m not a big fan of champagne with raw oysters. Most have a level of dosage (added sugar) that tastes even sweeter when you pair them with a briny mollusc but Tasmanian sparkling wine is different
After several months (feels like years!) of work we’re finally relaunching the website this week with a smart new look and what better way to celebrate than a bottle of bubbly? Not champagne, you may be surprised to hear, but one of my favourite English sparkling wines, Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé from Hampshire.
As I've pointed out on more than one occasion pink champers is pretty pricey so if you’re looking for something a little more affordable this sparkling Bordeaux rosé I’ve just discovered in Aldi’s Spring Wine Festival should hit the spot
You have to feel sympathy for Italian sparkling wine producers who don’t happen to make prosecco (except possibly those from Franciacorta who manage to charge much the same as champagne).
If you’re looking for a bottle to celebrate Hallowe’en on Tuesday here’s couple that hit the spot perfectly.
If I saw this wine on a supermarket shelf I wouldn’t pick it up. There’s the name for a start, which sounds like something a marketing department has invented
This recommendation might surprise you - I wouldn’t normally go for commercially produced cavas especially ones targetting women buying wine for their mums on Mother's Day but it’s an altogether successful bottling.
In general I use the drink of the week slot to feature a wine - or other drink - that’s really impressed me but occasionally it’s all about the right wine for the moment.
If you’re popping into Lidl this weekend to buy the wines I’ve recommended in my Guardian column*, try a bottle of this inexpensive sparkling wine too.
I wouldn’t say that yesterday was a typical day in the life of this particular wine writer but it was certainly an eclectic one, starting with one huge supermarket tasting (Asda), going on to a Dom Pérignon lunch and finishing with another one (Morrisons).
Although you rarely match a wine to vegetables such as peas or beans they do have an influence on pairings. Peas have a natural sweetness, broad beans an earthiness and runner beans a herbaceous flavour that can affect the style of wine you choose. Here are my suggestions to go with the four recipes in Mark Hix’s column in the Independent today.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
The soft creamy fizz of Italy's famous sparkling wine Prosecco makes it a marvellous match for Italian panettone which is not too rich or too sweet to overwhelm it. I discovered the combination a couple of years ago when I tried the celebratory Easter dove-shaped Colomba Pasquale which is topped with crystallised sugar with a glass of Bisol’s elegant Cartizze Prosecco de Valdobbiadene which sells in the UK for roughly 16 a bottle (check out wine-searcher.com for stockists)
Every so often you come across a great little recipe than does wonders for almost any wine you pair with it. And so it is with mushroom ‘caviar’, a regular offering from the takeaway section of my favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Basically it’s a mushroom pâté but so reduced and wickedly intense it’s like pure essence of mushroom. Except for the perfect counterpoint - a tiny touch of tarragon.
It’s not every week you spend the best part of the day drinking Krug (on and off) so what else could I choose as this week’s match of the week?
This is a slight adaptation of a fantastic recipe from Italian cookery writer Valentina Harris which I first tasted on one of her cookery courses in Tuscany and included in my book Food, Wine and Friends.
One of the innovations at the Marks & Spencer wine tasting this week was a chocolate and wine tasting based on a Single Origin Tasting Box designed to help consumers explore chocolate pairings with different wines.
Before home-grown strawberries disappear totally from the shops, a re-run of what I reckon is the ultimate strawberry tart recipe from Orlando Murrin's irresistible book, A Table in the Tarn and which he used to serve at his French guest house Le Manoir de Raynaudes.
The perfect recipe for Mother's Day this Sunday from Sybil Kapoor's lovely Simply Baking book for the National Trust. In fact you might giver her a copy of that as well . . .
Tesco is the latest retailer to jump on the 25% off six bottles bandwagon though their promotion only lasts until Monday 4th. Note some of the wines are only available online (in cases of six) and that the offer doesn’t apply to the Fine Wine range or in Scotland.
Lucy Bridgers selflessly devotes herself to finding the perfect pairing for tapas on a tapas crawl through some of London's leading tapas bars
Let’s face it a well-honed wine pairing probably isn’t top priority on Superbowl night but there’s no reason why you can’t sip something delicious as you’re nervously nibbling your chicken wings (or your nails).
