Pairings

Pairings | Syrah

10 Australian Shiraz - and Shiraz blends - that might surprise you

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 . . .

Seared tuna with sesame and 2013 Elephant Hill Syrah

Seared tuna with sesame and 2013 Elephant Hill Syrah

My final meal in New Zealand last week was also one of the most impressive of my recent trip: lunch at the award-winning Elephant Hill winery in Hawkes Bay.

Ojai vineyard Roll Ranch Syrah 1998

Ojai vineyard Roll Ranch Syrah 1998

It’s always a treat to drink great old wines, especially when they’re on top form like this fabulous syrah from Californian producer Ojai in the Santa Maria valley.

Scallop and mango ceviche with Montes Cherub Syrah Rosé

Scallop and mango ceviche with Montes Cherub Syrah Rosé

Given Chile’s proximity to the coast, this week’s match couldn’t be anything but seafood but I’m going to pass over the more obvious pairings with sauvignon blanc in favour of this wildly brilliant combination of scallops and rosé.

Kieran Robinson 2010 Le Voyageur, Bennett Valley Syrah

Kieran Robinson 2010 Le Voyageur, Bennett Valley Syrah

Given that I’ve been in Napa and Sonoma County for the past few days you might expect me to select a cab or a pinot noir as my wine of the week (more on those in due course) but I’m going for this fantastic syrah I tasted at the Rhone-fixated Girl and The Fig in Sonoma

Seafood pizza and Craven The Firs Syrah

Seafood pizza and Craven The Firs Syrah

A full-flavoured red and seafood? Doesn’t sound like the kind of pairing that would work but as ever it depends on the wine and how the dish is prepared.

Comté cheese and Languedoc Syrah

Comté cheese and Languedoc Syrah

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.

Charcuterie and young Syrah

Charcuterie and young Syrah

Last week I had lunch at my new favourite London hangout, the wine bar Terroirs which is run by a partnership including the quirky and original Caves de Pyrène. It's a place that you'll absolutely love if you're a Francophile: it feels just like a Parisien wine bar - without the surly service. The food is also cracking but as we'd resolved to kick off the new year by splitting a Vacherin Mont d'Or, as you can read on my cheese blog The Cheeselover, we didn't get a chance this time to sample chef Ed Wilson's robust bistro food.

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Last week’s highlight without a doubt was the meal I had with my Guardian colleagues at Brawn, Ed Wilson’s new restaurant in Columbia Road. As you may know it’s the new City outpost of the hugely popular wine bar Terroirs with a similar natural wine list which you can read about on my natural wine blog here.

Segredo do Lisboa Castelao-Syrah, Lisboa 2011

Segredo do Lisboa Castelao-Syrah, Lisboa 2011

For obvious reasons* I was all set to recommend a handsomely bottled Irish whiskey I’d discovered this weekend but then I tasted it and actually didn’t rate it so here’s a fantastically good value wine deal I found in my local Co-op instead.

When food and wine matching doesn't matter

When food and wine matching doesn't matter

Although I make my living writing about how food can enhance wine - and vice versa - I would never want to be dogmatic about it and freely admit that there are occasions when it matters less than others.

Wine and steak pairing tips. 5 things you need to know about matching steak with wine

Wine and steak pairing tips. 5 things you need to know about matching steak with wine

Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a perfect match? You could simply say the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.

Pairing Errazuriz wines at Pollen Street Social

Pairing Errazuriz wines at Pollen Street Social

New world wines are sometimes criticised (usually by the French!) for overwhelming subtle Michelin-starred food but award-winning blogger Jeanne Horak-Druiff of Cooksister found much to admire when she attended an Errazuriz food, wine and photography evening at Pollen Street Social.

10 food-friendly wines from The Beautiful South

10 food-friendly wines from The Beautiful South

Wine writer Matt Walls picks out his favourite wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa from last week's Beautiful South tasting

Top wine and beer matches for game

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.

