Pairings | Rhône
If you’re after a bright, fruity, sunshine-filled red to carry you through the dark, dreary days of winter you couldn't do better than this delicious Côtes du Rhône.
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.
I always think it’s misleading to describe pork as a ‘white meat’. Strictly that's accurate, I suppose, but ‘whiteness’ somehow seems to suggest lack of flavour.
It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on match it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
I’ve a bit of a weakness for the Rhône but was really blown away by this amazing Crozes I tasted at the Berry Bros & Rudd tasting this week - part of their Rhône sale which lasts until November 10th.
Few things cheer at this time of year. In the UK it's cold, grey and damp Time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
You’d expect a Southern Rhône red to go with wild boar but in fact it was the chestnut polenta that made the match with this former Côtes du Rhône ‘cru’ so successful
Today (May 29th) is bizarrely National Coq au Vin day (who on earth decides these things?) and here, on cue, are four of my favourite wine pairings for this classic French dish.
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?
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.
You might be surprised that a nut roast isn’t that different from a conventional roast when it comes to finding a wine pairing. The savoury flavours are designed to act as a satisfying substitute for meat and so work best with similarly full-bodied red wines.
Or 'what wine should I drink with hachis parmentier?' - the French answer to shepherd's and cottage pie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
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?
There aren’t many wine pairings that form the subject of a book title but Elizabeth David’s Omelette and a Glass of Wine immortalised the combination.
As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing?
Even if not well-hung, as it rarely is these days, pheasant has a stronger flavour than other feathered game such as partridge or duck. And older, tougher birds are often braised or pot-roasted which calls for a more robust wine match still.
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.
I’ve recently had the chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
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 . . .
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it? It doesn't have to be wine . . .
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
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.
I came across this pairing at Chris and Jeff Galvin’s newly opened Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields in the City where they have a vertical of vintages, some of which are available by the glass. As I observed in my review on decanter.com it’s not a cheap option but if you’ve never tasted an old vintage of Hermitage la Chapelle here’s a chance to do so.
One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.
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.
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 was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
If you want to understand what British cooking is about - not the magpie character of of modern British but the genteel English country house tradition - head for Soho where Jeremy Lee has taken up residence behind the stoves at Quo Vadis.
Now that we're a couple of weeks into the season you might be tempted to bag yourself a couple of braces of grouse - it's a great treat for a small dinner party.
Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I reviewed here.
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
Summer is the perfect time of year to eat crab so why not try out your wine pairing skills and work out which wines you'd match with these eight different crab dishes. My own suggestions below . . .
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?
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
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
Moussaka cries out for a red but not too powerful a one otherwise the effect will be to add to the richness of the dish. (Cooked cheese, by the way, is much easier with red wine than uncooked cheese is).
An irresistible dinner invitation came my way a few weeks ago, to attend a game dinner and tasting of René Rostaing’s Côte Rôties at Emanuel College, Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are famous for their wine cellars but these wines came from the personal wine cellar of its ‘wine steward’ Dr Jonathan Aldred, the fortunate fellow (in both senses of the word) who buys all the wine for the college.
Beans are one of the great underrated aids to matching full-bodied wines as I was reminded at the weekend when we combined a dish of pork and lima beans with a fine St-Joseph.
I can’t pretend to be wholly impartial about this wine match which comes from Foxlow, the latest restaurant from my son Will and his business partner Huw Gott (who also own Hawksmoor).
I certainly feel duck’s status as one of the best ingredients to pair with wine has been enhanced by this week’s match of the week
It’s such a long time since I’ve eaten duck à l’orange that I’ve rather lost track of the best match for it but the vivid, joyous Gramenon Poignée de Raisins I was offered last week by the sommelier at Brasserie Chavot proved the perfect pairing.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week and two bottles - both Syrah - have impressed me for very different reasons. One was an inexpensive but characterful Ressac Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah which we bought from the co-op at Florensac, Vinopolis, after eating at their showcase restaurant Bistrot d’Alex which I’ve mentioned on the site before. The other a much classier bottle called Clos du Fou (the 2004 vintage) from a local Faugères winemaker Château des Estanilles which bore comparison with a Côte Rôtie.
My match of the week for last week has to come from the sublime WIMPS lunch I had at the Ledbury which members can read about here. It was hard to decide which the best pairing was but I think the calf’s kidney and 1998 Gilles Barge Côte Rôtie just shaved it.
Last Friday I attended the Soil Association annual Organic Awards lunch at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol. The menu was based on the winning ingredients which in the case of the main course was Langley Chase organic mutton served with chard and spelt risotto.
One of the problems of recommending a wine that most people can only buy online is that they generally have to buy a case - either of that wine or others they haven't a clue whether they’ll like or not.