Pairings | Veg & salads
Which wine pairs best with salad?
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There's no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains and what type of dressing you use.
6 things you need to think about when pairing wine and vegetarian food
If you think it’s difficult to pair wine and vegetarian food, think again. It’s no trickier than it is for those who eat meat or fish.
The best food pairings for Grüner Veltliner
Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s best known white wine, it’s true.
What are the best pairings for Provence rosé?
Provence rosé has a particular character. It’s much crisper and drier than most rosés on the market, more like a white wine than a rosé - though within this style there are variations between the lighter, less expensive wines or ‘vins de soif’ and the more structured ones, which the local refer to as ‘vins de gastronomie’.
If you don’t eat meat what should you pair with your best red wines?
This was a question that popped up in our Matching Food & Wine Facebook group so I’ve included a couple of our members' suggestions but it’s well worth following the full thread
The best wines to pair with courgettes or zucchini
There’a a fair chance that if you grow courgettes - or zucchini - you’re eating more than your fair share of them at this time of year but what wine should you drink with them?
Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc
You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire
Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites
A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.
When you can pair asparagus with red wine
The idea of partnering asparagus with wine is contentious enough but red wine? Surely that won’t work?
How Thanksgiving sides can inspire your wine pairing
Although we all talk turkey at Thanksgiving, in fact it’s the sides that tend to steal the show. Finding a wine that can cope with them all is never easy but you may just find your favourite side or dressing can inspire your choice.
6 good wine pairings for aubergine/eggplant
Aubergine - or eggplant as it’s called in the US - doesn’t have a strong flavour of its own but tends to enrich any dish in which it’s included especially when baked with tomatoes and cheese.
Top pairings for Pinot Noir: some new ideas from Natasha Hughes
Natasha Hughes re-orders her hit list of wine matches for pinot following her visit to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
The best wine pairings for cauliflower
There was once no point in thinking about wine in the context of cauliflower. It was a vegetable. It was bland - except arguably in cauliflower cheese - but now it’s roasted, fried, spiced and partnered by other exotic and flavourful ingredients.
Best food pairings with sauvignon blanc
Sauvignon blanc is many people's favourite wine but what type of food pairs with it best?
What food to pair with a 15% ABV wine
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
Which wines and beers to pair with asparagus
This month I asked my fellow Tweeters to tackle the subject of wine with asparagus - supposed to be a tricky combination, but as @cuvee_corner put it “Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the difficulty.” (It isn't just you. There are plenty of options!)
The best wines to pair with beetroot
Beetroot is one of the few vegetables that pairs better with red wine than with white - not only for the colour though that tends to put the brain on auto-suggest - but its rich, earthy sometimes sweet flavour.
The best food pairings for white rioja
White rioja is tricky when it comes to wine pairing as it comes in such contrasting styles. There are the crisp fresh unoaked white riojas which behave much like a sauvignon blanc and much richer barrel-fermented ones which can tackle more intensely-flavoured fish and meat dishes
Some great food pairings for tequila
Despite the recent increase in interest in Mexican street food like tacos consumers in the UK still have to take to tequila (maybe because they’re too busy drinking gin) but in fact it’s an attractive and versatile spirit to pair with food
The best wine pairings with Caesar salad
As with most salads Caesar salad is all about the dressing which on the face of it sounds tricky, anchovies being notoriously difficult to match with wine.
The best food pairings for Vermentino
Vermentino is incredibly versatile - a brilliant wine pairing for anything fishy, herby or citrussy and a great wine for spring and summer drinking.
Six of the best drink pairings for kale
Although there's not quite the feverish frenzy there was about kale a couple of years ago there's still a lot of kale lurve around.
15 Easter wine pairings to learn by heart
If you're wondering what wines you should buy for Easter weekend here's quick guide to what I think are the best Easter wine pairings.
The best wines to pair with squash and pumpkin
Nothing proclaims autumn more clearly than squash and pumpkin but what wine should you pair with them? It depends whether the dish is savoury or sweet obviously but here are a few options that might help
The best wine pairings for peppers
Peppers or bell peppers, as they’re also known, crop up in so many dishes, that you may well have wondered what wine goes best with them - or even if they’re the element of the dish you need to match.
Three surefire pairings for pinot noir
Most of the time, as you’ll have noticed, I feature the more offbeat wine pairings I’ve come across in my match of the week slot. This week I’ve been reminded of the virtue of some that seldom go wrong.
What food to pair with mature Margaux
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
Cocktail and food pairing
Olive, the UK-based food magazine, has identified cocktail and food pairing as a coming trend in 2009. It's possible but I'm a little sceptical nowadays when it comes to initiatives involving spirits and food. There have been so many false dawns over the last few years (remember cocktail dessert menus?) and I would have thought the current economic climate was the least propitious period to get the idea off the ground. But I could be wrong.
Which wines and beers pair best with mushrooms?
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
Top wine pairings with asparagus
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
The best wine - and other - pairings for leeks
Leeks generally feature in dishes in their own right rather than as a side and have a mild sweet flavour you want to respect.
The best pairings for amontillado and palo cortado sherry
Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.
10 food pairings for peaty whiskies
Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.
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.
Which wines pair best with raw food?
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.
Which wines - or beers - pair best with cooked cheese?
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
Which wine pairs best with tomatoes?
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
Clever pairings for rare sherries
I don’t think I ever go to a sherry tasting without coming away renewed in my conviction about what a marvellous match it is for food and the one I attended yesterday was no exception. It was organised by the enterprising Les Caves de Pyrne who are importing for the first time into the UK some rare sherries from Emilio Hidalgo and took place at Dehesa, the sister (if that’s the appropriate word) restaurant of the better known Salt Yard.
A cocktail pairing dinner at The Seahorse
One of the main events at the Dartmouth Food Festival this weekend was a dinner at Mitch Tonks Seahorse restaurant cooked by London chef Mark Hix. The unusual factor though was that every dish was matched with a cocktail.
The tough task of pairing white truffles
Frankly if you can afford white truffles (currently selling at about 2500 euros per kilo) you probably already have a substantial cellar to pick from but just so you don’t in any way detract from the pleasure of eating your investment let me tell you what the Piedmontese do.
Which whisky pairs best with haggis?
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
What wine to pair with corn
Eating corn on the cob is one of the pleasures of high summer especially now there are so many different ways to cook it. But if you love corn or sweetcorn what wine should you pair with it?