You may already have your own favourite wine pairing for turkey but if you're looking for inspiration here are some of my favourite matches.
Although chocolate mousse is usually made from dark chocolate it's quite a light dessert as chocolate puddings go because of its airy texture - lighter than petits pots au chocolat, for example.
This week’s pairing is a short (and I imagine welcome) respite from Christmas fare - a wine we enjoyed with a number of small dishes yesterday lunchtime at a natural wine bar, Toast in East Dulwich.
There’s a long story behind this week’s match but it’s a good one so bear with me . . .
Is there a good match for jelly and ice-cream? A dessert wine can seem too heavy - and ice cream can strip out its sweetness - but prosecco is perfect, as I discovered at the weekend.
I was at the opening of TV chef Mitch Tonks' new fish restaurant in Bristol last week, Rockfish Grill. Normally they serve you bubbly on these occasions and there was some - an appealing Prosecco - but what caught my eye was an oyster stout that Mitch and a mate who owns the Albert Inn at Bridgetown, near Totnes had brewed up between them.
One of the real treats of our trip to Venice is fritto misto which used to refer to the assorted small fish that were too small to be sold from the fishermens’ catch but nowadays takes all manner of shapes and forms including vegetables and polenta (usually to keep the price down).
I’ve always thought of an elderflower spritzer as the perfect drink to pair with elderflower fritters - until this weekend when I tried them with Moscato d’Asti at the local underground supper club Montpelier Basement.
I’ve spent the last 3 days in the Veneto at a prosecco festival called Vino in Villa (yup, alright for some, but if it’s any consolation the weather hasn’t been as good as it has in the UK)
It’s a mystery to me why we need a Chocolate Week. Surely no-one (except aberrants like myself who have an inexplicable preference for potatoes) needs encouraging to eat chocolate. But there we have it and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favourite food in the country’s classiest chocolate shops over the next few days.
Pancakes and beer might not sound like the most obvious of combinations but as with other flour-based foods such as sandwiches or pies they work together remarkably well. Especially, as I discovered when I was writing my food and beer book An Appetite for Ale last year, fruit-filled pancakes and fruit beers.
Last week I was in Piemonte exploring the world of vermouth with Roberto Bava of Cocchi. I discovered many startlingly good pairings about which more about in due course but the one I was most intrigued by was their Alta Langa sparkling wine with pizza, not a combination I would have expected at all.
What to recommend as my match of the week in this astonishing week for British sport, and especially athletics? Well, what else but Jessica Ennis' post-event treat of “a few glasses of wine and lots of rubbish food”!
Having ended up unexpectedly in hospital last week I struggled a bit to find a match of the week. Water doesn’t make the most inspiring pairing for food although it (the food in hospital) isn't by any means as bad as it used to be. So I’ll tell you about the the dish I had before I was taken ill.
You might think egg and chips was too humdrum a dish to be paired with wine but not the way the Spanish make it.
Heston Blumenthal’s Jubilee picnic hamper was unveiled yesterday - to be served at Buckingham Palace before an open-air concert on June 4th. The picnic is being funded by Waitrose who must be pleased as punch to have the Palace’s endorsement in this video. The guests will also apparently be given vouchers for a glass of Moët or a bottle of Cobra beer (the other sponsors of the event).
I hardly dare mention the S word given how cold it's been recently but tomorrow, believe it or not is the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere and the clocks go forward in the UK this weekend. So here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends that has a touch of spring about it but still includes a warming stew.
Having just been enjoying prosecco in its home town of Venice I thought you might like some too so I’ve twisted the arm of my good pal Tim McLaughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice case to offer a case from one of the region’s best producers Nino Franco.
I seem to be spending a great deal of time at the moment trying to persuade my readers to drink cava which, pound for pound, is at least equal to if not better value than prosecco.
I don’t often pick a wine you can’t buy in the UK for my wine of the week but as it’s Canada Day I’m making an exception. (Plus there are regular Canadian visitors to the site who may be able to get their hands on it. Lucky them!)