Pairings

Pairings | Grenache

Anchovies and Grenache Gris

Anchovies and Grenache Gris

Anchovies are always reputed to be difficult with food but I found a great match for them over the past few days down in Collioure and Banyuls. Which of course there should be as they’re a speciality of the area.

Tuna Tataki and Grenache Blanc

Tuna Tataki and Grenache Blanc

Perfectly prepared Japanese food is not what you expect to find in the gastronomic desert of the Languedoc but this superb dish of rare tuna was a brilliant match for the richly textured white wine I drank at Côté Mas the other day.

Practically every barbecued meat you can think of and an amazing Aussie grenache

Practically every barbecued meat you can think of and an amazing Aussie grenache

Normally my matches of the week are quite specific - a dish and a drink - but it’s always great to find a wine that sails through everything on the table as this gorgeous grenache did at London’s latest barbecue restaurant Temper last week.

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Last week’s highlight without a doubt was the meal I had with my Guardian colleagues at Brawn, Ed Wilson’s new restaurant in Columbia Road. As you may know it’s the new City outpost of the hugely popular wine bar Terroirs with a similar natural wine list which you can read about on my natural wine blog here.

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

If you're serving a ham or gammon as a roast this Christmas you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.

Five great cheese and wine pairings

Five great cheese and wine pairings

You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.

Braised short ribs in red wine with Les Clos Perdus Corbières

Braised short ribs in red wine with Les Clos Perdus Corbières

The weather has been so absurdly autumnal this week that I cooked a substantial stew for friends on Saturday night, an intensely flavoured braise of beef short ribs (or pot au feu as our local butcher describes them) with plenty of lush, red wine (a Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile which is part of the Waitrose own label range).

Richard Turner's beef rendang

Richard Turner's beef rendang

If you like a bit of a project make Richard Turner's beef rendang this weekend - one of his favourite recipes, he tells me, from his brilliant new book PRIME.

Wine and steak pairing tips. 5 things you need to know about matching steak with wine

Wine and steak pairing tips. 5 things you need to know about matching steak with wine

Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a perfect match? You could simply say the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.

The best wine matches for turbot

The best wine matches for turbot

Turbot is a luxurious fish you might well be serving over the holiday period, most probably roast or seared. But what sort of wine should you pair with it?

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

You might be surprised that a nut roast isn’t that different from a conventional roast when it comes to finding a wine pairing. The savoury flavours are designed to act as a satisfying substitute for meat and so work best with similarly full-bodied red wines.

Six of the best pairings for a burger

Six of the best pairings for a burger

It might surprise you to hear it - and maybe you’ve never tried it - but a serious red wine is a really good match for a burger. Not a Maccy D, maybe but a big lush gourmet burger. And why not?

Wine of the week: El Bombero Gran Reserva 2009 Carinena

Wine of the week: El Bombero Gran Reserva 2009 Carinena

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

Berry Bros & Rudd Reserve Red

Berry Bros & Rudd Reserve Red

Only a merchant with a pedigree like Berry Bros & Rudd could consider an £8.45 bottle a ‘house wine’ but if your usual fare is classed growth claret I guess it is.

Which wine to drink with paella?

Which wine to drink with paella?

If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes just as well with a rosé or a red.

Top wine and beer matches for game

Top wine and beer matches for game

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.

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Once the game season starts to get into full swing my husband ventures into the kitchen. Pheasant, of course, doesn’t come into season until the 1st of October but our local butcher was obviously clearing out last year’s stocks and we picked one up for a song.

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

Our final pre-Christmas meal at our favourite local restaurant Culinaria the other night was a real feast of winter flavours. Unusually every dish went well with the bottle we chose, a 2005 Vacquéyras Cuvée des Templiers from Le Clos des Cazaux, a wonderfully full-flavoured blend of Syrah and Grenache that was as good as many minor Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes I’ve tasted. A real treat.

Wine and pepper

Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

The lemon dilemma

The lemon dilemma

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about ingredients that cause problems for wine and have come to the conclusion that lemon is one of the major culprits. Of course we add lemon to many things for a subtle lift - I’m talking about recipes where lemoniness (if there is such a word) is the essence of the dish.

What impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

What impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

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.

Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

I’ve never totally bought into the idea but a recent wine and chocolate tasting put on by Australian Wine at Australia House in London went halfway to convincing me.

Wine and turkey: Six of my favourite wine matches

Wine and turkey: Six of my favourite wine matches

Christmas being as traditional as it is you may already have your own favourite wine pairing for turkey but if you're looking for inspiration here are my six favourite matches

The best wines to pair with haggis

The best wines to pair with haggis

I’ve argued before that whisky and beer are the best match for haggis but what if you prefer a wine? What colour and style work best?

