Top pairings | Food pairing dilemmas

Top pairings

Food pairing dilemmas

Some recent questions that have been posed to me:

Q I’m planning a dinner and need a dessert wine that would match with both a German apple cake (buttery, sweet with a hint of cinnamon, apple sponge drenched in syrup) and a chocolate roulade

A The German apple cake wouldn't be tricky at all - it's combining it with the roulade that poses the problem. Normally I go for sweet red wines with chocolate but that wouldn't be particularly nice with the apple cake. If you're feeling very adventurous you could try a sweet sherry or montilla or, if the budget with stretch to it, a Tokaji. If not I'd go for a southern French muscat such as a Muscat de Rivesaltes which won't be wonderful with the chocolate but should get by

Q I’m having more thoughts about the dessert option and am thinking it best to offer two different wines for this course, one to match the German apple cake and one for the chocolate roulade. My concern about the apple cake is that it is going to be very sweet so a classic apple dessert wine match might not be sweet enough. If you were to suggest separate matches for the two desserts, what would you choose?.

A I think that’s a better idea, honestly. I don't know if you're absolutely wedded to wine but it strikes me that an apple flavoured schnapps or eau de vie might be a good pairing for the apple cake. If not, given that it's a German recipe, I think I'd go for a Beerenauslese which will have the sweetness to cope with the syrup but also the acidity to add a refreshing note too. With the chocolate roulade I'd go for some kind of sweet red which always has a 'wow' factor. A Maury from the south of France is probably the most keenly priced option. An Italian Recioto or Andrew Quady's Elysium - an exotic black muscat from the States - would be viable alternatives

Q Can you suggest a Californian wine to match a dish of red mullet with green olive and caper crush. I was thinking about a Californian rose?

A I’d agree with you if you were suggesting a southern French rosé but a Californian one might possibly be a bit sweet. Californian ros has a tendency to be higher in residual sugar than its European equivalent and this is a Provenal-inspired dish. Maybe a Californian spin on a white Rhone blend (Bonny Doon comes to mind . . . )? Or a Pinot Grigio which is an increasingly popular varietal in the US

Q Could you suggest an English cheese to serve with white Burgundy, specifically, Puligny Montrachet, 1er Cru Caillerets, Dom. de Montille, 99, served out of magnum?

A I tasted a cheese I think would go perfectly with this wine the other day - it was a Gorwydd Caerphilly. Crumbly and mild but quite complex. If you didn't have to stick to British cheese I'd go for a Chaource, which comes from the Champagne region.

Image © Aguaviva -

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