Pairings

Pairings | Loire

Chez Miton and Au Fil de L’Aigronne: two Loire bargains

Chez Miton and Au Fil de L’Aigronne: two Loire bargains

Instead of hurtling down south on the motorway as we used to do with the kids to minimise family squabbling, we’ve taken to a stately three day progression with frequent stop-offs to visit winemakers, eat or simply drive through France’s beautiful unspoilt countryside and blissfully traffic-free back roads.

‘Meli Melo’ 2013 and 3 other good wine finds from Yapp

‘Meli Melo’ 2013 and 3 other good wine finds from Yapp

One of the problems of recommending a wine that most people can only buy online is that they generally have to buy a case - either of that wine or others they haven't a clue whether they’ll like or not.

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

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.

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.

Wigmore cheese and 13 year old Pouilly Fumé

Wigmore cheese and 13 year old Pouilly Fumé

It’s still not widely recognised that white wines have the capacity to age, particularly wines that are noted for their freshness and bright acidity so it was fascinating to try a range of older wines from the Centre-Loire yesterday with a range of different cheeses.

Venison and Cot (Malbec)

Venison and Cot (Malbec)

The most successful wine pairing from a tasting I hosted on behalf of Touraine wines the other day was not the expected sauvignon and goats cheese or even fish and chips but a rich gamey dish of venison with a robust Cot, the name by which Malbec is known in the Loire.

Soft boiled eggs with anchoiade and radicchio and Bourgueil

Soft boiled eggs with anchoiade and radicchio and Bourgueil

Last week’s best pairing was at a fascinating meal I had at Les 110 de Taillevent in Paris which I’ll be writing up in more detail so here’s an off-the-wall match from last night’s feast at The Unfiltered Dog - a pop up restaurant at the Real Wine Fair run by the team from Terroirs.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

Last week’s highlight was a trip to the newly opened downstairs restaurant at Terroirs, a restaurant of which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan (along with the rest of the UK’s wine-writing fraternity).

Wines to match wild salmon

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:

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:

10 good wine pairings with paté

10 good wine pairings with paté

And by paté I’m thinking of rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or eat in a wine bar.

What to drink with chicken

What to drink with chicken

One of the most irritating recommendations you find on wine labels is ‘Drink with chicken’. Which kind do they mean - a simply roast bird or a coq au vin? A chicken salad or a Thai chicken curry? Chicken is such a neutral meat it depends entirely on the way that it’s cooked and the other flavours in the dish.

Duck paté, rillettes and red Anjou

Duck paté, rillettes and red Anjou

Last week we spent 24 hours in Cheltenham, mainly to eat at Le Champignon Sauvage about which I’ll be posting a review tomorrow. We also had lunch at a pub/bistro I’d heard good things about called the Royal Well Tavern which has this year been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and recently picked up a glowing review from the Observer’s restaurant critic, Jay Rayner

Contemporary sushi and Sancerre rouge

Contemporary sushi and Sancerre rouge

The best meal on my whirlwind tour of the Centre Loire* last week - and there was stiff competition - was a Japanese meal prepared by sommelier Juli Nakata-Roumet, the Japanese wife of the local promotional body’s director of communication Benoit Roumet

Celeriac, celery and caerphilly soup with Coteau des Treilles Anjou blanc

Celeriac, celery and caerphilly soup with Coteau des Treilles Anjou blanc

It's always difficult to decide what to drink with soup - one liquid with another never seems quite right as I've remarked before - but the thicker the soup is the easier it is.

Clos Michet 2009, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Montlouis

Clos Michet 2009, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Montlouis

This week has been all about dipping into bottles in the cellar in our house in France. Well, not strictly the cellar - more like the cupboard under the stairs. It’s not ideal wine storage - it’s a bit too warm in the Languedoc - but it stays cooler than the rest of the house.

What to drink with peashoots?

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?

Mature Savennières with chargrilled carrots, burnt aubergine, miso and walnut pesto

Mature Savennières with chargrilled carrots, burnt aubergine, miso and walnut pesto

OK, this pairing at Jason Atherton’s new Social Wine and Tapas isn’t exactly easy to reproduce at home but it was certainly the highlight of my food and wine matches last week.

Jasnières, Gorwydd Caerphilly and apple, pear and ginger jelly

Jasnières, Gorwydd Caerphilly and apple, pear and ginger jelly

With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.

Goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc

Goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc

Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.

Roasted asparagus and Jersey royal salad with herb mayonnaise and a 2012 Saumur Champigny

Roasted asparagus and Jersey royal salad with herb mayonnaise and a 2012 Saumur Champigny

Asparagus, it’s often said, is tough to match with wine, let alone a red, but this combination with a light, chilled Saumur Champigny at the re-opened Bell’s Diner in Bristol was a perfect pairing.

7 hour leg of lamb with Cot (Malbec)

7 hour leg of lamb with Cot (Malbec)

When you’re roasting lamb you’re almost spoilt for choice. Almost any red you enjoy will go with this most wine-friendly of dishes but my pick of Thierry Puzelat’s quirky KO In Cot we Trust (2005) proved a winner

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