The best wines to pair with haggis

The best wines to pair with haggis

I’ve argued before that whisky and beer are the best match for haggis but what if you prefer a wine? What colour and style work best?

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

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.

Cambridge Road Dovetail Martinborough 2011

Cambridge Road Dovetail Martinborough 2011

It’s easy to think you know what to expect with New Zealand wine - immensely drinkable, intense fruit flavours - but this range from Cambridge Road in Martinborough really blew me away

Berry Bros & Rudd Reserve Red

Berry Bros & Rudd Reserve Red

Only a merchant with a pedigree like Berry Bros & Rudd could consider an £8.45 bottle a ‘house wine’ but if your usual fare is classed growth claret I guess it is.

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.

The best wine pairings for pheasant

The best wine pairings for pheasant

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.

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.

London Cru SW6, Red Wine 1

London Cru SW6, Red Wine 1

The idea of making wine in London from grapes grown in France and Italy sounds a bit of a crazy one but London Cru’s first vintage is an impressive debut.

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

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.

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

Today, as you’ll probably not need reminding, is le quatorze juillet which marks the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French revolution. These days the French are more likely to head for the beach than onto the streets as it’s a public holiday and the start of the month long summer vacation for many but it’s celebrated with street parties all over France.

The tricky task of pairing wine and citrus

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.

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"

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

To celebrate Day of the Dead - or maybe even Bonfire Night - here's a fabulous warming spicy Mexican stew for 10 from Thomasina Miers' Wahaca: Mexican food at Home.

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

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.

Wine and turkey: Six of my favourite wine matches

Wine and turkey: Six of my favourite wine matches

Christmas being as traditional as it is you may already have your own favourite wine pairing for turkey but if you're looking for inspiration here are my six favourite matches

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

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).

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

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.

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

If you're serving a ham or gammon as a roast this Christmas you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.

Good wine pairings for Saint-Nectaire

Good wine pairings for Saint-Nectaire

Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.

Five great cheese and wine pairings

Five great cheese and wine pairings

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.

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

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.

Which wine to match with moussaka - updated

Which wine to match with moussaka - updated

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).

What to drink with foraged food?

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.

Veal chop with sage and Eben Sadie Sequillo Red

Veal chop with sage and Eben Sadie Sequillo Red

I had lunch for the first time for a while at Hix’s Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon last week where I ordered - appropriately enough - a chop. In this instance a veal chop with sage butter.

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

Frankly almost any full-bodied red will work with a roast meat like venison but I’m particularly excited about the new breed of modern Spanish reds that are appearing on the shelves.

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Once the game season starts to get into full swing my husband ventures into the kitchen. Pheasant, of course, doesn’t come into season until the 1st of October but our local butcher was obviously clearing out last year’s stocks and we picked one up for a song.

Pork and beans with Pierre Gonon St-Joseph

Pork and beans with Pierre Gonon St-Joseph

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.

Poached langoustines and Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

Poached langoustines and Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

Last week I caught up with Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte which I visited a couple of years ago when the winery was nominated Wine Tourism Champion by the Great Wine Capitals of the World (you can find my Decanter article on the experience here).

Navarin of lamb and 2002 Chateau des Estanilles Faugères

Navarin of lamb and 2002 Chateau des Estanilles Faugères

Last week we were down at our house in Languedoc mainly cooking from home* and raiding the cellar for wines we thought needed drinking up - at least that was our excuse!

Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine

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.

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

I went to a great little bistro the other day in St-Rémy-de-Provence called - appropriately enough - Bistro Découverte. It’s run by a very talented young sommelier I used to know in London called Claude Douard who worked for Marco Pierre White and Joel Rebuchon.

Lamb curry and Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2011

Lamb curry and Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2011

A cabernet would have been the last wine I would have thought of drinking with a curry but as happens from time to time you come across an unexpected wine match that really works.