What to pair with Beaujolais Nouveau
With southern hemisphere wines from the 2016 vintage having been on the shelves for a few months now the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau has become less significant but you may still want to crack open a bottle today.
The best pairings for fino and manzanilla sherry
Manzanilla, as you probably know, is a fino sherry made in the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda rather than in the cities of Jerez or Puerto de Santa Maria which gives it its characteristic salty tang.
The best food to pair with vodka
Vodka may be primarily thought of as a base for cocktails but in vodka-loving countries like Russia and Poland it’s always accompanied by food. Basically anything smoked, pickled or cured works well. Here are some ideas:
The best food pairings with white burgundy
White burgundy includes a multitude of wines from generic bourgogne blanc to the grandeur of a Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But it’s the affordable wines that I’m focussing on in this post. What type of food do they pair with best?
Wine pairing: burrata, beetroot and Albarino
This week I was at Heathcotes Brasserie in Preston, Lancashire for a wine dinner for which I’d had to devise the wine matches. Paul Heathcote, the chef, is an old sparring partner and obviously thought he’d put me on the spot by coming up with some challenging dishes.
Two exciting new pairings for asparagus
I’ve been thinking about the tricky subject of wine with asparagus for long enough to have come up with a number of different pairings but I came across two this week that were really a bit of a revelation.
Which wines to pick with vegetarian food?
As it's Word Vegetarian Day I thought I'd re-run an article from Decanter on wine and vegetarian food I wrote a few years ago but still contains some useful pointers from top wine producers and sommeliers. (Some of the people quoted are now in different jobs.)
10 top wine matches for a vegetarian (or vegan) Christmas
It’s a sign of the times that when I first wrote this post 10 years ago I said “Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year” That’s obviously no longer the case but veggie - and vegan - options are now so numerous and so diverse it can be tricky to work out which wine would work best with them.
Seasonal Veg Pakora
With the new season's spring veg springing up in the garden and coming into the shops it's the perfect moment to make these delicious Seasonal Veg Pakora from Grace Regan's appetising new book, Spicebox.
Pairing wine with vegan food
With media interest in vegan food at an unprecedented high you might wonder which wines vegans can drink. Quite a lot as it happens ...
Spring vegetable tart with mustard cream and watercress
If you're looking for an impressive vegetarian centrepiece to a spring meal this lovely light recipe from Signe Johansen's and Peter's Yard's book Smörgåsbord, is perfect though if you serve it on its own I think it would probably only feed 4-6! (Only 4 in my family!)
How to make a really healthy smoothie
If your new year's resolution is to get fit you may be planning to start the day with a smoothie. But how good for you are they and could you make them healthier?
Roast Pumpkin with Savoury Sage & Pumpkin Seed Granola
Those of you who are sceptical about vegan food should try this delicious recipe from Mildreds Vegan Cookbook by Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman. Yes, it's vegan but omnivores would enjoy it too and the pumpkin seed granola is wonderfully versatile.
Sticky blackcurrant shallots
A really easy, delicious preserve using red wine and cassis from Sybil Kapoor's recently released The Great British Vegetable Cookbook - a great present for anyone who has an allotment.
A vegetarian harvest supper
Before we finally plunge into winter here's a late autumn supper menu from my book Food, Wine and Friends that combines the best of autumn’s produce with a couple of convenience products.
Spinach & agushi curry
I recently chaired a panel on women in food at the Abergavenny Food Festival which included the wonderful Zoe Adjonyoh. I hadn't seen her book Zoe's Ghana Kitchen before but discovered it was full of the most delicious recipes, many of them vegan.
What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
Young red rioja and menestra (Spanish vegetable stew)
Of all the great food and wine pairings I experienced in Rioja last week this was the most unexpected.
Rabbit (or chicken) with spring vegetables and Viognier
On Saturday I was in London’s Borough Market which was full of the most wonderful spring vegetables - artichokes, broad beans, peas and asparagus. It reminded me of a dish I normally make this time of year when we’re at our house in the Languedoc in southern France which is rabbit braised with spring vegetables and Viognier.
Roast vegetable stacks
Another recipe for your World Cup celebrations from the Van Loveren family. It comes from the new Wines of South Africa cookbook Cape Wine Braai Masters but you could equally well cook it with a conventional oven and grill.
Parsnip, Miso, Oat and Shallot Boulangère
A gorgeously hearty, warming vegetable-based dish from Gizzi Erskine's inspiring book Restore which is full of and advice on how to eat ethically and seasonally.
I first had this wonderful vegetable stew - a northern Spanish equivalent of a spring vegetable minestrone - in a restaurant in Pamplona and dreamed about it for several years before managing to recreate it.
The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you if you're looking for a food match need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.
Warm lamb salad with a pea, mint & feta cheese dressing
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
Potato and lemon frittata with watercress & almond salad
An unusual and fresh-tasting frittata that would make a perfect brunch dish from Ryn and Cordie's In Search of the Perfect Partner (The Food and Wine Matching Formula) reviewed here.
Cauliflower curry, boiled eggs & coconut crumble
Cauliflower and eggs are two of my favourite things, here ingeniously combined by Dan Doherty of the Duck & Waffle in his brilliant book Toast, Hash, Roast, Mash.
Vegetable Thali and Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale
Where I live in Bristol we’re lucky to have an unusually good Indian restaurant called Thali Café, that sells sophisticated street food which you can take away in your own tiffin box. I’m addicted to the vegetable-based ‘Dairy Free Tiffin’ which is light, fresh and aromatic and was wondering what to drink with it when I picked up a bottle of Tire Bite Golden Ale from the excellent Flying Dog brewery.
Celery, tomato and echalion sauce - a simple way of serving fish
My friend cookery writer Andrea Leeman is one of the best home cooks I know with a knack of making even the simplest food taste utterly delicious.
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.
What makes Korean food distinctive
The first thing everyone asked me when I got back from Korea was what does the food taste like? Unless you live in London, or New Malden in Surrey, which, rather randomly, boasts the UK’s biggest concentration of Korean restaurants, then you probably won’t be familiar with Korean food.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Flageolet Beans with Preserved Lemon Mayo
Many of this year's most appealing cookbooks are vegetarian which should be welcome to all of us who are looking for new ways of cooking and serving veg. This delicious recipe comes from Vegetarian Sheet Pan Cooking by food writer and private chef Liz Franklin.
