Match of the week

Wines - and other drinks - to match Delia's new 'cheat' recipes

The papers are full of her. Despite her six year absence from our screens and and the rise of TV rivals such as Gordon, Jamie and Nigella, Delia (that’s veteran cookery writer Delia Smith for those of you who live on another planet) shows she can still bewitch the media.

As someone who taught myself to cook from Delia’s books I say ‘Good for her’! For her new book 'How to Cheat at Cooking' is bang up to date with clever and time-saving tips for harassed cooks. Her recipes are always reassuringly reliable but don’t run away with the idea that they’re run-of-the-mill or bland. They’re full of sizzling flavours that will challenge any accompanying wine.Here are my suggested pairings for the seven ‘taster’ recipes she is currently giving on her website

Caribbean chicken with salsa
The punchy combination of flavours in this recipe - the chicken is smothered in a paste made with lime, garlic, ginger and muscovado sugar and the accompanying salsa contains mango, jalapeno pepper, red and yellow pepper and red onion - makes me think that a cocktail might be a better match than a glass of wine - a rum punch or, more simply still, a shot of rum topped up with tropical fruit juice with a dash of grenadine. A light lager would also work. But if you want to stick to wine I’d go for a fruity Australian Semillon-Chardonnay or Colombard-Chardonnay blend.

Spinach tortelloni with leeks and Gorgonzola
Not an easy dish to pair with wine because of the Gorgonzola piccante (more powerful than Gorgonzola dolce or Dolcelatte). Delia offsets this herself with her serving suggestion of a raw fennel salad with a lemony dressing so I’m not sure you want to mimic those lemon flavours in your wine (which rules out a Sauvignon Blanc) I’d go for a good quality Pinot Grigio or other neutral Italian white such as a Verdicchio.

Creole prawns with red pepper and chilli
As Delia has used a glass of dry white wine in this spicy dish it would seem a touch extravagant to drink anything else. A crisp white such as a Picpoul de Pinet - would suit the hot spicy flavours well or try a fashionable Spanish Albarino. Or, if you’re using leftover wine for the recipe, you could drink a lager.

Good old Shepherd’s Pie
Despite its unconventional topping of leeks and grated cheese this remains a straightforward dish with which you could match almost any medium- to full-bodied red. My own choice would be a gutsy southern French red such as a Cotes du Rhone or a young ‘crianza’ Rioja. A good British bitter or pale ale would work really well too.

Portuguese custard tarts
I suspect these will be one of the hit recipes in Delia’s new book - I certainly can’t wait to try them! I’d pair them with a sweet wine such as a Moscatel de Valencia or, as the Portuguese would enjoy them, with a strong black coffee. You could also successfully match them with a 10 year old tawny port or Australian liqueur muscat.

Calamares fritos
On their own or with a milder accompaniment these would be pretty easy (I’d recommend an inexpensive sparkling wine) but the accompanying chilli jam is a bit more demanding. My pick would be a Chilean or South African Sauvignon Blanc or a Clare Valley Riesling from South Australia. Or, if you serve them as part of a selection of fishy tapas, a well chilled glass of manzanilla or fino sherry from a freshly-opened bottle.

Greek lamb with lemon and garlic
Cooked like this, with lemon rind and garlic and accompanied by a Greek salad you could just as easily drink a zesty white as a red: a Greek Assyrtiko would be perfect. A red will also work but I’d pick a traditional rustic Mediterranean red rather than a very fruity wine from the New World as the lemon will have the effect of making the wine taste even sweeter. Again a Greek variety, Agiorgitiko, would hit the spot or pick a bottle from the southern Rhone or Languedoc.

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