Pairings | California
A guest post from award-winning wine writer Jamie Goode who gives his own personal take on Jon Bonné's The New California Wine and the issues it raises.
We’ve got a fantastic prize for wine-lovers this month to introduce you to some of the incredibly exciting wines that are now coming out of California. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
Since few Californian wineries now have restaurants on their premises* it’s been more of a challenge to showcase their food. But Sonoma-based Kendall-Jackson has come up with an ingenious solution in the form of a food pairing restaurant Partake which opened in Healdsburg this March.
Given that San Francisco is within two hours drive time from over 1200 wineries it is not surprising that one can savor great meals with delicious wines in any number of world class restaurants. But maybe fewer of you are aware of the opportunity to experience a food and wine matching experience without even leaving the City limits.
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks are the best to serve?
If anyone still needs convincing about the virtues of food and wine matching Mark Hix’s fresh seasonal recipes in The Independent today should convince them. Even the ‘drink what you like with the food you like’ brigade would have to admit that a voluptuous Meursault or oak-aged white Bordeaux would totally overwhelm the flavours of raw food.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.
Q Could you make a suggestion for a pan-fried flank steak with a mustard/cream sauce consisting of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, cream, and Dijon mustard?
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.
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.
Natasha Hughes re-orders her hit list of wine matches for pinot following her visit to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
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.
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
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.
The other night I went back to one of my favourite restaurants Ransome’s Dock, a friendly neighbourhood restaurant in Battersea that has great food and an even more stellar wine list, put together with detailed and well-written tasting notes by chef/proprietor Martin Lam. (You can download it from the site)
It was hard to pick just one pairing from the stellar meal I had at Marcus Wareing in London last week but this combination of robustly cooked John Dory and 2005 Nuits-St-Georges from Domaine Daniel Rion was the most interesting, underlining that red wine can be just as good a partner for white fish as for meatier fish like tuna.
You may be unconvinced about the wisdom of incorporating chilli into achocolate cheesecake, let alone accompanying it with Merlot but bear with me!
I don’t know why a group of us got swept up by a bout of nostalgia for vol-au-vents on Twitter last week but it became so irresistible my friend Kate and her lodger Mike felt compelled to rustle up a batch to accompany an informal wine tasting the other night.
Given that I’ve been in Napa and Sonoma County for the past few days you might expect me to select a cab or a pinot noir as my wine of the week (more on those in due course) but I’m going for this fantastic syrah I tasted at the Rhone-fixated Girl and The Fig in Sonoma
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
Fascinating to see Gallo (now Gallo Family Vineyards, note!) make food and wine matching the focus of their latest glossy, full-colour advertising campaign in the national press (which also coincides with their sponsorship of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word.)
I have to confess I found it pretty hard to concentrate on the finer nuances of the food and wine combinations at the recent Cinnamon Club dinner. But when the speaker is the discursive Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and you're sitting next to him that's no great surprise. Before the meal had even started we were into Kierkegaard and a vigorous discussion of terroir in the bar below over our glasses of Vin Gris de Cigare (a typically unorthodox full-bodied rosé based on Grenache, Cinsault and Roussanne).
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 . . .
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.
I’ll be doing a major round-up on my trip to Provence next week buthere are a few more thoughts on matching rosé and food, an update of mylast overview
There was a time, about 10 years ago, when I wrote a lot about Merlot which was widely regarded as wine world’s alternative to Chardonnay - an easy drinking red wine that went with almost any meal.
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Many people say they don't like chardonnay but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
Last week was a particularly indulgent one for dining out so it was a tough call coming up with my match of the week but I think it has to be the Côte du Boeuf I had at Racine with a stellar bottle of Ridge’s 1999 Monte Bello
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
This coming weekend sees the 16th annual festival of the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) in San Francisco. I went one year and it was an absolute blast - two great sheds filled with hundreds of enthusiasts enjoying this great belter of a red.