There are few totally new recipes but sometimes just thinking of one in a different way as Joe Woodhouse has done with his gorgeously crispy potato boulangère in his inspiring new book Your Daily Veg takes them to another level.
Five-spice smoked tofu nuggets
Tofu has never been my favourite ingredient to be honest but these brilliant smoked tofu 'nuggets' from my friend Elly Curshen's book Let's Eat are positively addictive.
Cherry, herb and freekeh tabule
You might not think of putting cherries in a salad but it can work wonderfully well as Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co demonstrate in this clever twist on a tabbouleh from their most recent book Honey & Co: At Home.
Celeriac, potato and anchovy gratin
I love the idea of cooking everything in one dish (quick, easy, no washing up!) so Sue Quinn's book Roasting Tray Magic is right up my street.
What’s the best wine to drink with french fries?
Here’s a great question from Anna Boulton, the owner of a gîte in the Limousin
Layered tomato and egg salad with Verdejo
One of the advantages of BYO is that you can have a stab at matching your wine to the menu. Particularly when you know exactly what each course will be. But sometimes the description is a bit vague as in Saturday’s ‘layered salad’ at the Montpelier Basement supper club in Bristol.*
A Spring Scandinavian Supper for 8
Now that we're firmly into spring here's a menu to celebrate from Danish cookery writer Trine Hahnemann introduced by her Scandi compatriot food writer and blogger Signe Johansen
Lobster thermidor baked potatoes
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
Cauliflower popcorn and a Seedlip and pineapple cocktail
Most pairings focus on alcoholic drinks but it’s equally intriguing to see how a similar synergy can be achieved with an alcohol-free one.
Artichoke barigoule and grüner veltliner
So maybe Austria’s signature grape grüner veltliner is the perfect pairing for tricky-to-match artichokes?
A simple spring supper for 4
This is the kind of easy meal I like to make for friends. The soup can be made in advance (or buy one of the excellent ready made chilled soups there are nowadays and dress it up with some fresh herbs), the steak is finished in the oven and the dessert literally takes minutes.
Roasted red pepper and anchovy salad on roasted garlic toasts
A great recipe for a simple tapa from José Pizarro's lovely book Spanish Flavours. José, as you may know if you're based in the UK, has a cracking tapas bar in Bermondsey called José and a slightly more formal restaurant in the same street called Pizarro.
Mushroom and Mustard soup
With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.
Jersey royal potatoes with peas, wild garlic and crème fraîche
A recipe for one of my favourite ingredients (potatoes) from one of my favourite restaurants, Root in Bristol, whose chef, Rob Howell has written a glorious cookbook of their food which is basically vegetable-based without being wholly veggie.
Cheesy Three-Root Bake
If you're a fellow potato fan you'll absolutely love this warming recipe from Jenny Linford's new book Potatoes.
Celeriac, leek, chestnut and cranberry pies
If you're vegetarian - or catering for one - you expect more than the Christmas sides while everyone else tucks into the turkey. This delicious pie from Rachel Demuth of Demuths Cookery School in Bath fits the bill perfectly.
Carrot and beetroot borscht
New year tends to mean two things - frugal living and healthy eating - and this recipe my eldest daughter Jo devised when she was a student ticks both boxes. Best, of course, with organic veg if you can get hold of them.
Bulgur, herb, walnut and pomegranate salad
Bulgur is a useful grain that you can apparently eat if you're diabetic as I discovered when I was staying with friends in France a while ago. It makes a great base for a simple salad that you can basically adapt to whatever you have in the storecupboard and fridge.
Watermelon, halloumi, lime-pickled red onions
There have been a lot of great veggie cookbooks this summer but one of the most useful is Genevieve Taylor's Charred which finally empowers vegetarians to enjoy barbecues as much as meat eaters. That said this isn't the recipe in the book that makes the most extensive use of the grill but it's such a sublime combination of ingredients it's really summer on a plate.
Bagna cauda and the new Dolcetto
Food and wine writer Marc Millon recounts a memorable celebration of the new vintage last week with his Piemontese winemaker friends
10 Australian Shiraz - and Shiraz blends - that might surprise you
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
The best food matches for Semillon and Semillon-Sauvignon blends
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
Six of the best matches for Bacchus and other dry English white wines
If you've bough a bottle of English wine to celebrate St George's Day or English Wine Week you may be wondering what sort of food suits it best.
A winelover's New Year's Eve dinner
After the tradition-bound cooking of the Christmas period (from which the family will never let you deviate . . .) it’s good to branch out a bit with your New Year’s Eve meal and also pick some dishes that will allow you to drink some serious wines. Note you need to start the beef two days in advance.
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.
Quality Chop's legendary confit potatoes
It's not often you go to a restaurant just for the potatoes but The Quality Chop House's confit potatoes are off the scale - crisp on the outside, meltingly delicious within. Fortunately for those of you who don't live in or near London chef Shaun Searley shared the recipe in his book The Quality Chop House which came out last year. (I also have my eye on the beef fat Hispi Cabbage!)
Frying pan Turkish flatbreads
Today marks the start of Organic September and what better way to kick it off than this great recipe from much-acclaimed vegetarian cookery writer Anna Jones, author of A Modern Way to Cook
Butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds
Finding a special occasion vegetarian dish is tough if you're not a veggie yourself but try this show-stopping recipe from Sabrina Ghayour's Persiana which won best new cookbook at this week's Observer Food Monthly awards.
Asparagus and ricotta tart with herb pastry
This unusual quiche comes from Great British Bakeoff star Flora Shedden's really charming cookbook Gatherings
Sweet Bordeaux and savoury food
Last week, the Union des Grands Vins Liquoureux de Bordeaux, the body that represents Bordeaux sweet wine producers, hosted a tasting of wines from six of the appellations they represent to partner savoury and sweet dishes at a lunch at le Cercle restaurant in Chelsea.
More tips about matching rosé
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
Stuffed piquillo peppers with brandade and Hunter Valley Semillon
Like many of you, I suspect, I’ve been working my way through the older bottles in my cellar* and unearthed a 2014 vintage of Brokenwood Semillon the other day which I visited on my last wine visit to the Hunter Valley.
