Pairings | Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
Today is International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
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.
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
Although you rarely match a wine to vegetables such as peas or beans they do have an influence on pairings. Peas have a natural sweetness, broad beans an earthiness and runner beans a herbaceous flavour that can affect the style of wine you choose. Here are my suggestions to go with the four recipes in Mark Hix’s column in the Independent today.
I spent last week in the Languedoc where we visit quite regularly so there weren’t many new food and wine discoveries to be made but I think the most thought-provoking match was a main course dish of roast turbot with girolles and a bottle of Château Cabezac 'Alice' 2008 from the Minervois I had at a restaurant in Agde called Le Bistrot d’Hervé.
Our final pre-Christmas meal at our favourite local restaurant Culinaria the other night was a real feast of winter flavours. Unusually every dish went well with the bottle we chose, a 2005 Vacquéyras Cuvée des Templiers from Le Clos des Cazaux, a wonderfully full-flavoured blend of Syrah and Grenache that was as good as many minor Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes I’ve tasted. A real treat.
If you were eating it entirely on its own roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, ros or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine.
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 . . .
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
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.