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Last week we returned to one of our much-loved haunts, Arles, and ate our way round some of our favourite restaurants (the ones that weren’t closed as a number mysteriously seemed to be at what you’d think was still peak holiday season).

Coffee and maple syrup-brined pork with Saint Joseph

Coffee and maple syrup-brined pork with Saint Joseph

Occasionally a wine pairing comes along that you simply don’t expect. Invited to a barbecue at the weekend, I took along some reds I’d been tasting which I frankly wasn’t sure would go with the sweet marinades you generally encounter at a BBQ.

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

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.

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

Haggis may be traditional fare for Burns' Night but let's face it, it's not everyone's cup of tea. So here's a Scottish inspired menu that I suspect you'll probably enjoy rather more (unless you're born and bred Scots, of course...)

A Middle-Eastern inspired barbecue for eight

A Middle-Eastern inspired barbecue for eight

Here's a barbecue with a difference from my book Food, Wine and Friends. The centrepiece is a spiced, butterflied leg of lamb served with a delicious Turkish-style bulghur wheat salad called Kisir. Finish with grilled nectarines or, if you prefer to have your dessert prepared ahead, some refreshing wine jellies.

Wine of the week: Virgile Joly Bourret Pays d’Oc 2014

Wine of the week: Virgile Joly Bourret Pays d’Oc 2014

Those of you who have followed me for a while will know I’m not a great fan of Naked Wines but occasionally they come up with a corker that almost tempts me to sign up as an ‘Angel'.

Mount Rozier Merlot 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa

Mount Rozier Merlot 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa

South African wine is in a good place at the moment - better quality than ever and terrifically good value as this bargain underlines.

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

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.

From the cellar: Domaine d’Aupilhac Montpeyroux 1992, Coteaux du Languedoc

From the cellar: Domaine d’Aupilhac Montpeyroux 1992, Coteaux du Languedoc

One of the pleasures of being at our house in the Languedoc is diving into the cellar and fishing out old, overlooked bottles.

Domaine Marie 2013 Faugères - the perfect autumn red

Domaine Marie 2013 Faugères - the perfect autumn red

I’ve a soft spot for the Faugères wine region which is just up the road from our house in the Languedoc. It’s a beautiful wild hilly area on the foothills of the coastal range which produces some lovely warm spicy reds.

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

One of the problems about buying wine these days is that there’s just too much choice. But if I had to stick to just one wine this Christmas it would be this gutsy red from the Rhone.

Chronic Cellars Sofa King Bueno 2013

Chronic Cellars Sofa King Bueno 2013

I’m surprised there aren’t more wine brands and labels dedicated to Hallowe’en but yesterday I found a perfect one at the Majestic press tasting.

 Tierra Hermosa 20° (Veinte Grados) 2010, Andalucia

Tierra Hermosa 20° (Veinte Grados) 2010, Andalucia

Today’s Guardian column was all about getting out of your wine drinking rut which in the case of Spanish wine most likely means Rioja.

So what IS a food-friendly wine?

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?

Jeremy Lee at Quo Vadis, Soho

Jeremy Lee at Quo Vadis, Soho

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.

How to cook grouse

How to cook grouse

You might not want to pay the £20-odd a bird it costs to source grouse on the first day of the season but prices will come down over the next couple of weeks and it's a great treat for a small dinner party.

Beef bourguignon pie

Beef bourguignon pie

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.

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

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.

Calf's kidney and Côte Rôtie

Calf's kidney and 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.

Braised Manx Loaghtan mutton and Crozes-Hermitage

Braised Manx Loaghtan mutton and Crozes-Hermitage

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.

Dard & Ribo Crozes-Hermitage and Vinujancu Etna Bianco

Dard & Ribo Crozes-Hermitage and Vinujancu Etna Bianco

I couldn’t make up which of these terrific wines to recommend from yesterday’s London Wine Sessions so I’m going for both.

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