San Pellegrino and seafood
Like most wine-lovers, I suspect, I’ve made a new year’s resolution to drink rather less after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year. I’m not a big fan of sweetened fruit juices so my drink of choice at the moment, with meals and in between, is sparkling mineral water.
Perry and a Ploughman's
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
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.
Gratinated onion and sercial madeira
If you eat in a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, as I did last week at Le Cinq at the George V in Paris, you’d expect the sommelier to come up with some pretty fantastic pairings with the food.
Cider-battered onions with fino sherry
To kick off National Vegetarian Week and a week of veggie pairings (don’t groan, carnivores, we’ll be back on meat next week!) here’s a great pairing from Friday night’s underground supper club, Montpelier Basement in Bristol.
Aubergine parmigiana with Nero d’Avola
I’d already flagged up southern Italian red wines as a good pairing for aubergine (or eggplant) but it was good to be reminded just what a great match nero d'avola can be, especially with aubergine parmigiana
Celebrate your own Oktoberfest!
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - kicking off next weekend.
Matching German Riesling made easy
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
Smacked Cucumber and Crispy Green Salad with Zingy Ginger Dressing
Although Jenny's Chandler's new book is called Green Kids Cook there are plenty of recipes that would appeal to adults too including this deliciously crunchy salad which provides an answer as to what to do with kohlrabi (I never know).
Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce
A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.
Raw cauliflower, mushroom and feta salad
This delicious salad is inspired by one I ate in a brilliant fast food restaurant called Food Chain in Montreal last year. They shred the vegetables to order then serve them in bowls with an accompanying dressing and topping (mixed seeds in this case).
Oktoberfest potato salad
The key element to this typically Bavarian recipe, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is the addition of hot stock which gives it a consistency half way between a conventional potato salad and mashed potato. It also has the most delicious sweet-sour flavour.
Carrot pie with apple and goat cheese
This unusual recipe from Dutch cookery writer Yvette van Boven's lovely Home Made Summer is a great way to kick off National Vegetarian Week.
Beetroot and pinot noir risotto
Beets are everywhere at the moment but have you ever thought of using them in a risotto? And adding a dash of pinot noir?
Baingan Bharta - roasted smoky aubergine
I've been lucky enough to eat my friend Romy Gill's food on many occasions - she's an inspired home cook - so it's great to finally see her recipes in print.
Burmese Mango Salad with Peanut and Lime
I've loved all of Meera Sodha's books but her new one, East, which includes vegetarian and vegan recipes from the Indian sub-continent to the far east may be the best yet. And I love the zingy fresh flavours of this mango salad.
Which wines and beers match best with Chinese food
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
Which beers to drink at Easter
You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the Easter table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns.
The best wine matches for tomatoes
Although not the problem they're generally made out to be tomatoes do have an influence on a wine pairing.
8 great wine matches for brussels sprouts
The idea of doing a post on wine matches with brussels sprouts might strike you as a tad over the top - after all who eats sprouts on their own? (Answer: me. Whenever I get the chance.)
Smoked duck and blood orange salad with Chilean Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer is a tricky wine to match, one that one usually falls back on recommending with oriental food, so it’s always good to come across something that’s outside the Asian register.
Pork, chilli, coconut and gapi salad with Momo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
I’ve been tasting a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc this week but was also reminded how well it goes with Asian food at Peter Gordon’s new restaurant Kopapa.
Leeks vinaigrette and Vermentino
There were leeks everywhere you looked in the Languedoc last week so I decided to make a classic dish of leeks vinaigrette (and finely sliced serrano ham) as a starter for Sunday lunch with friends. Despite the vinegar and mustard in the dressing it’s not a sharp dish - the dominant note is the delicate, sweet, oniony taste of the leeks so I was looking for a light, unoaked white which wouldn’t mask that flavour.
Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes
The perfect hot weather dish from chef Tim Anderson's Nanban - even if you only make the cucumber ice cubes
Gin and cucumber sorbet
If you're looking to mark World Gin Day this weekend why not rustle up this refreshing gin and cucumber sorbet which was created by Simon Dawson of Bell's Diner in Bristol.
A classic English meal with a perfectly matched French wine
People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.
Tomato and tapenade tart
The most perfect Provençal-style summer tart from Alex Jackson's evocative book Sardine, named after his former London restaurant although you can now happily find him at Noble Rot Soho.
Squash Baked with Beer, Cheese, Cream and Pretzels
I love this recipe from Claire Thomson's brilliant new book Home Cookery Year which I'm tempted to say is the only cookery book you'll ever need although if you're anything like me it's highly unlikely you're going to give the other however many dozen books you've got away.
Spiced Paneer, Spinach and Pea Grain Bowl with Mint Yoghurt Sauce
The big trend for cookbooks this year is vegetarian food and no-one is better able to hold your hand and give you inspiration than my pal Elly Pear. This delicious weekday recipe, which can be rustled up in 20 minutes, comes from her new book Green.
Roast crown prince squash, ricotta and caramelised chilli sage butter
One of the most evocative cookbooks to have been published recently is Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson's Towpath, a series of recipes and reminiscences from the charmingly quirky Towpath Café. It's divided up month by month and this is in fact a September recipe but as squash is still in season and wonderful warming at this time of year it works equally well now.
Fridge-raid tortilla sandwiches
You might think that as tortilla generally has carbs of its own it doesn’t need to be stuffed between two slices of bread. Wrong! The Spanish do it so why shouldn’t the rest of us? Particularly if you have leftovers to use up.
Celebration Spring Salad
Even though it hasn't felt like it so far it's definitely spring and here's a recipe from Jenny Chandler's lovely new book A Good Appetite to celebrate.
Beetroot latkes: the perfect recipe for Thanksgivukkah
The idea of Thanksgivukkah - a once-in-a-lifetime simultaneous celebration of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah - has really caught on. Caterer Elly Curshen of Bristol's Pear Café comes up with her perfect starter.
How to drink vodka like a Russian
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard.
What's the best match for a barbecue?
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
Pairing wine and artichokes
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
Matching food and Priorat
I was reminded about my trip to Priorat almost exactly two years ago by my recent visit to the Roussillon which has a similar terroir. And I think the wines would go with similar kinds of food. These were my suggested pairings at the time . . .
Is wine the best partner for pie?
We Brits don't need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
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.