5 good matches for roast pork belly

5 good matches for roast pork belly

Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it? It doesn't have to be wine . . .

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

If you've been following the new alternative lifestyle programme Château Monty on Channel 4 you’ll know that ‘Monty’ is wine writer Monty Waldin who set out to make his own biodynamic wine in the Roussillon down in the far corner of south-west France

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.

Roast turbot with wild mushrooms and white Minervois

Roast turbot with wild mushrooms and white Minervois

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.

Joue de boeuf and a rich Roussillon red

Joue de boeuf and a rich Roussillon red

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.

Italian cheese and a Provence red from Microcosmos

Italian cheese and a Provence red from Microcosmos

I don’t often pair red wine with cheese, let alone make it my match of the week but the Italian cheeseboard I had the other day at Bocca di Lupo in Soho proved a great pairing for a highly unusual Provencal red

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Last week we returned to one of our much-loved haunts, Arles, and ate our way round some of our favourite restaurants (the ones that weren’t closed as a number mysteriously seemed to be at what you’d think was still peak holiday season).

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.

Cold roast veal with herbs and St Chinian rosé

Cold roast veal with herbs and St Chinian rosé

It’s been so hot over the last couple of days here in the Languedoc I haven’t felt much like cooking so we raided the very good local traiteur (takeaway) in Murviel yesterday for our weekend’s eating. The highlight was some beautifully cooked rare roast veal with herbs - in the style of Italian porchetta.

Clams with rice and Verd Albera

Clams with rice and Verd Albera

What do you drink with tapas? My immediate go-to is sherry but having indulged that whim the other day in the form of a glass of tangy manzanilla amontillada from Lustau’s almacenista collection I unusually followed it up with a glass of white.

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

Today, as you’ll probably not need reminding, is le quatorze juillet which marks the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French revolution. These days the French are more likely to head for the beach than onto the streets as it’s a public holiday and the start of the month long summer vacation for many but it’s celebrated with street parties all over France.

Beef shin pie and a Languedoc red

Beef shin pie and a Languedoc red

It’s amazing how many different styles of eating you can pack into a week, particularly when you’re travelling. At the moment I’m in sunny Chile stuffing myself with seafood and sauvignon blanc so I'm finding it hard to remember that just six days ago I was in rain-ravaged Britain craving pies and stews.

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

If you’re after a bright, fruity, sunshine-filled red to carry you through the dark, dreary days of winter you couldn't do better than this delicious Côtes du Rhône.

Domaine Marie 2013 Faugères - the perfect autumn red

Domaine Marie 2013 Faugères - the perfect autumn red

I’ve a soft spot for the Faugères wine region which is just up the road from our house in the Languedoc. It’s a beautiful wild hilly area on the foothills of the coastal range which produces some lovely warm spicy reds.

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

One of the problems about buying wine these days is that there’s just too much choice. But if I had to stick to just one wine this Christmas it would be this gutsy red from the Rhone.

Blankbottle Limbic 2015

Blankbottle Limbic 2015

One of the most original and inventive wine producers I’ve come across is Pieter Walser of Blankbottle in Stellenbosch, South Africa but this is his zaniest concept yet.

St John and the art of the long lunch

St John and the art of the long lunch

Everyone I know who’s into food has a soft spot for St John. True, it has/has had its ups and downs but It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was when it opened 19 years ago. And how absolutely right its values still are in terms of serving great ingredients simply,

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.

So what IS a food-friendly wine?

People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?

Wines to pair with fennel

Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

This impressive Moroccan-style pie from Josceline Dimbleby's food memoir Orchards in the Oasis would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party or more casual supper with friends.

Beef bourguignon pie

Beef bourguignon pie

Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I reviewed here.

Which foods pair best with high alcohol red wines?

Which foods pair best with high alcohol red wines?

Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.

Which wine to match with moussaka - updated

Which wine to match with moussaka - updated

Moussaka cries out for a red but not too powerful a one otherwise the effect will be to add to the richness of the dish. (Cooked cheese, by the way, is much easier with red wine than uncooked cheese is).

Lobster and sweetcorn with Allende Rioja Blanco

Lobster and sweetcorn with Allende Rioja Blanco

I came across this pairing at a dinner to launch the London Restaurant Festival. It was held at Nuno Mendes Loft Project, a permanent East London pop-up - if there is such a thing - where he normally hosts visiting chefs of a similarly experimental bent. Mendes is one of the most talented chefs in London at the moment and normally cooks at nearby Viajante in Bethnal Green which I reviewed here.

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