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Wines to match Skye Gyngell's al fresco menu

The problem with the old media is that their lead times are too long. Skye Gyngell, the Independent on Sunday’s food writer and chef at the heavenly Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond probably wrote her al fresco menu in today’s edition a couple of weeks ago when the sun was blazing. Today the wind is howling and the rain lashing against the windows.No matter. It’s only May and summer will (hopefully) return. Here’s what I would suggest drinking with it.

Cold pea and mint soup
Normally pea soup is quite sweet but this contains an exceptionally large amount of herbs - two bunches* of basil and one of mint which I think is going to make the dominant flavour minty. As there are so many aromatic herbal notes in the dish already I’d go for a more neutral wine than I might otherwise have done. A crisp, young Austrian Gruner Veltliner should work fine.

* Incidentally I wish chefs wouldn’t use the word 'bunch'. How big is a bunch? Given the quantities advised here I’d think more in terms of a handful.

Salt-baked turbot with potatoes, pea shoots and sauce verte
At first this looks like another herb-dominated dish, in this instance chervil, dill and tarragon. But the sauce is creamy and the turbot rich which suggests a top quality chardonnay, particularly as Skye recommends a sweet-tasting side dish of roasted fennel, beetroot, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Then suddenly, further down the recipe, there’s a dressing of Greek yoghurt, lime and Tabasco which throws the whole wine choice up in the air. I’m now thinking of a robust, probably New World Sauvignon Blanc, probably one of those rich lemon-peel scented ones from Chile or the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Or possibly a powerful dry rosé. This really underlines that it’s the flavours on the plate that count not the base ingredient.

Almond tart with apricot jam
This is a different proposition from a French apricot tart which is so easy to match (sweet Bordeaux being a particularly good pairing) in that the freshly made apricot jam includes orange and lemon peel. It sounds as if it would have a similar flavour profile to Tokaji but would probably be too similar so I think I’d go for an Australian botrytis Semillon or botrytised Sauvignon

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