Vignole and Friulano
As those of you who follow me on instagram (@food_writer) will know I’ve been in Venice for the past few days - and if I could would still be there!
Velouté of asparagus with Grüner Veltliner
It's been a while since I've posted about soup - it's notoriously tricky to match with wine - but this weekend I came across a great combination at a new restaurant in Bath, the oddly named Menu Gordon Jones*
Salmon with leeks and Chardonnay
In the general flurry of celebrations last week I missed out on St David’s Day (the patron saint of Wales) and the opportunity to write about leeks. Leeks tend to excite a certain amount of derision but I think they’re a fabulous vegetable, much milder, subtler and sweeter than onion and much more sympathetic to a fine white wine (for I think they go much better with a white wine than a red one).
Roast carrots with rocket pesto and a Catalan red
Choosing a wine to go with a number of widely differing dishes is always a challenge so I usually try to find a lightish wine that will rub along with both meat and vegetable dishes.
Roast beetroot salad and a juicy Aussie grenache
I nearly saved this Aussie grenache for my wine of the week it was so good but it made a great match with this beetroot salad too
Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine
Every so often you come across a great little recipe than does wonders for almost any wine you pair with it. And so it is with mushroom ‘caviar’, a regular offering from the takeaway section of my favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Basically it’s a mushroom pâté but so reduced and wickedly intense it’s like pure essence of mushroom. Except for the perfect counterpoint - a tiny touch of tarragon.
Manzanilla sherry and smoked dried beef with almonds
Manzanilla sherry never fails to surprise me with its versatility but you don't often come across a combination as good as the one I had last week at Lido restaurant in Bristol.
Leeks and Skyborry perry
One of the many appealing things about Birch in Bristol is that they have an extensive list of artisanal ciders. Which is maybe not so surprising given that they are intending to sell the restaurant and concentrate on making cider themselves.
Fennel and apple salad and Solaris
Finding a new salad that you love and will make many times over again is a win for any weekend but when you find the perfect wine pairing with it too it’s a real high point
Endive, Stilton and walnut salad with blanc de blancs champagne
Champagne two weeks running? I know - it is a bit indulgent but I just couldn’t ignore last night’s extraordinary dinner at the Savoy to celebrate the trophy winners and launch of the first Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. Besides it is our 400th Match of the Week - equally something to celebrate.
Chargrilled endive, hazelnut crumble and Bayonne ham with white Bairrada
I’m having a bit of thing about Portuguese wine at the moment - it’s so great with food and such brilliantly good value. Especially on restaurant wine lists where it’s invariably underpriced in comparison to better known wine producing countries and regions
Chardonnay and charred aubergine with coriander chutney
When I think of coriander I rarely think of chardonnay - more like a sauvignon blanc or a riesling - but the tasting sponsored by Wine Australia at Imbibe the other week before last really surprised me.
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.
Caesar salad with a Godello based Spanish white
A lot of the time when we’re eating out we’re not matching dishes exactly - we simply buy a bottle we like the sound of and hope it will cope with everything we throw at it.
Asparagus and Rondo (English red)
A wine-loving friend and I weren’t sure what to order the other night at Native in Southwark. The menu was suitably springlike but having had a glass of white beforehand (at the excellent Bar Douro) we fancied a red
Anchoïade and manzanilla
I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anything manzanilla doesn’t pair with - or fino, come to that. Of course, there is but both sherries do seem to be brilliant at dealing with the tricky customers of the culinary world, especially pungent salty ones like anchovies and capers.
Italian spinach and ricotta pie with Soave (or Vermentino)
To tell you the truth this is as much about the story behind the pie as the wine match but that was good too so let’s kick off with that.
Carrot, lemon and tahini soup with Roussanne
i haven't written about soup and wine for ages - I've always felt a bit ambivalent about it on the grounds that it seems counter-intuitive to pair one liquid with another - but this is the second post in as many weeks (the other one being here)
How to create a dish to match a wine
Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)
A Middle-Eastern inspired barbecue for eight
Here's a barbecue I've dug out of the archives - a middle-eastern inspired BBQ from my book Food, Wine and Friends.
A Greek-inspired summer supper
With this unseasonably hot weather why not look to Greece for inspiration when you're entertaining. Here's a simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
Beetroot, goats cheese and walnut salad
One of the most useful things you can have in your cupboard at the moment is vac packed cooked beetroot which you can buy in the fresh section of most supermarkets. Fortunately it doesn’t look that appealing so there hasn’t been a run on it despite the fact it’s relatively inexpensive (90p in my local Co-op).
Possibly the best truffle dinner ever
Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.
Normandy cider and creamy sauces
Our final port of call on our recent French trip was a modest family run restaurant at Bourneville called Risle-Seine, a few minutes off the autoroute between Le Havre and Rouen (and therefore ideally placed for a last minute lunch before catching the ferry). It has no great pretensions but does what it does really well: simple classic country food served with decent, well-priced wines - and cider, we discovered this time.
Chicken with sweet peppers and Tempranillo
I’m constantly amazed at the stream of good value reds that is coming out of Spain these days. Here’s another - La Copa Tempranillo 2005 from the up and coming Campo de Borja wine region which is situated in Aragon to the north west of Zaragoza. It appears to be made by a co-operative, the Cooperative de Santo Cristo de Magallon but is none the worse for that.
What to drink with a TV dinner?
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
Wines to match three very nice simple recipes from cookery writer Ken Hom
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
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.
Which wine to match with Rowley Leigh's roast duck and peas
Sometimes I wonder when we get to drink our best wines, food has become so fiddly and complicated so it’s a welcome relief to see a recipe like Rowley Leigh’s in the FT this weekend for a simply roast duck with peas.
What to drink with Turkish food
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
What to eat with Cloudy Bay
For most people the New Zealand winery Cloudy Bay is synonymous with sauvignon blanc but their range now extends to sparkling, sweet and red wines, a message underlined by a dinner at Hix Mayfair (in Brown’s Hotel) the other day.
Few recipes are truly original but this twist on the classic vitello tonnato from Ed Smith of Rocket and Squash, using tomatoes as the base instead of roast veal is just inspired.
Simon Hopkinson's Oysters Rockefeller
I've always been intrigued by Oysters Rockefeller, described by the great Simon Hopkinson as "the best hot oyster dish I know". Here's his recipe.
