Pairings | Cheek
Like most wines made from red grapes Zinfandel comes in a number of styles from light and juicy to blockbuster ‘killer’ zins but they have a common thread of ripe brambly fruit and in most cases a richness that makes them a good match for red meat and other hearty dishes, especially those with a hit of smoked chilli.
What most people probably think of in terms of Australian red wine is a Barossa or McLaren Vale shiraz - big, lush, sweet and ripe, the ideal pairing for grilled or barbecued beef. Hunter Valley shiraz typically has a more savoury character that suits meats like venison and kangaroo while Western Australian shiraz is made in a more elegant style, almost like a red Bordeaux, making it a good pairing for lamb.
The Spanish are more adventurous than us when it comes to matching sherry and food. I remember drinking a dry oloroso with roast partridge a few years back in Jerez. But what else could you pair with it?
Now that winter is firmly upon us it's time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
Syrah and shiraz, as you may know, are the same grape variety but quite different in character. Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhône, tends to be savoury, shiraz from Australia, far more sweet-fruited. Here I’m concentrating on food pairings for syrah. Read this post if you’re looking for matches for shiraz though there is obviously some overlap.
If you think of Pedro Ximenez as an ultra sweet sherry, yes, of course it is but you can also use it to make spectacular savoury recipes like this dish of pork cheek from Bar 44's Tapas y Copas by Owen and Tom Morgan. I'm lucky enough to have them as my local tapas bar and absolutely adore their food. Now, thanks to the book you can try it for yourself.
I know I talked about ox cheek a couple of weeks ago (with nero d’avola) but here it is again in an even better combination with Jumilla at a lunch hosted by wine importers Morgenrot at Bar 44 in Bristol.
A warming wintry recipe from José Pizarro's Catalonia - the perfect dish to cook as the nights draw in.
In some cases it doesn’t matter what form an ingredient takes, if it’s present in a dish it dominates the match. So Claire Thomson of 5 o’clock apron’s innovative beef cheek and black rice arancini which she brought to a (very soggy) outdoor picnic last week hosted outside by wine importer Carte Blanche was just as good a pairing with a grenache as braised beef cheek would have been. In fact the dark nutty rice added an extra dimension which made it even more interesting.
As is often the way Christmas wasn’t a time for any startling food and wine discoveries, rather for celebrating favourite combinations but I realise I forgot to mention one pairing just before Christmas at Angelus restaurant in Lancaster Gate.
There’s so much inexpensive Côtes du Rhône about that it’s easy to forget that it can be a sufficiently substantial wine to take on a richly flavoured dish, especially if it comes from a named village and a good vintage.
Nero d’avola may not be a grape variety you’re familiar with but in a recent blind tasting of 25,000 consumers carried out by Majestic it proved by far the most popular choice
I've been in Paris for the last few days so this week's pairing had to be from here. There are so many possibilities but as I haven't written about a meat match for a while I'm going to pick the braised beef cheek and vegetables we had with a quirky wine called KM31 from the Roussillon.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
One of the best sources of good value reds right now is Portugal and if you like full-bodied styles the Douro is the region to look out for. This 2017 Glorio Douro is almost porty which should come as no surprise as it’s made from three of the grapes - tinta roriz, touriga nacional and touriga franca - that are used to make port.