Seamus Mullen's kale salad with apple, toasted pecans and yoghurt and dill vinaigrette
I've never really 'got' kale but this delicious salad would convert anybody. AND it's healthy too!
Rosemary and basil aubergines in za'atar
One of the books I'm most enjoying at the moment is Mark Diacono's Herb which is perfectly suited to a man who is a great gardener as well as a cook (and the most engaging writer as well as taking all his own photographs. Sickening, really!)
Pumpkin (or butternut squash) muffins for Hallowe'en
"Hallowe'en's always a great excuse to let your imagination run riot and to make some spectacularly spooky food" says cookery writer Signe Johansen.
Fridge- or freezer-foraged cheese, onion and parsley pie
This is the kind of recipe (or rather idea) that I used to put on my old blog The Frugal Cook. But as I’ve given up on it (I know - I shouldn’t have done) I’m posting it here.
Before summer finally disappears here's a brilliant way to make use of the last of the season's tomatoes from chef Florence Knight's lovely first book 'One'. Good tip about skinning garlic cloves too!
Curried cauliflower cheese filo pie
Nothing is as exciting as a new Ottolenghi cookbook but I particularly love the approach of Shelf Love on which he’s collaborated with Noor Murad and the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team. It's the first in a series of OTK books which are designed to be easy and versatile (they recommend alternative ingredients if you don't have the ones in the recipe)
Courgette and feta fritters with yogurt
For those whose courgettes (zucchini) just won't stop producing here's the perfect way to use them from Tom Hunt's lovely book The Natural Cook.
Charred Tomatoes with Cool Yoghurt, Pomegranate Molasses and Herbs
An irresistibly more-ish recipe from Helen Graves brilliant new book Live Fire which you can also cook on a cast iron griddle
Buckwheat galettes with spinach béchamel
Although you can find any kind of recipe online these days nothing beats a beautiful cookbook and the new Fern Verrow book by Herefordshire farmers Jane Scotter and Harry Astley is one you're definitely going to want to own.
Breadcrumbed Tomatoes Baked in Cream with Fried Chicken
There are so many recipes I want to make from Claire Thomson's brilliant new book Tomato but this decadent dish of breadcrumbed tomatoes baked in cream with fried chicken, as if you could make it any better, heads the list.
Artichoke and preserved lemon dip
This brilliant storecupboard dip was taught to me by my friend cookery writer Trish Deseine who rustled it up in no time when I was staying with her recently.
With the first serious snow of the season you may be craving après-ski food but lack the time, energy or ingredients to rustle up a fondue or tartiflette.
Pairing wine with Chinese cuisine
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
Food villains - 9 awkward customers that could kill your wine
This weekend I’ve been down at my favourite food festival in Dartmouth where I’ve been giving a number of wine talks. One of them was a forum on food and wine matching with wine writer and TV presenter Susy Atkins and former sommelier and wine supplier Tim McLoughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.
A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
Witbier and asparagus
There’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagus season so here’s an interesting beer pairing to try as a change fromwine. Belgian witbier or bière blanche like Hoegaarden is just perfect with green asparagus, especially when served with goats’ cheese.
What wine to drink with gazpacho
If there’s one dish more difficult to pair with wine than already tricky tomatoes it’s gazpacho, the chilled Spanish summer soup that includes raw onion and peppers as well. So what wine should you match with it?
Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes
For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.
10 top wine matches for Christmas starters
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
What to drink with foraged food?
Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.
What to drink with asparagus part I
Last night I had dinner at the Dorchester Grill Room, one of London’s grander hotel restaurants which has been given an absurdly baroque makeover reminiscent of what Balmoral must have looked like in Victorian times. The team in the restaurant though are bang up to date with one of the smartest sommeliers in town, Jason McAuliffe doing an impressive double act with the talented young chef Aiden Byrne.
Wild asparagus and Istrian Malvazija
This week’s wine pairing couldn’t be anything else but Istrian having spent three days in this northern part of Croatia last week. Surprisingly it turns out to be a great gastronomic destination - not from the point of view of fine dining but of respect for local traditions, ingredients and grape varieties.
Tuscan-style sausages and beans with Montepulciano
It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)
Tuscan bean soup and Sangiovese
Last week I was on an assignment in Tuscany for a couple of days. It was pretty hot but that didn’t discourage the Tuscans from serving the kind of food they enjoy all the year round - namely substantial bean and chickpea soups.
Tortilla chips, salsa fresca and a virgin mojito
My first meal of the new year was a Mexican which might sound unusual in London but not much is open on New Year’s Day. We went to Wahaca which has a number of restaurants around the capital with some good non-alcoholic drinks options.
Thai beef salad and off-dry Riesling
It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.
Sweetcorn, feta and green chilli waffles and pink grapefruit juice
Soft drinks don’t often feature in my weekly pairings but this combination of an inventive savoury breakfast waffle and some lovely fresh pink grapefruit juice at The Modern Pantry last week was spot on.
Smoked eel, beetroot and Malbec
This pretty dish was served the other night at what is still our favourite Bristol restaurant, Culinaria, even if we now live over the other side of town. It provided everything you want from a starter - light, appealing, appetite-stimulating.
Smashed potatoes and low alcohol IPA
You might not think that potatoes merited a pairing on their own account but then i guess you haven’t tried making Poppy O’Toole’s rosemary and garlic sharers.
Salade Niçoise and Rosé
The weather has been so unseasonally hot over the last couple of days - well into the 20s (or the late 70s for those of you who prefer to think in Fahrenheit) - that I’m suddenly fast-forwarding to summer and one of my favourite meals, Salade Niçoise.
Rocket and parmesan salad with dry amontillado sherry
I've taken recently to combining my salad course and cheese course. Over the years, influenced by the time we've spent in France, we've picked up the habit of following our main course with a salad and nowadays I prefer - and it's cheaper - to eat one cheese at a time.
Roast lamb with wild garlic risotto, asparagus and feta with a chilled Languedoc red
This match, which I enjoyed at Plateau wine bar in Brighton last week, breaks a couple of wine pairing conventions. Firstly that you match red meat with a full bodied red. And secondly that you don’t drink red wine with asparagus.
Roast chestnuts and Bernache
I’ve been in the Loire for the last two days enjoying a fascinating range of wines but the pairing that stood out for me was one I’d never come across before: roast chestnuts and Bernache.
Ribs, bourbon and picklebacks
It’s not often these days that I hit on a totally new discovery but this combination at the newly opened Pitt Cue Co, a southern American-style ribshack is the business.
Pumpkin ravioli and a Douro white
You wouldn’t necessarily expect an Italian dish like pumpkin ravioli to pair with a Portuguese white but the match was just perfect.
Pumpkin and melon soup with rosé
I don’t know why restaurants don’t put soup on the menu more often, especially on a set lunch menu.
Potato spread, potato bread and weissburgunder
This may seem a bit of a random pairing but it was the ‘amuse’ at the start of a really delicious meal at Schloss Ottersbach during our trip to Austria’s Südsteiermark (Styria) region last week.
Polenta with roasted courgettes, tomatoes and basil and Bardolino
After months of lockdown it’s been such a pleasure to return to favourite restaurants like Elliott and Tessa Lidstone’s Box-E and I couldn’t have had a more perfect day to enjoy it. The food too - especially this quintessentially summery dish of courgettes, tomatoes and basil with the lightest, fluffiest polenta - was just perfect for sitting outside on a hot day.
Poached salt pollock and cauliflower with Julien Meyer's 'Nature' Sylvaner/Pinot Gris
Like half the world it seems at the moment I’m a bit obsessed with cauliflower so was drawn to this dish at Birch in Bristol on Friday like a moth to a flame
Pizza and chilled red wine
We’re in Arles this week for our annual visit to the Rencontres Arles, the fabulous photography festival that takes over the entire town. Since we’re with our youngest son, culinary exploration has to alternate with visits to his favourite pizza and sandwich joints which is how we ended up last night at a basic but brilliant pizzeria in the Trinquetaille on the other side of the Rhône.
Peas and pinot
Having been flying around the world for the best part of the past month I had a quiet week at home last week which (unusually for me) involved no outstanding drinks pairings.
Pear, watercress and chickpea salad and viognier
Sometimes the best insights come from having a bottle already open rather than consciously choosing what to drink with a dish. I suppose I knew that viognier would go with a salad but it was the composition of this particular salad that made the pairing work so well.
Pastis and olives
Yesterday we arrived in Arles for the Recontres Arles, a massive annual photographic exhibition that takes over the entire town. Our youngest son Flyn is showing some of his work at a restaurant called Le Corazon so we’re here for the next 10 days or so.
Pasta with pesto and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.
New season's olive oil and vino novo
Last week I went on a flying visit to Tuscany to take part in the olive oil harvest and had the rare treat of being able to sample oil that has just been pressed. As you can see from the picture, it’s an incredible colour - literally deep olive green and has the most fantastic grassy flavour.
Mushroom soup and Rignes Polaris Røykbokk
This was part of an expertly paired meal at a restaurant in Trondheim called To Rom og Kjøkken (Two Rooms and a Kitchen) last Saturday night.
Mushroom risotto with Barbera
I went to a Piemontese wine dinner last week at a local Italian restaurant in Bristol, Prosecco about which I’ve written before. There were some very good matches - along with a couple of off-key ones, one of which involved a faulty bottle which the wine merchant introducing the event seemed determined to disregard despite grumblings from the floor.
Miso-glazed cabbage and orange wine
The way things are looking I don’t imagine there will be many standout matches of the week over the forthcoming months given that I’m out and about much less than normal. But this one, from Trivet in Bermondsey last week is truly excellent.
Mezze and apple, mint and ginger lemonade
It must be the unseasonally hot weather but I've been drinking a lot of soft drinks lately. There seems to be much more choice on the market, especially more sophisticated drinks that are full of flavour but not too sweet. And which go well with food.
Manzanilla and tapas
I was reminded just how enjoyable this combination is the other day when I dropped by London’s latest tapas bar Barrafina and enjoyed a pre-dinner pick-up of a glass of Hidalgo with some al-i-oli and toast. The sharp tangy sherry was the perfect foil for the crisp toast and silky, garlic-flavoured mayo that accompanied it.
Mackerel and artichokes with Mademoiselle rosé
As I’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week most of my food and wine combinations have been classic. Picpoul and oysters (always great), a rich grenache/syrah/mourvedre blend called Cascaillou* with a beef daube (spot on) and my wine of the week, Mas des Chimères Oeillade (a cinsault) with grilled lamb and herbs.
Lebanese mezze and Côtes de Provence rosé
Since I was in Provence for three days last week you might have expected me to come up with an all-Provençal pairing as my match of the week but in fact it was a lunch of Lebanese mezze that provided the best partner for the local rosé we were tasting.
Hot smoked salmon, Korean carrots and pinot gris
This is one of those serendipitous pairings you sometimes stumble across when you rustle up a scratch meal and pair it with an open bottle in the fridge.
Grüner Veltliner and salt cod
I came across this unlikely combination while I was flying back from Argentina with the Brazilian airline TAM* who have this year decided to inaugurate a Brazilian menu in business class devised by a woman chef called Ana Luisa Trajano. And quite right too.
Grey mullet, fennel and muscadet
This isn’t the first time I’ve made muscadet my match of the week but it’s a wine that’s great value, constantly improving in quality and unbelievably versatile with food.
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.
Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and Barbera d'Asti
A surprisingly good pairing I came across in a local Italian restaurant on Saturday night. The (admirably light) home-made gnocchi were dressed with a fresh tomato sauce with basil which I would have thought would have been overwhelmed by the firm, well-structured 13.5% Barbera the boys had ordered with it - a Ca’ del Matt 2002. (For preference I’d have drunk a dry Italian white such as a Soave.) But it was spot on - even better than it was with my main course of slow roast pork belly.
Gazpacho and Rueda
Just squeaking in in time for this week’s match of the week is a great gazpacho and Rueda combo I had at lunch today at a new London winebar 28-50.
Cucumber fritters and Sancerre
I think I’ve found the perfect match for Sancerre - and the perfect Sancerre to drink with them!
Crispy chilli lime squid with edamame bean and coriander salad and pinot gris
Having picked up a heavy cold a couple of days before flying to New Zealand last week I arrived unable to taste a thing but this delicately pretty wine from Brick Bay Winery in Matakana managed to penetrate the fog.
Crisp duck salad with Fielding Estate Riesling
I came across so many great wine pairings in Toronto last week it's hard to pick out one but this dish just shaves it as my match of the week.
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.
Citrus fizz and Mexican food
If you’re not drinking for whatever reason - because you’re driving, pregnant or just taking a break - it’s sometimes difficult to find something that makes a good match for what you’re eating. Soft drinks can be sweet and sugary. Water sometimes too plain.
Chocolate and roasted Oolong tea
The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
Chicken salad and real apple juice
Yesterday finally felt as if spring had come. After weeks of unsettled and unseasonably cool weather it was warm and balmy, rich with the scent of blossom. We went out with friends to the village of Wrington just outside Bristol to follow an ‘art trail’ of exhibitions by local artists. (Yes, I bought something - a delightful picture of radishes by a talented collage artist called Anne Carpenter)
Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale
It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.
Cauliflower tortellini with hazelnuts and 10 year old Muscadet
I agonised over which match to highlight this week - there were so many good ones, especially from my trip to the Jura which I’ll report on in the next couple of days but I’ve gone for this intriguing and off the wall pairing from a seasonal wine dinner at Lido in Bristol on Saturday night.
Carrot and basil-infused slugs and Saumur Blanc
For the first time my match of the week is not one I’ve experienced myself but was reported by Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington on Twitter (where he tweets as Herbguy - and I tweet as winematcher)
Butternut squash and barrel-fermented Chardonnay
Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.
Burrata and watermelon with Montej rosé
It’s not often that you come across a wine match that’s as successful as it’s unexpected but sommelier Ruth Spivey’s pairing of a fruity Monferrato chiaretto rosato (aka rosé) from Piedmont with a dish of burrata, pressed watermelon and pickled fennel at Arbutus the other night was spot on - and all the more impressive given that she hadn’t had a chance to taste the combination beforehand.
Braised cuttlefish and artichokes with orange wine
This week’s match of the week was a toss up between this pairing of orange wine and braised cuttlefish at Emilia in Ashburton and a delicious tuna and crab taco with a cracking margarita at Zapote in Shoreditch but I reckoned you know that tacos (fishy ones especially) are great with margaritas and it’s always a struggle to know what to drink with artichokes.
Boiled bacon and cabbage with Irish stout
With St Patrick’s Day falling on a Monday this year - and in Easter week into the bargain - many are expected to be celebrating this coming Saturday so here’s a reminder of just how great an Irish stout (Guinness or otherwise) is with that classic dish of boiled bacon and cabbage.
Beetroot soup and English Pinot Noir
The other day I enjoyed a surprisingly good pairing of a beetroot soup with an English blend of Pinot Noir and Rondo from Kent winery Chapel Down at the London restaurant Roast. I say surprising a) because soup is difficult to pair and b) because the two are so similar in colour that you’d think the wine wouldn’t be a sufficient contrast to the soup. In fact its fruitiness and crisp acidity (the Rondo making it taste more like a mid-weight Italian red) was just the right counterpoint to the earthy rich character of the beetroot.
Beetroot-cured salmon and Godello
Despite the razmatazz surrounding the launch of Dom Perignon 2003 and a serious amount of wine and truffle action to which I’ll devote more space shortly I’m picking a more modest match from last week - the delicious beetroot-cured salmon, capers and egg yolk and 2010 Godelia Godello I had at José Pizarro’s new London restaurant Pizarro.
Beetroot and goat cheese macarons with a pet nat rosé
In a week of pretty amazing wine pairings (it’s not every day you get to taste five different vintages of Harlan Estate* over dinner) there was one really interesting match I wouldn’t have predicted - and that’s what this weekly slot is all about.
Bacchus and cucumber
Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.
Aubergine (eggplant) and Zinfandel
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.
Assyrtiko and cold herb soup
As Greece’s best known grape variety you’d probably think of pairing assyrtiko with meze or seafood but as this week’s match of the week shows it’s good away from its home territory too.
Asparagus with poached egg, watercress sabayon and Chateau Doisy-Daene Sec
Asparagus and fine white Bordeaux sounds a bit of a risky wine match but the way the dish was prepared made it a standout pairing.
Asparagus salad and Grüner Veltliner
I’ve been in Vienna for the past few days so couldn’t really avoid eating asparagus. Not that I wanted to. Austria’s white asparagus is one of the highlights of the spring and early summer so we grabbed any opportunity we could to wolf it.
Asparagus mousse, peas and oyster with Donkiesbaai Steen
I’ve been reminded during the last few days in the Cape Winelands of the great versatility of Chenin Blanc also known locally by its Afrikaans name Steen but this was the standout pairing.
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.
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.
Salad caprese and malagousia
One of the objectives of the organisers of our trip to Greece last week was to try to show how Greek wines pair with other international cuisines and flavours. It resulted in some quite bizarre dishes like black eye beans and kiwi fruit and chicken with carrot cream and tangerine gel but also provided some useful new insights.
Roast cauliflower with preserved lemon dressing and Assyrtiko
A similar type of salad to last week’s match of the week (as you can see I’m already not getting out much!) from Claire Thomson’s excellent Home Cookery Year
Ginger and chilli marinated aubergine with Lacryma Christi
Recently I’ve had a bit of a thing about pairing aubergines with orange wine especially if they’re cooked in a middle-Eastern style but it was actually an unusual red that went with this dish at the Uruguayan tasting at 67 Pall Mall the other day.
Baked celeriac and blanc de blancs champagne
Not many producers take food and wine pairing as seriously as champagne house Gosset which sponsors an annual ‘Matchmakers’ competition for young sommeliers and chefs which was held at the Cordon Bleu's Cord restaurant in Fleet Street
Artichokes and Trebbiano
Artichokes are a notoriously tricky match with wine but don’t have to be an insuperable one as last week’s artichoke dinner at Bocca di Lupo proved.
A perfect vineyard lunch
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
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.
Wine of the week: Terre di Faiano Primitivo Salento 2015
Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.
Drink of the week: Cawston Press Apple and Rhubarb Juice
I’m continually on the lookout for soft drinks that are not too sweet as I know there’s a big demand for them. This isn’t perfect - it’s still a fruit juice so quite high in sugar - but it is genuinely refreshing.
Eureka! A red wine match for artichokes
Everyone knows that artichokes are one of the most difficult ingredients to match with wine - especially with red wine. Only last weekend we struggled to find a pairing at the food matching forum I was taking part in.